Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

An excellent day of sumo, with quality matches front to back. My compliments to everyone in the sumo association for an outstanding group of matches. The two remaining leaders will fight head to head in the final match of the basho. The pairing is a bit unusual as you have the top man fighting, Ozeki Takakeisho taking on a Maegashira 13, rather than Sekewake 1E Wakatakakage in the ultimate fight of the basho. Un-conventional, but given that one will decide the yusho, it makes a lot of sense.

You have to be impressed by what Kotoshoho, win or lose tomorrow, has been able to put together. At 11-3 on day 14, he’s been able to maintain focus and stamina into the end of the second week, and has really been an outstanding fighter. I predict special prize or prizes for him tomorrow. Against Ozeki Takakeisho, he has never won in either of the two prior fights, the most recent being two years ago on day 5 of Hatsu 2021.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Kinbozan – Tsurugisho manages to qualify for the Darwin group at 7-7, and hand Asanoyama the Juryo yusho at the same time by mathematically eliminating Kinbozan from the race. I am not sure where the 11-2 Kinbozan went, as Tsurugisho used him as training ballast today. Tsurugisho now 7-7.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Azumaryu – Probably should have been a matta, as Ichiyamamoto leaps off the shikiri-sen early. He gets a nodowa on Azumaryu and dashes him out. This eliminates Azumaryu from the chaser group, and thus the far fetched dream of an Azumaryu yusho is forever lost. Both end the day 9-5.

Hiradoumi defeats Kotoeko – They tried thrusting first, then went to left hand outside / right hand inside grips. Nobody had the leverage or power to throw the other, and they stalemated in the center of the ring. Hiradoumi found a surge of power, and pushed Kotoeko out when Hiradoumi’s throw attempt could not be completed. Hiradoumi kachi-koshi at 8-6, Kotoeko at 7-7 and joins the Darwin group.

Mitoryu defeats Takanosho – They locked up at the tachiai, without either man having really any kind of a grip, save Takanosho having a nodowa against Mitoryu, and the match went into a very slow mode. Takanosho eventually got a grip, but it was absolutely pointless, as Mitoryu overpowered him, gently it seemed, and placed him over the bales. Takanosho picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi at both finish the day 6-8.

Takarafuji defeats Hokutofuji – Three cheers for dear old Takarafuji, who finally got his 8th win on the 3rd attempt. It nearly did not turn out that way, as Hokutofuji was driving the offense of this match. A well timed Takarafuji step to the side as a nodowa wielding Hokutofuji surged to drive Takarafuji out put Hokutofuji face down on the clay. Takarafuji now 8-6, Hokutofuji 7-7, and joins the Darwin group.

Ryuden defeats Chiyoshoma – Another day, another Chiyoshoma battle where he shows good form, but can’t bring enough power to win. Try as him might, he can’t dislodge Ryuden, or move him around enough to make a run for the bales. They go for an endurance check, with Ryuden struggling to maintain a grip on Chiyoshoma’s loose mawashi. Chiyoshoma wears down first, and Ryuden walks him out of the ring, improving to 9-5. I would love to see Chiyoshoma have about 10% more power, he would make for an excellent “spoiler”.

Nishikigi defeats Aoiyama – Nishikigi continues to exceed my expectations, today against Aoiyama. Aoiyama gets a couple of good hits in early, and Nishikigi pushes right past them, gets his battle hug in, and walks Aoiyama out. Simple, effective and his 9th win to improve to 9-5.

Oho defeats Nishikifuji – Its good to know that Oho can still win a match once in a while. in fact, today he looked more like the rikishi who turned in a 10-5 in November. He battled Nishikifuji around for a while, then tossed him into the front row. Oho now 3-11.

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyomaru – As predicted, all Chiyoshoma has right now is the “stand them up, slap them down” routine. Everyone knows its coming, everyone knows what to do. Sadanoumi makes fast work of him today, and improves his score to 5-9. Sad to see Chiyomaru this degraded.

Endo defeats Abi – I have to wonder what has become of Abi-zumo. It’s not been present or active for the last few days, and today he let Endo disrupt him and toss him about. Sadly, they clobbered Konosuke in the process, who took a dive off the dohyo and into Ura’s lap. Abi now 7-7 and joins the Darwin gorup, Endo up to 9-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Ura – Ura tries a head pull against Mitakeumi, and it goes about as you would expect. Mitakeumi runs forward into the pull, and Ura gets tossed into Kagayaki’s lap. Not sure what Ura had in mind, but he’s at least a notch below his normal performance. Ura make-koshi as both end the day at 6-8.

Tobizaru defeats Kagayaki – The Great Sumo Cat smiles as we get a double-Darwin result from this match, both ending with a 7-7 score. Kagayaki tried an off tempo tachiai, which worked quite well for a time, and seemed to disrupt Tobizaru’s match plan. But Tobizaru kept his feet, stayed in the match and attacked with as much monkey-sumo as he could muster. It ends with Kagayaki blasting into that same poor salt basket thanks to a Tobizaru okuridashi.

Kotoshoho defeats Daieisho – Not the result I expected, Kotoshoho is really formidable right now. Solid strategy by Kotoshoho, he tangled up Daieisho’s arms, shutting down his thrusting attack. As Daieisho attempts to pivot and escape, Kotoshoho kept tight, getting a right hand outside grip. From there it was only a quick 4 steps to the edge, and a Kotoshoho yorikiri for him to pick up his 11th win, and maintain his spot in the leader group at 11-3. Wow.

