I continue to marvel that Shodai is somehow able to find the power and strength not just to compete, but to dominate the last 4 matches. They have all been fairly quick, so maybe he does what he can before he runs out of juice and for now that is good enough. He is still kadboan, but now needs 3 more wins out of his final 5 matches to clear and retain Ozeki. He has Takarafuji day 11, whose defensive style of sumo is purpose built to keep opponents from a quick win.
Much to my surprise, Mitakeumi took a loss today, and in doing so lowered his odds that he might compete for the cup in the final days of the tournament. While I still think someone is going to put dirt on Takayasu before the yusho is awarded in 5 days, the race is more complicated now, as neither of the two chasers have prior yusho experience, and may have challenges with the mental focus required to finish strong.
Tochinoshin defeats Kaisei – They went chest to chest straight away, and it was Tochinoshin who proved to have the advantage today. Both of these guys are absolutely huge, and exerted significant force in that yotsu battle, but it seems that with that ankle injury, Kaisei is a bit less able to transmit power to ground than Tochinoshin is, so the former Ozeki picked up his 7th win. Wow, kachi-koshi for him tomorrow?
Kotoshoho defeats Kotokuzan – Kotoshoho tried twice to get a hand inside, but could not overcome Kotokuzan’s slapping attack, one of which connected with Kotoshoho’s head. That head slap left Kotokuzan’s chest wide open, and a single powerful thrust to the center of that chest was enough to put Kotokuzan out, improving Kotoshoho to 6-4.
Yutakayama defeats Akua – Two matta to front load this match, with the third attempt setting off a furious slapping / thrusting volley that saw Akua’s right knee crumple, and he hit the clay. Akua hits his 8th loss and is make-koshi for March while Yutakayama advances to 5-5.
Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Blink and you will miss it. Nishikigi gave ground to Chiyomaru’s tachiai, but his right hand found its mark, and by the third step he was rolling Chiyomaru to the ground. Nishikigi improves to 7-3.
Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto opened with his thrusting attack, and had control. But I love that quarter step to the side and grab move Kotoeko applied to go chest to chest against the much larger Ichiyamamoto. The fight shifted to yotsu, and Kotoeko could contain Ichiyamamoto, but lacked the last bit of power to send him out. A mutual throw attempt at the bales paid off, giving Kotoeko his 7th win to advance to 7-3, and picked up a bloody nose for his efforts.
Shimanoumi defeats Kagayaki – After a whopper of a matta, that flattened Shimanoumi, Kagayaki’s sumo was still, and largely ineffective. He could not get good hand placement, and struggled to do much other than hunch forward and advance. With his balance skewed this badly, it was easy for Shimanoumi to pull him farther forward, and send him down. Shimanoumi advances to 6-4.
Tobizaru defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu tried for his formulaic “stand him up, pull him down” routine. Tobizaru was ready for each stage of it, and pushed strongly into the pull. Chiyotairyu had no choice but to step back, and then step out. Tobizaru improves to 5-5.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Wakamotoharu – One of the factors to keep in mind when fighting Terutsuyoshi, keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Wakamotoharu had a right arm left behind for a moment after a thrust attack, and it was an easy attachment point for Terutsuyoshi. Arms make wonderful levers, and one step later Wakamotoharu was tumbling forward as Terutsuyoshi pulled the arm and rotated. Both end the day with 6-4 scores thanks to that glorious katasukashi.
Chiyoshoma defeats Myogiryu – Again we get a matta. When the match did get started, the two danced about the ring exchanging blows, shoves and even a few kicks. It would not be unfair to call this a “kitchen sink” match, that ended with Chiyoshoma pulling Myogiryu forward and rotating him down. Matching scores to finish this match as well, both are 4-6.
Aoiyama defeats Sadanoumi – Another very sloppy “come as you are” match. They started with a bit of shoving, a bit of hitting and a bit of everything in between. Aoiyama grabbed Sadanoumi’s head and applied a pull, which only served to bring Sadanoumi closer, and Sadanoumi found a double inside position. With both men terribly off balance, Aoiyama pivoted and rotated Sadanoumi out. That’s loss 8 for Sadanoumi, and he is make-koshi for March, as Aoiyama advances to 4-6.
Kiribayama defeats Onosho – Not sure why Onosho decided he was going to fight this one chest to chest. But it worked out poorly, and his only real offensive move just fed power into Kiribayama throw that ultimately won the match. Kiribayama up to 7-3 now.
Okinoumi defeats Meisei – The battle of the battle damaged goes to Okinoumi, who picks up his second win of the tournament. Meisei opened with thrusting, but once Okinoumi captured him and established a hold, it was a fast walk to the bales, followed by a gentle escort out of the ring. Okinoumi now 2-8.
Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – We got to see the “good” Ichinojo again today. Huge, patient, immobile, and in control. Tamawashi tried to apply some power to The Boulder’s upper body, but it went nowhere. Ichinojo calmly consolidated his hold, and took a nice stroll with Tamawashi in his arms, improving to 6-4.
Kotonowaka defeats Daieisho – Daieisho applied maximum forward power, most of which went straight into a series of nodowa. With his center of gravity so far forward, it was trivial for Kotonowaka to set up and execute the side step and thrust to win by hatakikomi. Kotonowaka improves to 9-1.
Takanosho defeats Ura – Another battle of the defeated, it seems that Takanosho is in slighting better condition that Ura right now. Ura continues to try to fight very low, and cannot really produce much offense, but is half way to the the clay already. Takanosho applies a few solid shoves, and gets Ura tumbling out of the ring. Takanosho improves to 2-8.
Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu opened really well, a nice hazu-oishi attack to Takayasu’s armpits, and he moved Takayasu back a few steps. Hoshoryu’s advantage was short lived, as Takayasu tangled up his arms and hands, and then gave him time to consider his sumo. Hoshoryu broke contact, and Hoshoryu tried to find the hand placement for some kind of throw, thwarted again by Takayasu. Break contact again and re-engaged with a right hand inside. No, Takayasu is immobile today, and you are going nowhere with that sumo, sir. Hoshoryu tries still more great responses, none of them are doing anything but inching him toward his 6th loss. Takayasu shoves the remainders over the west side, and remains unbeaten at 10-0.
Wakatakakage defeats Abi – Oh, that’s right. Its been a few matches since the last matta, and it is matta day, so Abi, feel free to launch early. Abi has some good power today, but then pulls into Wakatakakage’s forward advance, and is quickly out. Wakatakakage 9-1, and remains in the hunt behind Takayasu.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – That was going to be a tough match no matter what, and when I saw that both men squared their shoulders and their hips, it was Hokutofuji’s match to win. He was lower, his arms were better positioned, and he had Mitakeumi bracketed. Mitakeumi realized this almost at once, but could not lower his hips fast enough to counter Hokutofuji’s push forward. Hokutofuji advances to 5-5.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Is Takakeisho nursing some injury? This form of sumo is quite different for him. I am all in for experiments and expanding the technique catalog, but I wonder about trying to clear kadoban and doing that at the same time. Takakeisho won with a grab/hold technique, katasukashi, which is quite out of character for him. He’s 7-3 now, needing just one more win out of the remaining 5 matches to clear kadoban.
Shodai defeats Endo – Yeah, he did it again. That’s 4 in a row. Even if he does not make his 8, he is scoring very high marks for tenacity and embodiment of ganbarimasu. Endo did get a grip, but there was enough daikon power rattling around Shodai’s COVID riddled body that he powered through Endo’s attempt to drop his hips and set up control. 5-5 for Shodai, 3 to go.