Mock Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Welcome, dear readers, to the final installment of our mock Natsu basho coverage. With Mitakeumi’s win over Tokushoryu, he claimed his 3rd yusho, matching his 13-2 run that marked his first yusho at Nagoya 2018. Although his highest rank is Sekiwake, he now has more yusho than anyone active in the sport, save the two Yokozuna. This is a testament to his challenges with producing constantly good results. When Mitakeumi is genki, he is tough to beat. Perhaps the ultimate expression of the “tadpole” form, he does not suffer from the short arms that makes Takakeisho’s sumo somewhat one-dimensional. Some fans (and he has many) may hope that this would be the start of a 3rd (or 4th?) attempt to reach the Ozeki rank, but his prior 10-5 result in March was from a Maegashira 3 rank, and may not be counted.

Congratulations to Mitakeumi for an excellent basho.

For those of you who have been following along for all or part of our coverage of this tournament, thank you for taking the time to read our write ups. Yes, they were complete fabrications, but given the lack of sumo for the next several weeks, it offers a glimpse into a basho that “could have been”. While this is not to say that the simulation software predicts what would have happened, it did make for some fairly interesting results. The final outcome was mostly plausible. That being said, I sincerely hope there is never again a reason for us to even consider simulating a sumo tournament. It was more work than I could have imagined.

Thank you again or sharing your love of sumo with us. We look forward to the next actual basho.

Day 15 Matches

Tochinoshin (4-11) defeats Tamawashi (6-9) Yorikiri – Injured former Ozeki Tochinoshin manages a 4th win on the final day. It may be enough to keep him on the bottom rung of the top division.

Chiyotairyu (11-4) defeats Wakatakakage (9-6) Yorikiri – Chiyotairyu managed to stay strong and vigorous through the entire 15 days this may, and finished with double digit wins for the first time since Nagoya 2017. A fantastic effort from the Kokenoe thunder-god. We are likely to see him in the joi-jin.

Nishikigi (11-4) defeats Ishiura (10-5) Tsukiotoshi – Also in the “nice score, zeki!” Category are both of these rikishi. This mock-basho marks Nishikigi’s best ever result from a top-division basho, beating out his Aki 2018 (10-5) by a win. Ishiura matched his debut basho (10-5, Kyushu 2016) score, and for a time was in sole possession of the yusho Arasoi lead.

Chiyomaru (5-10) defeats Terutsuyoshi (5-10) Hatakikomi – Chiyomaru got in a quick slap down to put Terutsuyoshi on the clay in his final match. With 10 losses at Maegashira 15, he is probably headed to Juryo once more. Terutsuyoshi’s matching score at Maegashira 7 will see him much further down the banzuke.

Ryuden (7-8) defeats Kotoyuki (6-9) Oshidashi – Kotoyuki was in lower and harder at the tachiai, forcing Ryuden to work outside and high – mostly on Kotoyuki’s face and neck. A solid right hand nodowa later, and Kotoyuki lost all offensive forward motion. Overcoming Kotoyuki’s continued thrusting attacks, Ryuden drove forward and forced Kotoyuki from the ring. Kotoyuki came into this mock basho as the last man on the banzuke, and his 6-9 result will see him further down the Juryo ranks.

Shimanoumi (7-8) defeats Enho (5-10) Oshitaoshi – Enho has a massive following in Japan and around the world, with good reason. When he’s healthy, he produces dynamic, exiting sumo that is full of surprises. But it’s clear Enho was hurt some time before the basho, possibly in the final few days before competition when they finally allowed rikishi full contact. The long period of light training during the height of the pandemic clearly de-conditioned him. At Maegashira 6, he is safe from Juryo demotion, and we hope that he can train up and return fighting fit for the next tournament.

Hokutofuji (9-6) defeats Kotoshoho (9-6) Yorikiri – Kotoshoho, marking his first tournament in the top division, manages a good kachi-koshi with 9-6, and gets a brutal final day against Hokutofuji. Kotoshoho tends to have a slow and gentle tachiai, which Hokutofuji used to land a right hand on Kotoshoho’s neck before he could even finish his initial charge. Hokutofuji tends to work a left hand forearm push to raise his opponent followed by an immediate right hand palm thrust to send them back. Three combos of that and Kotoshoho was done. Hokutofuji sometimes manages what I call “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, but he did well this mock basho and finished kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama (9-6) defeats Myogiryu (6-9) Hatakikomi – This match was marked by a great deal of hissing. With no crowd noise, the sounds the rikishi make are sometimes very produced and distinct. Both competitors tend to breath with this hissing sound during a match, and with both of them on the dohyo, it was like a box of vipers. They both went for each other’s necks at the tachiai, and then traded volleys of over-arm blows. Aoiyama was able to move Myogiryu back, who pushed forward harder to counter Aoiyama’s force. Big Dan used this forward bias to unleash a Hatakikomi which put Myogiryu on all 4s. A solid kachi-koshi for Aoiyama.

