Welcome to the first day of act 3, where we sort everyone in to make/kachi-koshi group, and someone wins the Emperor’s Cup! The leader crew have yet to fade, and it may be the case that the only way to thin the pack is to have them fight each other. But in that leader group, it’s become a ritual of “what body part will Takakeisho grip while wincing in pain today”. For fans that like having the top division inhabited by named ranks and ultra-dominant rikishi, its a bit nerve wracking. But it may be the case that in the post Yokozuna era, the top division may (for a few tournaments) end up as Juryo Plus. We already see that with “any man can win” bashos , and rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke taking the cup.
Kaisei defeats Ishiura – Once Ishiura decided to go chest to chest with Kaisei, there was really only one way it was going to turn out. A great deal of respect for Ishiura’s optimism in that move, but physics is not interested in your hopes. Ishiura drops to 2-9.
Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku – These two are hurt enough, that they are more or less going through the motions at this point. There was not a lot of energy from either Shohozan or Kotoshogiku. They are both injured veterans who are struggling to muddle through their last few basho. Shohozan improves to 3-8.
Ichinojo defeats Kotoeko – Ichinojo demonstrates the power he can bring to a match when he’s on his sumo. There was little that 116kg Kotoeko could do except try to pick a nice place to land.
Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi takes early control, but can’t keep it as Meisei backs him up to the tawara, and gives him a firm shove to the middle of his chest. At this point both men are just hoping to find a route to 8.
Tobizaru defeats Onosho – Some poor form from Tobizaru at the tachiai, his head is down and he’s on his toes as Onosho makes contact. This opened him wide up to a hitakikomi, but Onosho was looking to do straightforward power sumo today. But while Onosho was working to apply maximum force to Tobizaru’s face, Tobizaru got his right hand inside and under Onosho’s left arm, forcing Onosho to break off and defend. An Tobizaru attempt at a leg trip was and inspired choice, and it set up the combo where Onosho found his left arm pulling him forward and down. Never the master of his own balance, Onosho could not keep his feet. Onosho is knocked from the leader group, and Tobizaru improves to 9-2.
Enho defeats Shimanoumi – A welcome, small, but effective improvement in Enho’s sumo today. He was able to get in low, and keep Shimanoumi’s hands and arms busy. As is the case with some rikishi fighting Enho, they get so focused on hands and arms that they don’t really focus on moving forward or foot placement. In a moment, Shimanoumi remembers he should use his superior mass to win, and rushes ahead. Enho dodges and Shimanoumi rolls off the dohyo and into a shimpan, picking up the 3-8 spare.
Wakatakakage defeats Chiyotairyu – Wakatakakage deflects Chiyotairyu’s tachiai to the side, but maintains contact. Chiyotairyu responds by grabbing Wakatakakage’s face and pulling him forward. But he did not have nearly enough room on the dohyo to execute, and Chiyotairyu is driven out by Wakatakakage’s foward lunge. Wakatakakage maintains his spot in the leader group.
Tokushoryu defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu goes chest to chest with Tokushoryu at the tachiai. Love the optimism and enthusiasm out of Hoshoryu, but again physical reality asserts itself and the mechanics of 107kg vs 170kg make themselves apparent.
Kotoshoho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tries a slap down, loses his balance and staggers forward off the edge of the dohyo. They gave Kotoshoho a hikiotoshi kimarite, but at the moment Aoiyama lost, Kotoshoho was practicing good social distancing.
Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – A direct hatakikomi at the tachiai saw Hokutofuji step to the side, and in the blink of an eye, Ryuden picks up his 8th loss.
Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi launched a moment early, but he gained no real advantage. Takanosho got his hands inside and underneath Tamawashi pushing volley, and took control of the match. Tamawashi’s feet were not set to defend, and he was forced back, and unable to reset. Takanosho was able to keep the pressure on, and the match ended in the blink of an eye.
Terunofuji defeats Myogiryu – Not sure I am digging Terunofuji’s late pushes this tournament. I get that he is fired up, but lets try to keep it clean, kaiju. It is good to know that Terunofuji did not take the moment of his day 10 loss to lose his composure and enter a losing streak. Instead to overpowers Myogiryu and gets his 8th win for September.
Tochinoshin defeats Endo – Tochinoshin applied a double hand pull on the back of Endo’s head, and Endo had no way to recover. Not really awesome sumo, but I am guessing Tochinoshin is just working on survival at this point. If this is going to be Tochinoshin’s “brand of sumo”, from here on out, I say “no thanks”. Endo make-koshi for September.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – Has Shodai become that strong, or has Takayasu gotten that weak? He was frankly overpowered by Shodai today, and more or less beaten at his own style of sumo. Shodai seems to have perfect the skill of absorbing a large amount of attack energy and keeping himself upright, on balance and in the fight. I think it was world war I German Admiral Scheer who declared that the first job of a warship is to stay afloat. Shodai has adapted this axiom for sumo, and I think it’s paying off.
Daieisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Daieisho shows that you can defeat someone by repeatedly striking them in the face, and delivers Terutsuyoshi’s 8th loss in a painful manner. There is that one left hand jab / thrust to the chin that Daieisho applies just as Terutsuyoshi falls out of the ring that is particularly brutal.
Mitakeumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki really had nothing in terms of offense, and rapidly found himself unable to defend against Mitakeumi’s forward pressure. Mitakeumi does appear to have gotten his traditional week 2 fade out of the way early, and is back to some solid sumo. Double digits are still possible for him, if he can keep his sumo focused.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takakeisho got an open route to Takarafuji’s chest immediately at the tachiai, and never slowed down the attack. Of course Takarafuji attempted to defend, but could not find a way to keep stable under the blows to his chest. Of course there was that “what is going on with his right arm” moment as Takakeisho went to stand up following the win.
Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama went for right hand inside at the tachiai, and was able to sneak that hand inside Okinoumi’s defenses. A heartbeat later, the Ozeki rolled into the throw and got 150kg worth Okinoumi airborne. Is it just me, or was that reminiscent of Hakuho’s flying lessons?