We conclude a fine tournament in great style, with a playoff and a yusho for Sekiwake Kiribayama. He was able to beat Daieisho twice today to take him the cup, and score his second consecutive double digit tournament score. His finish in January was 11-4, and earned him the jun-yusho for Hatsu, along with the gino-sho special prize.
Naturally talk will begin to swirl about him being one good tournament away from a possible Ozeki promotion, already have 23 wins over two tournaments. One win each in the last two tournaments have been fusensho, so I am going guess that guidance from the kyokai will be for a strong performance in May.
Congratulations to Kiribayama on a fantastic tournament.
Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki lost this match when he allowed Tsurugisho to capture him. Yes, Kagayaki did have a double inside grip, but he could not muster enough power to do much against Tsurugisho’s ponderous bulk. Tsurugisho ends Osaka with a kachi-koshi at 8-7.
Kinbozan defeats Takanosho – Kinbozan had the inside hand position from the second step, and never really allowed Takanosho an opening to attack. There was a brief moment where Takanosho almost landed a good thrust, but it left him off balance, and Kinbozan finshed him with a sukuinage to finish Osaka 11-4 with a Kanto-sho special prize.
Azumaryu defeats Daishoho – A final win for Azumaryu, they went chest to chest at the tachiai, settling into a mutual right hand inside position. As they struggled for position, you could see Azumaryu working to set up the throw. He never quite completed rotation, but it was enough to get Daishoho stumbling, and he stepped out of the ring. Azumaryu finishes 4-11.
Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji able to finish in double digits at 10-5. He was able to set up a right hand inside grip on the second step, and quickly drove forward to send Kotoeko out.
Bushozan defeats Myogiryu – Bushozan had his hands inside and in contact with center mass by the second step. He immediately dialed up the forward pressure, and rammed Myogiryu out of the ring and into Oho’s lap. Both finish Osaka 5-10.
Hiradoumi defeats Oho – Oho is denied his kachi-koshi after Hiradoumi attacks well on the first step, and never lets up the pressure for a moment. Oho has no escape plan, and finds himself escorted from the ring in short order. Both finish the basho 7-8.
Mitoryu defeats Aoiyama – Mitoryu is able to end the tournament with a kachi-koshi thanks to his quick ring sense and reaction time. Both are pushing forward with all they can deliver, but Aoiyama momentarily loses traction. Mitoryu reacts with an immediate slap down to pick up his 8th win, and finishes Osaka 8-7.
Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura continues his unquestioned dominance of Chiyoshoma, extending his career record to 8-0. That could have been a matta as Chiyoshoma launched a tad early, but the fight was on. They battled for hand placement until Ura was able to duck inside and attack. He put power forward, and launched himself and Chiyoshoma out of the ring, taking out at least 3 cameramen. Both end the tournament 9-6.
Hokuseiho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had a brief window at the start of this match where he could have won, but Hokuseiho was able to capture Ichiyamamoto with his right hand, and shut down any further offense. They enter a battle hug, and that’s where things stay for a while, with just a few struggle sessions as Ichiyamamoto tries to improve his grip. But lets be honest, there is no way he’s moving Hokuseiho, he’s only making himself tired. After a long time, Hokuseiho decides he’s done. He powers forward and runs Ichiyamamoto out of the ring to finish 9-6.
Takarafuji defeats Hokutofuji – Our only Darwin match, and I am both surprised and delighted to announce that Takarafuji managed to squeeze out a kachi-koshi with an 8-7 finish. There were times last week where I worried he would be back in Juryo in May, but he’s going to stick around the top division for a while longer. Sadly the winning move may have injured Hokutofuji’s already injured right knee. Not what I was hoping he would take him from Osaka, to go with his 7-8 make-koshi.
Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Excellent work by Nishikigi to methodically work his hands to Kotoshoho’s mawashi. Once he had both hands attached, he was in charge and he attack with power, eventually brining Kotoshoho down with an uwatenage. Both end Osaka 6-9.
Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden finds only his second win of the tournament on the final day. Mitakeumi had a solid defense running until a missed move caused him to turn his back on Ryuden for just a moment, and Mitakeumi only recovered with his feet on the bales, but soon had to step out. Ryuden finishes 2-13.
Abi defeats Endo – Endo continues to struggle with Abi-zumo, again we saw him leave Abi to attack at will, and suffered a potent oshitaoshi as a result. Both end Osaka with 9-6.
Shodai defeats Midorifuji – One time yusho race leader Midorifuji suffers his 5th consecutive loss. He had a double inside grip against Shodai by the second step – it was both a blessing and a curse. Once Shodai had his heels on the bales, out came the “Wall of Daikon”, and Shodai bodily rammed forward. With his arms now locked around Shodai, Midorifuji had no escape. The resulting kimedashi pushed him into the front row, and both end the tournament 10-5.
Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Meisei snaps a 6 match losing streak with solid, aggressive sumo. Tamawashi really can’t generate or tolerate any forward pressure this month, and has been a fairly easy mark. Meisei pushes him out into a shimpan, and its a 5-10 finish for him.
Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – An even tachiai evolved into Tobizaru’s superior foot work setting up an uwatenage that sent Sadanoumi tumbling to the clay. Fast and effective, both end the tournament 6-9.
Wakamotoharu defeats Kotonowaka – An impressive 11-4 final score for Wakamotoharu, and it’s his third double digit finish in the past year. Consistency – check. A quick tachiai saw them lock up yotsu-zumo style to fight it out. The finishing move was a tumbling rescue utchari at the edge that saw Wakamotoharu land on his neck. A monoii was called, but the judge’s decision was affirmed, Wakamotoharu had won.
Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Ah, Hoshoryu. Never change you numb skull. Takayasu has stared down plates of food at his mother’s restaurant more potent than you. Delighted to see Takayasu in good form today. He took his time and dismantled Hoshoryu a piece at a time. He seldom fights like this any more, but this is the form that took him to Ozeki, coupled with almost inhuman endurance. Hoshoryu gives him a good fight, but by about 20 seconds in, it’s clear Takayasu has been building an uwatenage. The throw has to overcome Hoshoryu’s excellent mobility, but Takayasu has ample strength to make it stick. Both end the tournament 10-5.
Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – The decider, and Kiribayama does what he needs to and takes out the yusho race leader to end the tournament with a 12-3 tie. Kiribayama played Daieisho perfectly, letting him get his mega-thrust train running, then stepping out of the way. Both win the technique prize, and we have a playoff for the yusho.
Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Kiribayama takes his first Emperor’s Cup, of what I hope will be several. Oddly enough it’s quite similar to their prior match, Daieisho is all power forward, Kiribayama absorbs two volleys then steps to the side. Kōnosuke calls it for Kiribayama, but they want a monoii to make sure. Clearly they are not up against a news break on NHK, so they have plenty of time. But of course Kōnosuke was right, and it’s time for Kiribayama to hoist a big fish.
Thank you, dear readers for sharing the 15 days of Haru with Team Tachiai. We hope you have enjoyed our daily coverage as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. We hope to see you all again during the Natsu basho in May, and please check back for commentary, and sumo news as it happens.