Asanoyama picked up his second fusensho (default win) today, as Kiribayama went kyujo. He did not look hurt following his day 9 match against Takakeisho, but we hope he recovers and can return strong and ready to fight. Elsewhere, I added to my regrettable predictions list, as Terunofuji lost his match against Takanosho, taking him out of the co-leader group for the yusho. This leaves five rikishi tied at 8-2, but only one—Takakeisho—with prior yusho experience. While it would be delightful to see 2, 4 or all 5 make it to senshuraku tied for the lead, the hype around the yusho race will become a distraction during the next 5 days. It can cause a rikishi to lose focus, and their sumo can suffer. I am eager to see how act 3 unfolds! [We’ll be down to at most 4 co-leaders tomorrow, as Onosho and Tobizaru have been matched up by the schedulers. -lksumo]
Wakamotoharu defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo started strong, but could not finish Wakamotoharu. A well executed grip change from Wakamotoharu with his heels on the tawara was the key that reversed the course of the match, and gave him a solid yorikiri against the much larger Ichinojo. Both finish the day 5-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – If that was a henka, it was so smart and crisp it actually was a thrill to watch. Hoshoryu moved right at the tachiai, and circled behind Chiyotairyu as sumo’s thunder god moved forward. Hoshoryu stayed to his rear and pushed Chiyotairyu out. Just when I think that Hoshoryu has run out of gas, he comes up with something that shows the seeds of greatness.
Ishiura defeats Kotoshogiku – Ishiura uses straight-ahead sumo, with sharp execution, and picks up a much needed win. Kotoshogiku attempt to set his hands for a pull-down opened a route for Ishiura to get the grip he used for the throw (shitatenage); points to Ishiura for reading the move and exploiting it. That’s loss number eight for Kotoshogiku.
Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi extends his career record to 5-0 over Shimanoumi. Sadanoumi opened the door for Shimanoumi with a tepid head pull, but was able to hold position and keep Shimanoumi from taking the initiative. Sadanoumi advances to 5-5.
Shohozan defeats Enho – Enho gets his hands inside and against Shohozan’s chest at the tachiai. Shohozan countered with an arm bar grip. With Enho trapped, he rotated and launched Enho across the bales. Sadly that’s loss number 8 for fan-favorite Enho, who has struggled all tournament.
Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – When a pair of super-heavies face off like this, the action can be slow, but the amount of mass in motion is truly impressive. Kaisei fought for hand position as the two went chest to chest at the tachiai, and finding his left hand inside, he tried a throw. Tokushoryu is naturally very low, and Kaisei could not complete the move. Instead Tokushoryu consolidated his grip and forced Kaisei over the bales.
Wakatakakage defeats Kotoshoho – Wakatakakage keeps his share of the lead with the win, and reaches kachi-koshi. Kotoshoho tried a slap-down early, and that probably cost him the match. Wakatakakage was patient, strong and focused. A well timed grip shift collapsed Kotoshoho and won the match.
Tobizaru defeats Ryuden – Tobizaru picks up win #8 in this endurance contest with Ryuden. Tobizaru stayed low the entire match, and that’s some impressive strength to fight bent over and in battle for that long. Even when Tobizaru reached deep and grabbed Ryuden’s mawashi at the knot, Ryuden stayed strong, stable and fought back. Really strong sumo from both today.
Aoiyama defeats Meisei – Big Dan fired up the V-Twin early and applied a maximum beating to Meisei’s face straight out of the tachiai. Meisei’s only defense was to drive and dive inside, grabbing a generous handful of Aoiyama’s pasty-white flesh. Compliments to Meisei—he shut down the tsuppari attack, and had Aoiyama on defense. But it cost him most of his endurance, and Big Dan waited him out, keeping his balance centered as best he could. Sensing Meisei was trying to catch his breath and rally, Aoiyama lifted and tossed Meisei for win #6.
Onosho defeats Takayasu – Color me surprised—Onosho beat Takayasu, and looked quite solid doing it. Takayasu tried to open up with a forearm to Onosho’s face, which I am sure was painful, but it opened up his chest for Onosho’s opening attack. A shove back against the former Ozeki was answered by a lunge forward, and Onosho used this over-reaction to apply the hatakikomi. That’s an 8th win for Onosho, and he maintains his share of the lead.
Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – A simple match, it was Kagayaki getting his hands inside at the tachiai, and just applying maximum force to Kotoeko’s chest. I think there were two big pushes and three steps total in that win.
Myogiryu defeats Hokutofuji – Myogiryu took advantage of Hokutofuji’s habit of trying to finish a match with a “drive and dive” move. He employs it frequently, and if he can center you and catch you as he lunges, it’s tough to survive. But Myogiryu was waiting for it, and deflected Hokutofuji’s leap, sending him to the dohyo.
Takanosho defeats Terunofuji – Takanosho once again proves to be Terunofuji’s nemesis, improving his career score to 3-0 over the former Ozeki. The loss knocks Terunofuji out of the leader group for the yusho, and I think it’s an important test for him. In the past, Terunofuji’s biggest problem was his own mind, and he would tend to go into a losing streak after losing a critical match.
Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – It’s always great to watch two high-skill veterans go head to head, and these two did not disappoint. Okinoumi took control of the match early, though Takarafuji had his arms tangled up nicely. Okinoumi moved to free his hands, and that small change in balance and force was enough for Takarafuji to amplify and swing Okinoumi past him and to the clay. Great move, expertly executed.
Tamawashi defeats Endo – This match was all Tamawashi, with Endo finding himself trapped and gripped from behind just a few seconds into the match. Tamawashi improves to 5-5, and is a strong candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.
Mitakeumi defeats Tochinoshin – Mitakeumi chooses to go chest to chest with Tochinoshin, and makes it work. I have to assume that Tochinoshin’s knee is causing him a lot of pain, because after maintaining force against Mitakeumi for just a few second, he releases pressure and tries to pull Mitakeumi down. Of course that set up the loss just seconds later.
Shodai defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi launched early, and Shodai resorted to a “stand up” tachiai. This resulted in Terutsuyoshi being somewhat off balance when he finally reached Shodai (and that may have been part of Shodai’s intent). Leaving his bag of tricks at the heya this morning, Terutsuyoshi went for straight-ahead sumo, but what was Shodai doing? Wait, was that a waltz? After struggling to sort out who would lead that dance, Shodai lost patience and used a double hand plant on Terutsuyoshi’s face to throw him into the lap of a nearby shimpan. Shodai gets his kachi-koshi, and maintains his position as co-co-co leader.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – The Grand Tadpole seems to have overcome his injuries of the past couple of years, and is fighting well. Daieisho used his longer reach to attack Takakeisho’s face at will, but it seems Takakeisho is used to it. The Ozeki focused his tsuppari center-mass instead, and proceeded to get Daieisho moving back. Once that happens, it’s very tough to stop, and Daieisho could not find his footing to mount a defense. That’s 8 wins for Takakeisho, and he maintains his spot in the leader group.