Did you want Big Sumo and maximum competition? The Great Sumo Cat hears your wishes, and has granted your request.
We have 8 rikishi with 7-7 records at the end of the day. Not the most there could have been, but a healthy number of tomorrows matches will be deciders between rikishi balanced between make and kachi koshi. I call these matches “Darwin Matches” as the strong survive, and move up the banzuke.
But in the final 3 fanale, the wins and losses aligned just right so that Wakatakakage and Takayasu are tied for the lead once more, with Kotonowaka just one behind. We won’t know who will take the yusho until the final match of the final day, and even then there might require a 3 man playoff. Nice!
Hidenoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki’s poor form showed up again today. You can see him keeping his head down rather than looking at and studying his opponents grip and stance. His hips get high, his upper body bent over while his legs are straight, man what a mess. Hidenoumi pushes him out to win his 8th while handing Kagayaki his 8th loss. Kachi-koshi for Hidenoumi, make-koshi for Kagayaki. I would guess lower back problems for Kagayaki.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyonokuni – immediate pull at the tachiai completely disrupts Chiyonokuni, and Ichiyamamoto shoves him out from behind. Ichiyamamoto 7-7 and headed for a Darwin match.
Kotokuzan defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu opened big, and quickly had Kotokuzan’s heels on the bales. What did he do then? Pulled Kotokuzan forward, and five steps later found himself out. Crappy sumo from Chiyotairyu nets him a make-koshi today, while Kotokuzan improves to 7-7 and is headed for Darwin.
Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama got in trouble early, when Myogiryu found himself with a deep right hand grip, and Yutakayama turned at an angle. At that moment, Yutakayama was off balance and nearly upright. Myogiryu made fast work to get him to the bales, and finished with a throw attempt that collapsed into a yoritaoshi. Myogiryu improves to 6-8, Yutakayama now 7-7 and headed for a Darwin match.
Nishikigi defeats Shimanoumi – Unable to get his preferred grip on Shimanoumi, Nishikigi had to settle for shoving him out of the ring. Shimanoumi had little in terms of offense, and could not counter Nishikigi’s greater forward pressure. Shimanoumi now 7-7, Nishikigi 9-5.
Kotoshoho defeats Aoiyama – I was quite surprised that Aoiyama surrendered the inside pushing lane to Kotoshoho, but that happened. Once Kotoshoho was moving him back, Aoiyama tried a pull at a very poorly timed moment, and we get our second yoritaoshi in 3 matches as Aoiyama hits the clay. Kotoshoho pick up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi. Aoiyama 7-7 and joins the Darwin crew.
Tochinoshin defeats Wakamotoharu – Tochinoshin had a big opening combo against Wakamotoharu, and Wakamotoharu struggled to get his sumo started. Wakamotoharu found Tochinoshin’s mawashi just as the former Ozeki established his lethal left hand outside grip. To his credit, Wakamotoharu defended well against Tochinoshin’s preferred attack, and kept his feet all the way to the edge of the ring, here he attempted a throw. But Wakamotoharu had already stepped out. Tochinoshin picks up the win to improve to 9-5.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyoshoma – Terutsuyoshi with the mini-henka at the start, takes up a right hand outside grip. He does not hold Chiyoshoma long, as the hand comes down, grabs Chiyoshoma’s left leg, and drops Chiyoshoma with a komatasukui. That’s kachi-koshi for Terutsuyoshi at 8-6.
Kotoeko defeats Sadanoumi – Once Kotoeko had that right hand inside mawashi grip, he was in charge of this match. Points to Sadanoumi for widening his stance, excellent defensive move. But it prevented him executing the uwatenage he was trying for, and instead he was thrown for his 10th loss. Kotoeko improves to 9-5.
Takarafuji defeats Akua – Akua had both traction and balance problems today. He did fairly well keeping Takarafuji’s right hand from finding his mawashi, but we know Takarafuji is patient and relentless. What does Akua do when he is stuck? Tries a kakenage, of course. Takarafuji was ready, and threw him to the clay. Takarafuji improves to 5-9.
Tobizaru defeats Kiribayama – The tachiai wrapped an intense battle for hand placement, that resulted with Tobizaru getting a deep left hand on Kiribayama’s mawashi knot. I counted three chained throw attempts, but Kiribayama had the counter move ready each time. But with Kiribayama on one foot, he was easy to move about, and Tobizaru shoved him into the East side front row. That’s win number 8 for Tobizaru, and he is kachi-koshi for the first time in a year.
