With the middle day of the basho behind us, we are on to the second half. We still don’t quite have a real yusho race, but it seems likely that one of the six men who are at 7-1 or 6-2 will take home the cup. The four men at 7-1 are:
Some or all of them will likely get their 8th win tomorrow, and with kachi-koshi in hand their thoughts will turn to the race for the emperor’s cup. This second half is when, for some rikishi, they begin to lost focus on their sumo, and worry about how to win the tournament. This is why the yusho race can see strong, competent fighters like Takayasu sudden go stone cold and loose matches they should be winning. None of these men had won a yusho before, and so I have my eye on 6-2 Takakeisho. True it would take some losses in that 7-1 group to bring him into contention, but the scheduling committee is going to do their best to give both Oho and Abi some big challenges in the coming days.
But for Takayasu’s fans, he’s once again putting himself in position to finally take his first yusho.
Okinoumi defeats Yutakayama – When I talking about Okinoumi being a walking sumo technique library, this match is an example of what I mean. Yutakayama has a good start to the fight, and is working to get his hands inside and attack Okinoumi’s chest. But Okinoumi takes a step to his left, shifts his grip and unloads a katasukashi that sends Yutakayama tumbling to the clay. Nice move, both end the day 4-4.
Oho defeats Atamifuji – Bit different between these two today. Atamifuji is trying to attack Oho, but Oho is attacking Atamifuji. Oho was able to get his hands inside, and never gave up the thrusting lane, taking Atamifuji out with a steady wave pushing, he remains part of the leader group at 7-1.
Hiradoumi defeats Kotoeko – Impressive sumo from Hiradoumi, he grapples Kotoeko immediately, and once he has both hands holding Kotoeko, rushes forward before Kotoeko can respond with any defense or counter attack. Excellent work, Hiradoumi now 5-3.
Onosho defeats Terutsuyoshi – My compliments to Terutsuyoshi, given his diminshed state, that was a solid effort. Onosho came at Terutsuyoshi full speed, and Terutsuyoshi responded with an utchari attempt at the bales. He did not quite get the rotation complete in time, and the gumbai went to Onosho, who finishes the day 5-3. Sadly, the 8th loss for Terutsuyoshi and he is now make-koshi.
Kotoshoho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kotoshoho’s hit and shift gambit at the tachiai failed, and Ichiyamamoto attacked in force, almost driving Kotoshoho from the ring. With his heels on the tawara, Kotoshoho rallied and launched forward, breaking Ichiyamamoto stance, and running him across the ring and out. Both are 5-3.
Azumaryu defeats Chiyoshoma – Moments after the two went chest to chest, you could see that both of them were working to set up a throw, and the question was whose would happen first. The answer was Azumaryu, though Chiyoshoma tried to bring Azumaryu down first. The resulting tangle went over the edge of the dohyo, landing in a heap. Azumaryu took the win, improving to 4-4.
Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Aoiyama gives Takarafuji no quarter, and quickly uses his potent thrusting attacks to send Takarafuji out, that loss number 8 for Takarafuji, and he is make-koshi. Aoiyama is now 4-4.
Abi defeats Endo – Endo attempted to break Abi’s double arm thrusting attack by hitting him underneath at the elbows, but could not quite break through before Abi had him completely off balance and staggering backward. Abi pick up his 7th win and stays in the 7-1 leader group.
Ryuden defeats Tochinoshin – Ryuden does a masterful job of constraining Tochinoshin’s attack options, robbing him of nearly any sumo save to try and hold ground with that damaged knee. With Tochinoshin little more than ballast, Ryuden walks him out for the win, and is now 5-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – A solid stalemate at the tachiai left both men leaning against each other, with their hands slapping and trying for any grip. A Myogiryu pull attempt failed, but unleashed Hokutofuji’s forward drive, and Myogiryu never had a chance to recover his footing. Both end the day 5-3.
Nishikifuji defeats Takanosho – Takanosho seems to come up 10%-20% short each day, and it looks like its very frustrating to him. Today Nishikifuji keeps him on defense, and keep himself moving. The loss comes when Takanosho loses his balance and touches the clay with his right hand. Nishikifuji improves to 6-2.
Midorifuji defeats Nishikigi – Nice upper body rotation and ottsuke by Midorifuji to shut down Nishikigi’s attempt at a right hand inside grab. Midorifuji holds Nishikigi in place for a moment, then pulls on that right arm, bringing Nishikigi forward and circling behind. Midorifuji then walks Nishikigi out, great sumo there, and a bold move. Both end the day 3-5.
Ura defeats Ichinojo – Ura finally gets his first win of the basho. Ura kept Ichinojo in motion, and prevented him from getting a stable hold to set up his offense. Points to Ichinojo for maintaining contact, and driving Ura back. But Ura rallied the moment he could get both hands against Ichinojo’s chest, and ran him out of the ring. Ura improves to 1-7.
Takayasu defeats Kiribayama – I think Kiribayama gave Takayasu one of the best matches he’s had in the past few days. He actually blunted Takayasu’s attacks, and hand him out of position and off balance twice. But Kiribayama decided to grapple, set up a nodowa, and dial down the tempo. This favored Takayasu, let him consolidate his sumo and renew his attack. Kiribayama was undone by a massive right hand shove that sent him sprawling to the clay, nice power move from Takayasu. He improves to 7-1 and stays in the leader group.
Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi was fighting better today than he has recently, but he was undone by what the great Kintamayama might call a “slippiotoshi”, losing traction and hitting the clay. Meisei picks up a much needed win and is now 4-4.
Wakatakakage defeats Daieisho – Some sort of flying pull attempt by Daieisho went terribly wrong, giving Wakatakakage a double inside grip, and the Ozeki hopeful rapidly ran Daieisho off the dohyo. Wakatakakage improves to 5-3.
Kotonowaka defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi is forward of his toes at the tachiai, and Kotonowaka immediately pulls him down. It’s all over in a second, and Kotonowaka is up to 5-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Tobizaru – Dear readers, that was some fine “kitchen sink” sumo. Both men were attacking with almost anything that came to mind or came available, and the battle ranged across the ring. Hoshoryu attempted an uwatenage, but Tobizaru nearly shut it down. What a battle! Hoshoryu stays with the leader group at 7-1.
Takakeisho defeats Wakamotoharu – The clash of styles favored Takakeisho today, he was able to keep Wakamotoharu from his belt, and landing three volleys against his chest, pushing him off the dohyo and into a waiting Shodai. Takakeisho improves to 6-2.
Sadanoumi defeats Shodai – Sadanoumi very effective today, disrupting Shodai’s offense and keeping him from taking control of the match. Shodai needs to win 4 of the last 7 matches to clear kadoban, as both end the day at 4-4.