Kiribayama (6-9) defeats Kotoeko (5-10) Oshidashi – With both men deeply make-koshi, this match was all about how large of a drop down the banzuke Kotoeko would suffer. Although marginally better than his disastrous 2-13 result from Hatsu 2020, we may see him return to mid-rank Juryo for the next tournament. Points to Kotoeko for putting a huge effort into this final match. He was able to dictate the form at the tachiai by securing a left hand inside grip and locking Kiribayama into a mostly yotsu zumo fight. But Kiribayama was able to break contact, and switch to thrusting attacks, putting Kotoeko out and handing him his 10th loss.

Shohozan (8-7) defeats Takarafuji (7-8) Uwatenage – The first of our Darwin matches, where both rikishi are 7-7 to start the match. The winner gets a kachi-koshi, and the loser a make-koshi. Takarafuji had a great tournament, including 2 kinboshi, but managed to still end senshuraku with a losing record.

Kotoshogiku (10-5) defeats Onosho (8-7) Yorikiri – The last time Kotoshogiku was able to turn in double digit wins for a tournament was Osaka of 2019. While I am sure his knees are still little more than tangles of gristle and undigested bits of tonkatsu, they managed to carry him to an impressive 10-5 result, including a delightful hug-n-chug parade to today against Onosho.

Takanosho (8-7) defeats Kotonowaka (8-7) Oshidashi – Takanosho had a 5-2 start, but faded into week 2 after scoring a kinboshi against Yokozuna Kakuryu. This battle for Takanosho’s kachi-koshi featured Kotonowaka going for an early hitakekomi against Takanosho, but Takanosho keeping his feet and moving smartly forward. From the second step, Kotonowaka struggled to regain position that the hitakekomi attempt cost him, and he had little position to resist Takanosho aggressive charge.

Yutakayama (8-7) defeats Kagayaki (7-8) Oshidashi – The second of our Darwin matches of the day saw two of my up and coming favorites toe to toe in a hybrid thrusting and grappling bout. Kagayaki started with a strong ottsuke, shutting Yutakayama out from an inside position. With Kagayaki’s hands against Yutakayama’s pectorals, Yutakayama could only press forward and try to reduce Kagayaki’s attack force. Kagayaki was slowly accumulating enough advantage to finish the match, and I think moved for a finishing move too early. Yutakayama deflected him, and swapped from right hand lead to left hand lead, confounding Kagayaki’s normally impeccable balance. With his defense in tatters, Yutakayama drove him over the bales to claim his kachi-koshi.

Endo (4-11) defeats Kaisei (3-12) Uwatenage – A battle of utter sadness. Two solid rikishi who terrible, deep make-koshi records. There was no crowd in the Kokugikan to see this throw, but everyone would have been either sorry for both men, or too loaded on beer and yakitori to care.

Ikioi (5-10) defeats Okinoumi (5-10) Yorikiri – A second battle of beloved veterans fighting it out to double digit losses each. For both of these rikishi, things were not just bad this tournament, they were horrible. Both have chronic injuries that likely played a part in their final score, so we hope they can recover and return to fight in better for for the next basho.

Daieisho (8-7) defeats Abi (6-9) Hikiotoshi – Fairly impressed that Daieisho could overcome Abi-zumo to claim his 8th win today. Abi had him by the neck at the tachiai, and although Daieisho was able to break contact, Abi was able to resume a heartbeat later, with his left hand covering Daieisho’s face. Daieisho returned the choke hold, his left palm lifting Abi’s chin and forcing his neck back. This headache inducing dance broke apart after a few seconds, and Abi found himself forced to retreat under Daieisho’s withering thrusting attack.

