Today was a satisfying day of sumo, and while the drama of day 11 still hangs in the air like unwelcome flatulence, we at least had some decent sumo action to enjoy. A fair number of rikishi are still in prime shape for day 15 “Darwin” matches. A Darwin match is my term for two 7-7 rikishi fighting head to head on the final day. The entire tournament down to a single match. The winner is kachi-koshi, the loser is make-koshi. I know that some of the folks who set up the fight schedule love these things, and this tournament they seem to be doing everything they can to funnel as many rikishi as possible into this position. Sometime late on day 14, we will now how well it worked.
Tokushoryu defeats Ishiura – Tokushoryu gave ground until Ishiura had him backed up to the tawara. Tokushoryu the surged forward, catching Ishiura off balance and ran him off the dohyo. Tokushoryu picks up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for May, and probably headed back to the top division.
Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Chiyotairyu goes back to oshi-zumo, standing Okinoumi up and slapping him down. Both end the day at 8-4. I am happy that Chiyotairyu is kachi-koshi, he fought well this tournament and showed some versatility in changing up his sumo.
Kaisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi opens with a strong thrusting volley, but Kaisei is just too big to move very far if he is ready to fight. Today, it seems he was. He rallies and drive Tamawashi from the ring, both end the day 6-6.
Daiamami defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi struggled to achieve a grip, and the few moments he was able to grab onto Daiamami’s mawashi, it seemed to only serve to Daiamami’s advantage. In the end, Daiamami carries him over the bales to advance to 6-6.
Shimanoumi defeats Akua – Akua had early control of this match, but decided it was time to pull Shimanoumi down. In fact, it was not time to pull Shimanoumi down, as Shimanoumi surged forward and pushed against Akua’s chest to send him out for his 8th loss, and make-koshi for Natsu. Shimanoumi ends the day 6-6.
Kotonowaka defeats Kagayaki – Kotonowaka gets a great early grip on Kagayaki, who counters with an arm bar hold, and can’t do too much with it. But he had a solid hold of Kotonowaka, and used his lower body to push Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka consolidates his hold as Kagayaki has him moving back, and translates Kagayaki’s forward motion into the energy for a shitatedashinage that won the match. Kotonowaka finishes the day 7-5.
Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyomaru started with a quick thrusting volley, then took Tsurugisho to his chest. Tsurugisho had a firm left hand grip, but did not move with Chiyomaru when he attempted to break contact. Now too far forward, Chiyomaru thrust Tsurugisho to the clay, giving him his 8th loss and make-koshi for Natsu. Chiyomaru improves to 7-5.
Kotoeko defeats Endo – What a great match from Kotoeko! I am going to guess that like me, Endo expected Kotoeko to open with a thrusting attack, instead he grabbed Endo across the chest. Endo’s normal opening attempt a frontal grip was nowhere to be found. You can see Endo move to change attack modes, he hops to the side and reaches down for a hand hold of Kotoeko’s mawashi. But Kotoeko keeps his shoulders square to his opponent and is pushing forward with power. Endo arrests his backward motion at the bales, but Kotoeko continues to drive, and takes him out. Kotoeko improves to 7-5, and really impressed today.
Takarafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma opened strong, but focused his left hand attack on Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji laughed it off, and broke Chiyoshoma’s hold, and charged in to grab Chiyoshoma’s mawashi. Chiyoshoma backed up, but lost balance and Takarafuji converted that to an oshitaoshi. Both end the day at 6-6.
Tochinoshin defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu leapt in early, and I am not sure if it was a bad start, or Tochinoshin was defending against a suspected henka. Hoshoryu lets Tochinoshin get a left hand outside grip, and he’s in business. It’s 3 steps from that moment to the point where Tochinoshin chucks Hoshoryu over the edge of the ring, into Tobizaru. Hoshoryu looks a bit winded and disoriented, and takes time to return to the dohyo. Tochinoshin improves to 4-8.
Aoiyama defeats Myogiryu – Aoiyama won this match, but never really seemed to control it. He was able to counter Myogiryu forward pressure, but chose to launch a risky pulling attack that saw him reverse across the entire diameter of the ring, but finally bring Myogiryu to the clay. Aoiyama improves to 2-10.
Tobizaru defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama had his heart set on grabbing Tobizaru and engaging in a grappling match. He got his wish, but it was Tobizaru who had the superior body position. While Kiribayama is attempting to get some kind of attack going. Tobizaru shifts his stance, attempting a leg trip. The leg trip fails, but Kiribayama’s completely disrupted, with his back turned to Tobizaru. Tobizaru runs him out for the win. Both end the day a 3-9.
Hidenoumi defeats Wakatakakage – Hidenoumi fought well from a low position, forcing Wakatakakage to fight off balance from the tachiai. Hidenoumi converted that to a quick hatakikomi, bringing Wakatakakage to the clay. Hidenoumi improves to 5-7.
Meisei defeats Mitakeumi – Meisei picks up his first ever win against Mitakeumi, and he did it by first carefully setting up his hand position, and then driving forward against his much heavier opponent. This was solid, skilled sumo, and its even better to watch in slow motion. He improves to 6-6, and Mitakeumi is solidly into his week 2 fade with 3 losses in a row.
Hokutofuji defeats Daieisho – Hokutofuji was not interested in losing today. He took a solid look at Daieisho’s day 11 match footage, and noted that the Hatsu yusho winner was closing his eyes at the tachiai. Hokutofuji supplied a hit / shift / slap to drop Daieisho at the tachiai.
Shodai defeats Takanosho – Shodai in classic form today, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Sloppy, slow tachiai, some evasive sumo that dodged Takanosho’s attacks, and a cartoon sumo move at the bales to win. But it’s a win, and he needed one. Shodai improves to 7-5, while Takanosho is make koshi at 4-8, and will vacate his Sekiwake rank.
Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – I was impressed that Ichinojo was not really able to put enough force into his thrusting attacks to move Takakeisho back much if at all. There was a scary moment when Takakeisho went very low to attack, and looked like he might drop a knee. But he found a route to Ichinojo’s center mass and overpowered nearly 200kg worth a rikishi. Wow. Takakeisho improves to 10-2.
Terunofuji defeats Onosho – No lingering mental hangups from Terunofuji that I could notice today. He took Onosho apart and dumped the remains over the east side. Now 11-1 for Terunofuji and still in sole possession of the lead.