Yes, we’re already at Day 10. I can’t believe it, either. Ichiyamamoto will be put to the test against Hiradoumi while the rest of the field tries to keep pace. The Komusubi wrestlers are struggling but the Ozeki are holding their own. Meanwhile the Sekiwake are a mixed bag as Kotonowaka is charging forward, yusho and promotion on his mind. Meanwhile, Wakamotoharu seems out-of-depth. Daieisho is clinging on and seems to want to turn the corner.
And then there is such a massive field of young guns here that every day has several first-time pairings. Which ones have staying power? Hokuseiho is one who has been sticking around, and at times doing well, while not quite inspiring hopes behind the hype. Has Oho topped out? Gonoyama is finding this level more of a challenge while Atamifuji is doing quite well in just his second tournament in the top division.
Roga (3-7) defeated Bushozan (6-4). Bushozan pressed forward but Roga turned the tables at the tawara. The bales offered a chance to brace, and pivot which Roga used to force Bushozan out. Yorikiri.
Oho (6-4) defeated Kitanowaka (4-6). Damn. One big blast from Oho was enough to change the complexion of this entire bout. He twisted and brought his arms up, forcing Kitanowaka to lose his grip and creating the separation he needed. Then he shoved Kitanowaka halfway to the bales, and pursued quickly to push him out. Oshidashi.
Tohakuryu (3-7) defeated Sadanoumi (5-5). Tohakuryu henka. Sadanoumi stayed up but as he drove back forward to Tohakuryu, Tohakuryu slapped him down. Hatakikomi.
Sadanoumi will face Kitanowaka on Day 11 in a first-time matchup. There have been a lot of these this tournament. I will try to dig into the numbers because that might be an important metric for “changing of the guard” times. We don’t have rivalries with Kiseonsato/Kotoshogiku longevity.
Hiradoumi (7-3) defeated Ichiyamamoto (8-2). Hiradoumi was not blasted backward at the tachiai and was unaffected by Ichiyamamoto’s pulldown attempt. Instead, he bulled forward and forced Ichiyamamoto out and over the bales. Once inside range of Ichiyamamoto’s effective range, there were no cannon blasts. Yorikiri.
Ryuden (7-3) defeated Tamawashi (6-4). Ryuden fought this fight on his terms. He forced a grapple rather than a brawl. Then he forced Tamawashi to the bales and continued to bull forward, forcing Tamawashi onto his back. Yoritaoshi.
Nishikifuji (3-7) fusen victory over Kotoeko (2-8).
Mitakeumi (6-4) defeated Churanoumi (7-3). Mitakeumi drove forward, forcing Churanoumi quickly to the bales. Churanoumi reacted by shifting direction. Mitakeumi was not fooled and drove Churanoumi back across the ring and out. Yorikiri.
Mitakeumi will face Roga tomorrow.
Tomokaze (6-4) defeated Endo (2-8). Endo kept seeking that maemitsu to his peril. Tomokaze just kept blasting Endo about the chest and face, forcing him back and over the bales. Oshidashi.
Tomokaze will fight Nishikifuji. Endo will face Tohakuryu. Both are first time matchups.
Tsurugisho (5-5) defeated Hokuseiho (4-6). Hokuseiho yielded a morozashi to Tsurugisho, who immediately lifted Hokuseiho off the dohyo and carried him to the edge and pushed him out. You read that correctly. He didn’t make it all the way over the bales in the air, but was able to drive him quickly over. This should be a wakeup call to Hokuseiho that there’s something massively wrong with his style of sumo. Yorikiri.
Hokuseiho will face Oho tomorrow.
Kinbozan (6-4) defeated Takarafuji (3-7). Kinbozan quickly drove through Takarafuji, and out. He shrugged off Takarafuji’s slapdown, completely unfazed. Oshidashi.
Kinbozan will take on Tamawashi while Takarafuji will face Tsurugisho.
Atamifuji (8-2) defeated Shonannoumi (6-4). Atamifuji kept his head down and Shonannoumi centered in front of him and powered Shonannoumi out and over the edge. Shonannoumi tried to shift direction and resist at the bales but Atamifuji was too powerful. Oshidashi.
Atamifuji will fight Churanoumi.
Takanosho (5-5) defeated Myogiryu (3-7). Takanosho’s pressed forward into Myogiryu. Myogiryu pivoted but the change of direction didn’t faze Takanosho, who kept his head down and bulled Myogiryu back and out. I feel like that’s the fourth or fifth time I’ve written that today. If it happens again, I’m just going to say, “it happened again.” It’s like the only defense today is an ineffective shift of direction or a slapdown. Only Tohakuryu’s slapdown has actually worked. Oshidashi.