Mitakeumi (13-2) defeats Tokushoryu (10-5) Oshidashi – Mitakeumi took no chances with Tokushoryu’s trademark move. The veteran and Hatsu yusho winner never had a moment to set up any real offense. Mitakeumi had hands of Tokushoryu shoulders at the tachiai, and every attempt that Tokushoryu made to land any hand hold failed to find its mark. Mitakeumi maintained contact and forward force in spite of 2 attempt to deflect by Tokushoryu. Excellent sumo across the 15 days from Mitakeumi. Congratulations on your 3rd yusho.

Shodai (8-7) defeats Sadanoumi (11-4) Yoritaoshi – The question for this match – would Shodai remain in the Sekiwake slot? Coming into today 7-7, he managed to find a way to overpower Sadanoumi, who turned in his best ever top division score. But when he needs to win, Shodai seems to be able to produce these chaotic, unexpected little bursts of sumo that seem to cause his opponents to defeat themselves. This was the case today, when an odd shrug and double arm sweep to the right by Shodai sent Sadanoumi to the clay in a heap.

Asanoyama (12-3) defeats Hakuho (11-4) Yorikiri – Was this a kind of passing of the torch? I know myself and some of team tachiai have been looking for someone from the “new guard” to really overpower Hakuho in the final days of a basho as another sign that the Yokozuna’s time is drawing to a close. As an Ozeki, Asanoyama is meant to be able to give the Yokozuna a tough match, and today he showed that he is worthy of his rank. Asanoyama was able to get a left hand inside grip, and Hakuho never was able to break that grip. I have to wonder what role that bandaged left elbow of Hakuho played in his performance this tournament. It’s been getting a little weaker each basho, and may be the deciding factor on when the greatest Yokozuna of our age hangs up his mawashi.

Mock Natsu Day 14 Highlights

With day 14 in the books, we have Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. He has a final match against Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu, whom he has a 2-1 career advantage. If he wins that match, he will lift the Emperor’s cup for the 3rd time, putting him in a quite rarified group, 3 time yusho winners who do not hold an Ozeki or Yokozuna rank.

Should he lose, there could be as many as 3 rikishi who would contest in a playoff for the yusho, including Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Asanoyama. Like the rest of you, we will be eagerly waiting the results from the mock basho’s final day.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Sadanoumi
Hunt GroupTokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Nishikigi

1 Match Remains

Day 14 Matches

Kotoshoho (9-5) defeats Azumaryu (4-10) Hatakikomi – Filling the Kakuryu banzuke gap, former Maegashira Azumaryu, who is already deeply make-koshi, was unable to withstand a pulling attempt 32 seconds into his match against Kotoshoho. Azumaryu picks up his 10th loss, and Kotoshoho keeps hopes alive that he can score double digits in his Makuuchi debut tournament.

Shimanoumi (6-8) defeats Chiyomaru (4-10) Oshidashi – Joining the double-digit loss club is Chiyomaru, who seems assured a place in the Juryo barge of doom that will be pushing away from the banks of the Sumida river Sunday evening. Chiyomaru seems to have developed some manner of balance issue following his COVID-19 scare in Osaka, and has had a difficult time keeping his feet when facing a pusher/thruster opponent. We hope whatever has him diminished can be addressed in Juryo.

Kotoyuki (6-8) defeats Kaisei (3-11) Oshidashi – Never one to be outdone by Chiyomaru, Kaisei was able to find loss number 11 today against Kotoyuki, who also seems assured of demotion. There may be a giant log-jam of plump Maegashira headed to Sumida to board their barge back to Juryo.

Wakatakakage (9-5) defeats Myogiryu (6-8) Yoritaoshi – Loss number 8 means Yoritaoshi is make-koshi for May. Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, and connected squarely with Wakatakakage’s shoulders, pushing him back before he could begin any kind of offense. But as Myogiryu pressed the attack, Wakatakakage landed a right hand inside grip. Not realizing Wakatakakage a grip, Myogiryu backed up and lost his balance, bringing Wakatakakage to the dirt after him, but losing the match.

Nishikigi (10-4) defeats Tamawashi (6-8) Tsukiotoshi – In what I can best describe as blind-man oshi-zumo, Nishikigi struggled (due to poor eyesight) to even target Tamawashi as the Mongolian stepped deftly around Nishikigi’s every counter strike. But Nishikigi is a survivor, and found an arm to grab, followed the arm back to the body and executed a combination arm pull / rib thrust to upend Tamawashi. I was not sure what the kimarite would be, but Tsukiotoshi seems to be a rough translation for “Heck if I know…” at times. Nishikigi improves to 10-4, while Tamawashi leaves the match make-koshi.

