The yusho race is down to two rikishi – Daieisho and Shodai. Meisei comes up just short in spite of a superb effort, and Terunofuji dismantles and ejects Asanoyama in a show of how much his sumo has improved. The burden is now on both leaders to keep winning, the first one to lose will likely forfeit the cup to the other. This is a much harder road for Shodai as he has to face all of the rikishi that Daiesho already beat in week 1. Should they both win their remaining matches, or lose the same number, it will be a playoff at the end of day 15 to see who takes the cup home. At this point, the schedule favors Daieisho, but Shodai has the operational advantage. Having already taken a yusho, the distraction of leading into the final days may not be as severe as it is for Daieisho. Either way, it should be a great final 3 days.
Akiseyama defeats Akua – For the first time in 6 matches, Akiseyama manages to get a win. The critical move for him was shifting his left hand lower for the final push. He improves to 7-5, and may still find kachi-koshi yet.
Kotoeko defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi gets the early advantage, and charges a head. Kotoeko reverses position at the bales and drives forward for a come from behind win. He finishes the day 6-6.
Shimanoumi defeats Yutakayama – Shimanoumi with maximum effort today against Yutakayama. After a few probing thrusts from both men. Shimanoumi got a double inside grip just as Yutakayama tried to load up a throw. From that point on, it was Shimanoumi’s match. Both end the day 7-5.
Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – I posed the question last night – could he make katasukashi work against Big Day? Why yes he did! Aoiyama was pounding away, but Midorifuji endured, got his position and gave that giant dumpling a quick trip to the clay. Midorifuji improves to 7-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Myogiryu – We get another day where Hoshoryu moves to the side at the tachiai, hopefully this is not his new favorite move. He rapidly gets behind Myogiryu and gives him a mighty shove to win. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5.
Kotonowaka defeats Kiribayama – Kotonowaka got his preferred grip at the tachiai, paused a moment, and drove forward for the win. Kiribayama tried for a grip change in all of that, but all it did was lessen the effort Kotonowaka needed to win. Kotonowaka gets his 8th win for kachi-koshi.
Tobizaru defeats Terutsuyoshi – An extreme mobility oshi-zumo fest, which seems to be common for any match with Tobizaru this January. This should have been a more even match, but Terutsuyoshi injured left arm prevented him from matching Tobizaru blow for blow. Tobizaru improves to 6-6, and may end up on the track for a Darwin match on day 15.
Kotoshoho defeats Tokushoryu – Kotoshoho finally gets his first win of the tournament, when Tokushoryu gets a little cheeky and tries what might have been ipponzeoi against Kotoshoho. It collapses with Kotoshoho on top as Tokushoryu belly flops. Kotoshoho shonichi at 1-11.
Ichinojo defeats Onosho – Ichinojo reads Onosho’s massive forward bias and just lets him roll forward, down and out. Not the greatest sumo to watch, but it’s kachi-koshi for Ichinojo at 8-4.
Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – Takarafuji is the master at shutting down other people’s brand of sumo. He does it so well, and you can see it on display today. Kagayaki works to get his hands anywhere inside to start pushing, and Takarafuji just shuts him down. Takarafuji improves to 7-5.
Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – There was that handshake tachiai again, and it’ finds Tochinoshin’s neck with great effect. Although Tochinoshin breaks that neck hold, Hokutofuji is inside and gets his pushing attack against Tochinoshin’s chest, taking him out three steps later. Hey, Hokutofuji? Where was this sumo last week? He improves to 4-8.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho survives a close one, and I have to compliment Meisei on maximum effort on this match. He took a lot of punishment and stayed focused on opening up an attack lane. He found one when his right hand connected with Daieisho’s mawashi knot, and he went to work. Daieisho managed a save at the edge to squeak out a win. But that left hand in Meisei’s chon-mage…. Daieisho maintains his share of the lead at 10-2.
Okinoumi defeats Takayasu – No kachi-koshi for Takayasu, as Okinoumi had this one under his control from the tachiai. Takayasu worked hard to get back to an offensive position, and tried to finish with a throw. Okinoumi read all of this well, and shut it all down. Both end the day at 7-5.
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi took away any chance for Tamawashi to use his preferred oshi-zumo approach, locking him up early and dancing him around. I think that match ended with a twist down (makiotoshi), which I have not seen in a good long while. Mitakeumi improves to 7-5.
Takanosho defeats Endo – Endo’s opening gambit fell apart today, and it was all Takanosho after that. At one point Takanosho was to the side of Endo, and bucked him out like a farm hand chucking a bag of grain. Takanosho improves to 7-5.
Shodai defeats Ryuden – Oh dear, the butt is back. Shodai gets a double inside grip in the first step, turning Ryuden into a piece of struggling baggage. With the win Shodai improves to 10-2 and maintains parity with Daieisho for the lead.
Terunofuji defeats Asanoyama – With Meisei down, Asanoyama is the only rikishi left who might challenge the leader duo. At least until Terunofuji proves yet again that Asanoyama can’t find a way to win against the kaiju. I love how calm and efficient Terunofuji is in this match, while Asanoyama seems to go into struggle mode almost at once. I know Terunofuji has no knees to speak of, but this guy’s sumo is so spot on right now. A well earned kachi-koshi for Terunofuji as he claims an Ozeki scalp.