Another heya is out due to a positive COVID test, this time Hanaregoma which is the home of Ichiyamamoto. This is a real shame, as he had racked up an excellent score this basho, and was likely headed for double digits. It seems their oyakata turned in a positive test, and now the entire stable gets to sit out the rest of the basho. Given how virulent Omicron variants are, it may be the case that several more positive tests will show up in the next day or two. With Ichiyamamoto out, Nishikifuji improves to 7-2 and maintains his position in the leading group.
On the clay, the group in the lead has narrowed to six rikishi with 7-2 scores, spanning a range from the Yokozuna down to Maegashira 17e.
Chiyomaru defeats Hidenoumi – I will hand it to Chiyomaru – when he decides on a match plan, he seems to be willing to try it over and over without variation until it actually produces results or he hits they clay. He alternates a double arm nodowa and pulling against Hidenoumi. I think I counted two and one half cycles of that. The half was because Chiyomaru just got the nodowa part in, and shoved Hidenoumi out. Chiyomaru at 3-6 now by oshidashi.
Tsurugisho defeats Myogiryu – This match started with both men attacking high; faces, necks and shoulders. As is frequently the case, there was not much effect except to annoy their opponent. Myogiryu had his hands near Tsurugisho’s neck and decided “Hey, let’s pull him forward”. I think it was one big hopping step for Tsurugisho to blast Myogiryu straight into the front row. Tsurugisho up to 4-5 by 190kg of oshitaoshi.
Chiyoshoma defeats Yutakayama – I really like Chiyoshoma’s tachiai today, he hit hard with his shoulder and went straight into a combo attack against Yutakayama’s neck and face. There did not seem to be any intent to move Yutakayama back, it was just to make Yutakayama respond in kind. As Yutakayama reacted, in went the left hand under Yutakayama’s defense. Yutakayama was not just caught, he was in no position to counter with any kind of grip of his own. Chiyoshoma kept it that way, not letting Yutakayama have kind of offense at all. Yutakayama tried to change his grip, and at that moment Chiyoshoma surged forward and finished him, improving to 4-5 by yorikiri.
Takarafuji defeats Oho – We get a big strength and endurance match from these two, and that is how it should be. Oho tries to dial up the power for a win in the first few moments, but he finds that he has been captured and is stalemated in the center of the dohyo. This is Takarafuji’s brand of sumo – “Defend and extend”. Wear the other guy down moment by moment. But eventually Takarafuji decided he had worn Oho down long enough. He raised Oho up, changed his grip, and walked him out to end the day 4-5 by yorikiri.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Daiamami – With his sixth loss on the dohyo and the 2 days he missed, Daiamami is now make-koshi, and at Maegashira 16w, is almost certainly headed back to Juryo. Given that his sumo has been poor since returning from kyujo, I wonder why he did not just rest up his injury and fight his way back in September. Terutsuyoshi decided to give us a show as well, picking Daiamami’s leg to win by ashitori, increasing his score to 3-6.
Kotoshoho defeats Onosho – Onosho was on the offense, and was having his way with Kotoshoho up to the moment where Onosho pushed forward to take Kotoshoho out of the ring. With an arm hold, Kotoshoho pivoted into a kotenage, and managed to keep his feet long enough to see Onosho hit the clay. Both end the day at 5-4.
Nishikigi defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji showed a lot of energy and drive today, but simply could not move Nishikigi in any way. He could not move Nishikigi back, or find a way to get any kind of mawashi grip. Points to Nishikigi for reducing this to a simple mass vs mass contest, which greatly favored himself. With Midorifuji’s arm barred, Nishikigi walked Midorifuji back and threw him out of the ring by kimedashi, improving to 7-2 and maintaining his position in the leader group.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tochinoshin – Last night in the preview, I guessed that Chiyotairyu’s tradition “stand him up / pull him down” may not work against Tochinoshin, given how many times he has faced Chiyotairyu. Well, I was wrong. it worked a treat. Chiyotairyu picks up a much needed win to advance to 6-3 by hatakikomi.