Shohozan (7-7) defeats Ikioi (4-10) Oshidashi – The only part of this match that really gave me a smile was the likelihood that Shohozan (7-7) would face a day 15 Darwin match. Ikioi joined the double digit loss club after Shohozan handled him hard a put him on the dirt. From the opening face slap to the final shove over the east side and into the zabuton, this was a grim match.

Sadanoumi (11-3) defeats Chiyotairyu (10-4) Oshidashi – Both of these veterans are having a well above average tournament, and deserve praise for their fighting spirit and their endurance. Both of them have double digit wins, and their sumo has been powerful and effective. But with both men coming into today 10-3, only one of them was going to take home the white star, the battle was speed vs power, and speed carried the day. Chiyotairyu blasted off of the line, and moved Sadanoumi quickly back to the tawara, where Sadanoumi rallied and took charge of the match.

Ryuden (6-8) defeats Kotoeko (5-9) Oshidashi – Kotoeko got the better of the tachiai, placing his hands on Ryuden’s shoulders before he had even finished the tachiai. Ryuden attacked from underneath as Kotoeko tried to pull Ryuden down and forward. But the gambit failed and Ryuden rushed forward to push Kotoeko out. Both men went into day 14 make-koshi, but Kotoeko could really not afford a 9th loss.

Kotonowaka (8-6) defeats Hokutofuji (8-6) Hatakikomi – Hokutofuji’s matches are frequently an all or nothing engagement, he throws so much into his opening charge that any chance at a plan “B” prior to him finishing the tachiai is an instant defeat. Young Kotonowaka seems to have figured this out, grabbing Hokutofuji’s right hand in the tachiai, placing his left hand on Hokutofuji’s shoulder and slapping him down. That is Kotonowaka’s 8th win and a kachi-koshi for May.

Kotoshogiku (9-5) defeats Takarafuji (7-7) Sukuinage – Kotoshogiku runs up the score, and sends Takarafuji to a Darwin match on day 15. The first match ended with a Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug yorikiri featuring Takarafuji’s narrow escape and step out at the bales. While the gumbai went to Kotoshogiku, the judges decided it was too close to call, and ordered a rematch. The second bout was a bit more cautious than the first, but after being chased around the dohyo, Takarafuji was captured. Kotoshogiku pivoted immediately to his right and threw Takarafuji down.

Terutsuyoshi (5-9) defeats Kiribayama (5-9) Yorikiri – The second match in a row where the judges decided to get involved. Kiribayama got his hand behind Terutsuyoshi, pulling him down and forward as Terutsuyoshi was driving Kiribayama out. Did Kiribayama step out first or did Terutsuyoshi hit the clay? The janome clearly showed Kiribayama foot went out, but three different views seemed to be inconclusive. But the Judges reversed the gyoji’s gumbai and gave the win Terutsuyoshi. Both rikishi finish the day with 5-9.

Takanosho (7-7) defeats Enho (5-9) Yorikiri – In spite of what ever injury seems to be hampering Enho this tournament, he put in a solid effort today, starting with his hop and drop tachiai, which forced Takanosho to forego any attempt at direct offense, and focus on trying whatever he could to shut down Enho’s attack. I find it quite interesting how many of these rikishi drop all efforts of offense as soon as this little guy latches onto their mawashi. Enho managed to get both hands around Takanosho’s right leg and pulled with everything he could muster. Lost for a direct response, Takanosho grabbed a shoulder and a handful of belt and pressed forward. They struggled for just a moment before Enho gave way as Takanosho surged forward for the win.

Onosho (8-6) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Fusen – I am happy that Onosho picked up his 8th win and will remain in the joi-jin, but I have to wonder if this re-injury of Takayasu’s knee is the end of his sumo career. Should he miss the next basho, he would be relegated deep into Juryo, and that might be more than he would be willing to tolerate.

Endo (3-11) defeats Tochinoshin (3-11) Yorikiri – Possibly one of the most miserable sumo matches in the last 5 months, both are injured, both have double digit losses, and Tochinoshin seems destined for a drop to Juryo. I am sure the fact that Endo was able to easily get his preferred left hand shallow grip and completely dominate the massive former Ozeki is no comfort to fans who are worried about their favorites.

