Osaka Day 13 Preview

If I had to give a name to today, it would be “Donor Day”. There are several matches where 7-5 rikishi are up against make-koshi rikishi who are probably fighting hurt. So have the poorly performing ones donate a key win to get the ones you want to ensure are kachi-koshi that important 8th win. Sure… why not.

Haru Leaderboard

The yusho race is a tie between Daieisho and Midorifuji. They both have matches that they have a good chance of winning today, and that should set up a head to head contest either day 14 or day 15. While it is natural to focus on the two leaders, the three men in the hunt group have a good shot at being involved in the final two days if either of the leaders pick up another loss. This could be an exciting finish to a solid basho.

Leaders: Daieisho, Midorifuji
Chasers: Kiribayama ,Wakamotoharu, Kotonowaka
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Endo, Daishoho, Kinbozan, Chiyoshoma

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Ichinojo (11-1) vs Bushozan (4-8) – Once again we get Ichinojo visiting the top division from Juryo. He has already secured his first-class ticket back to Makuuchi, and now it’s time to see how much he can run up the score. He is right now in sole possession of the lead for the Juryo yusho, with Asanoyama one win behind. He has never fought Bushozan before, but given that Bushozan is already 4-8 and fighting poorly, I don’t expect this to be much contest.

Mitoryu (6-6) vs Takanosho (7-5) – A Takanosho win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and I expect he is going to have every gram of sumo power he can summon on hand today. He has a 1-6 career deficit against Mitoryu, who needs 2 more wins to reach the safety of 8.

Azumaryu (2-10) vs Oho (6-6) – I am going to guess this is a “donor” match, where an poorly fighting Azumaryu donates a white start to keep perennial dumpling Oho around in the top division. Out of their five prior matches, Azumaryu has won 2 of them, but I doubt he will be able to prevail today.

Hokuseiho (7-5) vs Nishikifuji (7-5) – Winner of this match gets kachi-koshi. They have never fought before, and both have struggled in week 2. I give a slight edge to Hokuseiho due to his enormity.

Myogiryu (5-7) vs Takarafuji (5-7) – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and I am going to guess that Takarafuji with 5 wins has done enough to secure his presence in the top division for at least one more basho. These two have a 25 match history, with the score of 16-9 favoring Myogiryu, who won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022.

Kinbozan (8-4) vs Hiradoumi (6-6) – Another first ever match, its kachi-koshi Kinbozan looking to run up the score against Hiradoumi needing 2 more wins over the last 3 days to hit his 8. I think that Hiradoumi has a solid shot here, given that he brings a lot of strength to his matches, and can win if he gets his hands where he wants them.

Aoiyama (5-7) vs Tsurugisho (6-6) – A classic battle of the mega-fauna! Both of these whoppers are close enough to 200kg to be classified as cargo, and it’s going to be big vs big on the dohyo today. An Aoiyama loss today would be make-koshi, and the best he can hope for is a day 15 Darwin match at this point.

Daishoho (8-4) vs Ura (6-6) – I agree with the schedulers, it’s time for Ura to get lined up for his Darwin match on day 15. He has a 3-0 record against Daishoho, so I am looking for him to get his 7th win today as a prelude for 7-7 to start Sunday.

Ichiyamamoto (4-8) vs Kotoeko (7-5) – This might be another “donor” match, with the injured Ichiyamamoto donating a white star to Kotoeko to allow him to complete his kachi-koshi. Kotoeko has won 4 of their 5 prior matches.

Chiyoshoma (8-4) vs Takayasu (7-5) – Ok Takayasu fans, time to hope he can beat Chiyoshoma and at least get his score to 8 wins. Given how well he started the basho, its a surprise to see that he has now gone 1-5 since he fought Ichiyamamoto on day 6.

Kagayaki (5-7) vs Nishikigi (3-9) – Kagayaki needs to win the remainder of his matches to reach kachi-koshi, and he’s got an even match against an already make-koshi Nishikigi. If Kagayaki can get a hand hold on Nishikigi, he tends to be able to limit Nishikigi’s mobility, and win the match. Nishikigi’s job today – stay mobile. They share a 9-8 career record.

Mitakeumi (4-8) vs Sadanoumi (4-8) – Both are already make-koshi with matching 4-8 records. It’s a battle of the make-koshi to see if either of them can soften their demotion range. Mitakeumi has a 3-1 career record, but as both of them are fighting poorly, its anyone’s guess how this one is going to go.

