Nagoya 2022 Day 6 — Highlights

Setting the Stage

It’s been a bit of a doozie of a tournament so far. Our Yokozuna was humbled on Day 1 and has looked vulnerable throughout. Our kadoban woe-zeki appear to be on their way to demotion. Takakeisho, our safe Ozeki is maintaining, but only that. There’s certainly no yusho push from any in sanyaku and we’re not even half-way home!

Ichinojo has been a bright spot. Undefeated coming into today’s action, he’s looked almost energetic. That’s pretty difficult for a guy his size and with his past injury issues, and having taken on Covid — twice was it? But maybe the added rest has given him a little pep in his step. Will it carry him through to his first yusho? Isn’t it too early to talk about this, Andy? Well, to be frank, I don’t know who else has shown a desire to win it.

Enough with the dour mood, Andy. This is what you wanted, right? Open competition! There’s 10 days of action ahead of us! The ring rust has been blasted away and the title is out there for everyone, except Takarafuji. It’s anybody’s race!

The Bouts

Nishikifuji versus Chiyomaru – Nishikifuji locked up Chiyomaru at the tachiai and easily escorted him back over the bales. Yorikiri. Opposite scores with Chiyomaru now at 2-4 and Nishikufuji at 4-2.

Yutakayama versus Tohakuryu – Both men unleashed tsuppari but Yutakayama’s was clearly having more impact as he moved forward. As they neared the tawara, Tohakuryu let loose with one last haymaker but the glancing blow Yutakayama wins, tsukidashi. Yutakayama improves to 4-2, while Tohakuryu falls to 2-4.

Daiamami versus Oho – Daiamami did not want to let Oho on his belt and used all of his might to shove Oho of and away. As they backed up to the edge, Daiamami slapped Oho down and picked up his first win 1-3-2. While Oho falls to 3-3.

Ichiyamamoto versus Onosho – Ichiyamamoto is an Abi clone. Here, he pushed Onosho’s head back, then pulled to try a hatakikomi. But Onosho was clearly prepared for it. He just kept his head down with his feet square under him, and allowed Ichiyamamoto to walk himself back and out. Oshidashi. Ichiyamamoto fell off the pace and is 4-2. Onosho improved to 3-3.

Tsurugisho versus Chiyoshoma – Tsurugisho wanted to make this a pushing-thrusting bout but Chiyoshoma locked on with the belt, forcing a grapple. Tsurugisho was able to use his distinct size advantage to work Chiyoshoma to the edge and out. Tsurugisho won by yorikiri and improves to 2-4. Chiyoshoma 3-3

Terutsuyoshi versus Myogiryu – Myogiryu flew out of the blocks with a false start, eager to get going. After the tachiai, Myogiryu brought his forearm squarely down on Terutsuyoshi’s head but Terutsuyoshi weathered the blow and pressed forward. However, Myogiryu did not yield. Terutsuyoshi retreated to the edge and began to shuffle around the tawara. Myogiryu shoved Terutsuyoshi clear from the surface of the dohyo. oshitaoshi Myogiryu 4-2, Terutsuyoshi 1-5.

Kotoshoho versus Midorifuji – Kotoshoho launched forward and shoved Midorifuji down but both fell together. The gunbai went to Kotoshoho but a mono-ii was called. On review, it was clear that Midorifuji touched down with his leg while Kotoshoho’s entire body was still extended and airborne. Gunbai-dori, Kotoshoho (3-3) wins by abisetaoshi, Midorifuji falls to 4-2.

Takarafuji versus Meisei – Textbook sumo here from Meisei as Takarafuji’s struggles continue. A firm tachiai, Meisei jostled for a belt grip as he kept his opponent square in front and worked his way forward. At the edge he finally got a solid grip and Takarafuji was toast. Yorikiri. Meisei improved to 4-2, Takarafuji is 2-4.

Tochinoshin versus Kotoeko – Henka! Kotoeko dodged the tachiai to avoid Tochinoshin’s grasp. Tochinoshin recovered and engaged Kotoeko, who now chose a “spin of death” defense, continuously rotating away, forcing Tochinoshin into constant pursuit. Tochinoshin finally corralled Kotoeko and cornered him at the edge. Tochinoshin drove forward with all his might but Kotoeko pivoted, and slipped from of Tochinoshin’s grasp. Kotoeko forced Tochinoshin down for the win, tsukiotoshi. Both men are 3-3.

Okinoumi versus Shimanoumi – Okinoumi pressed forward and forced Shimanoumi out. He wins by yorikiri, 3-3. Shimanoumi falls to 1-5.

Chiyotairyu versus Hokutofuji – Chiyotairyu flinched, bringing Hokutofuji off the line early for a matta. Once reset, Chiyotairyu’s powerful wrecking ball tachiai drove Hokutofuji back. Hokutofuji tried to retreat while attempting slapdown attacks, but Chiyotairyu chased him off the dohyo. Tsukidashi. Chiyotairyu’s 3-3 while Hokutofuji falls to 2-4.

Nishikigi versus Tobizaru – Nishikigi wanted a belt grip from the start and drove forward. Tobizaru was having none of the yotsu and retreated to the edge, desperate to keep Nishikigi away. Tobizaru re-engaged, drove forward, his momentum driving the pair to the edge where Tobizaru pirouetted and threw Nishikigi down first, though the pair rolled down the face of the dohyo and into the shimpan. Tobizaru wins by shitatenage. Tobizaru is 5-1.

