Final Weekend of the second “No-kozuna” tournament of this year. Some fans are quite upset as they must endure “sumo light” yet again, and perhaps they feel that without the Yokozuna active and battling lower ranks that it’s just not quite sumo. Sadly for them, this format is likely to be more frequent over the next 2 years. As the current Yokozuna continue to fade out, and with the Ozeki corps nursing an increasing inventory of injuries, the future belongs to the young, healthy and eager. Thankfully for sumo there are waves of these guys eagerly advancing into the top division and the top ranks. One has to look no further than how dominant the “tadpole” cohort has become, and they show no sign of slowing down. If you think about the “freshmen” cohort (Abi, Yutakayama, Asanoyama, Ryuden), they are just starting to come into their own – maybe 18 to 24 months behind the tadpoles. Looking across Juryo and Makushita, we can see potential for at least 2 more waves over the next couple of years.
Action today features the kanban match of the basho, the “Taka Bowl” featuring Takayasu and Takakeisho to possibly determine the yusho. If Takakeisho wins, we will see him hoist the magnificent red fish of victory. If he loses, we may see a playoff on day 15 between these two to decide it all. If their history is any indicator, the Ozeki will repeatedly go for a slap down or some other pulling maneuver. When you are as big, fast and strong as Takayasu, this can be quite effective. But in recent matches the Ozeki has been unbalanced and “light” when he unloaded these pulls, and perhaps Takakiesho will be able to exploit that tendency. Takayasu is also a very competent yotzu-zumo practitioner, and can wear just about anyone down to a gasping, exhausted puddle by the time he is done with them. While that approach has fewer “all or nothing” moves, it requires that the Ozeki survive and overcome the “Wave Action” attacks to lock Takakeisho up chest to chest. Should he do this, I predict that there will be little that Takakeisho can do to win.
Sumo fandom waits as the next eight hours or so count down to this pivotal match. In the mean time there are quite a few “koshis” to be decided, including the fate of Nishikigi, who at the start of this basho looked like he was the chump in the November poker tournament. Like the survivor he is, he might actually pick up his 8th win today against Takarafuji. I can’t compliment the guy enough on entering the stadium each day ready to do what it takes to win. Then there is the case of Shodai, who is one loss away from his 8th. On day 14 he faces Kaisei, whom he has never beaten (0-7). But Kaisei’s apparent injury on day 13 might change that math, and possibly give Shodai enough of an advantage that he could take his first white star from the Brazilian powerhouse.
We had a solid day of sumo for Friday, a good number of ‘koshis were decided (make- and kachi-), and everyone works their sumo while fans wait for what Team Tachiai stalwart PinkMawashi calls the “Taka Bowl”. With the basho in a No-kozuna status since Act 1, the completion has been impressively equal. With no grand champions harvesting white stars from the upper Maegashira (like we saw at Aki), and the Ozeki corps only ⅔ genki, the field has been wide open. The result is not quite the sumo that some fans are used to, with a handful of ur-rikishi winning everything every day with overwhelming sumo.
The Juryo ranks finds Mr 5×5 – Kotoyuki, with double digits wins. At Juryo 3, we will likely seem him return to the top division yet again, where he always seems to struggle, and frequently crowd-surf. The other story is the strength of Yago and Kotokaze, two rikishi from Oguruma who are young, strong and on the ascent. With Yago on the ferry to Makuuchi for January, and Kotokaze on the path for later in 2019, we could see a lot of new power from the stable that gave us long-serving veterans Yoshikaze and Takekaze.
Daishomaru defeats Yutakayama – Don’t blink. Solid tachiai, then Daishomaru outright decks Yutakayama, sending him sprawling to the clay. Boom! Yutakayama gets a headache, and his make-koshi.
Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyoshoma hands Sadanoumi a make-koshi while avoiding one himself. Impressive lift and twist at the tawara! There was a brief mono-ii as the shimpan wanted to make sure Chiyoshoma’s toe did not touch out during the lift. Sadanoumi went from a solid opening week to a string of losses. Injury? Stamina?
Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Onosho succumbs to the Kyushu Bulldozer’s preferred attack, and rides the hug-n-chug express all the way to kuroboshi (black star) land. Kotoshogiku secures kachi-koshi in front of his adoring home town crowd, and everyone can celebrate that.