Ryuden (1-11) vs Shodai (7-5) – Shodai needs one more win to reach kachi-koshi, and I think he should be able to get that today. With Ryuden fighting poorly most likely due to a chronic hip injury that was never given time to heal, he’s only 1-11. Yes, likely another donor match to get Shodai to kachi-koshi.

Tamawashi (3-9) vs Kotoshoho (4-8) – Botha re already kachi-koshi, but I really liked how Kotoshoho rallied on day 12 in his fight against Ura. Tamawashi is a much larger, more powerful opponent, so we may not see the excellent mobility Kotoshoho used against Ura. They share an even 2-2 record.

Abi (7-5) vs Tobizaru (4-8) – A win today is kachi-koshi for Abi, though that day 12 stinker against Mitakeumi left a bad impression that may take a while to fade. Tobizaru already make-koshi at 4-8, and ends up with a demotion in spite of his solid sumo in the “big” matches.

Daieisho (10-2) vs Meisei (4-8) – Daieisho gets what should be a cream-puff match against an already make-koshi Meisei. A Daieisho win today would either keep him even with Midorifuji or put him one ahead, depending on the outcome of the penultimate match of the day. Daieisho has an 11-3 career record against Meisei.

Wakamotoharu (9-3) vs Hokutofuji (7-5) – This might look like another donor match, but Hokutofuji is quite capable of defeating Wakamotoharu, provided he is in acceptable physical condition. In fact, he has a narrow 3-2 career record against Wakamotoharu, and won 3 of their 4 matches in 2022.

Kiribayama (9-3) vs Endo (8-4) – I was disappointed to watch Endo flub his day 12 match. There are times he relies far too much on that left hand frontal grab at the tachiai, and when it fails (as it did day 12 against Wakamotoharu), he is left to improvise, poorly. I think this is going to Kiribayama’s match to lose if he can keep his hips out of Endo’s reach for the first and second step.

Midorifuji (10-2) vs Hoshoryu (8-4) – Hoshoryu has a chance to shape the yusho race, if he can best Midorifuji. He has only a single win against him in 7 attempt, with the win coming day 5 of Kyushu 2022. Since then Midorifuji won their rematch on day 6 of Hatsu. This should be quite the battle.

Wakatakakage (6-6) vs Kotonowaka (9-3) – At first glance, this might look like a yawner, but Wakatakakage needs to win 2 of his last 3 to hold rank, and I think that Kotonowaka, at 9-3, smells that the promotion lane might be open later this year, and wants to start racking up the 11+ wins per basho to try for Ozeki. They are evenly matched with a 5-4 career record, so I expect a brawl here.

Osaka Day 12 Highlights

It’s great to see that as we step nearer to the final day of the tournament, that so many rikishi continue to elevate their performance, and the matches are more intense, more skillful, and more impactful with each passing day. There were so many stand outs on day 12, all I can manage to say is “wow, well done!” To the top division.

We saw the yusho race even up to 10-2 between Daieisho and Midorifuji, as Wakatakakage gave the Isegahama man a flying lesson in today’s penultimate match. Interestingly enough, the schedulers did not give us a head to head between the two of them for day 13, perhaps hoping they can have it on day 14 or 15. This could make for an exciting weekend of sumo, so get yourself ready for a wild ride to senshuraku.

Highlight Matches

Oho defeats Asanoyama – Color me surprised. Oho’s sumo, and his fighting spirit, have been ho-hum this entire basho. Suddenly when he has a big match like this, he wakes up and fights well. That would seem to indicate some kind of problem between his ears. Asanoyama defended poorly, and allow Oho to get a double inside grip by the second step. From there it was lift and drive ahead for Oho, dumping Asanoyama off the edge of the dohyo. Asanoyama’s loss hands Ichinojo sole lead in the Juryo yusho race, while Oho improves to 6-6.

Kinbozan defeats Mitoryu – Kinbozan tried for and achieved a left hand frontal grip, which gave him all the leverage he needed to lift Mitoryu and move him back, and out by yorikiri. Kinbozan takes his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for Osaka.

