Aki Day 15 Highlights

It was a tadpole playoff for the cup, and you know I was overjoyed. Well done to all competitors who made the final weekend of the basho one to remember. Congratulations Mitakeumi on his second yusho!

Thus ends Aki 2019, which many fans (myself included) will consider a departure from what we have come to accept as normal. As the team at Tachiai have written in the past, in absence of strong ur-Rikihsi such as Hakuho in a basho, new heroes shall rise. If nothing else, the past 18 months in sumo has taught us that. Today we saw the second yusho for Mitakeumi. As with his prior yusho, he is on the path toward Ozeki again, and maybe this time he can finish the evolution. The departure of the “old guard” is accelerating now, and the field is being swept clean for a new order that will bring with it new rivalries, new defeats and new triumphs. It’s a great time to be a sumo fan.

It will come to no surprise to the readers of Tachiai that out of the new leaders, we find Asanoyama, Yutakayama, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi. These are rikishi we have been watching evolve, coming into the power band where youth, strength, stamina, skill and sheer determination create legends. But don’t expect the fading kings of sumo to go out without a fight. In fact I had expected this basho to be the one where Kakuryu and Hakuho were both genki and brutally beat the new generation at every turn. But perhaps the fade is harder and faster than I assumed, or maybe my timing is off.

Tachiai congratulates Mitakeumi on his second yusho, it was masterfully done, and your sumo continues to energize.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Takagenji – Aannnnnd HENKA! (Like Hollywood, sumo seems addicted to crummy sequels)

Kagayaki defeats Azumaryu – Kagayaki stayed as low as he could, and stayed focused on center mass. Kagayaki really has not had his sumo “together” this basho, so I am wondering if he’s got some kind of injury that is disrupting his normally excellent form. The Azumaryu nostalgia effect is gone, and I think he’s going to be a candidate rebuild in Juryo.

Yutakayama defeats Shohozan – Yutakayama wins a yotsu match! Sort of an unusual form for these two to take, but I loved it. Check out Yutakayama’s footwork! He was employing almost a gaburi-yori attack there.

Onosho defeats Tsurugisho – I love the Onosho story for this basho. He came in still hurting from his surgery, his balance was poor, his sumo was disorganized. He put on his classic red mawashi that led us to label him on his first run up the banzuke “The Tadpole Red Menace”. After a fairly cold start, he closed with 6 straight wins to go 9-6. No knock against Tsurugisho, who opened 10-5 in his debut Makuuchi posting.

Enho defeats Sadanoumi – Enho tries, and eventually succeeds in getting a left hand inside grip, and uses that to run the table. What’s fun about Enho’s size is that he is small enough that his hips are about 4″ lower than Sadanoumi’s, so cocking the eventual shitatenage is rather simple mechanics for him. Enho will be mid-Maegashira for Kyushu, so some new opponents to test against, I can’t wait.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi tries for his favored arm-bar, but finds that the “death clench” works both ways. Terutsuyoshi grabs an arm and pulls him into a rarely seen sakatottari. Even if he is relegated back to Juryo, it’s wonderful to see Terutsuyoshi close out the basho with a great win and a great move.

Kotoshogiku defeats Tochiozan – Aannnnnd HENKA! Well, but it does not work, as Kotoshogiku is waiting for it. I don’t blame Tochiozan for trying it, he has to know he is facing demotion to Juryo, and would rather not end up there. And indicator of how hurt Tochiozan is would be how weak that henka attempt was.

Shimanoumi defeats Daishoho – Daishoho opened strong early, but Shimanoumi rallied and put him down. Both end with a miserable 5-10 recored for Aki.

Kotoyuki defeats Shodai – Shodai gets an opening to win a couple of times, but can’t make any of them pay out. Really sad to see him close out 3-12, but it was quite impressive sumo form Kotoyuki today, who threw everything he could at Shodai, and took the match.

Ishiura defeats Tamawashi – The first of our Darwin matches features a false start, as both want this one badly, and both suspect the other of a henka at the tachiai. Ishiura gets inside quickly, and robs Tamawashi of his mobility, and rapidly focus his pressure on his abdomen and advances. It’s over in a hurry, and Ishiura manages his kachi-koshi, and rescues himself from the growing log-jam of Juryo-qualified Maegashira.