Takanosho defeats Ikioi – Takanosho maintains his enthusiasm and finds a way to stalemate Ikioi’s repeated attempts to throw him. To be fair, Ikioi is a big, sore mess right now. Takanosho uses Ikioi’s perpendicular throwing stance to advance and motor him out. Both are now 4-9.
Okinoumi defeats Shohozan – Okinoumi goes to double digits with a big win over Shohozan. It’s impressive that Okinoumi managed to get Shohozan contained, and then packaged for shipment for a clay facial. When Okinoumi is in good health and his body cooperates, he is a solid sumotori for mid-rank Maegashira. May his fine health continue.
Meisei defeats Abi – Abi-zumo seems to be past its sell-by date for now, as fellow shiko-peacock Meisei shrugs off the double-arm attack in the opening seconds. A quick left hand to the armpit and a strong lateral shove and down goes Abi.
Endo defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki’s normally un-glamorous sumo seems to have taken on a lethargic sludge in week 2, and Endo finds his 8th win against the increasingly make-koshi Kagayaki. We know Kagayaki is strong, and is becoming quite the master of sumo mechanics, so we have to wonder if he’s nursing an undisclosed injury.
Nishikigi defeats Daiamami – Maegashira 3 vs Maegashira 15, you have to wonder what this match was for except to transfer a white star to Nishikigi. Granted, I am really impressed by what Nishikigi has been able to do in Kyushu, and he made fairly easy work of Daiamami, who ends the match with a make-koshi.
Tochiozan defeats Asanoyama – The experience and efficiency of Tochiozan’s sumo was on display in this match. Asanoyama put a lot of vigor and energy into his sumo, but it’s striking to see how minimal Tochiozan’s body movements are. The bout ends with Tochiozan hurling Asanoyama from the dohyo in dramatic fashion. Tochiozan kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2, interesting times indeed.
Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Tamawashi expertly executes a mini-henka (a completely different animal from the henka), and Hokutofuji buys it. I still see a great potential for Hokutofuji, but in this basho he has gotten himself too far forward more than a few times. Part of it is that handshake tachiai, which – when it works – gives him a half-step advantage in the match. But it also broadcasts he’s coming forward with authority. If you can watch the match in slow-motion replay, note that Hokutofuji lowers his head and takes his eyes off of Tamawashi’s center mass. Tamawashi times his move to the left perfectly to coincide with this breaking of focus, and by the time Hokutofuji senses the opening gambit, he is unrecoverable. Tamawashi is also kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2. There’s going to be a scramble for the higher slots, I think.
Myogiryu defeats Shodai – Shodai has found an interesting solution to his tachiai mechanics. He has become increasily skillful at absorbing the initial charge and rapidly gaining control of the initial merge. Myogiryu was fast enough and strong enough to maintain the inside position, and kept Shodai reacting.
Ryuden defeats Kaisei – Notable in that it looks like Kaisei appears to have tweaked his left leg as he resisted Ryuden’s effort for a throw. Kaisei went down in an awkward way, and was visibly hurt following the match.
Takakeisho defeats Aoiyama – Takakeisho remains in the lead, but Aoiyama made him work for it. Aoiyama can deliver a IJN Yamato class pounding when he can get set up, and certainly brought the big armament out today. But what really caught my eye was that Takakeisho was not quite able to set up his wave action attack. Aoiyama’s solid offense and long reach (compared to Takakeisho’s much shorter reach) seems to have kept the yusho race leader constrained. But impressively, Takakeisho adjusted and tossed the man-mountain to the clay anyhow.
Ichinojo defeats Yoshikaze – Excellent example of just how powerful Ichinojo is. Yoshikaze was tossed around like a pony, and had almost nothing to say about it.
Chiyotairyu defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi inches closer to the make-koshi line against some off-balance but effective sumo from Chiyotairyu. I don’t think Chiyotairyu had a firm stance for any moment of this bout, but he managed to maintain control of Mitakeumi and win. For Mitakeumi fans (which includes me), many Ozeki applicants fail their first attempt, and are forced to swallow demotion, re-group and re-ascend in stronger form. I look forward to the next evolutionary stage of Mitakeumi!
