Welcome to the first day of Aki act 2, the middle five days of the basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. We also start tracking the leaderboad, and the yusho race starts to take shape. We get the middle weekend, and all of the big matches that they load into Sunday. It’s prime sumo for fans around the world
Day six saw another Ozeki flame out, with both of them taking losses. Kiribayama’s skill has improved enough that he knows exactly what to do now with a Shodai soft tachiai. After 4 consecutive losses to Shodai, he decisively took a win from him today.
The worry is much deeper with kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho. He did manage to put two wins together, but at 2-4 he’s got a long road to get to 8, and save his ozeki rank. Its clear he is not quite at 100%, and this is going to be a rough time for him.
Sadanoumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni picks up his first loss of the badsho, as Sadanoumi times a shift to the side perfectly. Once outside of Chiyonokuni’s forward quarter, he attacks from the side, and immediately shuts down Chiyonokuni’s thrusting offense. It’s three steps to the bales, and Chiyonokuni has his first loss. Both end the day at 5-1, and Sadanoumi may finally be on the path to return to the top division.
Kagayaki defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto has now lost 5 straight, thanks to an injury earlier in the basho. He seems to be on course of a make-koshi, maybe even as soon as this weekend. A losing record will almost certainly ensure him a seat on the Juryo barge of the damned. Kagayaki improves to 4-2, and just maybe has his sumo back in working order.
Tsurugisho defeats Tokushoryu – Tsurugisho continues after his one-day kyujo thanks to a fever brought on by what is being reported as cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the skin. If you are looking for a match that rages back and forth with big sumo attack / defend swaps, this is not it. Tsurugisho improves to 3-3.
Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – Tochinoshin finally picks up his second win, which has to be a relief. Yutakayama allows himself to be captured, and once chest to chest with Tochinoshin, Yutakayama’s yotsu-defense is almost non existent. A moment later, Tochinoshin gets his left hand grip and brutes Yutakayama out to improve to 2-4.
Endo defeats Chiyomaru – Endo gets his favored right hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but can’t maintain it as Chiyomaru opens up a thrusting volley against Endo’s face. Endo breaks contact, and the second merge gives him another right hand grip, with better body placement. At this point Chiyomaru knows he is in trouble, but he can’t break free, and moments later an uwatedashinage lands him on the clay. Endo improves to 4-2.
Chiyonoo defeats Kotoeko – Chest to chest for these two, this one was indeed a see-saw battle between two evenly matched rikishi throwing what they could into the fight. They both lost footing more or less at the same time, and threw each other as they went tumbling over the far side of the dohyo. The gumbai went to Chiyonoo, advancing him to 3-3.
Myogiryu defeats Kaisei – Myogiryu deflected at the tachiai, and took advantage of Kaisei’s turning radius to re-attack from the side. This made fast work of Kaisei, improving Myogiryu to 5-1.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – On days when Chiyotairyu can connect at the tachiai, he can rob his opponent of any hope of offense. That seemed to be what the formula was today, as Shimanoumi found himself completely disrupted, and unable to generate any sumo after catching a Chiyotairyu cannon ball tachiai full in the chest. Both end the day 3-3.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Hidenoumi – Terutsuyoshi henkas, grabs a Hidenoumi drumstick and brings the ashitori (leg pick). If Terutsuyoshi gets that hold, there is really no workable defense, and Terutsuyoshi improves to 3-3.
Ura defeats Aoiyama – Ura now seems to be dialed into his sumo after a bit of a cold start. Aoiyama clearly did not know quite what to do with Ura, who once again lined up well back of the shikiri-sen. Aoiyama tries out a couple of attack plans, but can do no better than park Ura’s heels on the tawara. There was a moment where it looked like Ura was once again to twist the fabric of space and time, but Aoiyama is just too huge for that stuff, so Ura settled for an off the rack oshidashi.
Onosho defeats Tobizaru – Onosho opted for an asymmetrical tachiai that was heavy of the left side. It worked a treat, getting Tobizaru turned to the side. Onosho completed the rotation, getting behind Tobizaru for a quick okuridashi win. Onosho improves 5-1.
Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji could only maintain his defense for a short time, as Okinoumi is expert at shifting attack angles each time he takes a step. This prevented Takarafuji from stabilizing his stance, and stalemating Okinoumi. Okinoumi improves to 4-2.
Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Another day, another Chiyoshoma loss. Takanosho could not keep his feet, but won the match by getting Chiyoshoma out before he fell. Takanosho’s 100th top division win improves him to 3-3.
Takayasu defeats Ichinojo – Sloppy match where neither man had command of their balance. Watching Takayasu fight, he is, at times, almost an opposite of the current form of Yokozuna Terunofuji. Both end the day 2-4, and need to find a way to elevate their sumo into week 2.
Mitakeumi defeats Kotonowaka – It was Kotonowaka’s first time facing the original tadpole, Mitakeumi, who seems to be having a good basho this September. He caught Kotonowaka’s tachiai put his hands in Kotowaka’s armpits, and then ran him directly out. Mitakeumi now 5-1.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – We have not seen Daieisho fight this well since January. He seems to once again be able to combine speed, power and agility into his oshi-zumo. The bounces shin-sekiwake Meisei, before slapping him down. Daieisho improves 4-2.
Kiribayama defeats Shodai – Kiribayama seems to have taken the next step in his sumo. He gets a solid grip at the tachiai, and leave Shodai struggling for defense. That defense is nowhere to be found, as Shodai’s tachiai leaves him high and stiff – an easy target for Kiribayama’s yotsu-zumo. Kiribayama improves to 5-1.
Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho opened strong, but dropped his arms for just a moment, giving Tamawashi a clear route to his chest. Tamawashi is not one to let that kind of opporutnity pass, and blasted Takakeisho back, and a second volley took him out. Tamawashi improves to 3-3.
Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – I give a lot of credit to Wakatakakage, who put a lot of effort into this fight, but once Terunofuji had that double arm hold across Wakatakakage’s shoulders, we all knew where it was headed. This is the basic attack pattern that has carried him back to the top division, and onward to Yokozuna. He remains the lone undefeated rikishi at 6-0.