Takarafuji defeats Hokuseiho – Takarafuji was not intimidated by Hokuseiho’s stature in the least, he dives in at the tachiai, grabs a left hand inside hold of the giant’s mawashi, and gets to work. I noticed that Hokuseiho’s great height puts his mawashi at a comfortable near-shoulder level for many rikishi. This might be important later. Takarafuji lifts and presses forward, and Hokuseiho is out without too much fuss. Takarafuji now 5-7.

Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Azumaryu scores his second win of the basho, and his second win in three days against a somewhat surprised Tsurugisho. I am sure Tsurugisho did not expect that Azumaryu’s hand inside to land that hard, or to be that effective. Three steps later, Tsurugisho is out by yorikiri, and Azumaryu improves to 2-10.

Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s first and second combo’s did not land with any effect, and he quickly found himself captured by Takanosho, using a right arm over Chiyoshoma’s shoulder. The set up for the throw took just a moment, and Chiyoshoma went crashing to the clay. Excellent sumo from Takanosho, and he is 7-5.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – Myogiryu shows he’s not quite ready for his make-koshi yet. He shuts down Kotoeko’s two attack volleys, and moves him out by oshidashi to improve to 5-7, avoiding the mini-Darwin outcome.

Aoiyama defeats Kagayaki – Aoiyama still cannot hold ground, but he was able to get Kagayaki too far forward, and pull him down in one of Big Dan’s traditional “Stand him up and pull him down” combos. Another mini-Darwin outcome avoided as Aoiyama advances to 5-7.

Daishoho defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi has completely reversed his pattern, and now has won on an odd day, and lost on an even day. It may come down to how he manages to count to 11. He started the match with a solid right hand outside grip, but he could not maintain his left hand ottsuke. Daishoho consolidated his grip, and drove Hiradoumi from the ring. Daishoho kachi-koshi with 8-4.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Bushozan – Whatever injury is bothering Ichiyamamoto, it has him going for immediate pull downs in the tachiai. Surprisingly, it worked today against Bushozan, sending him tumbling out of the ring in a sort of improvised uwatenage. Bushozan now make-koshi as both end the day at 4-8.

Nishikifuji defeats Takayasu – The Takayasu fade continues, he has now lost 5 of the last 6, and I am reduced to hoping he manages to get to kachi-koshi before whatever is left of his sumo gives up for this month. Nishikifuji gets a left hand inside, and you can just see Takayasu increasingly focus on shutting down Nishikifuji’s forward push. None of it worked, and Takayasu is run out of the ring by oshidashi, as both end the day 7-5.

Kotoshoho defeats Ura – A beautiful example of Ura’s grab-and-tug style of high mobility sumo. I am impressed that Kotoshoho was able to maintain his balance and stay in the match, attacking at will and keeping Ura from gaining any advantage. With four arms flailing away, Kotoshoho found himself for a brief moment with a right hand over Ura’s left shoulder, and he rotated into a kotenage that put Ura on the clay. Wonderful sumo, and Kotoshoho is now 4-8.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I hereby declare a new form of the “Dead body rule”. It’s when a former Ozeki seems to be going through the motions, with no real sumo power or fighting spirit. It did not help that Abi decided to employ a leaping henka today. The scored it as an uwatenage, but hey… Abi now 7-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Ryuden – When an injured Sadanoumi beats an injured Ryuden, do you know what to call it? I think we should call an orthopedist, but that is not the sumo way. Ryuden sets up a double inside grip, but can’t do anything with it as Sadanoumi out muscles him and puts him across the bales by yorikiri, improving to 4-8.

Nishikigi defeats Tamawashi – Nishikigi breaks a 4 match losing streak. There was a moment where Tamawashi needed just a bit more power to take him out of the ring before Nishikigi consolidated his grip, but just could not make it happen. Nishikigi takes the win by yorikiri, and both end the day 3-9.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Daieisho made fast work of Hokutofuji, breaking his 7 match winning streak. Most of it came down to Hokutofuji attacking high at the tachiai, and giving up the inside to Daieisho. Daieisho wasted no time in landing his big thrusting attacks against Hokutofuji’s upper body, breaking his stance and getting him on the move. Three steps later, Hokutofuji was out by tsukidashi, and Daieisho advances to 10-2.

Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – Kotonowaka shows us how to get inside and set up a grip in short order. Meisei really can’t do much but go along for the ride as Kotonowaka puts him across the bales by yorikiri. Kotonowaka ends the day 9-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – Endo, when he is not sure to do, seems to want to lead with his left hand to try and get inside and get a frontal grip. It’s a favorite opener of his, and Wakamotoharu correctly anticipated it and shut it down by baring is right upper arm. At that point Endo was open to the throw, and Wakamotoharu wasted no time in rotating into a kotenage and scoring his 9th win, improving to 9-3.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru had no answer to a rapid deployment of the “Wall of Daikon”, and was bodily shoved from the ring. They called it a yorikiri, but something a bit more vegetable related might be closer to correct. Shodai is now 7-5.

Wakatakakage defeats Midorifuji – The pivotal match of the day, and we once again see the seeds of greatness in Wakatakakage. He knew how much this match mattered, and no matter what problems he has with his body or his sumo, he rose to the occasion. Bonus points that he got Midorifuji airborne in the final combo that saw the yusho leader face down on the clay. Wakatakakage advances to 6-6, and the yusho race is tied between Midorifuji and Daieisho at 10-2.

Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu’s opening attempt at a face slap cost him this match. Had he focused on blunting Kiribayama’s opening gambit, he was likely (at least in my mind) to win. Kiribayama landed a strong grip by his left hand, setting up a left hand ottsuke that kept Kiribayama from doing much of anything but wait for his doom. The two worked out their hand hold, and we got to see Hoshoryu try to rally and break that left hand grip, but it was going nowhere. As was clear from the first step of that match, that left hand payed off after the second Hoshoryu escape attempt, as Kiribayama rotated into an uwatenage, hurling Hoshoryu to the clay. Kiribayama now 9-3.

Osaka Day 12 Preview

Day 12 dawns with a bit of a theme. I would call it “make-koshi day”. Many of the rikishi who start today at 4-7 are paired up in matches where they are statistically likely to struggle. Maybe it is time to sort the lot of them into the demotion category. Everyone is waiting to see if Wakatakakage can rescue is Sekiwake rank by putting Midorifuji on the clay. Signs point to “maybe”, but I am going to watch with great interest anyhow. There are also a pair of mini-Darwins where a possible outcome is the loser is make-koshi and the winner is kachi-koshi.

I also note with great enthusiasm that the schedulers, in their infinite wisdom, paired Asanoyama against that dumpling Oho in the opener. Maybe Oho will find a sudden burst of genki energy, but I tend to think maybe this won’t be possible for whatever reason Oho is performing poorly this March.

Haru Leaderboard

One man in the lead, one a loss behind him, and six 2 losses back. I note that Midorifuji and Daieisho have still not matched. Don’t be surprised if they hold the torikumi until after Midorifuji’s match against Wakatakakage to allow that head to head to happen on day 13’s schedule.

Leader: Midorifuji
Chaser: Daieisho
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kiribayama ,Wakamotoharu, Kotonowaka, Endo, Chiyoshoma

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Asanoyama (10-1) vs Oho (5-6) – Oh Goodie, we get Asanoyama back to see if maybe he can give Oho an atomic wedgie. Asanoyama has been fighting like a monster in Juryo, and shows up today 10-1 with a stamped, first class ticket back to the top division. He has a never fought Oho before, but I think Oho might be in for a bit of a ride.

Kinbozan (7-4) vs Mitoryu (6-5) – Kinbozan is looking for win #8 today against Mitoryu, who has won their only prior match; day 12 of Kyushu 2022. I think Kinbozan is going to have his hands full today, as Mitoryu is on a 3 match win streak, and looks to be finishing strong.

Hokuseiho (7-4) vs Takarafuji (4-7) – I have said it before, and here it is again. There are some sick folks in the scheduling committee. We have a mini-darwin match right here, and the set up is pretty clear. Try to arrange Hokuseiho’s kachi-koshi while delivering Takarafuji a make-koshi at the same time. This is their first ever match, so lord knows what’s going to happen. Hmm, advice to Hokuseiho – attack Takarafuji’s neck, that ought to work.

Azumaryu (1-10) vs Tsurugisho (6-5) – I wonder just how many losses Azumaryu would need to be assigned to the Juryo barge and sent packing from the top division. Knowing how long he has tried to get up there, and win 8 and stay, it’s kind of a tough moment to see him start day 12 with a 1-10 record. For today, we can also cite that Tsurugisho has a 16-8 career record against Azumaryu.

