A grand and momentous day of sumo from Fukuoaka. The scheduling committee can create interesting matches each and every day, but it’s down to the rikishi’s own sumo to determine how the story line will play out. I am sure the group that put together day 12 must have looked at the torikumi and thought, well that might be quite the pivotal day of sumo!
I am convinced that the kami who was invited to enjoy this basho was a mischievous spritely sort, given to pranks, jokes and the occasional slip and fall routine. It took at look at this same torikumi with joy and excitement. It had a idea…
Onosho defeats Kotoshoho – I counted two times that Kotoshoho tried and partially succeeded in evading Onosho’s forward pushes, and get him off balance. But both times Onosho was able to cover, get back to center point and continue the attack. Onosho secures his 8th win and is kachi-koshi at 8-4.
Aoiyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – I suppose it’s indicative that Aoiyama did not bash or bludgeon Terutsuyoshi today, just kept him off balance and moving backward. Everyone knows he’s hurt, and I am thankful Aoiyama was using minimal force to get his win. Terutsuyoshi still on the road to the seldom seen zenpai, while Aoiyama avoids make-koshi at 5-7.
Chiyoshoma defeats Atamifuji – Atamifuji just cannot catch a break this tournament. He comes into the tachiai strong, and has a solid grip on Chiyoshoma. This seems to be just fine for Chiyoshoma, who pivots and slams Atamifuji to the clay. Chiyoshoma avoids make-koshi at 5-7.
Okinoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin gets his left hand outside grip on the second reach, and Okinoumi counters with a double inside grip in response. Tochinoshin tries to get some kind of sumo going with half a grip, but Okinoumi lifts him and sets him outside the ring to improve to 6-6.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu did a fantastic job of shutting down Ichiyamamoto’s sumo, denying Ichiyamamoto the space to extend his arms and apply forward pressure. In short order, Ichiyamamoto was too far forward, and Myogiryu decided to pull on his neck. The timing was ill considered, as Ichiyamamoto had contact with his hands at the moment, and Myogiryu was quickly shoved from the ring. Ichiyamamoto improves to 7-5.
Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi opens on the offensive, working to press into Azumaryu’s chest. Azumaryu kept a bit of distance, and encouraged Nishikigi to lean too far forward to adjust, which he did, directly into the uwatenage. Nishikigi hits the clay, and Azumaryu steps closer to his first ever top division kachi-koshi at 7-5.
Hiradoumi defeats Hokutofuji – I had hopes for this match and it did not disappoint. Hokutofuji attacked well, and we got to see his superb stability in action, as Hiradoumi kept varying forward pressure to shift Hokutofuji’s balance. As they were fighting it out, Hokutofuji’s prehensile lower body continued to work to win the match, moving Hiradoumi back for the final attack. Impressive ring sense and sumo skill from Hiradoumi, who opened just enough room at the tawara that Hokutofuji’s finishing caused Hokutofuji to touch down before Hiradoumi was out. Nice way to ear a kachi-koshi sir, he is 8-4.
Takanosho defeats Ura – Ura, survive this one if you can sir. He’s got no ability to withstand any kind of grapple or forward pressure, and Takanosho moves him about for a moment, then tosses him down to improve to 5-7.
Kotoeko defeats Meisei – Meisei’s big forward drive shoved Kotoeko out directly out from the tachiai, but on the way out, Kotoeko found the tawara, stood on them, and slapped Meisei down. It was a close call who was out or down first, but the win went to Kotoeko, and he is now 7-5.
Takarafuji defeats Ichinojo – It does my heart a lot of good to see that Takarafuji maybe found some of his sumo, possible some residue packed into a dark corner of his akene, or he sent one of his tsukibeto back to Tokyo to check his old lodging at Isegahama for a bit of it forgotten in between the tatami mats. Wherever it came from, I am glad to see him fight and win again. Ichinojo, for all of his size, can be surprisingly easy to move about, and Takarafuji defends well, finds his chance and pushes the big fellow out. Takarafuji now 2-10.
