Please remember, there are no spoilers in live sports.
Abi-zumo delivered today, and he put himself back into contention for the yusho. His access to a playoff match now rests on hopes Terunofuji can defeat Mitakeumi in the “Brawl to end it all” tomorrow. That outcome may trigger a 3 way playoff between Mitakeumi, Terunofuji, and whomever wins the wildcard match between Abi and Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka and Abi have never faced each other.
To myself, the matter of Mitakeumi’s Ozeki big looks pretty cut and dried to me right now. He has muscled aside Shodai to take the role of challenger in the final match of the tournament. He is performing as the rival Ozeki now, regardless of his rank today. Should he prevail in tomorrow’s final match, he will take his third yusho, which is more than either of the current Ozeki. What seemed like a long shot 2 weeks ago, now looks fairly likely to me.
Nishikigi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Nishikigi, visiting from Juryo, makes short work of Ichiyamamoto. That’s win number 8 for Nishikigi, and he should be be back in the top division for March. Ichiyamamoto drops to 4-10.
Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – We had hoped this was going to be a high energy, high mobility match, and Ishiura and Kotoeko certainly delivered. After battling back and forth, Ishiura was able to get a quick pull and thrust combo to land against Kotoeko with the two near the tawara, and Kotoeko was out. Ishiura improves to 10-4, his best score since his top division debut in November of 2016.
Chiyotairyu defeats Aoiyama – Chiyotairyu moved for an early pull down on the second exchange out of the tachiai. It did not work, but it broke Aoiyama’s balance enough that he got Big Dan moving, and moments later thrust him out. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-8.
Yutakayama defeats Sadanoumi – Yutakayama employs a combo or right hand nodowa and left hand hazu to hurl Sadanoumi into the west side salt basket. The fall was spectacular enough that Yutakayama hustled over to make sure Sadanoumi was still in once piece. Yutakayama improves to 6-8, and Sadanoumi punches his ticket at 7-7 for a Darwin match.
Akua defeats Oho – Four losses in a row for Oho, and now as the bottom man on the banzuke, he’s got a 7-7 Darwin score. Akua kept him off balance and reacting, and it went poorly from there. Akua moves up to 4-10.
Chiyonokuni defeats Terutsuyoshi – The ghost of Chiyonokuni took a bit more material form today. Terutsuyoshi took an odd leap at the tachiai, and it left him off balance, out of position and a bit lost. Chiyonokuni made sure he never recovered, batting him about and using a double arm shove to send him into the front row. Chiyonokuni improves to 3-11, Terutsuyoshi is make-koshi.
Wakamotoharu defeats Tobizaru – In traditional Tobizaru style, he was all over the place today, and never quite on point with his sumo. Wakamotoharu stayed focused and centered, and kept control of the match to the point where he chucked Tobizaru into the waiting Okinoumi. That is his first win against Tobizaru in 6 attempts. Wakamotoharu picks up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi, Tobizaru his 8th loss and is make-koshi.
Tsurugisho defeats Chiyoshoma – Tsurugisho henka! Well, as much as someone of such ponderous bulk can henka. But there was early lateral motion involved to be certain. Tsurugisho improves to 6-8.
Tochinoshin defeats Okinoumi – The good news, Tochinoshin is not yet make-koshi. But he now has a 7-7 Darwin score. Tochinoshin got his left hand outside early, and there was not much Okinoumi could do from that position. He did try to rally, and put up a good fight, but Tochinoshin finished him with a slow motion uwatenage to improve to 7-7.
Tamawashi defeats Ura – Tamawashi finally finds his 8th win after 3 straight days of losses, and is kachi-koshi at 8-6. Ura gives him a solid grab-and-tug fight, but steps out to lose the match a moment before Tamawashi hurls him eastward in spectacular fashion.
Endo defeats Ichinojo – It was just like a regular match, but happening at ½ speed. Endo got solid hand placement early and converted it to a deep right hand inside grip. At this point Ichinojo found he was not set up to defend, and could not default to his “Boulder” tactic. Endo ran him about for a moment and then sent him out on the west side by yorikiri. Endo improves to 6-8, while Ichinojo has a 7-7 “Darwin” score.
Wakatakakage defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru tried a bit of a hit and shift at the tachiai, but it was poorly executed, and did little more than remove any defense Chiyomaru might have employed. Wakatakakage attacked and quickly took Chiyomaru out on the east side for his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for January. Chiyomaru joins the small group of 7-7 rikishi waiting for their day 15 Darwin matches.
Hokutofuji defeats Kiribayama – Quite a messy bit of sumo from these two today. I think the theme from this is that Hokutofuji was staying in contact with Kiribayama no matter what. Once he had that grip, his lower body kept him in the match in spite of the fact that his upper body could not really find a decent avenue of attack. So it was down to carefully moving Kiribayama back a piece at a time until he could walk him out. Hokutofuji improves to 7-8.
Onosho defeats Meisei – Onosho hits double digits for the second time in six months. Meisei had early advantage, and was moving quite well. But Onosho broke contact with a big lateral move that left them both off balance. Onosho lunged in, connected with Meisei at center mass, and the mega-thrust was on. Two steps later, Onosho had his 10 win, improving to 10-4.
Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu got one combo in, and then it was all Daieisho. A big thrust to the middle of the chest, and he kept Myogiryu moving in reverse. Daieisho improves to 6-8.
Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – You can see Takarafuji try to set his feet to defend and drag the match out, but Mitakeumi’s forward pressure is just too great, and he is forced to give up territory again and again. Takarafuji tries an escape that works, but just for a moment, and Mitakeumi pushes him over the bales. 12-2 for Mitakeumi, and he’s at 32 wins in the last 3 basho now.
Kotonowaka defeats Takanosho – Takanosho came in strong, and I would say a bit too strong and a bit too eager. Kotonowaka gave ground, and I think this convinced Takanosho to press his advantage. But all that was really happening was that he was moving himself closer to the bales, where Kotonowaka pivoted and threw him into the front row. Kotonowaka improves to 11-3, and remains just behind the leaders. Takanosho make-koshi at 6-8, and he will vacate his Sekiwake position for March.
Hoshoryu defeats Shodai – We saw the “wall of daikon” today, as Shodai poured on the big-body sumo against Hoshoryu, sending him face first into the tawara. Hoshoryu emerged bloody to find a monoii, as the shimpan discussed the result of the match. It was deemed to close to decide, and a torinaoshi rematch was declared. The second match, Hoshoryu did not let Shodai go chest to chest, but kept him at about a half arm’s length. At that distance, Shodai’s sumo fell apart, and Hoshoryu danced him about before sending him to visit Terunofuji in the front row. Hoshoryu improves to a commanding 10-4.
Abi defeats Terunofuji – Abi succeeded in breaking Terunofuji’s balance on the third volley, and it was all down hill from there. Unable to lower his hips or set his feet again, Abi dialed up the power and sent the Yokozuna out the west side. Abi takes the kinboshi, and both end the day at 11-3.