We have have a third tournament this year (out of only 5) where a Maegashira 17 is challenging for the yusho late into week 2. Chalk it up to an odd year, or just the relative strength of the entire Makuuchi cohort, but it’s odd to see this play out time and again.
The yusho race is still between Takakeisho and Shimanoumi, with Terunofuji only rikishi still in position to challenge should both leader take a loss. While I was hoping for a day 13 Takakeisho-Terunofuji match, we will get Takakeisho-Shimanoumi instead. At minimum, there will be a special prize or two in Shimanoumi’s immediate future. For those not familiar with Shimanoumi, he had a back to back pair of Juryo yusho at the start of last year, and earned the kanto-sho (fighting spirit) prize in his top division debut.
In a match with Takakeisho, it has been a long 4 years since the two had their only prior fight, and a lot has changed since then. Sato became Takakeisho, put on about 100 kilos, changed stables, and became an Ozeki. Takakeisho is dialed into his sumo right now, so as long as he can keep Shimanoumi from setting up any kind of mawashi grip, he should be able to control the match. Whomever wins this match, I expect them to face Terunofuji on day 14 to complete the 3 way mini round-robin.
Kotonowaka defeats Chiyonoo – Juryo visitor Chiyonoo did not present too much challenge for Kotonowaka. A fine example of keeping your cool, even when your opponent can get both hands inside. Kotonowaka improves to 7-5.
Ichinojo defeats Enho – Points to Enho for blasting off the shikiri-sen into the wall of flesh that is Ichinojo. I don’t think I have seen that level of intensity out Ichinojo in some time. But it’s all for naught as Enho gets buffeted about and heaved out with arms and legs traveling in random directions. Enho down to 2-10 now, and in real danger of dropping out of the top division.
Shimanoumi defeats Ryuden – Co-leader Shimanoumi keeps up the pace, now at 11 wins. Shimanoumi certainly had better body position, and was able to stay lower than Ryuden throughout the match. That closing through, magic stuff. The schedulers have had enough of this, Shimanoumi faces Takakeisho tomorrow.
Meisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Two matta, and then a quick loss for Chiyoshoma as he stepped out less than 4 seconds into the match. One of the matta was in fact a flying henka attempt, so I am a bit sad that we did not really get to see that one play out. Meisei up to 7-5.
Tokushoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Tokushoryu hirate? Ok, fine. Then both of them chest to chest? Err… right. Not sure where this match came from, but it was as unexpected from start to finish. Both end the day at 7-5.
Kaisei defeats Kotoeko – Kaisei used his size advantage to contain and expel Kotoeko before he could generate any offense, or get in motion. Both end the day at 6-6.
Yutakayama defeats Aoiyama – Yutakayama delivers Big Dan Aoiyama a steaming hot fresh bowl of make-koshi. Aoiyama thrusting attack is not even close to its normal power level, so I hope he comes back in January in better condition. Both end the day at 4-8.
Hoshoryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi put all of his hopes in a big nodowa, and it was a mistake. While it raised Hoshoryu up, he was able to advance against Terutsuyoshi, and force him out with a belly flop. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5.
Akua defeats Endo – Where has this version of Akua been? He completely dominated Endo today. After a shaky 1-4 start, he seems to have gotten his sumo together, improving to 7-5 and surprising Endo.
Chiyonokuni defeats Myogiryu – Chiyonokuni retaliates against Myogiryu’s strong opening combo to quickly pick up his 8th win. While I would rather see him win fighting forward, it’s still kachi-koshi for the grumpy badger. Welcome back to the Makuuchi sir! Looks like you may be staying a while.
Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – It was fun (to me anyhow) to see Tochinoshin open with a nodowa against Hokutofuji. Frequently that is Hokutofuji’s go-to weapon. But lookie there, Hokutofuji took all of that to set up a position where he could block Tochinoshin’s left hand outside grip. Tochinoshin put so much effort into getting that left hand grip that he was unprepared for Hokutofuji’s counter-attack. You don’t see Hokutofuji go chest to chest too frequently, but maybe he should resort to it more often. That’s kachi-koshi for Hokutofuji.
Kotoshoho defeats Okinoumi – Kotoshoho collapsed his tachiai, leaving Okinoumi too far forward. A simple hand shift to the back of Okinoumi’s neck, and push. Kotoshoho improves to 7-5.
Kagayaki defeats Onosho – Kagayaki’s defensive foot placement and initial arm-pit attack carried this match. He’s not a flashy fighter, but once he is dialed into his sumo, he can be tough to overcome. Both end the day at 5-7.
Kiribayama defeats Sadanoumi – Kiribayama picks up a much needed win. Nice attempt at a leg hook throw (kakenage?) by Kiribayama. Sadanoumi attempted to counter with a belt throw, but he was out as he started the pivot. 2-10 for the struggling Kiribayama.
Wakatakakage defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru was completely overwhelmed by Wakatakakage, and rapidly found himself tossed out of the match. That’s loss 8 for the flying monkey, and he’s make-koshi for November.
Takayasu defeats Daieisho – More wild, chaotic sumo from Takayasu today. It brought him a 7th win of the tournament, but each time I see him go on a rampage like this, I just think about how poorly he moves. Thankfully for him, the rikishi who exploit that aspect of his sumo are all sitting this one out. He improves to 7-5.
Terunofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Low speed tachiai from Terunofuji, and straight into his power stance. Mitakeumi took just a moment to defeat, and seems to have only offered token resistance. The look on Mitakeumi’s face as the gumbai when to Terunofuji was along the lines of “What…?”. Terunofuji now 10-2.
Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi decided he was going to try to pull following the opening combo. It’s clear that Takanosho was ready for it, and blasted forward against Tamawashi’s chest for the win. Both end the day at 6-6.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji was completely disrupted at the tachiai, could not set up any kind of defense, and was out before he could take a second step under his own authority. Takakeisho maintains his share of the lead at 11-1.