The Darwin funnel continued it’s dreadful work today, and no fewer than 14 rikishi are hugging the 7-6 / 6-7 center line. The men caught in its mathematical jaws have one last chance to escape tomorrow on day 14. But i predict we will have a bumper crop of 7-7 matches on the final day. Brutal to be sure, but that is the nature of sumo.
At the front end of the yusho race, Endo defeated Takakeisho after Terunofuji dispatched Ichinojo. This puts Terunofuji 2 wins ahead of Endo and Takakeisho, and a win by Terunofuji tomorrow would seal his second consecutive yusho. I for one will be a bit miffed if Terunofuji finishes 14-1, but never having been beaten on the clay. He faces Endo on day 14, and we will see if Sumo’s golden boy can play spoiler and open the door just a crack for someone else to take the cup.
Kaisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s nodowa did not pay off against Kaisei, but it did look painful. Kaisei stayed engaged, and worked to get right hand outside grip. As soon as both hands were locked it, it was lift and shift for Kaisei, carrying Chiyoshoma out to improve to 7-6.
Chiyomaru defeats Kotonowaka – Chiyomaru’s opened the match attacking Kotonowaka’s face, but soon converted into a left hand inside position. After letting his grip settle for just a moment, he drives forward, with a struggling Kotonowaka pinned against that enormous belly of his. 4 steps later, Kotonowaka is over the bales and Chiyomaru has his kachi-koshi for May. I think it’s been a couple of years since he was able to get 8 wins in the top division, glad to see him stick around.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Akua – Akua could find no purchase on Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai, and wasted precious seconds trying to find some kind of grip. Terutsuyoshi planted his head in Akua’s chest and powered forward, driving Akua out for his 6th win. Akua down to 4-9.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tamawashi – We have not seen much of Chiyotairyu’s thunder-demon form this tournament, but it showed up today. His tachiai was so potent, it rocked Tamawashi back, and Chiyotairyu followed through, driving Tamawashi to the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 9-4.
Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Ishiura put all of his hopes on a left hand inside grip, that he could not maintain. But through a combination of moves, he pinned Kagayaki against the bales. But an off angle lunge by Ishiura imploded, and he fell to the clay. That’s make-koshi for Ishiura and a likely return to Juryo, while Kagayaki improves to 6-7.
Shimanoumi defeats Okinoumi – Shimanoumi went chest to chest with Okinoumi, but could not establish any kind of grip. But he managed to find enough power to move Okinoumi around, and over a few surges forward, started moving forward, finishing with a drive that sent Okinoumi out. Shimanoumi improves to 7-6.
Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Kiribayama owned this match from the tachiai, where he connected with a powerful left hand thrust that stood Kotoeko upright. Kotoeko rallied and got chest to chest with Kiribayama after a poorly considered Kiribayama pull down attempt. But Kiribayama’s left hand inside grip was tight enough to endure Kotoeko’s grip shift, and was the key to his win, improving Kiribayama to 4-9.
Aoiyama defeats Daiamami – Aoiyama opening combo fell apart at the tachiai, allowing Daiamami to get his body set and his balance aligned. He and Daiamami then traded thrusting attack, neither gaining advantage. Aoiyama wisely changed attack plans, and grabbed Daiamami’s chest and pushed forward, then slapping Daiamami down. Aoiyama improves to 3-10.
Tobizaru defeats Tochinoshin – People love Tobizaru matches, because he comes up with nutty, wild monkey sumo about half the time. Today he unleashed his monkey-sumo on Tochinoshin, and probably left him a bit puzzled for a moment. That moment was all Tobizaru needed to get the former Ozeki over the bales, and both finish the day 4-9. Of course Tobizaru finishes, win or lose, with a dash into the crowd.
Meisei defeats Tsurugisho – Meisei’s leaping tachiai may have been a bit early, but Konosuke did not call it, and the fight was on. Meisei quickly contained Tsurugisho, then ramped up the forward pressure, driving Tsurugisho out by oshidashi. Meisei improves to 7-6.
Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – We all knew this day was coming, and I take some satisfaction that it was Wakatakakage who was able to help Hokutofuji achieve “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. Hokutofuji should have been ready for that side step, as that contact matta from Wakatakakage was a dead give away. But it’s enough for Wakatakakage to get his 8th win and be kachi-koshi for May.
Daieisho defeats Hidenoumi – Daieisho is missing about 30% of his normal thrusting power, and to Hidenoumi credit, he stayed in the fight and absorbed most of what Daieisho produced. Daieisho rallied twice, and the second power surge was enough to drive Hidenoumi out, giving Hidenoumi his 8th loss for Natsu, and his make-koshi.
Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – Onosho only got one big thrust in, and it was Mitakeumi who had the superior offense today. He marched Onosho out for his 8th win and kachi-koshi for May, improving to 8-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Takanosho – Takanosho may vacate san’yaku entirely, given his 9th loss today. Takanosho opened strong, with a pair of thrusting attacks against Hoshoryu’s face. But as Takanosho was focused high, Hoshoryu was working center mass, getting a left hand outside grip. Too late Takanosho realized he had been positioned for the throw, and over he went. Hoshoryu improves to 6-7.
Takayasu defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu did not permit Takayasu to open with his wild, thrashing sumo, catching him under the armpits and shutting down any of Takayasu’s plans of offense. Stuck on defense, Takayasu played it as large and immobile as he could, which is actually one of his stronger sumo modes. For folks who like sumo mechanics, you can see that Takayasu lets Myogiryu work the upper body, but Takayasu carefully keeps re-centering to put his feet between the shikiri-sen. This allows him the maximum possible space to use should Myogiryu surge forward. When the surge came, Takayasu shut it down, and moved to re-center, but that move broke Myogiryu’s grip, and Takayasu flashed to offense, sending him out. That’s loss number 8 for Myogiryu, who is make-koshi as Takayasu improves to 9-4. I saw Myogiryu looking exhausted following the match, and Takayasu looking like he was just getting started. The man has inhuman stamina.
Terunofuji defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo put forth an impressive effort today, and opened strong against Terunofuji. He worked his right hand inside grip to the greatest extent he could, but Terunofuji’s defense was strong, and he waited for Ichinojo to attack. He did not wait long, and Terunofuji’s left hand found an outside grip while shutting down Ichinojo’s attack. With a working offensive grip, Terunofuji pressed the attack and 5 steps later Ichinojo was dumped over the East side, crushing a shimpan. Terunofuji improves to 12-1, and a single win in the next 2 days will secure his second consecutive Emperor’s cup.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji attempted to get into a solid defensive position against Shodai at the tachiai, but Shodai’s ottsuke blocked Takarafuji’s left hand, and prevented him from setting up. While Takarafuji worked to regroup, Shodai got his left in place and pressed forward, taking Takarafuji with him for a yorikiri win. That’s kachi-koshi for Shodai, clearing kadoban and securing his Ozeki rank for another 4 months.
Endo defeats Takakeisho – Endo was no match for Takakeisho’s thrusting power today, but his expert sumo mechanics and ring sense won the match. A perfectly time side step at the bales as Takakeisho rushed to push him out sent the Ozeki headlong over the edge of the dohyo as Takakeisho executed an expansive belly flop. Both end the day 10-3, 2 wins behind Terunofuji.