With the middle day of sumo in the books, it’s on to the second half of the basho. The matches will increasingly focus on shaping the yusho race, and sorting everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi. So far there has been no sign of a “Darwin Funnel” to pen people into a lane, which I think is the right way to approach things for now.
Today was a day of chaos, and there was plenty to go around, capped with Tobizaru giving a master class of winning by not losing. But San’yaku gyoji Kimura Yodo should probably take a breather and get his wits about him, something was not quite right today. All three Ozeki lost, and the risk of shin-Ozeki Hoshoryu going kadoban on this first tournament grows. Both Kirishima and Takakeisho need 3 wins out of the final 7 days to clear their kadoban, and I have confidence they can.
Atamifuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama gets a thrusting attack going against Atamifuji’s face, but there is really no power to it, it’s more of a ¥2500 facial massage, leaving Atamifuji refreshed, ready to fight, and looking fabulous. It’s a quick shove and a push to apply the oshidashi, and Atamifuji maintains his share of the lead at 7-1.
Myogiryu defeats Daishoho – Daishoho moves ever closer to his spot on the Juryo barge with yet another loss. Myogiryu takes him to his chest, and if you are looking at it, it seems Daishoho’s fully into the fight. But Myogiryu taps his back and steps away, resulting in Daishoho casually falling forward. Odd ending to that match, Myogiryu 6-2.
Chiyoshoma defeats Nishikifuji – Chiyoshoma, what took you so long? The long awaited henka was finally delivered, with Nishikifuji finding pushing him from behind. Granted, Nishikifuji did put up a bit of a defense, but there was not too much he could do from that position. Chiyoshoma improves to 2-6.
Tsurugisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji has enough time to set up his hand placement, and get his feet set. As he moves to attack, he finds Tsurugisho easily able to move him about, and places him across the bales. The yorikiri advances Tsurugisho to 6-2.
Kagayaki defeats Sadanoumi – Kagayaki gets his hands into the inside thrusting lane early, and never lets Sadanoumi set up any kind of defense or counter attack. Forced to break his stance, Sadanoumi is moved back and out by tsukidashi for a Kagayaki win. Both end the day 4-4.
Hokuseiho defeats Kotoshoho – Humming the tune “I fought the bridge, and the bridge won”, Hokuseiho shows us just how much power he can generate when he feels like fighting. He man handles Kotoshoho about and tosses him bodily from the ring. A yoritaoshi win for Hokuseiho, and he is now 4-4. Nice opening move from Hokuseiho too.
Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Outstanding power to power battle. I really appreciated that Mitakeumi was maniacal about setting up and maintaining that hazu-oshi to keep Takayasu back and too high to be effective. They locked up with Mitakeumi’s left hand in Takayasu’s armpit, and Takayasu’s left arm blocked by Mitakeumi’s ottsuke. After a brief pause, Mitakeumi attacked well from below, but could not maintain his balance when Takayasu turned away at the tawara, and slammed Mitakeumi to the clay. The hatakikomi win maintains Takayasu’s share of the lead at 7-1.
Endo defeats Oho – Oho does a poor job of defending his belt, allowing Endo to establish a grip more than once. That grip finally hauls Oho over and down, with Endo landing first. The gumbai went to Oho, and a monoii was called. The replay shows Oho’s left foot sliding off the tawara and onto the janome, giving the win to Endo by isamiashi. Endo us now 5-3.
Onosho defeats Kinbozan – Classic combo – stand him up and throw him down. Onosho does not even take a moment to dispatch Kinbozan by hatakikomi, and both are now 5-3.
Midorifuji defeats Ryuden – Ryuden continues to suffer, but at least we get to see a Midorifuji katasukashi in the process! Ryuden was too far forward, and ripe for that move. Midorifuji now 3-5.
Gonoyama defeats Kotoeko – Almost looked like Kotoeko attempted some kind of partial henka, leaping to the side at the tachiai. Gonoyama was having none of that. He caught Kotoeko mid flight and rushed him to the exit. Gonoyama improves to 6-2.
Shonannoumi defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi failed to protect his left, allowing Shonannoumi to get a big grip of Hiradoumi’s belt. From there it was lift and tote to the tawara, with Shonannoumi delivering Hiradoumi to the clay like the local UPS driver delivers my fragile parcels. Shonannoumi now 5-3.
Abi defeats Shodai – Abi had a good opening combo, and may have assumed that Shodai would rush forward and try a “Wall of Daikon” against him. Sure enough, Shodai rushes forward, but Abi decided not to wait around and find out. Shodai launches face first into the waiting gyoji, and Abi improves to 4-4.
Asanoyama defeats Meisei – Solid performance by Asanoyama, who maintained contact with Meisei and kept the pressure forward. Meisei did his best to escape, but found himself across the tawara in rapid order. Asanoyama now 4-4.
Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Daieisho does exactly what is needed, he keeps Nishikigi away from his belt no matter what. Of course Nishikigi dials up his power trying to get inside and get close. All Daieisho needed to do was time one of Nishikigi’s lunges forward, and apply a bit of downward pressure. The chaos ensues, and there’s a monoii with kensho being handed out at the same time. The whole thing devolves into a bit of chaos before the shimpan sort it all out, reviewing the video and figuring out that Daieisho really did win, both are 4-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Kotonowaka – So the question must be asked, did gyoji Kimura Yodo get rattled by what happened in the prior bout, because then this beauty takes place. A half hearted tachiai that probably should have been a matta, but Yodo calls out Hakkeyoi!! So the fight is sort of on? Hokutofuji’s right hand did most of the work, progressively pushing Kotonowaka to the side, disrupting his balance. The resulting oshitaoshi gave Hokutofuji his 5th win, and he is now 5-3.
Wakamotoharu defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi put some energy into this match, but still had no forward power. Wakamotoharu took his time, absorbing Tamawashi’s partially powered thrusts. Wakamotoharu was able to get beside Tamawashi, and thrust him down, winning by hatakikomi. Tamawashi is now 0-8 and make-koshi, while Wakamotoharu improves to 6-2.
Takanosho defeats Kirishima – Takanosho continues his domination over Kirishima, it’s the craziest thing. Takanosho can be having a crummy basho. If he fights Kirishima, suddenly the big sumo comes out and he wins decisively. Takanosho put a lot of power forward with almost no defense by Kirishima, and he was into the front row visiting Tobizaru in a hurry. Takanosho improves to 4-4.
Ura defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu makes a fatal assumption in the tachiai, assuming Ura will be low and off balance. Well, he might have been right, but was not today. It left Hoshoryu wide open for the push-pull combo that dropped him to the clay by the second step. Even Ura was surprised that worked, he is now 5-3.
Tobizaru defeats Takakeisho – One of the reasons I have like Tobizaru for years is that he has enough variations to his sumo that his opponents are always going to struggle trying to contain him. Takakeisho missed with most of his early thrusting and tsuppari attacks, which allowed Tobizaru to start his plan of light power but heavy disruption moves to keep the Ozeki from powering up. Tobizaru’s impressive mobility and sense of just where he is in the ring and how far away his opponent is was on full display. Takakeisho could not land anything, and became increasingly off balance. A final double hand push against Takakeisho’s undefended chest set the Ozeki falling off the dohyo. Hopefully he was not hurt. Both end the day 5-3.