Tomokaze defeats Chiyotairyu – I apologize dear readers, but am I ever tired of the reverse-gear sumo from Tomokaze. A win is a win, but it’s a shame to see so much talent and so much potential sidelined for this kind of sumo. Chiyotairyu ends with 2-13, the lowest finishing score for any man who fought day 15.

Daieisho defeats Kotoeko – Second Darwin match, and boy did these two really turn up the power. It’s a full hybrid battle-plan as they swap between yotsu and oshi at will. But Daieisho prevails and takes his 8th win. Fantastic sumo from both today.

Meisei defeats Asanoyama – Meisei surprises Asanoyama with his first ever win, and I can tell he put a lot of thought and prep into this match. Meisei when right hand inside at the tachai, and kept himself close to 90° to Asanoyama, not allowing Asanoyama to advance and push Meisei back. Of course Asanoyama pivots to correct that, and Meisei uses this rotational force to whip Asanoyama around and put him on the bales. As Asanoyama is focused on rescuing himself from that mistake, Meisei goes mae-mitzu, and goes in for the kill. Nice sumo Meisei!

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama fires up the big V-Twin power today, but he is lacking the forward pressure from his lower body to make it work. Ryuden figures this out and steps to the side, grabs an arm and pulls Aoiyama to the clay. Tough basho for Big Dan the man-mountain. I hope he can get his health back soon.

Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Here it was again, it’s as if Hokutofuji’s lower body is working on its own. After grappling at the tachiai, Takarafuji actually defeats the upper body of Hokutofuji. But Hokutofuji’s lower body is not conceding a thing, and keeps him in the fight, off-balance with arms spread at the tawara. Takarafuji assumes that’s the end, but that lower body is still fighting, turns more or less on it’s own to square Hokutofuji’s hips against Takarafuji and drives. A moment later the upper body catches up and puts both hands on Takarafuji’s chest. Odd but amazing sumo from Hokutofuji today. He won the last 8 matches in a row.

Myogiryu defeats Abi – First match was inconclusive as they touched down / out together, and a torinaoshi was called. The second match, Abi tried to pull as Myogiryu went inside and pushed, giving the match to Myogiryu. Congrats to Myogiryu for coming back from kyujo and picking up 8.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – Takakeisho goes for the armpits at the tachiai and never gives up the hold. Sort of a different attack style from the “wave action” one might expect, but it got the job done smartly.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Endo tried for a left hand inside grip at the tachiai, but quickly discovered this was a denshamichi match, Mitakeumi was in Shinkansen mode. The Tadpole playoff is a go!

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Goeido gets a excellent left hand outside grip and exploits Tochinoshin’s knee-less left leg with great effect. Tochinoshin has no power to stop the spin and push into the west side zabuton. I am really worried that Tochinoshin has nothing left in that knee, and we may not be seeing a graceful decline like we saw with Kotoshogiku.

THE PLAYOFF – Takakeisho’s propensity to push then pull at the tachiai has become easy to predict. Clearly Mitakeumi did, and figured if Takakeisho was going to give up forward pressure, he could take a trip to the tawara. Takakeisho realizes his opening gambit failed spectacularly, and tries to hold back Mitakeumi at the edge. But Mitakeumi lowers his hips and pushes, and wins.

Thank you dear readers for sharing your Aki Basho with us. We have had an absolute blast covering this tournament for the past two weeks. Be sure to stay with us as we cover the weeks leading up to the next tournament, November’s Kyushu basho.

Aki Day 14 Highlights

Probably one of the most consequential days of sumo I have seen in the last 10 years. Many questions were resolved, and many disappointments were realized. Firstly, we know that the yusho will be won with a 12-3 record. One of the three (or more) remaining leaders will have that score, and they will take home the hardware. To ensure that they only have one possible playoff match, Okinoumi will face Takakeisho. The chances are better than even that we will see a playoff between the winner of that match and Mitakeumi. This configuration is clouded with controversy, which we will cover below.

We also can now sadly realize that injured Ozeki Tochinoshin will lose his rank and occupy a Sekiwake position for November. He took his 8th loss not in a blaze of glory, but with a simple and frustrating mistake.