Chiyoshoma (8-3) vs Takanosho (6-5) – Chiyoshoma has his 8 wins, and I think this is a test for Takanosho to see if he can power through a fairly genki opponent. Takanosho needs to win 2 out of the last 4 to get to eight wins, and I am still hoping he can put that together.

Myogiryu (4-7) vs Kotoeko (7-4) – Another mini-Darwin match, this time it’s Kotoeko set for kachi-koshi and Myogiryu for make-koshi. Myogiryu has a 9-3 career lead, but has lost 4 of the last 5, and I expect him to struggle today.

Aoiyama (4-7) vs Kagayaki (5-6) – Another rikishi primed for make-koshi is Big Dan Aoiyama. He looks hurt to me, and he seems to go soft once he gets a lot of pressure from his opponent. I expect Kagayaki to fight for inside hand placement, and then push for all he can to take advantage of Aoiyama’s current condition.

Daishoho (7-4) vs Hiradoumi (6-5) – A win today for Daishoho will be his 8th, and kachi-koshi. He has a 3-0 career lead over Hiradoumi, who has won three of his last 4. This has the makings of a good fight.

Ichiyamamoto (3-8) vs Bushozan (4-7) – Ichiyamamoto is already make-koshi with 8 losses, and he has a chance to share that fate with Bushozan today with a win. Ichiyamamoto’s sumo has been all over the map this March, lacking power, poise, balance and coordination. I hope he can get matters back into good condition prior to the Natsu basho in May.

Nishikifuji (6-5) vs Takayasu (7-4) – Something happened to Nishikifuji on or around his day 6 match against Aoiyama. Since then he has lost 5 matches out of 6, and I would expect he is going to lose this match as well. Takayasu won their only prior fight, on day 11 of Kyushu 2022. A Takayasu win today would be kachi-koshi for him.

Kotoshoho (3-8) vs Ura (6-5) – It makes me sad that Kotoshoho underperformed this tournament. I maintain hopes that he will take the next step with his sumo and become a big deal. But before any of that might happen, he has to get his body healthy and moving well. He has a 1-3 career deficit against Ura, who I think will pick up his 7th win today.

Abi (6-5) vs Mitakeumi (4-7) – Normally this match would be easy to handicap. Mitakeumi has a repeatable recipe for shutting down Abi-zumo and sending him packing into the front row in a heap. But Mitakeumi has not been fighting well for months, and it looks like he struggles just to mount the dohyo and perform shiko. Mitakeumi leads the series 8-4, but a loss today would me make-koshi for him.

Sadanoumi (3-8) vs Ryuden (1-10) – A traditional battle of the make-koshi, this is where two rikishi with losing records battle each other in an attempt to give one of them a win more to cushion the fall down the banzuke. I am not sure how dire it will be for either of them, as they are high enough up they should be safe from any demotion risk. They share a 6-6 career record.

Tamawashi (3-8) vs Nishikigi (2-9) – Another battle of the make-koshi, we will see this during the remainder of the basho, I would think. The interesting aspect to me is that Tamawashi has started looking genki again suddenly, having won the past two days. Care to make it three sir? He holds a 7-1 career advantage over Nishikigi.

Daieisho (9-2) vs Hokutofuji (7-4) – Daieisho needs to keep winning if he wants to maintain any hope of catching Midorifuji. He has a nearly even (9-7) record against a resurgent Hokutofuji, who has 7 consecutive white stars on the board following a 0-4 start. A win today for Hokutofuji would be kachi-koshi.

Meisei (4-7) vs Kotonowaka (8-3) – Not quite a mini-Darwin, but a loss by Meisei will be make-koshi. He’s facing already kachi-koshi Kotonowaka, who is two wins behind Midorifuji. That’s too far to be likely to contest for the cup, but he may as well keep the pressure up to win just in case everyone has a wipe out on day 13 or 14. Meisei has a 4-2 career advantage.

Wakamotoharu (8-3) vs Endo (8-3) – Both are kachi-koshi, both are fighting very well, both have exceeded expectations for this basho in my book. I think they are both also curious about the potential for some kind of jumble in the yusho race in the next two days, and want to stay on pace with Midorifuji. So look for sparks here. Wakamotoharu has won 3 of their 4 career matches.

