Over the course of day 14, a magical feast of sumo was set for us to enjoy on senshuraku, the final day. Four Darwin matches, rank battles and the “Brawl to end it all” to finish it all off for the Emperor’s Cup. For the first basho in a year to feature Hakuho on day 15, the Sumo kyokai milked it for every drop, and I could not be happier with how it has unfolded.
Four more rikishi hit kachi-koshi today, and the safety of 8 wins, and a total of eight who enter day 15 with 7-7 records.
No matter what happens tomorrow, the yusho will go to a perfect 15-0 score, which has not happened since March of 2019, when Hakuho took the cup in Osaka. From the two leaders, this has been nothing short of maximum sumo for the full 14 days, and sumo fans around the world are happy to see such dominant execution from not just one, but two rikishi during this Nagoya basho. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, with day 15 yet to come.
Daiamami defeats Wakamotoharu – Nice ottsuke from Daiamami today shut down any attempt by Wakamotoharu to get that left hand inside to set up an attack. Daiamami shuts it down, and then marches him out. Simple, clean, effective. Daiamami improves to 4-10.
Tochinoshin defeats Ichiyamamoto – Tochinoshin found a way to stay in the ring as Ichiyamamoto attacked well early. But then his left hand found its mark. That right knee is still little more than gristle and old UCC coffee cans taped together, but out came the sky-crane. Ichiyamamoto had never faced Tochinoshin before, so he had no idea what this guy was capable of. 140kg of rikishi left the clay as Tochinoshin bodily carried him out to advance to 6-8. Ichiyamamoto ends the day at 7-7, and will face his first top division Darwin match to decide if he gets to stay in Makuuchi.
Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – Tokushoryu hit and shift left at the tachiai by Tokushoryu had almost zero effect, and Kaisei responded by landing a deep left hand grip. Kaisei appeared to have advantage as the two pressed forward against each other. Tokushoryu lifted with his right, got Kaisei off balance and threw him down with a sukuinage for the win. Tokushoryu improves to 6-8, Kaisei picks up his 8th loss, and he is make-koshi.
Tsurugisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi hits fast at the tachiai, and latches on with his left hand, his head buried in Tsurugisho’s chest. This only slows Tsurugisho down for a moment, who is strong enough to lift Terutsuyoshi and carry him over the bales. Tsurugisho improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi for July.
Shimanoumi defeats Chiyonokuni – I once again marvel at just how frantic Chiyonokuni’s thrusting attacks can be. Shimanoumi tries to respond, but Chiyonokuni is delivering 3 hits for every 1 he receives. Shimanoumi decides thats not going to work and takes Chiyonokuni to his chest. Shimanoumi’s left hand drives the rest of the match, setting up the uwatenage that drops Chiyonokuni to the clay. Shimanoumi improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi. Chiyonokuni is 7-7 and it’s Darwin for him.
Kotonowaka defeats Takarafuji – Kotonowaka is really on his sumo this July, and we have not seen anything like this level of performance from him since January during his second tournament in the top division. Takarafuji got his preferred grip at the tachiai, and even the esteemed Murray Johnson said of Kotonowaka, “Now, he’s in trouble”, and for a moment it looked like he was. But Kotonowaka was able to blunt each of Takarafuji’s probing attacks, as the veteran inched Kotonowaka closer to the bales. But Kotonowaka was well aware of the edge of the ring. He lifted and pivoted and placed Takarafuji out to rack his 11th win. Wow, the sky’s the limit for you sir.
Chiyoshoma defeats Ishiura – Chiyoshoma had his hands up early at the tachiai, in an attempt to keep Ishiura at a good distance while the Chiyoshoma set up his match plan. Chiyoshoma gets the right hand deep, near the mawashi knot, and finds a shallow right hand grip. He did not wait a moment for Ishiura to defend, as Chiyoshoma has the uwatenage cocked, and he lets it fly with glorious effect. That’s Chiyoshoma’s 8th win and he picks up a well deserved kachi-koshi.
Onosho defeats Chiyonoo – Chiyonoo let Onosho get both hands inside and square his shoulders. At that point, Onosho could push forward with all of his considerable strength without fear of slap down, and he drove Chiyonoo quickly out. Chiyonoo drops to 7-7 and will enjoy a day 15 Darwin match, while Onosho improves to 6-8.
Kagayaki defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi picks up his 6th consecutive loss, as he yielded the inside route to Kagayaki. Perhaps he was looking to get a hand hold on Kagayaki’s mawashi and work for a belt attack? None of it was working for him, he tried a pull, which failed as well. All this time Kagayaki keeps up the pressure against center mass, and Okinoumi finds himself pushed out to drop to 5-9. Kagayaki improves to 7-7, and joins the Darwin group.
