Day 14 of the Kyushu tournament was a day when many questions were answered, it was a fine day of sumo indeed. I have to call out the “showcase” match between Hoshoryu and Kiribayama. These guys are, we hope, going to be core figures i a future generation of sumo. They are hard core fighters with deep skills, and overflowing tenacity. They went chest to chest for nearly a minute, throwing the kitchen sink at each other in a masterful display of sumo skill and athletic prowess. Even though both are make-koshi for November, that was some top rate sumo.
After taking quite a bit of damage on day 12, the shards of Darwin’s funnel finished their grim work today, landing 7 rikishi on 7-7 records at the end of today. We will have 3 Darwin matches on the final day. Not the largest amount this year, but enough to keep things spicy.
Lastly, in order to give folks a chance who did not want to know just yet to bail out, Terunofuji won his sixth yusho today with a huge, powerful oshitaoshi against Abi. Terunofuji has a chance to make it a 15-0 zensho by taking down Takakeisho on day 15. We congratulate Terunofuji for really dominating every last match he competed in this November. He was in amazing form on his run up to Yokozuna, but he has somehow gotten even better since then, and is fairly unstoppable right now. We hope his health remains excellent, and he continues to shred all competitors for years to come.
Kaisei defeats Chiyonokuni – A grand demonstration of why Chiyonokuni struggles to win matches against Kaisei. Chiyonokuni is mobile, he is fierce, and’s hitting where he wants, and is moving well. But Kaisei is not moving. The big Brazilian understands his own mass, and he plants himself in the center of the dohyo and holds it. Eventually he finds Chiyonokuni open, and shifts to attack. It only takes a moment more than that, and Kaisei completes Darwin’s funnel to end at 7-7.
Tochinoshin defeats Kotonowaka – Tochinoshin was moving better today than I have seen him move this entire basho. At this point he may be back to what passes for “full health” given the condition of his knee. That makikae gave him a way to put in something akin to his old sky-crane, and Kotonowaka had zero chance at that point. Tochinoshin hands Kotonowaka his make-koshi via makikae (I love it) and improves to 6-8.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Akua – Akua seems to have read the ashitori attempt, and pivoted out of the way of Terutsuyoshi’s leg grab, but Terutsuyoshi connected and got his opponent rotating. The two went down together, with the gumbai going to Terutsuyoshi.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – Chiyotairyu shuts down Shohozan’s attempt to establish an inside attack, and stalemates the flagging veteran in the center of the dohyo. Chiyotairyu rallies, with a solid volley of thrusting, and kept the pressure on all the way out of the ring. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-8.
Chiyomaru defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan brings the double arm, V-Twin sumo today. He gets Chiyomaru moving, then increases the pressure. Chiyomaru rallies at the bales, catches Aoiyama off balance, and swats him down. Chiyomaru completes Darwin’s funnel to reach 7-7.
Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – I love that flurry of upward tsuppari from Sadanoumi as he works to keep Tobizaru from closing in and getting any kind of body or mawashi grip, just great combo from him. Sadanoumi gets a clear road to drive Tobizaru out, and presses forward. Tobizaru ducks to the side, and Sadanoumi exits a moment before the flyin monkey. A mono-ii confirms the gyoji’s call, and Tobizaru improves to 7-7.
Chiyoshoma defeats Yutakayama – Chiyoshoma escapes the funnel in glorious fashion, with some high quality sumo. Even Abema commentator, the great Wakanohana expected a henka today, but Chiyoshoma decided to whip it on instead. He spends about 10 second consolidating his attack, then heaves Yutakayama down with a blistering uwatenage. Chiyoshoma 8-6, and kachi-koshi. Yutakayama 6-8 and make-koshi. Well played, sir.
Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – Some fair to good sumo from Kagayaki, he managed to get inside on Shimanoumi, and tried for a body hold, but settled for a thrusting attack center mass. Shimanoumi could not hold his ground, and exited directly. Kagayaki improves to 4-10, possibly handing the banner for most losses in 2021 to Kotoeko.
Takarafuji defeats Kotoeko – Takarafuji tried to set up his calm, solid defense. But Kotoeko was struggling like a toddler with a saggy diaper jacked up on too much apple sauce. Unable to settle Kotoeko down, Takarafuji sends him to the corner to think again, improving to 5-9.
