We opened act 2 with the race tightening, as sole leader Myogiryu went down under Hokutofuji’s withering attack. With six rikishi at 5-1, we enter the middle weekend with a wide open competition to see who will take the top of the leader board. At the far end of the yusho race, Takarafuji earned his first win today, and joined a group of 5 with just a single win for March.
Hidenoumi defeats Yutakayama – Hidenoumi continues to dominate Yutakayama, and now has a 6-0 career record after getting to the side at the tachiai. Yutakayama drops to 1-5 and is likely suffering from a performance limiting injury. I would guess he should book his seat on the barge to Juryo now.
Kotoeko defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu’s second visit to the top division is no better than his first this March. He engages Kotoeko in a thrusting match, and gets surprised when the far more agile Kotoeko steps to the side as he pushing forward. Kotoeko improves to 4-2.
Tsurugisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Tsurugisho delivers a flying henka and a mighty shove before he belly flops to the clay. The gyoji gives the match to Terutsuyoshi, but a monoii declares a rematch. Round 2: Tsurugisho sky-cranes Terutsuyoshi to leave no doubt whose sumo wins today.
Chiyoshoma defeats Daiamami – Chiyoshoma stiff-arm blocks Daiamami’s tachiai, standing him upright. Taking a gamble, he immediately pulls Daiamami, who tumbles to the clay. Chiyoshoma improves to 4-2, and I have to say I am enjoying his sumo.
Akiseyama defeats Kaisei – The battle of the mega-fauna, part 1 goes to Akiseyama. Kaisei’s hold on Akiseyama slips as he attempts a kotenage, and Akiseyama finds Kaisei’s back to him. A quick push out later, and both end the day 4-2.
Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – My compliments to Ryuden. Aoiyama has looked really powerful through act 1, and today he fired up the V-Twin attack at the tachiai. Pounding away on Ryuden’s upper body, he looked ready to rack up his 5th win. Ryuden stayed on his feet, and stayed in the match, and endured a punishing rain of blows. A well time side-step put Aoiyama in poor position, and Ryuden shoved him out to improve to 2-4.
Hoshoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu’s tachiai was a off today, it lacked power, focus and timing. As Chiyotairyu came off the shikiri-sen, he chose to grab Hoshoryu’s face, and pull. It was an easy to anticipate, and Hoshoryu held strong against the initial hit, and pushed with power against the pull, sending Chiyotairyu out in a hurry. Hoshoryu improves to 3-3.
Kotonowaka defeats Midorifuji – Kotonowaka tosses Midorifuji at the gyoji’s ankles, and nearly succeeds in taking them both down. Midorifuji seems to be struggling starting out act 2, and both end the day at 2-4.
Tobizaru defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent defensive sumo from Tobizaru, who put all of his energy in preventing Tochinoshin from getting any kind of grip. As the former Ozeki batted away at Tobizaru, Tobizaru took advantage of Tochinoshin’s limited mobility, and got behind the Georgian strong-man for win number 4.
Chiyonokuni defeats Kagayaki – We have not seen this grade of sumo from Chiyonokuni in years, and it’s really welcome to see him fighting so well. Kagayaki has the better tachiai, but Chiyonokuni shifted left, and used his left hand grip to amplify Kagayaki’s 3rd step forward. He goes cruising past and lands face down on the tawara as Chiyonokuni improves to 5-1.
Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi attacks high and inside at the tachiai, but Ichinojo seems to have been working on his balance and foot placement. Ichinojo holds his ground as Tamawashi puts maximum pressure into his attack, just to meet with a properly timed pull down from Ichinojo. The Boulder improves to 4-2.
Okinoumi defeats Endo – Endo’s mini-rally of 2 consecutive wins ends when Okinoumi anticipates and nullifies each and every of Endo’s attack moves. Both end the day at 2-4, and are having a rough Haru basho.
Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Sole-leader Myogiryu opens strong at the tachiai, and gets his hands in Hokutofuji’s armpits. No matter what Hokutofuji applied, Myogiryu absorbed, and the two were stalemated. Myogiryu tentatively attempted a pull-down, which gave Hokutofuji an inside attack route. From there, Myogiryu lost control of his body position, and moments later lost his first match of Haru, falling to 5-1.
Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – For all of his grunting and roaring today, Takayasu lost the tachiai to Mitakeumi, and Takayasu found himself in for a rough ride. While Mitakeumi took control of Takayasu’s upper body, Takayasu’s hands found Mitakeumi’s belt. Mitakeumi realizes the risk on heart beat before Takayasu swings him around and bowls him into the west-side judge. Takayasu now a co-leader as he improves to 5-1.
Takarafuji defeats Daieisho – Takarafuji finally racks up his first win. Daieisho makes the mistake of attacking where Takarafuji’s neck should be, but finds no purchase. Takarafuji, in response, falls into his comfortable defend and extend sumo, as Daieisho throws everything he can at Takarafuji’s nonexistent neck. With his stamina waning, Daieisho can’t keep the pressure up, and Takarafuji switches to attack and drives Daieisho out. Both end the day with 1-5.
Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – My big question was if we would see Terunofuji revert to bad old habits of letting an unexpected loss rattle his fighting spirit. The answer was a hearty tsuridashi as Terunofuji bodily lifts Kiribayama and places him outside the ring. I lost it when NHK commentator Ross Mihara exclaimed “We have lift-off!”
Takanosho defeats Onosho – We see notable, calm, powerful consistency from Takanosho again today. Onosho put a lot of power into his tachiai, but Takanosho focused on keeping his balance and found a right hand inside. That was all it took for him to shift to offense, and Onosho was out three steps later. Takanosho stays in the co-leader group at 5-1.
Asanoyama defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage today, an excellent tachiai, inside position, plenty of power. Asanoyama today, left hand outside grip, and enough forward pressure to be mistaken for fork lift as he makes quick work of Wakatakakage. After looking a bit sloppy the first few days, this is the kind of sumo we expect from an Ozeki, he improves to 5-1.
Meisei defeats Shodai – Tachiai readers know I have been critical of Shodai’s poor form in the tachiai for some time. On his way to Ozeki, he had made adjustments that made it less terrible, but he seems to have fallen back in to his prior mode. That one element seems to be the difference between Ozeki Shodai and Maegashira 8 Shodai, and we all hope he can get back to better sumo soon. Maybe injury? Shodai seems to lack power this basho. Meisei improves to 3-3.
Takakeisho defeats Shimanoumi – Takakeisho opened the throttle at the tachiai, giving Shimanoumi no chance to do anything more than go along for the ride. Takakeisho improves to 4-2, and needs 4 more wins to clear kadoban.