Tochinoshin defeats Takanoiwa – A much needed win for the Ozeki, who struggled a bit even though he was able to land a left hand grip on Takanoiwa. Takanoiwa’s athleticism and keen balance were on display today, as he managed to thwart Tochinoshin’s offense against several solid, strong moves to win. The match ended with Takanoiwa losing grip on the dohyo, and falling backward, with the kimarite listed as koshikudake (inadvertent collapse), and is considered a non-winning move.
Takayasu defeats Daieisho – Though the outcome was fairly certain, Daieisho put up a good fight, and the Ozeki put up an odd offense. Multiple attempts to pull Daieisho down left Takayasu off balance, but Daieisho was too reactive to capitalize on these moments. Will Takayasu uses this strategy in the Taka Bowl on day 14? I think that Takakeisho won’t pass up these openings. Bring on the doom-match of day 14!
Day 12 was a solid day of sumo, but it did bring a couple of questions to the front. The first for me is that with a number of lower ranked rikishi approaching double digits, and fighting very well this basho, will the NSK once again decide that “nobody deserved a special prize”? Many fans were shocked by that declaration at Aki, as several rikishi put together successful campaigns in the face of a resurgent Yokozuna and Ozeki corps.
The yusho race narrowed considerably, and that was clearly intended given the day 12 schedule. The matches involving the chasers were all solid sumo that saw each candidate produce a fierce effort.
For those readers who are keeping up with Juryo (and who wouldn’t with Herouth doing a masterful job covering it), Oguruma rising star and certified sumo battle-cruiser Yago secured his kachi-koshi at Juryo 1 East, meaning short of some kind of bizarre incident, we will see this sumo phenomenon in the top division in January. He has been in Juryo for the past 5 tournaments – 7 total over his short 10 basho career. His sumo looks strong, low and heavy.
Chiyonokuni defeats Daiamami – A notable match because Chiyonokuni goes for the mawashi and engages in a solid yotzu match against Daiamami. Is it just me, or is Daiamami looking surprised there? Even though he is make-koshi, it’s great to see Chiyonokuni rack up a much-needed win.
Okinoumi defeats Meisei – Okinoumi continues to rack up wins, and it’s wonderful. Meisei denied a kachi-koshi today, and he seems a bit frustrated. Okinoumi could hit double-digits this tournament, and might end up with a substantial re-ranking upward for January. While his fans might cheer this, Okinoumi suffers from a chronic medical condition that sometimes impacts his sumo, and I would hate to see it worsen.
Yutakayama defeats Endo – Yutakayama very effectively kept Endo from going for his mawashi, and instead set the tone and format for the match, which took the form of a windmill thrusting contest. Endo’s last minute attempt at a pull down failed, and Yutakayama got a much needed win.
Kotoshogiku defeats Aoiyama – As much as I admire and respect Kotoshogiku, I was really pulling for Aoiyama to prevail. Aoiyama opened strong, and began with his expected thrusting attack, but could not stop Kotoshogiku going chest to chest with him. At that point, I think Aoiyama began to worry, and that may have been the start of trouble. The Kyushu Bulldozer’s knees are not what they once were, but he contained and pushed with enough force to move Aoiyama out. With this loss, Aoiyama falls out of the group 1 loss behind Takakeisho.
Onosho defeats Daieisho – Yusho leader Takakeisho’s friend Onosho does him a solid favor and quenches the higher ranked Daieisho’s aspirations for a day 15 parade. From the match you can see just how much Daieisho was putting into this match, he met Onosho thrust for thrust, but left himself open for the hatakikomi at just the wrong moment.
Daishomaru defeats Ikioi – I bring this match up because it’s clear just how hurt Ikioi is, watching him gather his strength just to stand following his defeat. The man is a true competitor, and its amazing to see true determination and courage on display.
Takanoiwa defeats Chiyoshoma – Bit by bit we see Takanoiwa get his sumo back. I would assume by the middle of 2019 he is back to being a serious full time contender for the upper Maegashira / lower San’yaku. Chiyshoma is now one step closer to make-koshi, and he is perilously far down the banzuke for end November with a losing record.
Kagayaki defeats Takanosho – Both men are make-koshi, but this is a match to watch. Firstly, Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals carries the day. Second, is I have started to take note of Takanosho, this guy, much like Asanoyama, seems to have a very positive attitude about competition, even on days when he loses.