Chiyomaru defeats Meisei – Meisei still can’t find his second win. After beating Takanosho on opening day, its’ been 13 straight black stars for him. It was an odd match, with an equally odd finish. They called it an oshitaoshi, and that’s good enough for me. Sadly there is no kimarite for “complete discombobulation”, but there should be. Chiyomaru picks up his fifth win to finish 5-9.
Tamawashi defeats Onosho – Tamawashi’s opening combo stood Onosho up, and he immediately pulled Onosho forward, rolling him to the clay. Balance, Onosho’s weak spot. Tamawashi finishes the day at 7-7, adding his name to the Darwin list.
Daieisho defeats Ichinojo – Color me surprised, Ichinojo blew his two attempts to find Daieisho’s mawashi, and failed to set his feet defensively. Daieisho’s big thrusts connected well, and got Ichinojo on the move. A final big push finished him, and Daieisho improves to 7-7, joining the Darwin crew.
Ishiura defeats Ura – Ishiura was able to find his second win in the battle of the Uras. Today he looked strong, focused and quite aggressive. He gave Ura quite a rough ride, and none of Ura’s escape moves worked well enough to stave off the Ishiura’s oshi-zumo. Ishiura improves to 2-12.
Okinoumi defeats Takanosho – Nice combo attack from Okinoumi today. Hazu-oshi arm pit attack, lighting fast change up on the right hand straight into a katasukashi. He dropped Takanosho like a sack of cat food to find his 5th win of Haru, ending the day 5-9. I love Okinoumi’s technical sumo, when he is feeling healthy enough to execute it, its a thing of beauty.
Hoshoryu defeats Endo – Both rikishi succeeded in blocking the other’s opening gambit, and neither had working hand placement at the tachiai. They re-engaged, with Endo lunging in just as Hoshoryu stepped to the side and guided Endo’s body out. It was a bit of a long shot, but indeed it payed off as both end the day 7-7, joining the Darwin group.
Hokutofuji defeats Abi – Abi has now lost 5 of the last 6, and I am worried he may be injured. He had the better of the initial phase of this match, but lost contact with Hokutofuji, and gave Hokutofuji his back. It was easy for Hokutofuji to push him out of the ring and into the front row to visit Dr Takasu and the posture princess. Hokutofuji pick up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi.
Once again, the climatic final three matches are stacked with big sumo.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – I struggle to interpret the final moments of this match, and I have re-watched it at least a dozen times. Takayasu presses forward, and for a moment has both feet airborne, I think he is doing some kind of flying gaburi-yori. It was a poor choice as it leaves his feet even, his balance of center and his body ripe for a throw. Shodai, in dire need of a win, takes Takayasu to the clay with a sukuinage for his 8th win, reaching kachi-koshi and clearing kadoban. What was that, Takayasu? I think this is his biggest issue, he wins when he stays calm, strong and a little bit slow moving. When he lets out his “wild man sumo” he’s easier to pick off. Opinions of this match in the comments, if you would please.
Kotonowaka defeats Mitakeumi – With the leader down, its time for these two to decide who will be a challenger for day 15, as Takayasu left the door open for someone else to take the cup. Mitakeumi’s opening combo fell apart, and Kotonowaka was ready to make him pay. Following his blown opening, Mitakeumi failed to set up defensive foot placement, allowing Kotonowaka to move him to the edge of the ring and walk him out. Kotonowaka now 11-3. These mid-maegashira guys with their double digit scores are going to force additional slots in the named ranks if they keep this up.
Wakatakakage defeats Takakeisho – With Takayasu down, it’s Wakatakakage’s chance to even the score. Excellent opening hit from Takakeisho blasts Wakatakakage back, but Wakatakakage bets everything on getting his right hand inside on the Ozeki’s belt. The third attack finds the mark, and Wakatakakage sets up shop. Takakeisho knows he’s in trouble, and fights back, but Wakatakakage somehow manages to keep his feet, while his left hand finds the inside lane. Now with a double inside grip, Takakeisho is ballast, and Wakatakakage moves him across the bales for his 12th win, evening up with Takayasu.
The rollercoaster tale of the 2022 Haru basho will conclude tomorrow. We are looking forward to one hell of a final day.