Takayasu defeats Ryuden – Ryuden gets a left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, and Takayasu’s first job is to break that grip. He lifts Ryuden’s arm away, and converts that to a hold on Ryuden’s face, and drives forward. Backing Ryuden up to the bales, Takayasu reverses and pulls him to the clay. Quick, direct and brutal. Takayasu now 10-2.
Kagayaki defeats Kotonowaka – Kagayaki’s tachiai was low and slow, and for a moment looked entirely ill-considered. But Kotonowaka failed to read it and defect to the side, resulting in Kagayaki making good contact with his legs set to drive forward. Drive he did, and Kotonowaka had no stance to defend. Three steps later Kotonowaka was out, and Kagayaki , from near the bottom of the banzuke, picks off a Maegashira 1 to advance to 9-3.
Wakamotoharu defeats Tobizaru – We got our serving of frantic sumo, and for the second day in a row, Wakamotoharu’s opponents forced him into an oshi-zumo fight that he won. Maybe that’s not an effective route to beating him. Tobizaru takes one of his first jogs into the zabuton zone this tournament, to the delight of the fans, as Wakamotoharu picks up his 7th to finish the day 7-5.
Endo defeats Tamawashi – I came for a fight, and all I got was this crummy henka. Endo 6-6.
Daieisho defeats Midorifuji – Daieisho was keen to defend against any combo attack at the tachiai, and did not put much forward energy into his first move. Midorifuji was intent on a straight ahead match, at least to start, and grappled Daieisho, and pushed forward. Daieisho grabbed, lifted and pivoted Midorifuji out without too much fuss, and both end the day 6-6.
Oho defeats Hoshoryu – The big match for the yusho race. Prior to today, Oho had won 2 of their prior 3 matches, and clearly had a good formula for taking care of “Hos”. The struggled for control of the match briefly, and Hoshoryu came out on top, and drove Oho back. Maybe a bit too much power, maybe already expecting the win? He was not thinking defense it seems, as Oho used Hoshoryu’s forward power to launch him into the clay with a deftly applied hatakikomi. I have been a bit negative on Oho due to his lack luster sumo in the past, but there is that flash of greatness I discussed in the preview, and it came in a high stakes, high pressure match. Can he build on that spark? Everyone in sumo hopes he does. He takes the win, and both are 10-2.
Abi defeats Wakatakakage – As if opening the yusho race was not enough, the mischievous kami that seems to be enjoying the basho had more for our story lines. It seems almost everyone but Wakatakakage could not read that matta, a prelude for a henka. At the tachiai, Abi evaded to Wakatakakage’s left, swung him around and dropped him to the clay. Abi improves to 9-3, but Wakatakakage drops to 6-6, rendering it impossible for him to reach double digits, and possibly putting a bullet through his Ozeki hopes for now.
Mitakeumi defeats Sadanoumi – Day 12, and Mitakeumi decides to end his 6 match losing streak by reverting to Ozeki form. Nice to see, but it’s a shame he could not muster that sooner. Both end the day 5-7.
Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – If this were communication, the message was “Get off my dohyo, junior!”, Takakeisho seems to enjoy himself quite a bit as Nishikifuji decides to give Takakeisho a strong opening thrusting salvo. Takakeisho responds in kind, opens up the center lane, and dispatches Nishikifuji with a big blast. Takakeisho 9-3.
Kiribayama defeats Shodai – “But I have one more” quipped the mischievous kami. Shodai defends strongly at first, but did not keep Kiribayama centered, did not keep his hips squared, and on the 2nd exchange, opened his chest. Massive mistake and Kiribayama attacks with all available power. Shodai’s stance is broken, his balance disrupted and the next step is his last in the ring. Kiribayama picks up his 8th win and his kachi-koshi for November. Shodai one loss from following Mitakeumi on the road to purgatory.