Some sumo fans thought that day 8 lacked some of the interest that the first week showed with such flair. Maybe so. A lot of mischief at the tachiai across the board. But some brilliant work by Tobizaru, a first win for Kotoeko, and Kotonowaka channeling Kotoshogiku for a moment were enough for me.
We have two rikishi kachi-koshi now, the two men at the top of the banzuke: Yokozuna Terunofuji and Ozeki Takakeisho. I think we know that the second half of this tournament are going to be those two grinding through the rest of the field, working to the last match of the last day, which I am going to guess will decide the yusho. The spoiler? Mitakeumi! He’s perfect for that role, and he is uncharacteristically consistent this November. Will he keep up the power into week 2, or suffer his traditional fade?
Sadanoumi defeats Shohozan – At least Shohozan tried to open with power. He got a good combo in again Sadanoumi. But Sadanoumi is quick enough he got to the side, sending Shohozan to the clay. Ugly tournament for home town by Shohozan now at 1-7, Sadanoumi advances to 6-2.
Kaisei defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki attacked the face, Kaisei went center mass. You have to know if someone as big as Kaisei puts force against your chest, you are moving back. What happened next was a fairly complex battle for grip and hand position that does a lot to describe the skill level of these two. This may have gone on longer, but Kagayaki gets to far forward and Kaisei puts him on the deck. Kaisei improves to 4-4 and stays in the middle of the funnel.
Akua defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin tried a bit of a deflection at the tachiai, but Akua stays targeted, and presses the attack. Tochinoshin does not have the core body strength with his injured back to really supply forward pressure, and rapidly steps out. Akua improves to 4-4.
Chiyomaru defeats Ishiura – I can only image that Ishiura must also be nursing some core body injury, such as a bad back, too. He spends this match attempting to evade Chiyomaru, only to be progressively bracketed and force out. Almost no offensive sumo from Ishiura today. Chiyomaru joins the group at 4-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Hokutofuji ensures that Chiyonokuni can’t open a gap and begin any kind of thrusting attack. From the tachiai he kept close, and kept moving forward. Once on the move, Chiyonokuni could not find a route to step aside, and took a journey in meet the lead shimpan ringside. Hokutofuji improves to 6-2.
Kotonowaka defeats Yutakayama – Kotonowaka extends his career score against Yutakayama to 4-0. Pretty standard oshi-zumo match, but I did like the finishing gaburi-yori from Kotonowaka. I think there should be a new special prize, the “Kotoshogiku-sho” for the best use of the belly bump during a basho. It comes with year’s supply of katsu-curry from CoCo Ichibanya. Kotonowaka improves to 3-5.
Abi defeats Hidenoumi – Abi with that right hand nodowa again today. I guess the guys he has been fighting don’t have a good way to break that in the first step. Before Abi’s suspension, most rikishi in the upper half of Makuuchi had ways to shut down his opening gambit. I did note that once Hidenoumi broke the hold that Abi went in close to escort him out, good follow through there. Abi improves to 7-1, and he is clearly headed higher up the banzuke for 2022. I look forward to his test matches in act 3, I wonder who they are going to pair him off against.
Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – About bloody time! Kotoeko picks up his first win by reading Terutsuyoshi’s match plan correctly. Terutsuyoshi went for a super-low tachiai, probably looking for an immediate leg pick. Kotoeko simply stood his ground, and pushed him down. First win for Kotoeko, now at 1-7.
Ura defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu chose the big-power tachiai today, directly into Ura’s twisting henka. It was a graceful, fluid grab and twist motion that put a tight 180° on Chiyotairyu before he could it the clay. Ura improves to 6-2. Hey, if you are going to henka, at least do it with flair! It looked even better on the slow motion replay.
Shimanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Solid match from both of them, with a couple of really good recoveries. But Shimanoumi catches Aoiyama too high, and a bit on his heels, and runs him out smartly. Both end the day at 3-5, and are at the bottom edge of the funnel.
Tobizaru defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi kept control of this match from the start, and his plan was to keep Tobizaru away from his mawashi no matter what. It worked brilliantly, but Tamawashi quickly ran out of ideas. For a moment the two stood center-dohyo holding hands, when Tobizaru kicked Tamawashi’s right foot out from under him. Brilliant move, just perfect Tobizaru sumo. He improves to 5-3 by handing Tamawashi just his second loss of November.
Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – With the spate of henka or henka-adjacent moves today, you would expect a leaping masterpiece from Chiyoshoma. Instead he took Takayasu on face to face. Takayasu dug in hard, and got a working mawashi hold, and powered through Chiyoshoma’s defenses to improve to 5-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Onosho – I think Onosho had a shot at this, but Hoshoryu’s hand placement at the tachiai was superb. In response, Onosho dials up the forward power and moves ahead. But Hoshoryu’s hands are still well placed. With Onosho’s forward momentum established, Hoshoryu thrusts him down with the second katasukashi of the day (Ura’s was first). Hoshoryu improves to 4-4.
Takanosho defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage came in strong at the tachiai, but he yielded the inside position to Takanosho, who wasted no time in taking control of the match. Shifting into forward mode, Takanosho ran Wakatakakage about a bit, and then dumped him over the bales, improving to 5-3.
Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Big power thrusting match here, Daieisho pushing against Kiribayama’s face, and Kiribayama trying to work center mass. Daieisho had the advantage at first, but the two were evenly balanced. It ended suddenly when it looked to me that Daieisho’s left leg collapsed. Kiribayama picks up a much needed second win, to advance to 2-6.
Mitakeumi defeats Okinoumi – This one was all Mitakeumi. Okinoumi had a solid tachiai, but on the second step, Mitakeumi took control and never let go. Mitakeumi improves to 7-1, staying one win behind the leaders.
Meisei defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji sets up his defend and extend sumo, but just can’t seem to hold ground. Lower back problems maybe? This is not the first day I wondered if he’s having problems transmitting power to the clay. Meisei advances to 4-4, remaining in the middle of the funnel.
Shodai defeats Myogiryu – There it was, a brief flash of the “Wall of Daikon” technique. Myogiryu launches off the shikiri-sen, Shodai stands his ground at the tachiai, and all of Meisei’s forward force breaks like the wave upon a rock. Myogiryu is off balance for his second step, and Shodai throws him down, improving to 5-3. Why even bother moving when your opponent can do all the work for you?
Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Where to start with this mess. Ichinojo launches early, and they trade meaty shoves. Takakeisho gets in a face slap, and moments later we see Ichinojo with a solid grip on Takakeisho’s mage (top knot). Well, that’s a problem. Ichinojo gets a right hand frontal grip. They lock up and lean into each other. Hell, it does not matter, this match was over at the hair pull. A few minutes later, Ichinojo gets his second hand on the Ozeki’s mawashi, and proceeds to apply a really powerful yorikiri to heave Takakeisho out of the ring. Well, tough toenails Boulder. Mono-ii time and you are disqualified for that big tug on the hair. Takakeisho gets his 8th win by hansoku and is kachi-koshi.
Terunofuji defeats Endo – Whatever majestic plan Endo had going into this match to dominate the Yokozuna did not survive to the second step. It looked like he wanted to take that right hand deep, but instead got a chest full of Terunofuji. Terunofuji had both hands inside against Endo’s chest, putting maximum force to the front. Three steps later, the Yokozuna had him out, and his kachi-koshi at the same moment.