Shohozan defeats Chiyotairyu – If any wonder why I call Shohozan “Big Guns” or refer to him as a “Street Fighter”. Behold exhibit A. His match with Chiyotairyu featured a few loud and forceful blows the the face that probably left a mark, and certainly got the crowd’s attention. Chiyotairyu goes chest to chest, removing the immediate threat for more blows to the face. Sadly for Chiyotairyu, he’s somewhat stuck at this point, as his yotzu card is not strong, and his stamina tends to be expended in the first few seconds. Shohozan correctly waits him out, injecting a few harassing moves moment to moment, and bides his time. Shohozan wins his kachi-koshi, and the home town fans are delighted.
Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – The happy rikishi staves off make-koshi for another day, but its sadly at the expense of long suffering Takarafuji.
Yoshikaze defeats Abi – As expected, Yoshikaze learned well from Ikioi, Endo and Okinoumi. You can see him apply upward pressure at Abi’s elbows, disrupting his preferred double arm thrust attack. Time and again Yoshikaze drives inside, just to be awarded a hand to the face. His persistence is rewarded by control of the inside, and he pushes Abi back, back and out. Although it’s at a bit slower speed and lower energy than a few years ago, Yoshikaze still has the goods when he can rouse his fighting spirit.
Tochiozan defeats Myogiryu – I have to wonder if Myogiryu has run low on stamina, his brilliant opening week seems to have turned into a bit of a rout. Tochiozan succeeds in getting him turned sideways, and off balance for the win.
Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – Wow, Shodai was on his sumo today. Hokutofuji put a fair amount of genki into the tachiai, but Shodai absorbed it masterfully, and kept Hokutofuji from executing any successful offense. Shodai instead stalemated Hokutofuji, and waited for his opening, which he found and exploited with exquisite timing.
Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – Takakeisho seems close to unstoppable at this point. Tamawashi always has strength and balance, but in reaction to the “Wave Action” attack, it seems that few can maintain their footing for long. After the second wave, Tamawashi is too far forward, working to bring maximum force to bear on Takakeisho, who senses the imbalance and deftly steps aside.
Nishikigi defeats Kaisei – As stated in the preview, Nishikigi surprises every couple of days, and today he was somehow able to use an off balance position to load up enough energy to push Kaisei out. Dare I say it? Nishikigi could still end this basho with a winning record at Maegashira 3. A new day in sumo indeed.
Ichinojo defeats Ryuden – In hitting his make-koshi, Ryuden gave Ichinojo a solid fight. But it seems the Mongolian giant is working through whatever pain or injuries are blunting his sumo. Twice Ryuden had Ichinojo’s heels on the tawara, twice he rallied. Ichinojo closes the match with a hearty lift and drop. Well fought both.
Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – I am worried about Tochinoshin, and I think Goeido’s kyujo may rescue him from a make-koshi and a kadoban status for New Years. Takayasu seems to be focused and driven to bring himself to his eventual showdown with Takakeisho as a fierce contender who is ready to claim the Emperor’s cup by eliminating the upstart contender.
The Kyushu basho is picking up speed, and as mentioned earlier, the scheduling team have forestalled the much anticipated match between Takakeisho and Takayasu until at least day 13. While all eyes are on the yusho race, there is another race unfolding that impacts a broad number or rikishi. I am talking about 9 rikishi who ended day 11 at 5-6. These men are on a perilous road that increasingly runs the risk of a day 15 “Darwin” match where two 7-7 rikishi face off with only one able to walk away with a winning record [the torikumi committee love these bouts because they reduce the risk of “lethargic sumo” on the last day –PinkMawashi]. Slightly less perilous are the 6 rikishi who finished the day at 6-5. What is quite amazing to me is that the competition has been even enough that there are this many men who could end up make or kachi-koshi.
In the yusho race, there are two names that continue to impress me: Daieisho (M9w) and Aoiyama (M12e). While they are much further down the banzuke (and it could be said had easier schedules), that both of them have reached day 12 with nine wins underscores that they are having terrific tournaments. Aoiyama looked weak and disorganized for the first two days, and has been on a full-throttle nine-bout winning streak ever since. He has not just been winning, but completely dominating his matches. When the Man-Mountain is healthy, he is a very effective combatant.