Endo versus Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi slapped Endo down for a quick hatakikomi win. Endo had met Sadanoumi head-on and started forward with his right arm forced into Sadanoumi’s left armpit. But Sadanoumi brought both arms down hard on Endo’s head as he pulled backwards. Endo fell to the clay first. Both men are now 2-4.

Wakamotoharu versus Aoiyama – Aoiyama shoved But the Gunbai inexplicably went to Wakamotoharu, so the shimpan rose to check the video tape. Upon review, Aoiyama’s left foot had touched out first, before Wakamotoharu’s arm touched down. The result is a Wakamotoharu win by oshidashi, gunbai confirmed. Both men are 3-3.

Kotonowaka versus Takanosho – Kotonowaka secured a positional advantage, feet square in the center of the ring as both men tussled for a better hold. Takanosho retreated to the opposite edge and Kotonowaka appeared to briefly lose his balance. Kotonowaka threw Takanosho down at the edge, uwatenage. Kotonowaka improves to 4-2, Takanosho falls to 1-5.

Hoshoryu versus Abi – Abi attempted to decapitate Hoshoryu with powerful shoves right to the chin. But Hoshoryu pressed forward, and eventually shrugged off Abi’s attack. Hoshoryu drove into Abi and pushed him over the edge. Oshidashi. Hoshoryu improved to 2-4 while Abi fell to 3-3.

Wakatakakage versus Kiribayama – An exciting match, possibly match of the day. At a frenetic pace, Kiribayama thrusted and pressed forward into the Hype Machine but Wakatakakage found resistance at the edge. Wakatakakage wanted a belt grip and patiently waited for Kiribayama to settle. Seizing his chance to attack, he sprung forward, squarely shoving Kiribayama off the dohyo. Kiribayama fans may have had a claim for a mono-ii as Wakatakakage’s arm came down to catch his weight as they fell. But Kiribayama was dead first. It sure looked close but no review was called. Yoritaoshi. Both men are 3-3.

Ichinojo versus Mitakeumi – Ichinojo looks inspired. A solid tachiai. Then Ichinojo locked on to Mitakeumi’s belt and he wasn’t about to wait around for Mitakeumi to attack. Ichinojo used his strength to heft Mitakeumi over to the tawara, then followed through, forcing the Ozeki out. Yorikiri. Ichinojo remains in the lead, alone, at 6-0. Mitakeumi falls to 2-4, half way to Sekiwake.

Takakeisho versus Ura – Takakeisho’s thrusts did not appear effective but as Ura tucked down to attack, a well-timed thrust to the side pushed Ura off to the Ozeki’s left and allowed Takakeisho to get in behind and push Ura out. Okuridashi. Takakeisho improved to 4-2, Ura fell to 3-3.

Daieisho versus Shodai – The Ozeki finally showed up! He’s a week late, and possibly too late to save his rank but I hope we get more of this. Daieisho used powerful thrusts to shove Shodai back. But Shodai was the rock of Gibraltar, immovable. Shodai was also patient, waited for Daieisho to tire and then made his charge. Daieisho retreated left but Shodai pursued and guided him out. Oshidashi. Shodai improved to 2-4 while Daieisho joins seemingly half the field at 3-3.

Terunofuji versus Tamawashi – An ill-timed charge sent Tamawashi headlong off the dohyo. Tsukiotoshi. Terunofuji is 4-2, Tamawashi square at 3-3.

Hatsu Leaderboard Day 11

Photo Courtesy of Sumo Soul

At the start of act 3, there has been little material change in the leaderboard, with the exception of Chiyonokuni picking up his second loss, and sustaining a knee injury at the end of his match with Ikioi. As Chiyonokuni is already kachi-koshi, we expect him to be kyujo for the remainder of Hatsu. That would leave Tamawashi 2 wins behind, and relegate the yusho question to if Hakuho will go 15-0 again.

On the topic of Hakuho, he reached his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” on day 10, racking up his 10th win of the tournament, and his 28th consecutive win counting all tournaments. For a rikishi of 33 years, that is bordering on the unbelievable. Fans are still waiting for what could be this tournament’s ultimate test-match: Hakuho vs Takakeisho. We expect that to happen before Saturday, and may represent the best outlier chance of putting dirt on “The Boss”

Leader: Hakuho
Hunt Group: Chiyonokuni (kyujo?), Tamawashi

5 Matches Remain

Hatsu Leaderboard Day 10

As we close out act 2, we have a very clear picture of the yusho race. In a nut shell, it’s Hakuho’s to lose. The dai-Yokozuna is a brutally skilled competitor, and after a couple of shaky matches to start the basho, he is dispatching all opponents with flair and style. For any other rikishi to have even a chance of contending for the cup, Hakuho would need to lose 2 matches. Short of injury over the next 6 days, that would be unlikely.

The only chaser is a resurgent Chiyonokuni, who while performing well, would likely prove no real challenge for Hakuho. Though a match between Hakuho and Yago would be interesting.

But the more interesting story might be Takakeisho’s bid to become Ozeki. After his 13 wins to take the Kyushu yusho, his magic number to reach 33 is 11 during the Hatsu basho. Headed into day 10. he is 7-2, and needs 4 wins over the next 6 days. But he has Takayasu and Hakuho to face. He last faced Hakuho at Aki, for a loss. After their initial match during Nagoya 2017, each subsequent bout has seen Takakeisho coming closer to presenting a worthy challenge. We expect the Takakeisho / Hakuho to be one of the highlights of act 3, and may happen as soon as day 11.

Leader: Hakuho
Chaser: Chiyonokuni
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Tamawashi, Kaisei, Yago

6 Matches Remain