Elsewhere on the dohyo, it was henka-madness. I know there are legions of readers who are fine or even love the henka. I think it is normally a sign of weak sumo, and in the top division this kind of tactic should be seldom seen. Not today, as many rikishi in perilous positions resorted to the henka to try and save their record or keep in the hunt.

Last but not least, the gyoji and shimpan are once again a focus, and in crucial matches to boot. I think the NSK might need to think through how they want to handle sloppy calls and sloppy officiating, the fans do notice.

Highlight Matches

Wakatakakage defeats Ishiura – Ishiura had a whole bucket of nothing against the lead Onami brother, and his 7-7 record leaves him prime for a Darwin match. Enjoy.

Shohozan defeats Azumaryu – Shohozan opens strong, and Azumaryu finds himself in trouble, and moving in reverse. He tries a pull at the bales, but does not get Shohozan to drop before he himself steps out.

Onosho defeats Yutakayama – Onosho gets the inside position while Yutakayama goes for an armpit grip / attack. Onosho seems to not care, and is double-arm pushing against Yutakayama’s chest. Yutakayama is getting better thrusts, but Onosho is moves forward, absorbing the blows. Onosho kachi-koshi.

Enho defeats Tochiozan – Enho side steps to his left at the tachiai, disrupting any attack Tochiozan may have planned. Enho continues to try to drive inside and get to Tochiozan’s chest, and eventually finds his mark. Thought they fight for grip and hand placement for several seconds, Enho consolidates his position and drives Tochiozan out and to the clay. Enho kachi-koshi, and Tochiozan make-koshi. Another one for the barge to Juryo?

Takagenji defeats Terutsuyoshi – We finally get to see some strong sumo from Takagenji, and it’s against the injured and only partially functional Terutsuyoshi. Takagenji is headed back to the deeper ranks of Juryo, but I am glad he at least got to fight with vigor again today. If you want to see two rikishi battle it out with all they can muster, this is your match. Great effort by both men.

Kotoyuki defeats Tsurugisho – The fierce version of Kotoyuki was back again today, and his match today is a good study in body mechanics for oshi-zumo. Note how he focuses everything against the center of Tsurugisho’s chest, and drives forward with each blow. Tsurugisho has no time, and no means to respond. Kotoyuki kachi-koshi.

Kotoeko defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki got the better of the tachiai, and drove strongly forward. But Kotoeko deftly side-stepped at the tawara and send Kagayaki face first towards chikara-mizu bucket. Kotoeko improves to 7-7, another Darwin match candidate.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – They stalemate at the tachiai, but Sadanoumi shifts and turns to get behind Shimanoumi and drive him out from behind. Experience and agility secure Sadanoumi his 8th win and a move up the banzuke for November.

Daishoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Annnnd. HENKA! You can see Chiyotairyu’s frustration at the end of this match, and you have to feel for the guy. He manages his big tachiai, but Daishoho is faster and inside before Chiyotairyu can impact, he moves to charge again and Daishoho steps to the side. Chiyotairyu now an alarming 2-12.

Shodai defeats Nishikigi – So, where has this version of Shodai been? That looked like real sumo, and even though Nishikigi beat him by a league at the tachiai, he kept his cool, wrapped up Nishikigi and kept moving forward. Nishikigi is now make-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Excellent tachiai from Meisei, getting him an inside position and the start of a left hand inside grip. But Daieisho rallied and launched a pushing attack that Meisei could not endure. A last minute attempt to side-step at the tawara failed, and the one time yusho leader took his 5th defeat.

Asanoyama defeats Tomokaze – Take a look at the tachiai in this match, it’s a great example of where Asanoyama is headed over the next few years, if he can stay healthy. You can see him a half-step faster than Tomokaze, who is caught hazardously far forward, with poor body position. What does Tomokaze do? Why try to pull Asanoyama down, of course. How’s that working out for you? Oh? Not at all? Well, good job, now you have Asanoyama at your chest, and your weight is still too far forward. As Asanoyama loads up the throw, Tomokaze amazingly thinks he can try another pull. The shift in weight unceremoniously drops him onto his back in front of the time keeper, earning him his first ever make-koshi. I think Tomokaze has a great future, but he needs to fight in a forward gear as his standard mechanic. Asanoyama is headed higher next year, his sumo mechanics are very good, and he keeps getting stronger.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Hokutofuji beats Tamawashi off the line, and gets his nodowa, raising Tamawashi up. Hokutofuji knows what’s coming and widens his stance as Tamawashi attacks in force. But that odd Hokutofuji upper / lower body action comes into play again, he starts moving forward almost independently of the force his upper body is enduring. But Hokutofuji finds his opening and attacks center-mass, and its more than Tamawashi can withstand. Great effort by Hokutofuji to get his 8th win and a come-from-behind kachi-koshi, winning 7 in a row, along with his kinboshi on day 1.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – Annnnd. HENKA!

