With day 14 in the books, we have Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. He has a final match against Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu, whom he has a 2-1 career advantage. If he wins that match, he will lift the Emperor’s cup for the 3rd time, putting him in a quite rarified group, 3 time yusho winners who do not hold an Ozeki or Yokozuna rank.
Should he lose, there could be as many as 3 rikishi who would contest in a playoff for the yusho, including Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Asanoyama. Like the rest of you, we will be eagerly waiting the results from the mock basho’s final day.
Mock Natsu Leaderboard
Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group – Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Nishikigi
1 Match Remains
Day 14 Matches
Kotoshoho (9-5) defeats Azumaryu (4-10) Hatakikomi – Filling the Kakuryu banzuke gap, former Maegashira Azumaryu, who is already deeply make-koshi, was unable to withstand a pulling attempt 32 seconds into his match against Kotoshoho. Azumaryu picks up his 10th loss, and Kotoshoho keeps hopes alive that he can score double digits in his Makuuchi debut tournament.
Shimanoumi (6-8) defeats Chiyomaru (4-10) Oshidashi – Joining the double-digit loss club is Chiyomaru, who seems assured a place in the Juryo barge of doom that will be pushing away from the banks of the Sumida river Sunday evening. Chiyomaru seems to have developed some manner of balance issue following his COVID-19 scare in Osaka, and has had a difficult time keeping his feet when facing a pusher/thruster opponent. We hope whatever has him diminished can be addressed in Juryo.
Kotoyuki (6-8) defeats Kaisei (3-11) Oshidashi – Never one to be outdone by Chiyomaru, Kaisei was able to find loss number 11 today against Kotoyuki, who also seems assured of demotion. There may be a giant log-jam of plump Maegashira headed to Sumida to board their barge back to Juryo.
Wakatakakage (9-5) defeats Myogiryu (6-8) Yoritaoshi – Loss number 8 means Yoritaoshi is make-koshi for May. Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, and connected squarely with Wakatakakage’s shoulders, pushing him back before he could begin any kind of offense. But as Myogiryu pressed the attack, Wakatakakage landed a right hand inside grip. Not realizing Wakatakakage a grip, Myogiryu backed up and lost his balance, bringing Wakatakakage to the dirt after him, but losing the match.
Nishikigi (10-4) defeats Tamawashi (6-8) Tsukiotoshi – In what I can best describe as blind-man oshi-zumo, Nishikigi struggled (due to poor eyesight) to even target Tamawashi as the Mongolian stepped deftly around Nishikigi’s every counter strike. But Nishikigi is a survivor, and found an arm to grab, followed the arm back to the body and executed a combination arm pull / rib thrust to upend Tamawashi. I was not sure what the kimarite would be, but Tsukiotoshi seems to be a rough translation for “Heck if I know…” at times. Nishikigi improves to 10-4, while Tamawashi leaves the match make-koshi.
Shohozan (7-7) defeats Ikioi (4-10) Oshidashi – The only part of this match that really gave me a smile was the likelihood that Shohozan (7-7) would face a day 15 Darwin match. Ikioi joined the double digit loss club after Shohozan handled him hard a put him on the dirt. From the opening face slap to the final shove over the east side and into the zabuton, this was a grim match.
Sadanoumi (11-3) defeats Chiyotairyu (10-4) Oshidashi – Both of these veterans are having a well above average tournament, and deserve praise for their fighting spirit and their endurance. Both of them have double digit wins, and their sumo has been powerful and effective. But with both men coming into today 10-3, only one of them was going to take home the white star, the battle was speed vs power, and speed carried the day. Chiyotairyu blasted off of the line, and moved Sadanoumi quickly back to the tawara, where Sadanoumi rallied and took charge of the match.
Ryuden (6-8) defeats Kotoeko (5-9) Oshidashi – Kotoeko got the better of the tachiai, placing his hands on Ryuden’s shoulders before he had even finished the tachiai. Ryuden attacked from underneath as Kotoeko tried to pull Ryuden down and forward. But the gambit failed and Ryuden rushed forward to push Kotoeko out. Both men went into day 14 make-koshi, but Kotoeko could really not afford a 9th loss.
Kotonowaka (8-6) defeats Hokutofuji (8-6) Hatakikomi – Hokutofuji’s matches are frequently an all or nothing engagement, he throws so much into his opening charge that any chance at a plan “B” prior to him finishing the tachiai is an instant defeat. Young Kotonowaka seems to have figured this out, grabbing Hokutofuji’s right hand in the tachiai, placing his left hand on Hokutofuji’s shoulder and slapping him down. That is Kotonowaka’s 8th win and a kachi-koshi for May.
Kotoshogiku (9-5) defeats Takarafuji (7-7) Sukuinage – Kotoshogiku runs up the score, and sends Takarafuji to a Darwin match on day 15. The first match ended with a Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug yorikiri featuring Takarafuji’s narrow escape and step out at the bales. While the gumbai went to Kotoshogiku, the judges decided it was too close to call, and ordered a rematch. The second bout was a bit more cautious than the first, but after being chased around the dohyo, Takarafuji was captured. Kotoshogiku pivoted immediately to his right and threw Takarafuji down.