Okinoumi defeats Meisei – That looked more like a sloppy practice match than honbasho. Meisei seemed to have just given up on the third exchange, and just said, “well balls, I will just give him a lame pull”. Okinoumi was happy to absorb that and push Meisei out. Okinoumi now at 4-5 thanks to the resulting oshidashi.
Tobizaru defeats Shimanoumi – I am impressed with how much fight Shimanoumi brought to this match, given how poorly he has been doing for most of the July tournament. Sadly there is no way he was going to “out frantic” Tobizaru, who matched him move for move and absorbed it all. Shimanoumi tired, resulting in the two leading against each other in the center of the ring. Tobizaru got bored with that soon enough, and out came the leg sweep for the second day in a row. It did not completely connect, but disrupted Shimanoumi’s balance enough that he could bring him down. Shimanoumi now make-koshi at 1-8, Tobizaru maintains his position in the leader group with 7-2.
Kotoeko defeats Aoiyama – TIMMMBERRR! Kotoeko makes just a minor shift to his left following the initial contact at the tachiai, and catches Big Dan surging forward. With that much mass in motion, it is a tough to change direction mid stride. Aoiyama toppled forward as Kotoeko seemed disappointed to not being able to continue the fight. He wins by tsukiotoshi and is 5-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Sadanoumi – A good initial hit, but both men lost traction and fell together, with Sadanoumi touching down first. They decided to call it oshitaoshi, and Hokutofuji gets the win to improve to 4-5.
Ichinojo defeats Kiribayama – It does my heart good to see Ichinojo bounce back and win again. He took the fight to Kiribayama, who quickly got an up close experience of just how much trouble an enormous and genki Ichinojo can be. Kiribayama tried a few offensive moves, but Ichinojo is just too big, and has good hand placement today. Ichinojo engages forward PTO and drives Kiribayama out by yorikiri to hold position in the leader group at 7-2.
Hoshoryu defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi missed his mark at the tachiai, and found himself defending against Hoshoryu’s sumo. Hoshoryu caught Tamawashi out of position, and established control of the inside and went to work. Hoshoryu was hitting well, and the third combo sent Tamawashi out by oshidashi. Hoshoryu improves to 5-4.
Daieisho defeats Ura – Daieisho was no going to rush forward against Ura, and that was probably a wise move. So the tachiai was an odd one (usually is against Ura), and we did not see the big push inside to set up any thrusting attacks. Staying at distance, Daieisho nipped and picked at Ura until he got him off balance, and employed a hatakikomi to finish Ura off. Daieisho improves 5-4.
Kotonowaka defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage got the better of the tachiai, and went on the attack. Kotonowaka did mange to get his right hand inside, and deep on Wakatakakage’s belt. Wakatakakage surged forward, broke Kotonowaka’s grip and looked to be setting up a throw. Kotonowaka rallied, shut down that throw and surged forward to send Wakatakakage out by yorikiri. Kotonowaka takes the win in this “battle of the waka” to improve to 7-2,s staying with the leader group.
Shodai defeats Abi – We saw it again today, Shodai gets in trouble, something switches on, and he’s an Ozeki again. I almost think there are two Shodai (Shodais? what is the plural of Shodai? Suggestions in comments pleasE) in there, a lesser Shodai and a greater Shodai. We saw the lesser one quite a bit in the first week, and he started this match (and yesterday’s too) before the Uber-Shodai came in and won. Abi was attacking in his traditional style, and a sudden power move pushed Abi aside and down to give Shodai the match. Both end the day at 5-4, and remain squarely in the funnel.
Takakeisho defeats Wakamotoharu – Ozeki Takakeisho made fast work of Wakamotoharu, as he could not risk having Wakamotoharu set up any kind of mawashi grip. Takakeisho improves to 6-3 by tsukiotoshi.
Terunofuji defeats Endo – Endo really put maximum effort into this match, and took the fight to Terunofuji. But watch the Yokozuna break Endo’s double inside grip moments after he set it up. With his hold on Terunofuji trashed, the Yokozuna counter attacks and bodily gives Endo the jolly heave-ho off the side of the dohyo. It’s clear Terunofuji is hurt, but you have to admire his brass to mount the dohyo each day and beat all comers. Oshidashi win and Terunofuji remains the strongest bid for the Emperor’s cup on Sunday at 7-2.