The preview of this version of the post-Hakuho era is turning out to be a lot of fun. The dai-Yokozuna is benched due to his heya going covid-kyujo, and so Terunofuji is the lone rope for September. He has set a blistering pace that everyone is trying to match, and it has created some great story lines. Going into the final two days, we still can’t quite be sure who will take the cup. It’s looking strong for Terunofuji, as the team that is 1 win behind have no yusho experience, but lots and lots of fighting spirit.
On day 13 only one rikishi reached kachi-koshi, and 3 hit make-koshi. It left us with a huge crowd at 6 or 7 wins, providing a lot of candidates for 7-7 records to start day 15. While I gave up on “the funnel” at the start of act 3, we may in fact get to a healthy slate of Darwin matches on the final day. But the exciting matches of day 14 will finalize the roster, and I expect that the senshuraku torikumi will be posted late, as the schedulers wait to see who has what record before deciding the last day’s fight card.
Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – A match of uncomfortable sumo! You don’t see Kagayaki fighting chest to chest very much, and I certainly did not expect Tochinoshin to proceed to struggle to keep up when Kagayaki did. Everyone, including Kagayaki, knew that if he paused and let Tochinoshin set is feet, he would overpower him, and that came a few heartbeats later. Interesting try, Kagayaki! Tochinoshin improves to 7-6, and could reach kachi-koshi tomorrow. Color me surprised!
Hidenoumi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama was stalemated on his attempt to get his hands inside and start thrusting. Hidenoumi stayed strong on defense, and found a moment to grab and tug against Yutakayama’s push, launching Yutakayama forward into a beltless arm throw. Hidenoumi improves to 6-7.
Aoiyama defeats Tsurugisho – Something we have not seen much of this basho, Big Dan’s V-Twin! He brought it out today and blasted 200kg Tsurugisho into make-koshi. It’s brilliant when it works, and against a man who struggles to move north and south like Tsurugisho, it’s a perfect weapon. Aoiyama improves to 7-6.
Kaisei defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru decided not to use the hit and move strategy that was really his only hope against someone that large. He went chest to chest, got a bit of armpit attack going, and then just waited. That was never going to work, because it was Kaisei’s “brand of sumo” through and through. Kaisei improves to 5-8 after marching Tobizaru out, sending him to his 8th loss and make-koshi for September.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tokushoryu – If you are Terutsuyoshi, you may as well henka this match. I am surprised that Tokushoryu was not looking for it, and went straight to the clay. Terutsuyoshi picks up his 4th win.
Shimanoumi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto opened strong with a series of combos that gave Shimanoumi no chance to respond. It fell apart when Ichiyamamoto decided it was time to try to pull Shimanoumi down, and Shimanoumi took control, running Ichiyamamoto out for a win. Shimanoumi improves to 6-7.
Ura defeats Chiyonoo – Better sumo today from Ura, he did work early on hand placement and got a right hand under Chiyonoo’s arm, and had at least some grip to work with. Chiyonoo defended well, and stalemated Ura at the center of the dohyo. Chiyonoo chose to make a move, and in doing so gave Ura a chance to press forward, and Chiyonoo found himself quickly run back into the corner, giving Ura the win and improving to 5-8.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – That’s five in a row for Kotoeko. What happened on day 8 that switched him from pathetic to genki? Whatever it was, I am glad it happened. Chiyoshoma tried a pull at the end of the match that resulted in a monoii, to review the camera footage. The gumbai was affirmed, and Kotoeko improves to 7-6. Kachi-koshi tomorrow?
Daieisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu tried his traditional “stand him up, slap him down” opening gambit, but Daieisho was ready, delaying his big starting push until the pull came from Chiyotairyu. Chiyotairyu had no defensive foot placement, and was rushed into the corner for a loss. Daieisho scores his 8th win and is kachi-koshi.
Wakatakakage defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s big belly prevents him from attacking lower down his opponent’s body, so we typically see him thrusting against someone’s face or shoulders. This leaves his chest open for an attack, which was Wakatakakage’s focus. When Chiyomaru’s heels hit the bales, he released pressure, and Wakatakakage got both hand inside, and started to run Chiyomaru out. A last minute throw attempt failed, giving Wakatakakage his 7th win.
Endo defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama’s third straight loss, and if he can’t get to 8 wins its going to be quite a shame. Endo met him at the tachiai, and instantly knew he was far in front of his toes. A single downward strike against Kiribayama’s forearms was enough to send him tumbling forward and down. That’s double digits, 10-3 for Endo. As predicted prior to the tournament, Endo ranked this low was going to win a lot of matches.
Takanosho defeats Chiyonokuni – Going into today, Chiyonokuni had never won a match against Takanosho. Today, Chiyonokuni saw Takanosho winding up for a big charge, and tried to step to the side, but Takanosho caught him as he dodged, with Chiyonokuni not in a defensive stance, and tossed Chiyonokuni out. Takanosho improves to 7-6.
Hoshoryu defeats Tamawashi – Hoshoryu showed a lot of aggression today, leaving Tamawashi’s match plan in tatters. As Tamawashi worked to set up some counter-offense, Hoshoryu continued to pound away. Tamawashi’s sole attack was a poorly configured uwate, that only fueled Hoshoryu winning combo. Hoshoryu improves to 4-9, Tamawashi 5-8 and make-koshi.
Ichinojo defeats Okinoumi – You can watch that match, and think “Ichinojo’s grip does not look that strong”. But given the size and the mass, I am sure it was like a machine shop press-break, and was more than enough to control Okinoumi and pivot him out. When someone as big and strong as Ichinojo has his sumo together, its going to be a question of what he will use to beat you. Ichinojo improves to 7-6.
Meisei defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji has found his defenses overcome far too many times that basho. It’s his primary technique, and mechanically it still looks sound. Today Meisei was able to shift pressure lower down Takarafuji’s body until he overcame the ottsuke, resulting in a clear path to press forward. Meisei charged ahead to take the win, both men end the day 6-7.
Myogiryu defeats Takakeisho – A soft tachiai today from Takakeisho, and I have to wonder if he has dialed that back now that he is kachi-koshi as a move to decrease risk or re-injuring his neck. Without the initial forward drive, he does not generate much attack pressure against Myogiryu, who eventually gets the Ozeki in a tentative hold, and throws him to the clay. Myogiryu picks up his 10th win to finish the day 10-3.
Onosho defeats Shodai – Shodai went straight into the “Wall of Daikon” defense at the tachiai, and nearly had Onosho out. The the junior tadpole dropped his arms, found Shodai’s big chest, and drove ahead with every gram of his considerable power. Shodai could not stop him, and tried a throw with one step to spare, but could not complete the rotation. Onosho improves to 10-3.
Terunofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi had about 4 seconds to win this match, and we saw him put everything he could into the tachiai and the initial surge past the shikiri-sen. Terunofuji absorbed, gave a bit of ground and took Mitakeumi to his chest. Although it took a while longer for the Mitakeumi to step out, it was over at this moment. Once captured by the current form of Terunofuji, if his feet are set, you are done. Terunofuji dominate, and improves to 11-2.