Yutakayama (7-7) defeats Abi (6-8) Yorikiri – Abi engaged his double arm attack against Yutakayama in the tachiai, but Yutakayama seemed to expect this, attacking Abi’s elbows from below. But even with the counter attack, Yutakayama was forced back under Abi’s nodowa / trust volley. Yutakayama applied increasingly forceful blows to Abi’s elbows to break the attack, until one blow missed and took Abi across the face and nose. As the tsuppari momentarily halted, Yutakayama leaped take Abi to his chest and drive him out. While it’s great Yutakayama got the win, it looks like it’s Darwin match for him on day 15.

Daieisho (7-7) defeats Aoiyama (8-6) Oshidashi – Aoiyama attempted the thrust up / slap down combo at the tachiai, but could not connect on the hitakekomi and found himself wide open to Daieisho opening attack. With both of Daieisho’s hands inside, and Aoiyama’s feet not set for defense, Daieisho made quick work of him and forced him back out of the ring on the west side. Daieisho also looks to be a candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.

Kagayaki (7-7) defeats Okinoumi (5-9) Oshidashi – With make-koshi on the line, Kagayaki pulls out a win against Okinoumi, breaking a 4 match winning streak. At the tachiai, Okinoumi went high and Kagayaki went center-mass. An exchange of thrusts and Kagayaki had the advantage, moving Okinoumi back. Okinoumi shifted right twice as the two exchanged pushes against their bodies. Kagayaki broke through Okinoumi’s defenses, landing first a right hand then a left against Okinoumi’s neck, driving him from the ring. Kagayaki also a candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Mitakeumi (12-2) defeats Ishiura (10-4) Hikiotoshi – Mitakeumi knocks Ishiura out of any further contention for the Emperor’s cup with a fast, high energy match. Ishiura attempted a nodowa at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi swatted him back as he charged forward. Mitakeumi threw a series of powerful thrusts against Ishiura’s head and shoulders, and Ishiura focused solely on keeping his feet. After the 4th of these exchanges, Mitakeumi followed up with a pull on Ishiura’s left shoulder, sending him to his 4th loss. Mitakeumi retains sole possession of the lead.

Asanoyama (11-3) defeats Shodai (7-7) Uwatenage – Asanoyama wins and Shodai becomes a candidate for a Darwin match? What a great outcome. Asanoyama did not immediately go for the belt, and the two exchanged thrusts to the head and chest, with Asanoyama finishing with a vigorous tug on Shodai’s right arm. This pull brought Shodai forward, and in a move best suited for Fred Astair, Asanoyama hooked his right arm around Shodai’s waist and rolled left into the throw.

Hakuho (11-3) defeats Tokushoryu (10-4) Hatakikomi – It took 4 tries for Hakuho to finally get his left hand in the correct position to pull Tokushoryu down, and he tried the same combo two times in a row. I think Tokushoryu was overwhelmed by Hakuho’s intensity, as the Yokozuna was a flurry of slapping and grabbing hands. Hakuho remains in the yusho hunt, while kicking Tokushoryu out of contention.

Mock Natsu – Day 15 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Its the final card of matches for our mock Natsu basho. It all comes down to Mitakeumi’s match against Tokushoryu. If Mitakeumi wins, it’s Yusho #3 for him.

Mock Natsu Day 13 Highlights

Entering the final weekend, its Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. Amazing development as both Ishiura and Sadanoumi take a loss on day 13. Having won 2 prior yusho, this would be his 3rd cup if he can prevail against a snarling pack of hungry competitors just 1 loss behind. The final weekend promises to be a real barn burner, and Tachiai will be covering the senshuraku matches early in the day Sunday.

I would be remiss if I did not note that shin-Ozeki Asanoyama has really not broken stride for a moment since his promotion, crossing into double-digits today with his 10th win. Many fans see a potential for sumo’s highest rank in this young rikishi, and we hope he can stay healthy and continue to fight well.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group – Nishikigi

2 Matches Remain

Day 13 Matches

Tochinoshin (3-10) defeats Shohozan (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – By the slimmest of margins, it may just be possible that former Ozeki Tochinoshin may be able to remain in the top division if he can find some way to win his remaining two matches. Today he stood fast against Shohozan’s front assault, and managed to get superior hand placement and put that to work before his lower body capitulated. I think the key was reducing mobility to almost zero for Tochinoshin. He took a pounding from Shohozan, but he kept his feet set, never asking that injured right knee to do anything more than keep him upright.

