What a satisfying end to act 2, the middle 5 days of the basho. The goal in act 2 is to narrow the field and find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and start sorting rikishi into make and kachi-koshi. With Mitakeumi’s first loss of the basho, he is now even with Terunofuji at 9-1, and we go into the final 5 days with a tie at the top if the leader board.
Likewise the funnel continues to run well, and the number of rikishi headed toward day 15 7-7 records is looking rather long right now. How many will make it through the funnel to face a Darwin match on the final day? Only 4 days of sumo to enjoy before we find out.
Tochinoshin defeats Shohozan – Shohozan immediately dove in at the tachiai and secured a double inside grip. Tochinoshin tried a couple of “test lifts” but could not get Shohozan airborne, and so they waited. After a time, Tochinoshin tried again, and was able to get Shohozan up, and carried him out to improve to 5-5.
Chiyomaru defeats Kotoeko – Chiyomaru’s opening thrusting attack was quite random, and it allowed Kotoeko to get in close and attempt “his brand of sumo”. In response, Chiyomaru employed a “stand him up, then pull him down” combo that worked well enough to get Kotoeko off balance. Chiyomaru kept contact and shoved Kotoeko out for the win, improving to 6-4.
Aoiyama defeats Yutakayama – From the look at it, that was one hell of a face slap / thrust from Aoiyama’s right hand, as it put Yutakayama directly on the clay. Kind of a surprising match, but Aoiyama gets to stay in the middle of the funnel at 5-5.
Ishiura defeats Kotonowaka – Ishiura’s win was not pretty or graceful. It reminded me of a stubborn piece of masonry that had to be pounded into place. Kotonowaka did everything he could to stop Ishiura’s attacks, but it was never quite enough to put Ishiura on defense. The shitatenage that ended the match was, I think, the 4th attempt at that combo. Ishiura improves to 6-4, and Kotonowaka will need to wait another day to try for kachi-koshi.
Oho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu had a good opening combo with a face slap and a pull down attempt that was not too disastrous. They locked up chest to chest in the center of the dohyo to try and sort themselves out. Oho could not quite reach around Chiyotairyu’s belly to get a handful of mawashi, and so it was stalemate for a bit. Oho decided to gamble, took a step back and pulled Chiyotairyu from the back of his neck, sending him down for the win. Oho improves to 7-3.
Sadanoumi defeats Wakamotoharu – When I describe Sadanoumi as being one of the fastest men in sumo, here is a prime example. Wakamotoharu could barely get any kind of grip at the moment he toppled backwards over the tawara on his way to his 5th loss. It was a “blink and you will miss it” match. Sadanoumi takes the win to improve to 6-4.
Akua defeats Kaisei – Akua may have launched a moment early at the tachiai, and went for an immediate hazu-oshi attack against Kaisei. Akua was able to convert that to a solid left hand mawashi hold, which set up the leg sweep that brought Kaisei to the clay. Akua picks up his second win of Hatsu, improving to 2-8.
Tsurugisho defeats Chiyonokuni – No, today was not the day that Chiyonokuni won his first match of Hatsu. I think its zenpai for him. As expected, Chiyonokuni employed his favored oshi-zumo style, and took the fight to Tsurugisho, landing solid blows time and again. But as we have seen all January, Chiyonokuni just can’t generate any forward pressure. Tsurugisho responded by pressing ahead, and drove Chiyonokuni out of the ring, and is now 4-6.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tobizaru – Well, the hope here had been for a lot of back-and-forth attack and counter attack. Instead, we had Tobizaru a bit too low at the tachiai, and Terutsuyoshi pushed him to the clay for a quick win. Terutsuyoshi finishes the day at 4-6.
Takarafuji defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto delivers the obligatory double arm thrust at the tachiai, but can’t move Takarafuji, who is already in a strong defensive stance. Ichiyamamoto is not discouraged at all, and just keeps thrusting away, with almost zero effect. Takarafuji sees that Ichiyamamoto’s chest is wide open, and decides to give Ichiyamamoto a shove back. After the first one succeeds, Takarafuji delivers a few more, and sends Ichiyamamoto out the west side for his 8th win, elevating to 8-2 and is kachi-koshi for Hatsu.