Chiyonokuni vs Daiamami – I really feel for Chiyonokuni. He starts day 12 already make-koshi, with only 3 wins. But he competes every day with fire and vigor, and frankly looks like he should or could win many of these matches. To be honest, though, this has been the case for most of his upper division career. I remain hopeful he can find the key to unlock the last 5%, and achieve greatness.
Meisei vs Okinoumi – I am likewise pleased and surprised to find Okinoumi a member of the hunt group, two losses back from Takakeisho. Okinoumi is a long serving veteran, who seems to have hot and cold tournaments, and Kyushu seems to be on the warm side for the man from rural Shimane prefecture. Should Meisei win today, it would secure his kachi-koshi.
Endo vs Yutakayama – If this goes as expected where Endo wins and Yutakayama loses, Endo would walk away with a kachi-koshi and Yutakayama with his make-koshi. I maintain that Yutakayama is still not back together after his disastrous posting to Maegashira 1 during the brutal Aki basho.
Kotoshogiku vs Aoiyama – Will Aoiyama be able to keep the Kyushu-bulldozer away from his mawashi? Kotoshogiku holds a 13-5 career lead, so this will be just the match to test the Man-Mountain’s ability to enter the final weekend in competition for the cup. Kotoshogiku is a member of the 6-5 club, but draws a lot of energy from the enthusiastic Fukuoka crowd.
Onosho (M13) vs Daieisho (M9) – Onosho’s day 11 loss knocked him out of the group one win behind his friend Takakeisho, and now he has a chance to return the favor by dropping Daieisho down a notch. He holds a small 4-2 career advantage, but this will come down to who gets inside at the tachiai and establishes the offensive position first.
Ikioi (M8) vs Daishomaru (M14) – We all assume Ikioi is hurt to some extent, but normally he will be up for giving Daishomaru a solid fight (3-3 career). But Ikioi seems to be resorting to an “all or nothing” opening gambit this tournament, likely reflecting his desire to resolve matches quickly before his injuries wear him down.
Takanoiwa (M6) vs Chiyoshoma (M14) – Another even match with a huge gap in rank. I liked what I saw from Takanoiwa on day 11. He looked more like his old self, and I am sure fans are hoping that he is finding his sumo again. Both are members of the 5-6 danger club.
Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Shohozan’s triumphant win over Onosho on day 11 lies in stark contrast to Chiyotairyu’s loss via slippiotoshi [if you watch closely, it may have been a harite knockdown -lksumo]. Both men are brawlers, Chiyotairyu has his cannonball tachiai, and “Big Guns” Shohozan likes to start beating his opponents around the head and neck early. Chiyotairyu has a 7-2 series advantage, largely owing to the fact that Shohozan does not always survive the tachiai.
Abi vs Yoshikaze – Two members of the 6-5 club face off. Yoshikaze is a thinking man’s rikishi, and is quite the smart fellow himself. I would assume he has watched Abi’s opponents disarm the double-arm attack the past few days, and will apply similar measures to shut down Abi-zumo.
Myogiryu vs Tochiozan – It’s always tough to deliver a kachi-koshi as Maegashira 1, but Myogiryu has been fighting with a lot of heart and a lot of power. In fact better than I have seen him compete in years. He enters day 12 as a member of the 5-6 “danger club”, and he dearly needs a win against Tochiozan. They have an evenly balanced 13-12 career record.
Shodai vs Hokutofuji – Two more members of the 5-6 “danger club” face off in a mini “Darwin” match. Both men seem to have faded into week 2, which happens as a rikishi’s stamina starts to run dry. Hokutofuji has never won against Shodai, so here’s to hoping that he gives it his all on day 12.
Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – The yusho leader steps up against one of the most powerful oshi-zumo men left in the basho. This will be an epic battle of pushing, slapping and possibly a haymaker or two. Takakeisho will try to set up his devastating wave attacks, and Tamawashi needs to land the first couple of blows. If he can get Takakeisho to react to him rather than attack with his own sumo, he could carry the day and blow the yusho race wide open.