Ishiura defeats Okinoumi – The mini-Darwin went in favor of Ishiura, who launched into the tachiai with a whole lot of power. Okinoumi did a great job of blunting everything Ishiura tried, but the smaller Ishiura got a leg inside of Okinoumi’s stance, and used that pivot to knock him out of balance. Okinoumi did not find a way to get back to stable footing, and Ishiura put him out a moment later. Ishiura completes the funnel at 7-7, Okinoumi make-koshi at 6-8.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Onosho stood Myogiryu up, then knocked him down with a well placed hatakikomi. He improves to 5-9. Myogiryu at 2-12, an epic score.
Takanosho defeats Hidenoumi – Takanosho picks up another white star in the promotion derby, and the race to get into the named ranks. Hidenoumi hit hard at the tachiai, but watch that guy use the ring! He keeps Takanosho at an angle the entire time, and just keeps circling around the dohyo. Hidenoumi, feeling good about his defense, decides to pull Takanosho, and that moment he eased forward pressure. Takanosho read the weight shift, and charged ahead to improve to 10-4.
Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu could not keep his footing, and gets rolled by Daieisho. At Maegashira 5, Takayasu should have had a pretty good run. But instead he is looking at the possibility of double digit losses. I hope he can get healthy over the new year’s break and come back strong at Hatsu. Daieisho completes the funnel at 7-7.
Wakatakakage defeats Endo – Darwin smiles at this pair, who managed to work it exactly right and both finish at 7-7 today. A perfectly timed move to the side by Wakatakakage put him beside Endo, Endo could not pivot to meet him before Wakatakakage had a hand hold, and was pushing with everything he could deliver. With no option for offense or defense, Endo was quickly dispatched.
Hokutofuji defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo did a brilliant job of shutting down Hokutofuji’s opening gambit, taking the nodowa and collapsing the gap, pinning Hokutofuji to his expansive chest. Hokutofuji is stuck, and he knows it. But that clever fellow ramps up the pressure on his left side while lifting with his right, causing Ichinojo to respond. A lightning fast shift back to the right and a pull down drops Ichinojo to one knee, giving Hokutofuji his 10th win.
Hoshoryu defeats Kiribayama – So guys, that was some great sumo. It a shame both of you are make-koshi, as this is the kind of competition the sport needs in quantity. Loved the intensity and the rotating menu of attacks, responses and escapes. Hoshoryu tried at least six tripping attacks, and Kiribayama survived them and stayed in the fight. Great match, with Hoshoryu improving to 6-8 as he finally drove Kiribayama from the ring.
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Congrats to Mitakeumi for reaching double digits, if he can make it 11 tomorrow against Shodai, he will have a solid start to what may be his final Ozeki run. Tamawashi opened big, and had all the power on the second step. Mitakeumi was able to turn and send him forward on his own. Mitakeumi improves to 10-4.
Meisei defeats Ura – Ura was a bit too low, and had to rise up to recover, Meisei caught him at this exact moment, and applied maximum power to that shove. Ura could not hold his balance and went down in a heap. Meisei improves to 6-8.
Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Wow, this match had more to it than first meets the eye. I saw Takakeisho come in tight, closer than is normally safe for a man who falls to pieces when his opponent gets on his belt. Shodai is high at the tachiai, and was looking to get his stance set, and then the first wave crashed against that broad pasty chest, and Shodai’s balance was broken. He almost recovered when the second volley landed amidships, and the third sent him out for a loss. Takakeisho improves to 12-2.
Terunofuji defeats Abi – We have seen this a number of times this basho. Somebody attacks Terunofuji, and Terunofuji responds, defending well until the moment there is real trouble. Then the Kaiju comes out and it’s all over a moment later. I can wax complementary on Terufnouji’s superior balance, his excellent foot work and his ability to stay in the match after Abi unloads everything. But where does that surge of power come from? Did Abi even know what was happening? The amount of force Abi was generating the moment that Terunofuji threw him down must have been tremendous, and the power must of been equal to that, plus a very large sum to not just take Abi back, but collapse him into a spindly pile of long arms and tangled legs. Terunofuji at 14-0, and wins his 6th yusho. He won back to back yusho from his debut as a Yokozuna… just wow.