Kiribayama defeats Onosho – Onosho failed to keep Kiribayama in front of him as he dialed up the forward pressure. Compliments to Kiribayama for selling that move to the side, just at the moment that Onosho went from tachiai to attack. Onosho hits the clay and drops out of the leader group, as both finish the day 10-4.

Wakamotoharu defeats Tamawashi – Did not expect Wakamotoharu to use that combo at the tachiai, and maybe Tamawashi did not expect it either. Wakamotoharu gets his hands inside and a quick three push combo was enough to unbalance Tamawashi and send him out of the ring by oshidashi. Wakamotoharu now kachi-koshi as both end the day 8-6.

Myogiryu defeats Meisei – Meisei repeatedly went to grab an arm and try a kotenage, I think. But it was easy to predict, and by the third grab, Myogiryu rotated against the grab, and slapped Meisei from behind, dropping him by hatakikomi. Myogiryu now 5-9.

Kotonowaka defeats Midorifuji – Kotonowaka overpowers the smaller and lighter Midorifuji, who gets bounced around and tossed into a waiting Takakeisho. Midorifuji now make-koshi at 6-8 and Kotonowaka, at 7-7, joins the Darwin group.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – Wakatakakage had good sumo mechanics on his side today. He kept his shoulders square against Shodai, and optimized the power he put into Shodai’s body. This kept Shodai from getting his “Wall of Daikon” going, and we never got to see Shodai set up any real defense. Wakatakakage now kachi-koshi at 8-6, and Shodai make-koshi at 6-8.

Takakeisho defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu had a good tachiai, but found himself bounced back by the Ozeki’s first hit. That should have been a warning, but Hoshoryu responded as expected, lunging forward again, straight into Takakeisho’s hatakikomi. Hoshoryu hits the clay and joins the Darwin group at 7-7, while Takakeisho remains part of the leader group at 11-3.

8 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

  1. Would have preferred Takakeisho v. Wakatakakage and Kotoshoho v. Kiribayama to set up a possible playoff. Always feels iffy to me when a lower ranker decimates the lower banzuke and doesn’t have to fight much near the top for the yusho. Daieisho may have been the only strong test.

  2. Thanks for the great write-up. I really enjoyed today’s sumo, best one of the basho so far for me.

    I’d have preferred Takakeisho to face Wakatakakage at some point during the basho. The ozeki’s been impressive overall but he’s lost to two komusubi and an injured Hoshoryu didn’t give him much of a fight.

    But on the flip side it would be strange if Kotoshoho (who’s not had any san’yaku opponents so far) won the yusho without facing Takakeisho, so they’ve made the right choice for the final day.

    • I see your point. That possibility would have been worse. Will be an exciting day of darwin matches capped by the yusho match!

  3. Kinbozan is injured and I hope his bad shoulder/arm doesn’t affect his first basho in the top division. It will definitely take him some time to settle in because he arrived so quickly (look at Oho, Kotoshohoho, and Kotonowaka as examples), but I think he’ll turn into a mainstay relatively soon if he remains injury free.

    Poor Azumaryu. Don’t expect the refs to help you win the game! Ay carumba!

    Mitoryu’s strategy today was fascinating to watch. He won literally by inching forward using his feet to continually put more pressure on Takanosho and require him to reset his feet constantly. Small, little adjustments that eventually won Mitoryu the match. Stellar stuff to see, for sure.

    It was glorious to see that look on Takarafuji’s face. Such relief! Phew! Made it!

    Nishikigi is going to continue to cause problems for everyone until someone comes up with a strategy that consistently combats his current form of sumo. Love to see it.

    I’m wondering if Oho (and maybe Tsurugisho) started the basho with niggling injuries that caused them problems which don’t exist anymore. A completely different fighter now versus the start of the basho.

    Abi-zumo has vanished because he won a yusho. Everyone wants to “beat the champ”, so they work on strategies to counter the standard sumo of the Cup winner. Add in some dashes of mental struggles because he “wasn’t doing as well” (maybe causing Abi to try to force things too much?) and I think that’s where Abi is at the moment. I think he’ll be fine in March. We’ll see.

    I feel bad for Onosho. I hope he does well in March too. He really deserves it.

    Both Waka Brothers at Sekiwake in March? Good grief. What an ascent for Wakamotoharu. It will be interesting to see if they both push each other towards Ozeki.

    Kotonowaka and Wakatakakage are in very similar positions right now. If they both perform more consistently, which is highly likely, we are going to have some barn burner matches at the top of the banzuke on a regular basis.

    Giving Takakeisho the opportunity to fight Hoshoryu, and Wakatakakage facing Shodai, today felt like “gimmie” matches. They could have had Takakeisho face Wakatakakage for a kachi-koshi/stay in the race showdown, but gave both of them “easier” opponents for today. Helping both of them with wins and handing both Shodai and Hoshoryu losses is the committee playing their hand face up here which disappoints me. If Takakeisho wins tomorrow, I will definitely be giving some side-eye to the scheduling today since Kotoshohoho had the more challenging match.

    • I agree that Kotoshoho faced the more difficult challenge on Day 14, but Takakeisho has faced a much tougher slate of rikishi over the course of this basho. Heck, the schedulers gave Kotoshoho the hapless Chiyomaru on Day 8, when they should have begun having him face sterner tests!

    • There’s no way Wakamotoharu is going to be Sekiwake in March; he’ll be 9-6 at best, and the slots are spoken for by his brother and either Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, or both.

      I agree it looks cheap for Takakeisho to fight Hoshoryu rather than Wakatakakage, but I think they were saving the option to have that bout on senshuraku in case they didn’t need to do Takakeisho vs. Kotoshoho.


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