Shimanoumi defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu really wanted to push against Shimanoumi’s neck and face, to the exclusion of everything else. Even when there was a clear route to Shimanoumi’s chest, Hoshoryu was not interested. Shimanoumi had the sumo sense to let Hoshoryu have his target. Shimanoumi broke contact, lunged inside and took Hoshoryu to his chest with a right hand inside grip. With Hoshoryu off balance, Shimanoumi twisted to his right and threw Hoshoryu to the clay. That’s the best sumo I have seen from Shimanoumi in a good long time, and he ends the day 5-5.
Myogiryu defeats Chiyoshoma – The tachiai was a draw, with neither rikishi having any kind of offensive advantage. Rather than continue to engage Myogiryu and let the match evolve, Chiyoshoma decided to pull. These pulls are always a gamble, and many times they are a fast path to a loss, as it was for Chiyoshoma today. Myogiryu charged ahead, took the win, and centered himself in the funnel with a 5-5 score.
Abi defeats Okinoumi – Traditional Abi-zumo to start, he drives Okinoumi back to the bales in a hurry. But as Abi moves to finish him off, Okinoumi grabs an arm and for a moment has control of the match. He swings Abi around, but Abi counters by grabbing Okinoumi’s arm in return. With his balance nowhere to be found, Okinoumi gets a fast route over the bales, and Abi gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for January. Okinoumi gets his 8th loss and is make-koshi as of day 10.
Tamawashi defeats Ichinojo – Tamawashi understood that if you let Ichinojo grab you and set up shop in the center of the ring, he will wear you down and throw away the husk. Tamawashi solved this by planing a right arm nodowa attack on Ichinojo’s throat, and then marched him straight out the West side. Tamawashi improves to 7-3.
Kiribayama defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage again shows a bit limit to his balance, he comes inside at the tachiai, and looks like he has an offensive advantage. Kiribayama counters with a right hand lateral move, a grab for a right hand outside grip, and a quick pop on Wakatakakage’s neck, and Wakatakakage is on the clay. Both end the day at 4-6, and are very much in the funnel.
Endo defeats Meisei – Endo found himself at the end of the tachiai with no grip, no hand placement, and no chance of offense. Meisei was in no better condition, but Endo decided he would improvise. He drove inside, and again missed any kind of mawashi grip, and converted to pushing Meisei center mass. This worked pretty well, and resulted in an oshidashi win for Endo, only his 3rd white star of Hatsu. He ends the day at 3-7.
Ura defeats Daieisho – Daieisho picks his mark, Ura’s head, and unloads again and again. Ura responds with some attacks against Daieisho’s arms, but is generally reduced to soaking up the damage and hoping for a chance to turn the tables. As we expected, Daieisho left his right arm extended a bit too long, and Ura employed his grab-and-tug attack against it, breaking Daieisho’s balance. As Daieisho lunged to re-engage, Ura grabbed him bodily, planted his head in Daieisho’s chest, and ran Westward with everything he had. A “rescue” pull by Daieisho one step before the exit only compounded the ugliness of his fall from the dohyo. Ura advances to 5-5, and remains in the middle of the funnel.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Hokutofuji put all of his chips on hazu-oshi (armpit attack). This is a change up from his normal right hand “aim high” nodowa opening, and I think it caught Mitakeumi by surprise. When Hokutofuji is on his sumo, which he was today, he can really surprise everyone. He stayed impressively low, and was able to attack from underneath the entire time. Mitakeumi really had no escape once Hokutofuji took his second step. With that loss, Mitakeumi falls to be even with Yokozuna Terunofuji at 9-1, and Hokutofuji improves to 4-6.
Takanosho defeats Shodai – Is Shodai suffering some physical malady, or is he now just completely thrown in the towel mentally? This is the “bad old Shodai” that we made fun of quite a bit, rather than the burly, aggressive guy who stomped his way to Ozeki. I want the Ozeki guy back. Takanosho runs him amok and discards the carcass. He advances to 6-4.
Terunofuji defeats Onosho – Terunofuji again does exactly what is needed. Onosho tries a thrust, find Terunofuji at close range, and chooses to pull. Well, all you have done now is to bring the Kaiju even closer to your chest, and that’s what he wanted to begin with. On the 4th step, Onosho understands this, but its too late and Terunofuji has him out. Terunofuji improves to 9-1 and maintains his share of the lead.