The anticipated shuffle in the leader board has started, and not a moment too soon. I am sure that the schedulers are looking for a good fight to the finish for the cup this weekend, and they need to get as many rikishi as possible lined up with a chance to fight it out for sumo’s big prize.
I started this basho out be remarking that Oho had yet to show himself, and was underperforming his potential. I think that is no longer entirely the case, but I still think he is sloppy, a bit too conservative in his sumo, and underperforming his potential. But you would be right to respond that he has had a share of the lead in the yusho race, and I am fully of three week old tapioca pudding, and you might have a point. But you can see underneath the flabby, somewhat unfocused sumo tiny flashes of greatness. I don’t know if his coaches are just taking their time with him, or he does not see it himself, or he does not believe it can happen. But I hope against hope that maybe he can help turn this poorly differentiated mass of rikishi that is the Kyushu Maku-no-uchi division into something a bit more exciting next year.
But the day really belongs to Hoshoryu. So far, we have not seen the big attitude this November, just solid, strong sumo. He has sole possession of the lead now, and he has earned it. If he can hold steady for the next 4 days, he will win the cup. But I suspect that if the stars align, Takayasu might still have one more chance to play spoiler.
Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – I just noticed a big piece of tape around Kotoeko’s right thigh, maybe that’s new? He has a rough tachiai, and works to endure Ichiyamamoto’s double arm thrust train. Just as Ichiyamamoto get’s him off balance, Kotoeko grabs onto Ichiyamamoto’s right hand, pulling him down and across. It was enough to make Ichiyamamoto step out first, and both end the day 6-5.
Kotoshoho defeats Azumaryu – Kotoshoho made contact at the tachiai with his right shoulder, standing Azumaryu up, and immediately put his hands behind Azumaryu’s neck and pulled him down. Quick, effective and successful. Both end the day 6-5.
Onosho defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi could not reach around Onosho’s belly to get that left hand frontal grip he tried for at the tachiai, and ended up needing to step back as Onosho’s first thrust connected. What followed was a series of attack-evade exchanges that were impressively good from both men, and especially noteworthy given Onosho frequently having balance problems. When Onosho grappled Hiradoumi to force him out, Hiradoumi nearly escaped again! I am impressed with Hiradoumi’s sumo this November. Both men end the day 7-4.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma looked to have a good start, but immedately tried to pull, and Kagayaki responded with a strong advance. Chiyoshoma quickly lost his balance, and Kagayaki had his kachi-koshi at 8-3. Welcome back to the top division, sir.
Abi defeats Oho – Oho continues to have real trouble with Abi-zumo, and loses for the 3rd time by catching a series of volleys directly to center mass. Oho takes his second loss, and drops out of the leader group for the Cup, and Abi improves to 8-3 and secures his kachi-koshi for November.
Takanosho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Takanosho got to use two finishing moves against Terutsuyoshi, when the first oshitaoshi failed to get the nimble Terutsuyoshi. The second was a bit more forceful, and saw Terutsuyoshi fall from the dohyo and land in front of his oyakata. That’s 0-11 for Terutsuyoshi, and a welcome 4th win for Takanosho, and he is now 4-7.
Tochinoshin defeats Atamifuji – Atamifuji is low and leaning forward at the tachiai, and is easily dropped by Tochinoshin win a hatakikomi. Not sure where Atamifuji’s sumo went, but it’s not been around Fukuoka since day 5, as Atamifuji has now lost 6 in a row, and is now make-koshi. Tochinoshin improves to 5-6.
Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Takarafuji finally picks up his first win, and there will be no zenpai playoff after regulation on day 15 after all. I was kind of looking forward to it. This win was a quick set up at the tachiai into an immediate tsukiotoshi. Takarafuji now 1-10.
Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama delivers a couple of big blows to Sadanoumi’s face, but he rotates Aoiyama around, grabs a double handful of rubbery flesh and pushes him right out. Sadanoumi up to 5-6.