Kotoshoho (8-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-8) Oshitaoshi – Kotoshoho joins the kachi-koshi club at the same time he hands Shimanoumi his 8th loss. Shimanoumi opened strong with a three blow combo attack immedately after the tachiai. After dropping a step back, Kotoshoho surged forward and matched Shimanoumi, ultimately driving him from the ring.

Nishikigi (9-4) defeats Myogiryu (6-7) Yoritaoshi – Myogiryu jumped early for a matta, but when they finally got started, Nishikigi opened with his favorate left hand arm bar hold. Myogiryu returned the favor, barring Nishikigi’s right arm and the two were locked together. For a moment, Myogiryu had the advantage and moved Nishikigi back. Dropping his hips, Nishikigi lifted with his shoulders and drove forward. Myogiryu struggled to get his feet back to the clay, and the two collapsed side by side. Win number 9 of Nishikigi.

Chiyomaru (4-9) defeats Kaisei (3-10) Hatakikomi – There is possibly only one human being that Chiyomaru could henka, and that would be Kaisei. While the henka was far from the kind of grand spectacle you might see from Chiyoshoma or Ishiura, it was brutally effective as Kaisei went face first to the clay for loss number 10.

Ikioi (4-9) defeats Kotoyuki (5-8) Oshidashi – The eternal warrior, Ikioi, handed Kotoyuki his 8th loss with a might shove to lower chest. The two traded power pushes to the body before the tachiai was complete, with Ikioi struggling to overcome Kotoyuki’s boxy shape. But a well directed shove against Kotoyuki’s left shoulder sent Mr. 5×5 up on one foot, and Ikioi finished him.

Tamawashi (6-7) defeats Kotoeko (5-8) Yorikiri – Kotoeko was remarkably cautious starting this match, lining up well behind the shikiri-sen, and waiting for Tamawashi to make the first move. Tamawashi went high, putting both hands outside and on Kotoeko’s shoulders while Kotoeko went for Tamawashi’s arm pits. Kotoeko’s attempt to throw went to pieces when Tamawashi refused to advance into Kotoeko’s chest. Now off balance and struggling to set up defensive foot position, Tamawashi closed the gap and took a double inside grip. A few moments of grappling struggle later, Tamawashi had passivated Kotoeko, and calmly put him outside the ring. That’s the 8th loss for Kotoeko, and he is now make-koshi.

Chiyotairyu (10-3) defeats Kotoshogiku (8-5) Oshidashi – This was an interesting hybrid match, with Kotoshogiku trying to close “hug-n-chug” range and Chiyotairyu thrusting him back. After the 4th exchange, Kotoshogiku conceded the point placed his hand behind Chiyotairyu’s head, and as Chiyotairyu pushed him back, Kotoshogiku pulled. Chiyotairyu toppled to the dohyo as Kotoshogiku fell out of bounds. A monoii reversed the gyoji’s call and gave the match to Chiyotairyu, who has an impressive 10 wins in our mock-basho.

Tokushoryu (10-3) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Oshitaoshi – Tokushoryu also picked up his 10th win today, but in the process Takayasu aggravated the knee injury from March. Unable to walk or stand, it took several painful minutes for the giant wheelchair to appear to take a wincing Takayasu back to the dressing room. Reports are he was taken directly to the hospital for treatment. I have a bad feeling about this.

Kotonowaka (7-6) defeats Ryuden (5-8) Yoritaoshi – Kotonowaka delivers loss #8 to Ryuden. At the tachiai, Kotonowaka shifted a half step to his right, capturing Ryuden’s left shoulder with both hands, turning him before Ryuden could begin his attack. Ryuden responded with an attack to Kotonowaka’s face, which left his chest unguarded. Moving his hands in and up, Kotonowaka was rewarded with a double inside grip, which transformed to a double hand thrust to Ryuden’s chest which dropped him to the dohyo for the win.

Wakatakakage (8-5) defeats Enho (5-8) Yorikiri – The first match should have been a matta to begin with, and Enho knew it, giving only token pressure in return to Wakatakakage opening attack. The Shimpan interceded and declared torinaoshi, and both men went back to the lines. In matches where Enho can’t get low and inside, he is at risk of being captured and turning into nothing more than fly-weight butsukari ballast. Add that Enho looks like he’s got some lower body problem, and his 8th loss was little more than a formality. Wakatakakage kachi-koshi, and staying in the top division a while longer.