Shodai (6-5) vs Tobizaru (4-7) – So much for the hope that Shodai might contest for the cup. For whatever reason he just can’t execute his “good” sumo at the intensity needed right now to carry that forward into the second week. He has a chance to kick Tobizaru out of the named ranks with a win here today, handing sumo’s flying monkey his 8th loss and kachi-koshi. Shodai holds a 5-2 career advantage.

Wakatakakage (5-6) vs Midorifuji (10-1) – Wakatakakage has a chance to play spoiler and draw himself even at 6-6. He needs to be worried about his rank, as he needs to win 3 out of the last 4 to make it to the safety of 8, or he will lose Sekiwake for May. Midorifuji took his first loss on day 11, and maybe his confidence took a hit as well. This should be a very good match.

Kiribayama (8-3) vs Hoshoryu (8-3) – I love this match, as it’s two high skill, fairly healthy rikishi fighting it out to see which one gets a chance to wait with the rest of the crowd for some kind of yusho race jumble in the next couple of days. Only one will make it! Hoshoryu holds a slight 6-4 edge in matches fought.

Osaka Day 11 Highlights

The many of the crew trying for kachi-koshi today scored their 8th win, and now the race is on to see which of them can finish with double digits. In the processes, the tournament leader Midorifuji took his first loss today. There is a solitary chaser, Daieisho, who has a slim chance to take the cup in 4 days, but only if someone can put dirt on Midorifuji yet again. Midorifuji faces hit-or-miss Wakatakakage on day 12.

I continue to puzzle at what seems like better, more intense sumo coming from Juryo compared to the bulk of the top division. Maybe there is more at stake down there somehow? Maybe folks are less banged up and injured? Today it was a fairly stark contrast, looking at matches like Ichinojo vs Ochiai, Asanoyama vs Gonoyama and a few more. All of those names will be in the top division soon enough, so be ready for some fine sumo later this year. No word what version of GoeidDOS Gonoyama is running.

Highlight Matches

Oshoma defeats Tsurugisho – Oshoma comes to visit from Juryo to pick up a much needed win. He’s probably outside of the promotion zone at this point, but it would be good to see him promoted following the May tournament. He’s the highest ranking rikishi from Naruto heya, and I hope we can see him in the top division soon. I like how Oshoma defended against Tsurugisho’s attempt at a throw, and put the juice into his pivot to get the ponderous bulk that is Tsurugisho onto the clay. He ends the day 5-6.

Daishoho defeats Kinbozan – Once Daishoho got that right hand inside grip, it was his match to lose, and he was not about to let Kinbozan reach kachi-koshi today. Good escape attempt from Kinbozan, but Daishoho fought him off and walked him out of the ring. Yorikiri win and both end the day 7-4, and will try for kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Kotoeko defeats Takanosho – Wow, check out that ottsuke from Kotoeko! I would dare to say the whole match turned on that thing as he shut down Takanosho’s attempt to get a hold, and kept him distracted long enough to set up the tsukiotoshi. Marvelous sumo from Kotoeko, he is now 7-4 and will try kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Mitoryu defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu continues to be little more than practice ballast this March. Mitoryu boxes him up in short order, and carries him to the curb for trash day in Sumida-ku. Yorikiri for Mitoryu, and he’s now 6-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Nishikifuji – When Chiyoshoma decides he is going to fight without any nonsense, he’s a solid rikishi. Today he hit kachi-koshi with his 8th win after setting up a left hand inside grip against a faltering Nishikifuji, and walking him out to end the day 8-3, and head to the interview room. Nishikifuji has now lost 5 of the last 6 matches.

Hokuseiho defeats Myogiryu – Hokuseiho has managed to shake of the Snorlax virus that Ichinojo gave him on day 5. Unlike prior days, we got to see him use both hands in a frontal grip set up to the yorikiri that took the match. Myogiryu was not quite sure which half of Hokuseiho to fight, I think. There is just so much of him to take on all at once. Hokuseiho now 7-4, and could reach kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Hiradoumi defeats Bushozan – Hiradoumi breaks the pattern, and wins on an odd numbered day in fine style. The bulk of the match was a pushing battle, with Bushozan getting the better of the attack. The tides turned when Hiradoumi got his hands inside of Bushozan’s defenses, and pushed for all he could muster. Hiradoumi now 6-5.