Wakamotoharu defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu put a lot into this match, but could not get Wakamotoharu close to going out, in spite of some rather upright body posture from Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu manages to lower his hips, turn Myogiryu around, and turns on the forward power for a yorikiri. Both end the day 6-5.
Endo defeats Ura – Probably the best effort from Ura in the last few days, he gave Endo a solid fight, including some grab and tug sumo, which we have not really seen in Kyushu. Ura tries to lift and put Endo out, but just does not have the power to do it. Surprising given just how strong Ura’s upper body is. Endo responds with an uwatedashinage, taking the win and advancing to 5-9.
Kotonowaka defeats Ichinojo – Kotonowaka got a left hand outside grip early, and used it to stay firmly in the match, even when Ichinojo rallied. The two then locked up and went about testing their endurance in the center of the dohyo. Kotonowaka was able to break the stalemate and get Ichinojo on the move, tossing him out with an okuridashi. Kotonowaka one away from kachi-koshi at 7-4.
Takayasu defeats Nishikifuji – Takayasu looked more out of control in this match than he has all November. He was off balance half of the match, and twice on one leg (briefly). But he was pouring massive power into his attacks on Nishikifuji, and was connecting more than he was not. With a mighty shove he sent Nishikifuji out, improving to 9-3.
Kiribayama defeats Ryuden – Kiribayama thought he had Ryuden out the first time, but failed to finish him, and Ryuden re-engaged, and they ended up chest to chest in the middle of the dohyo. They began to tire out their hands, and Kiribayama advanced, Ryuden attacked, and Kiribayama dropped him with a sotogake. Both end the day at 7-4, solid sumo!
Nishikigi defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi comes in strong with a good series of oshi attacks, completely disrupting Nishikigi’s match plan. Twice Nishikigi tried to recover, and get some kind of grip on Tamawashi, but eventually gave up when he found Tamawashi’s chest wide open. Three big thrusts later, Tamawashi was out, and Nishikigi had his first win against Tamawashi in 7 attempts. That’s 5-6 for Nishikigi while Tamawashi picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – I am impressed that Meisei was able to absorb Daieisho’s opening volleys, and returned in kind with enough power to keep Daieisho from advancing. Things fell apart from him when it looks like he tried some kind of pull or slap down, missed Daieisho completely, and lost his good balance. Daieisho attacked, and put him out of the ring by oshitaoshi. Daieisho improves to 5-6.
Midorifuji defeats Tobizaru – Blazing combo attacks were the order of the day in this match. It was glorious, and both delivered a lot of power in those blows. Midorifuji ended the exchange by slipping a right hand under Tobizaru’s arm, and throwing him down by sukuinage. Great stuff, and Midorifuji is up to 6-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Mitakeumi – Hoshoryu made fast work of the former Ozeki, getting a shallow left hand grip, lifting Mitakeumi’s considerable bulk, and walking him out. I wish we knew what injury is plaguing Mitakeumi, but we don’t. I just hope it’s something he can eventually recover from. Hoshoryu now the sole leader of the yusho race at 10-1.
Shodai defeats Wakatakakage – Just when you think you know how things are going to turn out, Shodai decided this is a fine day for sumo. Wakatakakage comes in strong, and finds that Shodai actually put some power into his tachiai. Shodai’s stance is wide, low and angled. What is this? He spreads his shoulders wide, it’s the Wall of Daikon! The alternate universe Yokozuna Shodai decided to fight for us today, and he dispatches Ozeki hopeful Wakatakakage without much fuss at all. What the hell? Shodai at 5-6, and may still clear kadoban.
Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – So much oshi-zumo power in the opening moments of this match. It was almost enough to set the front row’s hair on fire. But today Takakeisho was able to get Hoshoryu’s lower body off balance and stumbling forward – not an easy task. As Hokutofuji exited the ring and went to go visit the fans, Takakeisho’s record improved to 8-3 and he is kachi-koshi for November.