Chiyomaru defeats Kotoeko – I don’t know whats broken inside of Kotoeko, but I do hope that he can get it fixed. As with all other matches of this basho, Kotoeko attacked with vigor, but Chiyomaru endured and gave as well as he received, up to the point where Kotoeko was off balance, and then Chiyomaru delivered the hatakikomi. Chiyomaru improves to 6-8.
Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Woah! Hokutofuji charges in at full power, Tamawashi puts a left on Hokutofuji’s shoulder, and a right hand on his neck and just tosses 162kg of Hokutofuji bodily to the clay. Tamawashi improves to 11-3. One of the biggest oshitaoshi I have seen in a while.
Myogiryu defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru really put some effort into today’s match, but he left sense center of balance back in the heya again today, and found himself stumbling at the moment he should have put the doom on Myogiryu. Myogiryu obliges with a hatakikomi to send Tobizaru to a blistering 11th loss for Nagoya. Myogiryu improves to 4-10.
Takanosho defeats Hidenoumi – The schedulers made sure there were no winners to this match, only someone who lost somewhat more than the other. Takanosho opened strong, landed a nodowa, and drove Hidenoumi out for his 8th loss and make-koshi. Takanosho picks up his 7th win and joins the Darwin clan for day 15 special treatment.
Ichinojo defeats Kiribayama – The Ichinojo matta is almost obligatory now. I think he’s had one almost every day this week. When the fight gets underway, it’s all a contest for hand placement. Ichinojo manages to get a right hand inside, but Kiribayama establishes an arm bar, and it’s stalemate. Another volley of grip change and struggle for placement, now Ichinojo has right hand outside. But still no one has enough leverage to attack, stalemate again. Ichinojo executes a grip shift to go right hand inside, consolidates his stance, lowers his hips and delivers the yorikiri. Ichinojo improves to 9-5.
Aoiyama defeats Daieisho – Aoiyama reaches in for an immediate pull down in the tachiai, catching Daieisho before he can take his first step, and drops him to the clay. Ugly win, but it worked. Aoiyama improves to 6-8.
Chiyotairyu defeats Wakatakakage – Chiyotairyu, where has that been for the last 2 weeks? That’s traditional cannonball tachiai from him, straight into a thrusting combo delivered center mass. Wakatakakage can’t withstand that much force, and finds himself thrusted out of the ring. Both end the day with dismal 4-10 records.
Ura defeats Meisei – We mused about Ura appearing so late in the day when he is ranked at only Maegashira 13, but the schedulers knew what they were doing with this one. Meisei comes in hard and fast, and nearly overpowers Ura in the opening salvo. Ura is forced back and has to absorb a volley to his chin to stay in the match. But Meisei can’t finish him. Ura goes low, gets a left hand outside grip, and goes to work. The key to what happened here seems to be a right hand grab and tug against Meisei’s left, which caused Meisei to pull that left arm back, opening up a route for Ura’s right hand to find Meisei’s mawashi. Meisei was too high following his opening attack, Ura drops his hips, and rushes him out for the win. Ura improves to 9-5, and Meisei joins the Darwin crowd.
Mitakeumi defeats Hoshoryu – Points to Hoshoryu for a well executed match. He comes in hard with a straight ahead opening gambit, but there is just too much Mitakeumi for him to really move. Mitakeumi absorbs this first salvo, closes the distance and grapples. With Hoshoryu pinned against his body, he marches forward to score his 8th win, and secure kachi-koshi in Nagoya.
Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – Takayasu opened well, getting his hands inside and piling up the pressure against the Ozeki’s chest and neck. But as we have seen several times in the past week, Terunofuji has remarkable hip flexibility and power. He shifts his upper body to the right and shuts down Takayasu’s attacks. The two stalemate for a minute, neither able to get any hand placement or deliver power into their opponent’s body. Again Terunofuji’s hips come into play as he applies a lot of lateral force into Takayasu, which turns him just a bit to the side. With Takayasu turned and off balance, Terunofuji attacks and runs Takayasu out. 14-0 for Terunofuji, just amazing sumo this month. If they don’t give this man a rope, they will wish they had.
Hakuho defeats Shodai – A number of commenters on Twitter wondered what Hakuho was up to with this match. He lined up at the tawara, and had to take two steps to first contact. I thought it was brilliant, as it shut down all manner of Shodai cartoon sumo. In fact, you could imagine that Hakuho wanted to use cartoon sumo himself against Shodai. As his frequently the case with Hakuho, he delights in using his opponent’s favorite techiques against them to win. It clearly confounded Shodai, and whatever he had in mind for a fight plan was out the window. Hakuho keeps out of Shodai’s battle-embrace, and keeps slapping him in the face. When Hakuho does dive in, he outright tackles Shodai for the win. 14-0 for the Boss. Frankly I loved this match. I am quite certain Shodai had no idea what to do with Hakuho’s sumo today. Bloody brilliant.