Abi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji wants to set up some kind of sumo, but once Abi-zumo starts, most people’s plans go out the window and all you want to do is get the guy to knock it off. Sorry! It only stops when you hit the clay or go visit the fans in the front row. Abi improves to 9-5, and I must say he is surprising me by enduring in San’yaku.

Okinoumi defeats Endo – The rikishi executed a masterful bout, but the shimpan and the gyoji blew this one to hell. If Okinoumi should prevail and take the cup, what would be a marvelous cinderella story will be forever marred by this nonsense. Okinoumi got the better of the tachiai, and started driving Endo to the SouthWest corner, and Kimura is in the way, ok – this crap happens. The two lock up on the mawashi and are really fighting it out, again Kimura gets in the way in the SouthWest corner. Endo steps on the bales, and his fighting back with everything he has as Okinoumi goes for the yorikiri. The shimpan’s hand goes up, the gyoji points the gumbo to the east, but the contestants are fighting on. They both move for a throw, but what the hell is happening? Alright, Endo fell last, but according to the referee and the judges, the match was over long before. Replays showed Endo’s heel never getting close to the janome, and there was no mark. WHAT THE HELL. So, sure – call a monoii, review the tape and figure out what is what. Well, not going to work well because the gyoji sorta interfered with the rikishi after the shimpan’s hand went up. This one is screwed up beyond repair, so it looks like they just do the “yeah, we meant to do that” routine and move on. Even Okinoumi does not think he won. Horrific own-goal for the NSK.

Takakeisho defeats Ryuden – Any thoughts that the Grand Tadpole would throttle back were completely wrong, as we see Takakeisho deliver a blast wave out of the tachiai, the first time I think he has done that this basho. Ryuden is generating considerable forward pressure, and has his usual excellent foot placement, but is pushed back by the force of it. He never has a chance to recover or even try to mount any offense as Takakeisho picks up win 11, and punches his ticket to the yusho party. Ryuden is make-koshi, picking up his 8th loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Goeido – Annnnd. HENKA!

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – A heartbreaking match, as Tochinoshin secures his make-koshi and demotion to Ozekiwake for November. Sadly it did not come as a result of a flat-out, sacrifice everything battle, but rather an inadvertent step out by the Ozeki. The two were fighting strongly, with Myogiryu taking the initiative while Tochinoshin struggled to set up his grip. But as Tochinoshin consolidated his hold and shifted to attack, his foot slipped on the tawara and struck the janome, the match was over, and the gyoji stopped the fight. Sorry to see it end this way. Tochinoshin’s injuries are not something that can be addressed in the next few weeks before Kyushu, and I am not optimistic about his options at this point.

Aki Day 14 Preview

Normally by this point in a basho, the yusho is decided, or down to two rikishi. Today, we get an army of sweaty, large fellows who each want to take their shot. And it’s a wide roster of fresh faces and old favorites than we are used to, and to be honest, any one of them could end up with the goods. With the three top men in sumo all sitting it out, we were bound to get a result that was out of the ordinary. But none of Team Tachiai saw this coming, but now we finally come to the closing brawl to end it all, as you can tell I am delighted.

Aki Leaderboard

This isn’t a leaderboard, it’s a roll call! Target yusho winning record will either be 11-4 or 12-3, depending on who loses which matches this weekend. Hoo boy!

Leaders: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Okinoumi, Tsurugisho
Chasers: Goeido, Asanoyama, Takarafuji, Meisei, Yutakayama

2 Matches Remain

Please consult the excellent write up on the madness from Tachiai’s own lksumo, who is second to none at these things, which is just down the page.

What We Are Watching Day 14

Ishiura vs Wakatakakage – Winner kachi-koshi. I think Ishiura deserves a henka today.