Midorifuji (7-3) defeated Takayasu (6-4). Unlike those before him, Midorifuji would not go quietly into that good night. He weathered Takayasu’s hailstorm tsuppari. At one point it looked like Midorifuji’s arm was sneaking up behind Takayasu’s shoulder and it freaked Takayasu out (probably thinking katasukashi). Takayasu then changed tack, wrapped up Midorifuji by moving inside and shifting to a belt game. As Midorifuji retreated, he stepped to the side, wrapped up Takayasu’s right arm at the shoulder, and pulled him down. Kotenage.
Midorifuji will face Hiradoumi. Hiradoumi holds a 3-0 lead in their rivalry. Takayasu will fight Shonannoumi.
Tobizaru (4-6) defeated Onosho (2-8). Onosho drove Tobizaru backwards at the initial charge but Tobizaru shifted and pivoted, seeking out that right hand belt grip. This put Onosho up against the bales and Tobizaru used that belt grip to force Onosho out. Yorikiri.
Onosho will fight Myogiryu.
Meisei (3-7) defeated Shodai (5-5). Power sumo from Meisei but Shodai actually put in a considerable amount of defensive effort and shrugged off Meisei’s slapdown attempt. He’s inspired in front of this hometown crowd. Shodai tried a last second sukuinage. But Meisei kept forward pressure on Shodai, following through with his throw, driving both to tumble off the edge. Gunbai Meisei. Mono-ii. Shinpan confirmed that Shodai fell first. Uwatenage.
Ura (4-6) defeated Hokutofuji (2-8) and breaks the Team Nishi’s 9-bout winning streak. Strong tsuppari from Hokutofuji forced Ura backwards. Ura shifted at the bales and grabbed Hokutofuji’s left arm, yanking him forward. Ura then snuck behind and pushed Hokutofuji out from behind. Okuridashi.
Ura will face Tobizaru and Hokutofuji will fight Meisei. These are both very interesting undercard matchups. Meisei will be hoping to stave off makekoshi while Hokutofuji’s already there and hoping not to drop too far.
Kotonowaka (8-2) defeated Gonoyama (4-6). Gonoyama tried to power Kotonowaka out but in seeming retreat, Kotonowaka tugged on Gonoyama’s belt and dragged him down. Uwatenage.
Gonoyama will face Takanosho.
Daieisho (6-4) defeated Asanoyama (1-2-7). Daieisho-zumo was on point today. Asanoyama got tired of being blasted in the face, so he tried to pull but Daieisho just kept the cannon going and blasted Asanoyama out. I guess, “it happened again.” But Daieisho’s blasts are on a different level of those earlier today. Like, I actually feel Asanoyama’s hurt. Oshidashi.
Daieisho will face Ichiyamamoto! Daieisho has won their only previous meeting. They want to put Ichiyamamoto’s run on life support by moving him up to face the Sekiwake.
Hoshoryu (7-3) defeated Wakamotoharu (4-6). More staredown from Hoshoryu. Hoshoryu used his belt grip to yank the Sekiwake around and drag him to the edge. Wakamotoharu resisted at the edge but Hoshoryu just pressed straight forward through him, driving both dangerously over the edge. Yoritaoshi.
Hoshoryu will face Asanoyama.
Kirishima (8-2) defeated Nishikigi (6-4). Nishikigi false start. Kirishima yanked on Nishikigi’s arm, pulling him forward and nearly down. Nishikigi kept his balance but Kirishima rode him out the other side. Okuridashi. How did Kirishima get behind Nishikigi so quickly? It looks like Kirishima’s tachiai nodowa was fierce. This made Nishikigi stand upright and bring his hands up to Kirishima’s to pull them away. Instead, Kirishima grabbed Nishikigi’s arm and yanked forward, hard. Interesting.
Kirishima will face a struggling Wakamotoharu. Nishikigi will face Ryuden.
Takakeisho (7-3) defeated Abi (3-7). Takakeisho got his tsuppari going. As Abi put his arms up to defend, Takakeisho pulled, and pulled down on Abi’s arms, forcing Abi down to the floor. Hatakikomi.
Takakeisho will face Kotonowaka. Tomorrow’s got some highlight bouts on tap but that’s probably the top bout. Abi will face Shodai in another fun undercard.
Day 10 was important to bring Ichiyamamoto back down to Earth. These Day 11 matchups, though, are nuts. This looks to be a pivotal day in the yusho race. Kirishima or Kotonowaka could win out. If Kirishima does, that will be a statement victory. Our Ozeki have been shaky but doing pretty good here in Kyushu. If Kotonowaka wins out, that would be a stunning way to cap off an Ozeki run. Promotion would not be in doubt. I don’t see Atamifuji or Ichiyamamoto as realistic for 13-2 yusho here. All told, we’re probably looking at another 12-win yusho which brings both of the other Ozeki back into the picture, along with a host of other contenders, from Midorifuji to Churanoumi. Tomorrow will bring this picture more into focus. It’s so wide open right now.