With the middle day in the record books, its all a rocket ride to next Sunday at the final matches of this January tournament. There were a number of fans who worried that the COVID surge happening in Japan and around the world would lead to the cancelation of this tournament before it started, or certainly sometime before the final day, but I would guess they are going to get this one done. I, for one, am delighted to have sumo right now as a worthy topic to push the nonsense out of my attention for a couple of weeks.
As the bow twirler stepped off the dohyo today, Daieisho had his kachi-koshi, and a 2 win lead over the closest chasers. While the concept of 2 losses for Daieisho in the next 7 days is not impossible for Daieisho, I would say that given how well he is fighting, it’s unlikely. He has beaten all the named ranks, and it’s up to the rank and file to give it their best shot. Should he prevail, we would once again see a Hatsu yusho winner from the rank and file.
Daiamami defeats Kotonowaka – A fairly straightforward yotsu match, not sure what happened here with Kotonowaka, he did not seem to really have much stamina. Daiamami goes back to Juryo after his visit with a 4-4 record.
Yutakayama defeats Ichinojo – Yutakayama came in strong at the tachiai, and for some reason I can’t identify, Ichinojo repeatedly tried to slap him down. That lack of any resistance to Yutakayama’s advance made the formidable Ichinojo manageable for Yutakayama, and he was quickly dispatched. Both end the day 5-3.
Sadanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s attempt at an arm bar throw stalls out at just the wrong time, leaving Sadanoumi behind him as Terutsuyoshi’s feet are at the tawara. Its a quick trip into the fans for Terutsuyoshi as Sadanoumi improves to 4-4. That left arm of Terutsuyoshi looks like it needs direct medical attention. Man, sumo and injuries is a triggering subject some days.
Shimanoumi defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji got a good position at the tachiai, but for some reason latched on to the notion of pulling Shimanoumi down, and would not switch to plan “B”. Without much forward pressure, the second Isegahama rikishi in a row heads for the bleachers as Shimanoumi improves to 5-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama’s tachiai was a bit messy, and Hoshoryu’s was solid. Hoshoryu took the inside position, and was too close for Aoiyama to bash about. With Hoshoryu in close, he ran Big Dan out to improve to 3-5.
Myogiryu defeats Akua – Yet again Akua fought well, but could not win. This gives me concern. If Akua is down, lets say, 20% from his normal power due to lingering effects of his December bout with COVID-19, what can we guess about Hakuho? Many people who have endured a run in with the SARS-COV2 bug have had fatigue, lethargy and various challenges weeks or months after the virus has cleared out of their body.
Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko was pushed back at the tachiai, and struggled to gain offensive traction against Kiribayama. A risky pull attempt from Kiribayama payed off, and sent Kotoeko off balance and over the edge. Kiribayama improves to 6-2.
Meisei defeats Akiseyama – Akiseyama has now lost 2 in a row, and is not realistically in consideration for the yusho race. Meisei had all the energy today, moving straight from the tachiai and driving relentlessly forward. Both end the day 6-1.
Tobizaru defeats Tokushoryu – This was the first time in 7 attempts that Tobizaru has been able to beat Tokushoryu. There was no mad Tobizaru rush at the tachiai, in fact he greatly reduced his normal jumping about and focused on keeping square to Tokushoryu’s body. It payed off brilliantly as Tobizaru improves to 3-5.
Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji loves to frustrate opponents with solid, calm defense. He had no chance against Onosho today who can focus a remarkable amount of thrust through his hands. When those hands find your chest, it’s time to move. I counted 4 steps from the shikiri-sen to the win. Onosho improves to 5-3.
Ryuden defeats Hokutofuji – This version of Ryuden is a contender. I wish he would have gotten into his battle mode earlier, but I am happy he is here now. He got Hokutofuji off balance early and kept working the throw, eventually rolling Hokutofuji to the clay. He improves to 3-5.
Daieisho defeats Kagayaki – Points to Kagayaki for really putting out maximum effort. He had Daieisho moving back, but maybe Kagayaki got a little over eager, extending his balance forward to try to finish Daieisho off. Daieisho had a firm grip on Kagayaki’s arm, and threw him forward, out of the ring. Daieisho remains unbeaten at 8-0, securing his kachi-koshi on day 8.
Takayasu defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho, no wins in 8 days, and make-koshi. For the Sadogatake heya’s top man, that’s really grim. I have no idea what is wrong with the guy, but I hope he can bounce back soon. Takayasu’s footwork was sloppy again today, but he had a fairly low power opponent. Takayasu improves to 5-3.
Terunofuji defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi is a tough man to contain, but Terunofuji bracketed him early. A leg trip attempt by Okinoumi was ultimately pointless as Terunofuji completely dominated this match, improving him to 5-3.
Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin bounced off at the tachiai, and Takanosho charged in to keep him moving. It worked brilliantly, sending Tochinoshin into the tate-gyoji for the extra point conversion. Takanosho joins the crowd of 12 at 5-3.
Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – Watching Takakeisho right now is painful. I can only imagine being Takakeisho is much more so. Tamawashi slaps him around, spins him right round, like a record baby, and pushes him stumbling out for some 1:1 time with a lucky fan. Tamawashi improves to 5-3.
Asanoyama defeats Endo – Asanoyama wisely forgoes the yotsu battle with Endo, and reverts to his early catalog of oshi-zumo. The pushing attack works a treat, and Endo is off balance and moving back when Asanoyama grabs him and puts him across the bails to improve to 5-3.
Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – As expected, Mitakeumi rallies against another Ozeki opponent, defeating all 3 of them. But losing to 5 other rikishi. Shodai threw everything at Mitakeumi, but could not shake the original tadpole, who kept Shodai centered, stayed low and constantly looking for an avenue to attack. Mitakeumi improves to 3-5.