Shohozan vs Azumaryu – First time match up between these two, with Azumaryu still needing 2 more wins to lock in kachi-koshi. It looks like yet again there is some manner of log-jam for Juryo demotion, and we will get far more denotable rikishi than there will be promotable rikishi out of Juryo.

Onosho vs Yutakayama – A win today for Onosho and he’s made his 8, but we saw the “wall of hands” from Yutakayama on day 13, and that might just be a formula now for him. Luckily Onosho does not hesitate to take a few blows to his face.

Tochiozan vs Enho – As with the last basho, Enho has stalled in the second week a bit, and needs just one more win to get his kachi-koshi. Should that happen, he would also give Tochiozan his make-koshi, and add his venerable name to the log-jam that is eligible for Juryo.

Terutsuyoshi vs Takagenji – How is it these two are 3-10? That’s just so miserable. I don’t really care which one wins right now, as both of them will need to regroup for November. I suggest they forget this match and visit the Ueno Zoo instead.

Tsurugisho vs Kotoyuki – Tsurugisho holds a 2-0 career advantage over Kotoyuki, but I might look for the “Fierce” Kotoyuki to make a dent in that small lead on day 14.

Kagayaki vs Kotoeko – With Kagayaki already make-koshi, will Kotoeko get the win and head into day 15 ready for a Darwin match? You know they are coming, the schedulers love that stuff. I would encourage Kagayaki to tune up his tachiai a bit more. He’s got the pieces in his box of toys, but he’s not quite assembling in the best possible way. He strikes me as being somewhat in the mold of Kisenosato, so maybe he should seek out the Oyakata’s guidance.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi has won 3 of his last 4 matches, and looks really dialed into his sumo right now. Given that Shimanoumi is struggling, and likely hurt, I would say we may see the Sakaigawa man get his 8th today.

Chiyotairyu vs Daishoho – Guys! Yeah, you – scheduling committee! These are some miserable blinking matches. Truth be told, some well loved sumotori are in shambles this tournament, and Chiyotairyu is probably one of the ones that comes to mind.

Nishikigi vs Shodai – But if not, I am sure Shodai comes to mind instead. Shodai is capable and competent, but he has been the washroom attendant’s soiled cleaning rag this September. But his 4-2 career record over Nishikigi should give some hope that maybe he can pull a few more wins together.

Daieisho vs Meisei – I would guess they want to “weed out” Meisei from contention by putting him up against Daieisho, from whom he has never taken a match. But Daieisho is one loss from make-koshi, and Meisei has been defying expectations since shonichi.

Tomokaze vs Asanoyama – Oh, here’s some red meat! We get yusho-capable Asanoyama going up against “never had a make-koshi” pull-man Tomokaze. Sorry, Tomokaze, but your next loss is a new experience. Take heart in knowing that it’s part of being in the big leagues, and you are in the thick of it.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – You could just say “pusher-thruster match” here, but that would miss the glory of this bout. Both men bring a unique take to maneuver – attack sumo, and this is a fantastic clash of styles. 5-3 advantage for Tamawashi, but Hokutofuji is on a mission to pick up win number 8. The winner is kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Aoiyama – As bad as Kotoshogiku’s knees are, I think he’s going to end up winning this match. Something is really wrong with Aoiyama, and I think that he will succumb to the Kyushu Bulldozer.

Abi vs Takarafuji – Well, Takarafuji is coming in with his smooth, under-control sumo, and Abi-zumo is this wild, chaotic maelstrom of flying arms and legs. They are tied 3-3 over their career, so this could be a wild match. Takarafuji, at 9-4, is performing well above his recent average.

Okinoumi vs Endo – At long last, they stop bottom-feeding Okinoumi, putting him up against Endo when right now Endo is quite genki. I like this Endo, because if anyone knows what kimarite Ozeki Sakaigawa Namiemon used on day 4 of Haru in 1872, it’s Endo, and he can and will replicate it. Of course Okinoumi is the ultimate everyman / Cinderella story, and I still think we may see him on the “brawl to end it all” after the final match on Sunday.

Ryuden vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho has yet to lose to Ryuden, but I can’t help but wonder if Takakeisho is going to bide his time. I am not saying throw the match, but he just came off injury, he has reached 10 wins to take back Ozeki, does he need another yusho right now? Maybe not….