Terutsuyoshi (5-9) defeats Kiribayama (5-9) Yorikiri – The second match in a row where the judges decided to get involved. Kiribayama got his hand behind Terutsuyoshi, pulling him down and forward as Terutsuyoshi was driving Kiribayama out. Did Kiribayama step out first or did Terutsuyoshi hit the clay? The janome clearly showed Kiribayama foot went out, but three different views seemed to be inconclusive. But the Judges reversed the gyoji’s gumbai and gave the win Terutsuyoshi. Both rikishi finish the day with 5-9.
Takanosho (7-7) defeats Enho (5-9) Yorikiri – In spite of what ever injury seems to be hampering Enho this tournament, he put in a solid effort today, starting with his hop and drop tachiai, which forced Takanosho to forego any attempt at direct offense, and focus on trying whatever he could to shut down Enho’s attack. I find it quite interesting how many of these rikishi drop all efforts of offense as soon as this little guy latches onto their mawashi. Enho managed to get both hands around Takanosho’s right leg and pulled with everything he could muster. Lost for a direct response, Takanosho grabbed a shoulder and a handful of belt and pressed forward. They struggled for just a moment before Enho gave way as Takanosho surged forward for the win.
Onosho (8-6) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Fusen – I am happy that Onosho picked up his 8th win and will remain in the joi-jin, but I have to wonder if this re-injury of Takayasu’s knee is the end of his sumo career. Should he miss the next basho, he would be relegated deep into Juryo, and that might be more than he would be willing to tolerate.
Endo (3-11) defeats Tochinoshin (3-11) Yorikiri – Possibly one of the most miserable sumo matches in the last 5 months, both are injured, both have double digit losses, and Tochinoshin seems destined for a drop to Juryo. I am sure the fact that Endo was able to easily get his preferred left hand shallow grip and completely dominate the massive former Ozeki is no comfort to fans who are worried about their favorites.
Yutakayama (7-7) defeats Abi (6-8) Yorikiri – Abi engaged his double arm attack against Yutakayama in the tachiai, but Yutakayama seemed to expect this, attacking Abi’s elbows from below. But even with the counter attack, Yutakayama was forced back under Abi’s nodowa / trust volley. Yutakayama applied increasingly forceful blows to Abi’s elbows to break the attack, until one blow missed and took Abi across the face and nose. As the tsuppari momentarily halted, Yutakayama leaped take Abi to his chest and drive him out. While it’s great Yutakayama got the win, it looks like it’s Darwin match for him on day 15.
Daieisho (7-7) defeats Aoiyama (8-6) Oshidashi – Aoiyama attempted the thrust up / slap down combo at the tachiai, but could not connect on the hitakekomi and found himself wide open to Daieisho opening attack. With both of Daieisho’s hands inside, and Aoiyama’s feet not set for defense, Daieisho made quick work of him and forced him back out of the ring on the west side. Daieisho also looks to be a candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.
Kagayaki (7-7) defeats Okinoumi (5-9) Oshidashi – With make-koshi on the line, Kagayaki pulls out a win against Okinoumi, breaking a 4 match winning streak. At the tachiai, Okinoumi went high and Kagayaki went center-mass. An exchange of thrusts and Kagayaki had the advantage, moving Okinoumi back. Okinoumi shifted right twice as the two exchanged pushes against their bodies. Kagayaki broke through Okinoumi’s defenses, landing first a right hand then a left against Okinoumi’s neck, driving him from the ring. Kagayaki also a candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.
Mitakeumi (12-2) defeats Ishiura (10-4) Hikiotoshi – Mitakeumi knocks Ishiura out of any further contention for the Emperor’s cup with a fast, high energy match. Ishiura attempted a nodowa at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi swatted him back as he charged forward. Mitakeumi threw a series of powerful thrusts against Ishiura’s head and shoulders, and Ishiura focused solely on keeping his feet. After the 4th of these exchanges, Mitakeumi followed up with a pull on Ishiura’s left shoulder, sending him to his 4th loss. Mitakeumi retains sole possession of the lead.
Asanoyama (11-3) defeats Shodai (7-7) Uwatenage – Asanoyama wins and Shodai becomes a candidate for a Darwin match? What a great outcome. Asanoyama did not immediately go for the belt, and the two exchanged thrusts to the head and chest, with Asanoyama finishing with a vigorous tug on Shodai’s right arm. This pull brought Shodai forward, and in a move best suited for Fred Astair, Asanoyama hooked his right arm around Shodai’s waist and rolled left into the throw.
Hakuho (11-3) defeats Tokushoryu (10-4) Hatakikomi – It took 4 tries for Hakuho to finally get his left hand in the correct position to pull Tokushoryu down, and he tried the same combo two times in a row. I think Tokushoryu was overwhelmed by Hakuho’s intensity, as the Yokozuna was a flurry of slapping and grabbing hands. Hakuho remains in the yusho hunt, while kicking Tokushoryu out of contention.