When we previewed day 8 last night, the chase group (one behind the leaders) had seven rikishi. Each and every one of them lost today, for a complete and utter wipe out on the leaderboard. Likewise, 2 of the 3 co-leaders hit the clay today, resulting in one of the most drastic reworking of an early yusho race I have seen in some time.
With nakabi behind us, its on to week 2. From here on the matches for the top rankers grow in challenge as they face off against each other. The big stories for March, Takakeisho still needs 3 more wins to clear kadoban, and Terunofuji needs 4 more wins to punch his ticket back to Ozeki. Both of them are positioned to make that happen, and I am going to love watching the last week of this tournament unfold.
Chiyonoo defeats Kaisei – A couple of impressive strength moves from Chiyonoo today, lifting and swinging the massive Kaisei around to set up the uwatenage. At this point, I am hoping Chiyonoo can end with 9 or 10 wins and re-attain a Maegashira rank for the first time in 4 years.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – An ugly sumo win is still a win, especially when you are as far down the banzuke as Yutakayama is. Chiyoshoma seems to have expected to have an easy route to attack Yutakayama today, but found the flagging member of the Freshmen cohort putting what power he could muster squarely on center-mass. A bad step from Chiyoshoma, and he hit the clay. Yutakayama improves to 3-5, and Chiyoshoma drops from the chaser group.
Daiamami defeats Akiseyama – Daiamami continues his career dominance over Akiseyama, who can’t seem to find a way to switch in any offense today. Daiamami lugs him about for a time, then crumples him in place just over the bales. Both end the day at 4-4.
Tsurugisho defeats Aoiyama – After a roaring start in March, Aoiyama has now lost 3 in a row. He looked in form today, and drove forward against Tsurugisho’s somewhat underpowered counter-blows. But Tsurugisho stepped aside at the tawara, a move Aoiyama should have counted on. Tsurugisho improves to 3-5.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – Straightforward Chiyotairyu sumo – stand Kotoeko at the tachiai and immediately bring him down. Kotoeko had poor foot placement, and I am beginning to think that north-west quadrant of the dohyo is starting to get slippery. Kotoeko’s shifting tachiai probably supplied a good portion of the effort needed to bring him to the clay.
Ryuden defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi still cannot find a formula to beat Ryuden, as Hidenoumi gives Ryuden a much needed white star on day 8. Ryuden connected with his right hand on Hidenoumi’s mawashi early, and nothing that Hidenoumi could broke that grip for more than a brief moment.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru seems to be experimenting with turning these matches into mid-range endurace contests, which is an interesting wrinkle. It’s not effective every time, but I like the experimentation with technique. Terutsuyoshi outlasts his battle-hug, and continues his career dominance over Tobizaru, who drops from the chaser group.
Midorifuji defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin could not set up any defense, and found Midorifuji with a working frontal mawashi grip before the big Georgian could do much. That left hand on the front of Tochinoshin’s mawashi moved downward, and Tochinoshin’s enormous frame followed along, taking him to the clay.
Tamawashi defeats Hoshoryu – Tamawashi drove hard against center-mass, and Hoshoryu had no chance to return in kind. I counted 4 thrusts as all it took to send Hoshoryu out and for Tamawashi to advance to 5-3.
Ichinojo defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni is dropped from the leader group when Ichinojo decided that this match had gone on quite long enough. Points to Chiyonokuni for keeping busy, and putting a lot of brave energy into lifting and moving Ichinojo. But he failed to take into account that as a young lad on the steppes, Ichinojo would wrestle his ponies for fun. Joking aside, you can see elements of that in Ichinojo’s sumo today. Just as Chiyonokuni begins to rally after breaking contact, Ichinojo seems to decide his opponent is a “Bad Pony!” and needs a time out. Ichinojo advances to 5-3.
Endo defeats Kagayaki – I am sure both men had well thought out plans for today’s match. Kagayaki’s hands went for the shoulders, and left his mawashi wide open. Endo seldom passes up an invitation like that. With his favorite frontal grip, Kagayaki was quickly dispatched by oshidash as Endo advances to 4-4.
Kotonowaka defeats Okinoumi – Pretty frustrated with Kotonowaka’s sumo again today (yes, he won..) as he went for a pull within the first few steps. A win is a win, but I know Kotonowaka is capable of strong sumo, even against these guys in the top division. He improves to 3-5.
Shimanoumi defeats Hokutofuji – Some fans on twitter have noticed that the rate of non-winning techniques seems high in the top divisions this March, and I have to agree. Hokutofuji was doing strong sumo today, and launched Shimanoumi into the zabuton, but on his way there, put his left foot blatantly across the bales. A monoii reversed the gyoji’s decision, citing isamiashi, and Shimanoumi picked up his second win of March. This also knocked Hokutofuji out of the chase group.
Wakatakakage defeats Onosho – Onosho loses again, and I am starting to see the same dejected, disappointed look he had in prior disastrous performances, like this past July (2-13). Wakatakakage grabbed Onosho’s right arm at the tachiai, shutting down the thrusting attack. With Onosho’s right arm completely immobilized, Wakatakakage pivoted and shoved to advance to 4-4.
Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s defensive technique is as sharp as always, but seems to lack a fair measure of strength and stamina that he uses to back it up and make it work. Today, Mitakeumi was able restrain and contain Takarafuji, and moved him out for his 4th win.
Takayasu defeats Terunofuji – The BIG match, it could have gone either way in the first moments. Takayasu got both arms around Terunofuji early, and Terunofuji attempted to rotate and bring Takayasu down. But Takayasu froze that move, and for the rest of the match, Terunofuji was unable to square his hips or shoulders against Takayasu. A bit at a time, Takayasu consolidated his hold, and finished by bodily forcing Terunofuji from the ring. Takayasu ends the day at 7-1 and the sole leader for the day.
Meisei defeats Takanosho – Onigiri-kun Takanosho gets a rough ride, and drops from the chase group after Meisei makes quite sure Takanosho continues to not have a single win against him. Meisei’s right hand was he tkey here. It may look simple and obvious, but he used it to great effect. Both men end the day 5-3.
Shodai defeats Kiribayama – At no point did Kiribayama attempt his super-luminal trick from day 7, and Shodai made sure to take him to his chest in the second step, and prevent Kiribayama’s superior speed and mobility from playing much of a role in this match. Kiribayama’s loss came when he tried to shift his grip, and his hands lost any purchase on Shodai’s body. Shodai advances to 4-4.
Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Textbook Takakeisho thrusting match today. Once he had lock-on against Myogiryu, it was just a question of how many volleys it was going to take. 7, the answer was seven. Both end 5-3, and Myogiryu joins the curse of the chase group and loses on day 8.
Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – For the second day in a row, Ozeki Asanoyama is ejected at speed from the dohyo. Maybe the January mode is re-engaged in Daiesiho’s sumo? That would be quite something for him to put on a second half surge. He makes sure that the wipe out of the chase group is complete, sending Asanoyama to 5-3 to end the day.