Mitakeumi vs Goeido – These last two matches are complete barn-burners, dripping with meaning at the surface and in deeper thought. Goeido and Mitakeumi have been more that competitors, they have spoiled each other’s basho for a few years now. They will compete with that legacy of “I owe you one” on day 14, and it literally may decide who is in the playoff on day 15.

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – You could look at the 12-9 career record and assume they wanted to give wounded Ozeki Tochinoshin a chance to stake his final claim on day 15 against Goeido. But nothing is easy for Tochinoshin right now. He’s too hurt, too banged up, but he’s going to get up there on Saturday and he’s going to put it all on the line. It’s going to hurt, and its going to be more than anyone should ever go through, but he’s going to fight Myogiryu with all the strength he can muster. Good luck big man.

Aki Day 13 Highlights

The much hoped for grand brawl has formed, and the final two days of the basho are going to be fantastic. We know for sure that the yusho winner will have no more than a 12-3 record, and that puts 4 rikishi in contention with another 5 possible should all of the leaders take at least 1 loss over the next 2 matches. The yusho will not be decided until senshuraku, and it will quite possibly involve at least 2 rikishi in a playoff for the cup. In the last big story of Aki left open, Tochinoshin’s kachi-koshi hope stayed alive today with his defeat of Ryuden. If he can beat Myogiryu on day 14, his fate is decided in the final match of the basho. The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan is most pleased. This one is coming down to the wire, and Team Tachiai is giddy with excitement.

It reflect on the fact that you have Tsurugisho, in his first Makuuchi tournament, a valid yusho contender going into the final weekend. You have Okinoumi, a long serving veteran who has been a stable mid-Maegshira for forever, with occasional flashes of awesome along the years. He’s likely toward the end of his career now, but he’s in the mix for the cup. The two leading tadpoles (and Sekiwake), Mitakeumi and Takakeisho, are the men to beat. Both have a yusho to their name already, and both are capable of performing under the pressure of the final weekend.

It’s a great time to be a sumo fan!

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – One sided match that was all Takanosho with zero offense from Azumaryu. Good chance we may see Takanosho back in the top division for November.

Yutakayama defeats Enho – Yutakayama worked hard to generate a high-intensity battery of tsuppari that Enho could not penetrate. Enho employed multiple attack plans, but was completely shut down by Yutakayama’s wall of flying hands. I know some readers may have wondered why I have been a Yutakayama backer in the past few basho. I think that he is Asanoyama’s future foil, and a rival for Abi.

Onosho defeats Nishikigi – It took him the whole first week, but Onosho seems to be back in his groove, with 4 consecutive wins. Nishikigi opened strongly, getting Onosho backed to the tawara, but Onosho seems to like this kind of start to a match, and once again rallied strongly and drove Nishikigi out. With that red mawashi finally kicking in, a kachi-koshi is still very much possible for Onosho.

Shohozan defeats Meisei – Shohozan now kachi-koshi while kicking Meisei out of the leader group for a second consecutive day. For yet another day we had matta-madness, and frankly I think it’s quite overdone now. By the time the match finally was allowed to continue, both rikishi were hesitant at the first step. This kind of gyoji action has the potential to really ruin sumo. The match itself was the kind of brawl we would normally expect from Shohozan, and it was great to see him finally execute “his brand of sumo”.

Sadanoumi defeats Takagenji – Not sure how, but I feel sorry for Takagenji right now. Not that Sadanoumi did anything to cause this, other than give him a hearty denshamichi today. Just that his sumo is nowhere to be found right now, and I am going to guess it’s mostly his off-dohyo troubles. That’s ok, little Genji, we will save a spot for you to come back later.

Kotoyuki defeats Tochiozan – Kotoyuki has now won 4 of the last 5, and seems to be locked into his “fierce” mode. Tochiozan getting perilously close to being the subject of a day 15 Darwin match, which would make long term sumo fans uncomfortable. Just within the past year, there was talk about a resurgent Tochiozan possibly becoming a late-career San’yaku regular.

Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, I guess it was henka o’clock in Tokyo today. Weak ass sumo from Ishiura, taking a win from now 3-10 Terutsuyoshi. Nobody likes a heel, sir.

