After talking about the funnel for days, I was amazed by how many escaped it today. To be certain the escape is usually to make-koshi, but it looks like a large number or rikishi decided the could do without day 15 drama, and accepted their 8th loss today. When the dust was settled and the kensho all distributed, there were only 5 rikishi with the magic 7-7 score, an amazing reduction from the 14 potentials we had following day 13.
But the drama was not reduced in total, only shifted higher up the banzuke. In a match that is sure to have sumo fans arguing at least until tomorrow, Endo defeated Terunofuji, to hand him his first loss on the clay. This lowers the Ozeki’s score to 12-2, and brings both himself and Takakeisho to 1 win behind the yusho race leader. Terunofuji faces Takakeisho on day 15, and should the Grand Tadpole defeat Terunofuji in the final match of the basho, it would trigger at least a playoff between the two of them, although Endo could be included if he wins his match against Shodai.
I believe they are testing Terunofuji’s mental toughness on purpose. He has shown himself to be fragile in the past, and it’s clear to everyone who follows sumo that he’s on a Yokozuna path. I am grateful they are not going to just hand it to him, but its just a bit too obvious right now. I don’t know if he’s going to make it, but at the moment he’s the only man on the dohyo producing Yokozuna class numbers.
Chiyoshoma defeats Daiamami – Daiamami seemed ready to accept his make-koshi, and once Chiyoshoma had a grip on his head, Daiamami went soft and took his 8th loss for make-koshi. Chiyoshoma improves to 7-7 and will face his fate tomorrow.
Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Both break free of the funnel, and I have to give my complements to Kaisei on fighting well this tournament. Terutsuyoshi was able to attack inside at the tachiai, but Kaisei shut down all attempts to convert that superior position to any kind of advantage. Terutsuyoshi drops to 6-8 and is make-koshi, Kaisei improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi.
Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Kotoeko breaks out of the funnel with a fine match against Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi defended well, but Kotoeko kept pressing the attack, and managed to get both hands around Shimanoumi’s body and charge forward. Shimanoumi ends the day 7-7 and Kotoeko gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi.
Ishiura defeats Tsurugisho – As lksumo pointed out, the exchange between Juryo and Makuuchi is not simple this basho, as there are not that many promotion candidates to balance out the demotion candidates. I have hopes that if Ishiura can win one more, he may manage to find some way to remain in the top division. Ishiura sidesteps Tsurugisho and hurls him out today for a kind of cheap win, but it’s still a win. He improves to 6-8.
Tochinoshin defeats Chiyomaru – Tochinoshin went big at the tachiai, and got a deep double inside grip on Chiyomaru. Tochinoshin is one of the few men in sumo large enough, and with long enough arms he can reach around Chiyomaru’s belly. Once Tochinoshin latched on, it was a quick stroll for him to escort Chiyomaru out to improve to 5-9.
Kiribayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Where has this version of Kiribayama been? Solid sumo, forceful right hand outside grip, he shut down any offense that Chiyotairyu may have attempted and dumped him over the edge of the dohyo. Kiribayama improves to 5-9.
Myogiryu defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka was on defense from the start, and really could do little more than try to blunt whatever Myogiryu tried. Kotonowaka even tried to take Myogiryu to his chest to slow him down, but Myogiryu set his hands, lowered his hips and drove forward for a yorikiri win. Myogiryu improves to 6-8 and Kotonowaka ends the day 7-7.
Aoiyama defeats Akua – Akua went for a left hand grab at the tachiai, but could not convert it into any kind of grip, and the two settled for a loose left hand inside stance. Akua started trying to shift Aoiyama around, to get him off balance, but lost his footing and fell, losing the match via tsukihiza. Both end the day 4=10.
Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Two more rikishi break out of the Darwin funnel. Meisei found the inside position at the tachiai, and just kept accelerating forward. Unable to set any kind of defense or counter attack, Tamawashi was swept out of the ring 3 steps later. Tamawashi is make-koshi at 6-8, Meisei kachi-koshi at 8-6.
Tobizaru defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki refuses to join the Darwin cohort, picking up his 8th loss and accepting his make-koshi. Tobizaru supplied the leaping henka, and focused a thrusting attack center mass on the nearly upright Kagayaki. Tobizaru improves to 5-9.
Wakatakakage defeats Okinoumi – Wakatakakage picks up his 9th win. and improves his bid for san’yaku promotion. Big right hand ottsuke from Wakatakakage shut down Okinoumi’s try to get his grip set up, and Wakatakakage moved forward with power and took the match.
Hokutofuji defeats Hidenoumi – With his make-koshi secure, Hokutofuji is free to dial up the sumo energy and win a few more before the end of the basho. He overpowers Hidenoumi with a combination of nodowa and body thrusts. He improves to 6-8.
Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji got a shallow left hand grip at the tachiai, but it cost him too much territory on the dohyo, and he was a half step too slow to set his feet before Mitakeumi had him at the bales. Takarafuji is make-koshi at 6-8, and Mitakeumi improves to 9-5.
Onosho defeats Daieisho – Onosho punches his ticket to the Darwin station by winning this battle of the big thrusters. Daieisho kept his hips square to Onosho, allowing him to ramp up the pressure. Onosho got him off cadence, off balance and on the run to improve to 7-7.
Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Takayasu picks up his 10th win to go double digits in his second consecutive basho, handing Hoshoryu his 8th loss and make-koshi. Hoshoryu got nice inside hand placement, but could not convert it into any kind of grip, and was unable to withstand Takayasu’s counter attack.
Ichinojo defeats Takanosho – The banzuke team’s job of figuring out san’yaku is not getting easier as Ichinojo manages to pick up win number 9. I am impressed that Takanosho was able to move Ichinojo at all, but he was not positioned well, and had no way to stop the Boulder’s hatakikomi.
Endo defeats Terunofuji – Endo attacked well at the tachiai, and had a commanding double inside grip. But Terunofuji rallied and counter attacked with a lot of torque, seeking to deflect Endo’s forward pressure. The two struggled and threw each other at the bales, and went down together. The gumbai went to the west side, but a monoii was called. There was no clear winner of this match, and any of the 3 possible calls were plausible at this point. Of course, Bruce thinks in these cases we let them fight again and let the best sumo prevail, but… the shimpan call it for Endo. He improves to 11-3.
Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Shodai, get it together man. What the hell happened to your sumo? I note with some suspicion that they did not give you a bout with Terunofuji in act 3. Odd how luck almost always breaks in your favor. Do everyone a favor, and get out all of your cartoon sumo from the akeni, and use it on Endo on day 15. Takakeisho improves to 11-3.