Nishikigi vs Kaisei – Day 12 brings us a battle of the “nice guys”, and frankly I couldn’t even begin to guess how this one is going to unfold. Nishikigi continues to surprise every couple of days, but I always try to imagine anyone short of Ichinojo or Tochinoshin being able to move a man that big, and just shrug. I get the impression that this contest might be better solved by putting two kegs on the dohyo, and seeing which rikishi could drain theirs first.
Ryuden vs Ichinojo – Ryuden is one loss away from make-koshi, but has improved into the second week (in my opinion). Taking on Ichinojo is always a logistical challenge, as he is one enormous fellow. Seriously, seeing him in person at fairly close range, you can’t believe how big this guy is. But Ryuden is up for a challenge, and I am sure he will do his best against the Boulder.
Goeido vs Mitakeumi – The member of the “danger club” I am most worried about is dear old “Future Ozeki Mitakeumi”. It’s apparent his Ozeki bid is reset to zero, and that he needs to regroup. Will he be distracted going into day 12? Will Goeido use his “surprise” move against him? Guys, please don’t make this boring. [With Goeido’s withdrawal, Mitakeumi gets a crucial 6th win by fusen (default) -lksumo]
Tochinoshin vs Takayasu – Not an easy match for either Ozeki, but both of them need the win. Tochinoshin is perilously close to the “Darwin” trajectory, and I would rather not see him struggle during the final weekend. Takayasu needs to win in order for the hoped for showdown with Takakeisho to have full impact. They hold a series 8-9 score between them, so this is as even as you could want.
The topsy-turvey Kyushu Basho continues into Day 11, and much like before, Wednesday’s action did not disappoint. Our leaderboard stayed mostly intact, with Takakeisho at the top with ten wins and Aoiyama, Daieisho, and Takayasu right behind with nine. The only casualty in the Yusho race was Onosho, who dropped his match and joined Okinoumi and Goiedo in the hunt group. Without further ado, let’s get on to today’s action.
Yago (7-4) defeats Arawashi (1-10): We begin with another visit from Yago, up from Joryu for the day. He and his Day 11 opponent, Arawashi, could very well swap places in January. After a matta, the two clashed and try as he might, Arawshi could do nothing against the much larger man. Yago takes the match with a yoritaoshi and moves one step closer to the Makuuchi division.
Aoiyama (9-2) defeats Yutakayama (4-7): You gotta hand it to Aoiyama, the man has been on an incredible tear at Kyushu. After dropping his first two bouts, the Bulgarian bull has steamrolled every rikishi he’s faced, and today was no different. Yutakayama, injured as he is, put up a good fight and nearly got Aoiyama out, but the big man fought back with bludgeoning tsuppari until Yutakayama was unstable. A quick slap down followed, and Aoiyama extended his winning streak to nine.
Shohozan (7-4) defeats Onosho (8-3): With his loss to Shohozan today, Onosho has fallen out of the chase group. Onosho started strong, nearly driving Shohozan out, but Big Guns Sho dug in at the edge and used his immense strength to push Onosho back and over the tawara. Shohozan improves to 7-4 and is one win away from his kachi koshi, but he’ll have to go through the eaquily burley Chiyotairu first.
Endo (7-4) defeats Abi (5-6): Following a great first half of Kyushu, Fan favourite Abi continues to fall closer and closer to another make koshi record after three consecutive losses. His Day 11 opponent, Endo, kept low and used his forehead to bear the brunt of Abi’s thrusts. Once he was within his reach, Endo sprang his trap and grabbed Abi around the waist. Once that happened, there was little Abi could do but be guided out of the ring. Endo is just one win away from kachi koshi, while Abi needs to win two for his winning record.
Daieisho (9-2) defeats Kagayaki (3-8): Daieisho maintained his spot in the 9-2 hunt group with a decisively one-sided win over Kagayaki. Daieisho has a habit of letting his sumo slide during the back half of a Basho, but he seems to have bucked this bad habit and could finish with double-digit wins for the first time since last March. Kagayaki is now make koshi and will need to review the fundamentals before January.
