Ah, day 14 – you did your job well. As we previewed last night, there were so many great things queued up for today. While only some of them played out, the drama of today’s competition was enhanced. First on the list, the large and wonderful clade of Darwin rikishi. While there could have been as many at 14, we will happily take the 9 who earned a 7-7 record at the end of day 14. Congrats boys, you get to show the world that sumo is a zero-sum sport. There will be four Darwin matches on day 15, with Takanosho lucking out and drawing 3-11 Atamifuji instead.
The matter of Mitakeumi has been further clarified, as Shodai dispatched him with a bit of trouble. Now make-koshi, he will step out of the Sekiwake rank created for him, only to turn it over to Shodai. This match served as a symbolic and perverse passing of some kind of “loser lottery” torch. I feel bad for Mitakeumi, he has not been genki since March, and goes on record has having one of the shortest Ozeki reigns in history.
But we can’t forego the yusho race. Takayasu took care of Kagayaki, but looked like hell on toast doing it. He was off balance, out of control, but managed to get a win, and that what counts. Oho proved no match for the only real Ozeki left on the banzuke, and Abi exploited Hoshoryu’s rushed attack plan. The cup is Takayasu’s tomorrow if he can beat Abi, otherwise its going to be a playoff with as many as 3 men fighting it out for the yusho.
Okinoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Okinoumi grabs Chiyoshoma with a left hand outside grip, and waits. And waits. Then decides… to wait some more. Chiyoshoma keeps trying to get something offensive going, while Okinoumi convinces him to.. wait. When he has had enough waiting, and Chiyoshoma has worn himself down, Okinoumi advances and wins. That’s his 8th and he is kachi-koshi at 8-6, while Chiyoshoma picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi for November.
Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – These “Darwin qualifiers” really worked out well. Takanosho is able to keep Azumuaryu centered and ahead, and powers forward for the win. Both end the day at 7-7, and qualify for a Darwin match tomorrow.
Kotoshoho defeats Myogiryu – A hybrid match, started oshi and finished yotsu. Compliments to Kotoshoho for keeping his cool and keeping his feet under Myogiryu’s thrusting attacks. Both end the day at 7-7, and qualify for a Darwin match tomorrow.
Nishikigi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto opens with a strong thrusting attack, but Nishikigi is able to capture him by the third volley, and they lock up chest to chest. Twice Ichiyamamoto rallied and drive forward, and Nishikigi shut it down the first time, and walked Ichiyamamoto out the second time. Both end the day at 7-7, and qualify for a Darwin match tomorrow.
Hiradoumi defeats Nishikifuji – Hiradoumi’s first win in 5 attempts against Nishikifuji. He came off the shikiri-sen at full power, and never backed off for a moment. A double inside grip, and a leaping forward charge, it was all Nishikifuji could do to keep his feet. Hiradoumi improves to 10-4 from the bottom of the banzuke.
Wakamotoharu defeats Kotoeko – The two go chest to chest at the tachiai, and Kotoeko is completely out-classed. It’s a fast walk for Wakamotoharu to send Kotoeko out by oshidashi, and improve to 9-5. Kotoeko finishes the day at 7-7 and joins the Darwin group.
Sadanoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin starts strong, but tries a pull early on. Sadanoumi is ready for that release of forward pressure and runs Tochinoshin out, dropping him to 6-8 while Sadanoumi is up to 7-7 and joins the Darwin group.
Ura defeats Terutsuyoshi – The zenpai run remains intact, with just one more loss needed to secure the rare perfect losing record. Today Terutsuyoshi put a lot into this match, but is just too hurt even to overcome the injured Ura. Ura eventually tosses him out the West side, improving to 4-10. In true Ura style, the moment after he launches Terutsuyoshi, Ura is alarmed at his actions, and concerned for his opponent.
Midorifuji defeats Endo – Midorifuji makes this a direct and simple match. He grabs Endo, and walks him back. Endo tries to pivot away, Midorifuji thrusts him down. Endo is now make-koshi at 6-8, Midorifuji joins the Darwin group at 7-7.
Ichinojo defeats Atamifuji – Atamifuji successfully captures Ichinojo at the tachiai, then realizes the problems is; he has captured Ichinojo. It’s a bit like hugging a bus. Congratulations, now what? Atamifuji takes a few minutes to think it through as he and Ichinojo are locked up in the center of the dohyo. Eventually even a bus has to move, and I am going to guess Ichinojo needs to be somewhere in an hour, so he puts his massive body in forward gear, and Atamifuji gets a lesson in physics. Both end the day 3-11.
Takayasu defeats Kagayaki – The big match of the day, I give my compliments to Kagayaki for putting up a surprisingly strong fight. In fact, he had Takayasu on the run when Takayasu applied the hatakikomi that won the match. Never good to win a match moving backward, but Takayasu made it work today. He remains the sole leader at 12-2.
Meisei defeats Kotonowaka – If Kotonowaka had fought a bit better, we could have had Meisei join the Darwin group, but instead Kotonowaka attempted a pull, giving up any defense at a flimsy chance to gain advantage. Meisei converted this to his advantage and set up the yorikiri that won the match. Meisei gets his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for November.
Tamawashi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji kept trying to get any kind of hold on Tamawashi, but was keeping his balance and staying in the match. At least until he caught a big left hand push to the middle of his chest from Tamawashi, and went staggering back and out. Tamawashi improves to 5-9.
Ryuden defeats Daieisho – Magnificent ballet from an enormous man. Daieisho gets a good thrusting attack going, disrupts Ryuden’s balance, and he nearly tumbles down. Daieisho lunges in to finish him, but Ryuden maintains his footing. Amazing. Ryuden gets a right hand outside grip, and after a brief struggle, walks Daieisho out, to improve to 9-5.
Tobizaru defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama fails to join the Darwin crew, and picks up his make-koshi. Tobizaru absorbed the initial Aoiyama thrusting attack, was able to get him chest to chest, and gradually worked his way into shitatenage. Both end the day 6-8.
Onosho defeats Kiribayama – Solid choice of tactics from Kiribayama, and it was working well until the moment he let Onosho slip just a half step to the side. This came with an immediate tsukiotoshi that caught Kiribayama off balance. Kiribayama drops to all fours, and Onosho improves to 9-5.
Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – The last of the Darwin qualifier matches did not result in a pair of 7-7 scores. Hokutofuji went into an arm-bar hold against Wakatakakage’s right, and found that to be a dead end about the moment that Wakatakakage pushed him back with the right. A second combo a moment later, and Hokutofuji was out, earning him, yet again, “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo!”. Wakatakakage improves to 8-6, and is kachi-koshi for Kyushu.
Abi defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu took the attack to Abi, seeking to disrupt his double arm thrusting sumo. This mostly worked, but left Hoshoryu too far forward. Abi stepped to the side and slapped Hoshoryu down to improve to 11-3, remaining one behind Takayasu.
Takakeisho defeats Oho – It was great to see Oho fight an Ozeki, he has earned respect for actually giving Takakeisho a decent fight. But it’s early days for him, and he’s not close to ready to compete at this left – yet. Takakeisho uses a fair amount of mobility, and a lot of forward power to turn Oho, then push him out of the ring. Takakeisho now 11-3, and joins Abi one behind Takayasu.
Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – In the perfect musubi-no-ichiban for day 14 of this tournament, we saw Shodai summon enough sumo to dispatch an underperforming Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi had one good forward surge, but Shodai rallied and ran him out. Mitakeumi now make-koshi and will vacate the Sekiwake slot for Shodai to occupy in January. Both end the day 6-8.