Tsurugisho defeats Takarafuji – With his win over Takarafuji, Tsurugisho is now at 10 wins in his first top division basho. Not unusual for shin-maku rikishi, but this time out, it’s enough to get him a lead spot in the yusho race. Takarafuji gave him a great fight, but as Tsurugisho is pushed back to the tawara, he suddenly “hulks out” and you see him flex and lift Takarafuji into a match winning sukuinage. Where has that been this basho?

Okinoumi defeats Kagayaki – I love the move Okinoumi applied in this match. Kagayaki is too well positioned and too stable once he gets his feet set to push around much, or to slap down. So Okinoumi reaches inside with Kagayaki’s arms latched around his shoulder, and pulls him down, essentially imploding his stance. Although the kimaraite is listed hatakikomi, it’s the implosion pull that won the match. Really neat move. Okinoumi remains tied for the lead

Kotoeko defeats Daishoho – Kotoeko won this through sheer grim determination and gutting it out. Both men fought with fury at the tachiai, until the settled down to an endurance test in the middle of the dohyo, each holding a right hand inside grip. When Daishoho’s stamina started running low, Kotoeko was able to break his grip, which set up the yorikiri. Kotoeko saves himself from make-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is an absolute mess right now, and really is not putting up much offense or defense. He picks up his 11th loss while Daieisho dodges the make-koshi mud-ball once more.

Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – Asanoyama showing some remarkable versatility today, he adapted well to Tamawashi’s oshi-zumo form and found a moment when the former Sekiwake was off balance and attacked. I will state that Asanoyama seems to have an impressive level of strength supporting his sumo.

Aoiyama defeats Shodai – Now I am really feeling sorry for Shodai, and that’s an odd state for me. Aoiyama attempt a push-pull, and it nearly blows up on him, but Shodai never squares his hips, and is pushed to the side for the loss.

Hokutofuji defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze opens strong, and stalemates Hokutofuji with great effect. But his bad habit of pulling asserts itself, and he finds himself under renewed attack. Well, it worked so well the first time, why not try it again? Well Tomokaze is getting an ugly lesson in top echelon rikishi, as his second pull against Hokutofuji is his last. Give it up Tomokaze, bring your real sumo against these guys and you will do just fine. This cheap stuff is not for the big fights.

Endo defeats Kotoshogiku – I gained still more appreciation for Endo’s skill as a technician because of this match. Granted Kotoshogiku’s forward pressure is a fraction of what it should be if his body were not so damaged. But Endo absorbs his attacks, and patiently sets up his win. With a kachi-koshi at Komusubi, we see Endo stick in the san’yaku for the first time ever. It’s been a long time coming, but maybe it’s finally his time. Oh, there was also the terribly painful interview following his kachi-koshi.

Abi defeats Shimanoumi – As with any Abi match, its a wild storm of thrusting and pushing, but today it featured a twisting pull at the end. Abi completes the Komusubi kachi-koshi sweep, making the November san’yaku ranks the most hotly contested in sumo.

Mitakeumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu tries an hatakikomi as Mitakeumi is rushing forward to win, but Myogiryu touches out before Mitakeumi could land. A monoii results, but the gumbai is upheld and Mitakeumi retains his slot as co-leader for the cup. Mitakeumi tends to fade out in week 2, but he’s won 4 of the last 5, and with his 10th win, he is probably getting in position for another bid to become Ozeki shortly.

Tochinoshin defeats Ryuden – You know this hurt, you can see it especially in that step Tochinoshin takes just after he forces Ryuden out. Ryuden’s sumo was great this match, but Tochinoshin seems to have access to at least some of his amazing strength. Once the Ozeki got his left hand outside grip, you knew he was going to lift, even if that was the end of his knee and by extension his sumo career, he was going to do it. Bold move, and it worked. 2 more to go.Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Classic Goeido sumo. Takakeisho had no time to react or even adjust his stance. This is unusual for Takakeisho, who usually has the faster first move. The biggest issue for Takakeisho is Goeido got the drop on him at the tachiai, and by the time the Goeido locomotive crashes into him, he is still low in his crouch. I would guess that Takakeisho correctly worried Goeido might deploy a henka, and slow-rolled his tachiai. Instead he got a face full of Goeido, and a fast trip to the clay. I love this form of Goeido, and I wish he could do it every match. So fast, so overwhelming.