Ryuden (4-7) defeats Asanoyama (4-7): This one was a great match between two very promising rikishi. Coming into Act 3 with wins over an Ozeki and a Sekiwake, Ryuden seemed more confident during his Day 11 match against Asanoyama. Asanoyama started strong and nearly got Ryuden over the bales, but the man in black used some excellent footwork and got himself away from the tawara and back into the middle of the ring. Now with a secure double-handed grip, Ryuden drove forward but Asanoyama was ready and used Ryu’s own momentum against him. Asanoyama overcorrected, however, and in turning Ryuden towards the edge of the ring, he lost his own balance and succumbed to the smaller man’s uwatenage. Despite an excellent match, both men are now 4-7 and are one misstep away from demotion. While this has not been their Basho, hopefully, they have been learning from their losses and come into Haru better prepared.
Nishikigi (5-6) defeats Hokutofuji (5-6): Nishikigi continues to surprise this Basho and dominated Hokutofuji right from the start of their bout. Hokutofuji tried to push Nishikigi around, but the blind one wouldn’t budge. Using Hokutofuji’s forward movement against him, Nishikigi busted out a tsukiotoshi and sent Hokutofuji sprawling on the ground. This is Hokutofuji’s third straight loss.
Takakeisho (10-1) defeats Tochiozan (6-5): Takakeisho and Tochiozan have been two of the most surprising rikishi this November. While Tochiozan has since fallen out of the Yusho race, he’s so far proved that he can beat anyone on any given day. However, today was not that day, and Tochiozan joined an ever-growing list of rikishi who have fallen prey to Takakeisho’s wave attack. Right from the tachiai, the Komusubi began slamming into Tochiozan, disrupting his balance and negating his offence. This left him vulnerable to Takakeisho’s well-placed hatakikomi slap down. Takakeisho improved his record to 10-1 and still remains the leader in the Yusho race.
Yoshikaze (6-5) defeats Mitakeumi (5-6): Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi began their bout today with a series of headbutts. Yoshikaze, whose head is no stranger to abuse, weathered the storm and managed to get under Mitakeumi’s arms, forcing them up and out of the way. One quick uwatedashinage later and Mitakeumi found himself face down in the dirt. Prior to Kyushu, there was quite a lot of discussion about Mitakeumi salvaging his Ozeki run. Now with a 5-6 record, the conversation has changed to whether or not he can hold on to his Sekiwake slot. With three Ozeki bouts in his near future, Mitakeumi better get his sumo in gear if he wants to save his rank.
Goeido (8-3) defeats Kaisei (3-6-2): Kaisei figured it out: Goiedo can’t henka someone who doesn’t move. The big Brazilian stood right up at the Tachiai and forced the Ozeki to come to him. Goeido obliged and the Komosubi managed to turn him until Goeido had his back to the tawara. Kaisei went in for the final blow but Goiedo shifted and managed to get Kaisei off balance and hopping towards the bales. A final push sealed the deal and Goeido picked up his kachi koshi.
Tochinoshin (6-5) defeats Chiyotairyu (5-6): Tochinoshin had his hands full today when he faced Chiyotairyu. The man in the salmon Mawashi kept the Georgian off his belt with some fierce tsuppari blows, but Tochinoshin didn’t relent and eventually forced Chiyotairyu towards the edge. Chiyotairyu kept on fighting but lost his balance and landed knee first on the clay. Tochinoshin wins via tsukihiza.
Takayasu (9-2) defeats Ichinojo (3-8): Now, If this Ichinojo had showed up at the start of Kyushu, I doubt he’d be make koshi. After a thunderous Tachiai, Takayasu pushed Ichinojo to the tawara but the Mongolian didn’t go meekly out of the ring this time. The Boulder stands his ground so Takayasu changes tactics, jumping back and attempting to slap him down. This only causes Ichinojo to move forward with tremendous force, driving Takayasu back. Ichinojo tries his own slap down, but neither men are falling for that move today. The hulking Mongolian goes back to pushing and has Takayasu back-peddling until the two go tumbling to the tatami below (with Ichinojo’s colossal knee taking a large chunk of the dohyo with it). But wait! The gyoji motions towards Takayasu. A monoii is called, and video replay shows that Ichinojo’s big toe went out a fraction of a second before Takayasu’s foot touched down. Takayasu wins this very close match and stays in the hunt for the Yusho, while Ichinojo says goodbye to his Sekiwake rank and perhaps his spot in the Sanyaku as well.