Oho defeats Aoiyama – Again we see Aoiyama unable to hold ground, and employ only partial power in his customary V-Twin attack. He was unable to disrupt Oho’s balance enough for his hit-hit-pull combo to work. Oho eventually got a body hold on Aoiyama and walked him out for a yorikiri, he is now 5-6.

Kagayaki defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kagayaki brings it home with his traditional fundamentals focused sumo. Note how he is maniacal about pushing center mass, and just blasting through Ichiyamamoto’s attempt to attack. The loss makes Ichiyamamoto make-koshi for Osaka, as Kagayaki improves to 5-6.

Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – Takarafuji has now won two in a row. Faced with make-koshi he has found some way to rally and pull out a few more wins. I would assume with this one the threat of demotion to Juryo is passed. Sadanoumi provided all the forward motion, but Takarafuji’s defensive sumo instincts provided the kotenage applied while stepping back and to the side.

Kotoshoho defeats Ryuden – I have to assume that Ryuden’s recurring hip problems are back in full force, as he just can’t seem to muster any sumo power at all right now. This match quickly evolved into a protracted grapple with both using right hand inside holds. When the time came, they both battled to lift the other and move, but it was Kotoshoho who was able to swing around and throw, improving to 3-8.

Abi defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi manage to break Abi’s double arm thrusting train early on, but found that those long arms and big hands around the back of his head pulling him forward and down. A quick hatakikomi, and Abi is now 6-5.

Ura defeats Shodai – Across the years, Ura has shown himself to be consistently resistant to Shodai’s cartoon sumo. The most that Shodai could muster today was a brief employment of his “Wall of Daikon” which was only partially effective. When Shodai is using his body as a big blocking wall like that, he is vulnerable to an under-shoulder swing down, given that he keeps his back straight and stiff to bolster the effect. Good work Ura, both end the day 6-5.

Tamawashi defeats Mitakeumi – After losing 8 matches in a row, Tamawashi appears to have cleared whatever problems caused that make-koshi run, and now has two wins in a row. He was able to contain Mitakeumi and push him forcefully from the ring by oshidashi. Tamawashi now 3-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Kotonowaka – After four straight losses to open the basho, Hokutofuji has now won seven in a row. Points to Kotonowaka for being able to push through Hokutofuji’s nodowa and move him back to the bales, but a deft step to the side and thrust down put Kotonowaka down and out at the same time. Hokutofuji now 7-4, and will try for kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Wakamotoharu defeats Midorifuji – Wakamotoharu succeeds in putting dirt on the yusho arasoi leader out of the ring, scoring his 8th win for kachi-koshi in the process. Midorifuji tried for his favorite move, a katasukashi, but Wakamotoharu was ready. Midorifuji’s release of forward pressure to initiate the move was met with power forward, and Midorifuji crashed to the dohyo beyond the bales. Wakamotoharu ends the day 8-3, and the thinnest crack of daylight appears in the yusho race.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Daieisho was ring side to see Midorifuji win, and he knew that he could keep his chances alive with a win. At the start of the match, Takayasu’s form was excellent, reminiscent of his days working toward Ozeki. But he got himself into “wild man” mode, and we could see him on one foot. Daieisho attacked then, and rapidly took away any ability Takayasu had to recover his stance. Daieisho advances to 9-2, one win behind Midorifuji once more.

Wakatakakage defeats Tobizaru – I love how Wakatakakage maintained tight cover on Tobizaru, even when the flying monkey tried twice to break contact. This allowed Wakatakakage to attack the moment Tobizaru moved to step away, catching him between steps and with no solid connection to ground. The resulting okuridashi was the payoff for a brilliant match from Wakatakakage, he is now 5-6.

Kiribayama defeats Meisei – Kiribayama stops Miesei one and one half steps into his tachiai, and Meisei has no solid connection to ground. Before he can react and plant his feet, Kiribayama slams him down to the clay by hatakikomi. Kiribayama kachi-koshi at 8-3.

Hoshoryu defeats Endo – Endo attempted to avoid the tachiai, and it did not work well. Hoshoryu captured him with the right hand, and loaded up the spin cycle. It’s been a while since I have seen that one, and its always fun when the rikishi treated like a load of soggy washing started the process with something akin to a henka. Round and round he goes, and ends up in a heap on the shikiri-sen. Hoshoryu kachi-koshi at 8-3.