Onosho (7-6) defeats Abi (6-7) Oshidashi – A single double arm thrust to Onosho’s neck was all that Abi could muster before Onosho leaned dangerously far forward, putting massive pressure on Abi’s chest and shoulders. Abi was forced to step back, but Onosho was setting the pace, and Abi was not able to respond with anything more than token pressure. Onosho has won 5 of his last 6 matches, after a crummy 2-5 start.

Aoiyama (8-5) defeats Takanosho (6-7) Hatakikomi – When Aoiyama gets his tachiai opening move down, it looks to be tough to beat. Again Big Dan stood his opponent up with an upward thrust at the tachiai, and immediately thrust them to the clay. That’s kachi-koshi for Aoiyama – he’s had a solid tournament and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digit wins.

Yutakayama (6-7) defeats Kiribayama (5-8) Oshidashi – Yutakayama took an early advantage, keeping his elbows tucked together in front of his chest, and putting his hands against Kiribayama’s shoulders at the tachiai. Kiribayama responded by attempting to pull down Yutakayama, but the release for forward pressure played directly into Yutakayama’s attack. Lifting and striding forward, the “Big Unit” took Kiribayama to the tawara a shoved with his right hand for the win. The loss is Kiribayama’s 8th, and he is now make-koshi for the tournament.

Terutsuyoshi (4-9) defeats Endo (2-11) Yoritaoshi – Both of these rikishi have suffered a miserable basho, complete with injuries and humiliating losses. While its a bit heart wrenching for the fans, it’s the nature of sumo, and Endo specifically has hot and cold tournaments. This one has been stone cold. Terutsuyoshi was able to break his early left hand shallow grip, and converted that to morozashi. As Endo fought to escape, he lost his footing and went down. If the sumo association had made Kintamayama’s slippiotoshi official, this might have been listed as the kimarite instead.

Okinoumi (5-8) defeats Takarafuji (7-6) Katasukashi – Since locking in his make-koshi, Okinoumi has won 4 straight. I genuinely think that he was having injury problems in week 1, but his bounce back in week 2 almost defies explanation. The seasoned veteran has an encyclopedic skill list, and today we were treated to a seldom seen katasukashi after Okinoumi was able to capture Takarafuji as he circled away, and Okinoumi’s attempt at a pull down morphed into this when his left hand stayed latched to Takarafuji’s right arm pit.

Daieisho (6-7) defeats Kagayaki (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – Both men are facing a real danger of a day 15 Darwin match, and both of them were eager to avoid that fate. Daieisho had the early advantage, and was able to stay lower and drive inside. Kagayaki’s defensive foot placement was, as always, impeccable – thus Daieisho struggled to move him back. After Daieisho’s third thrusting volley, Kagayaki recognized Daieisho could not move him back, and Kagayaki went on offense. As Daieisho neared the edge of the ring, Daieisho tried a last gasp pull, which brought both men down. During the mono-ii that followed, replay showed the remarkable effort Daieisho put into keeping his foot in place while Kagayaki fell beside him. The gyoji’s gumbai was upheld, and both men leave the dohyo 6-7.

Mitakeumi (11-2) defeats Sadanoumi (10-3) Oshitaoshi – A head to head match between two of the leader group? Yes please! It was Sadanoumi’s speed vs Mitakeumi’s strong forward attack, and it did not disappoint. At the tachiai, Mitakeumi went high and Sadanoumi went fast and low. Sadanoumi had his right hand inside before Mitakeumi could launch his first attack, and conceded the form of the match to a grappling mawashi battle. Sadanoumi had his feet wide and his hips square, and Mitakeumi struggled to move him back, as the two men strained against each other at the center of the dohyo. The stalemate lasted several long and sweaty seconds, and broke when Sadanoumi attempted to shift his grip. In a blink of an eye, Mitakeumi dropped his hips and charged headlong toward the edge of the ring. The win leaves Mitakeumi at the top of the leader board.

Asanoyama (10-3) defeats Ishiura (10-3) Sukuinage – The shin-Ozeki once again shows how he got here, in a high stakes match he stays focused, patient and effective. I really liked Ishiura’s opening gambit to force Asanoyama into a yotsu grip he tends to avoid (left hand inside), and then used that left hand of the Ozeki’s as a pivot for a half spin that nearly cost Asanoyama the match. In spite of this early set back, Asanoyama kept himself upright, in the ring, and in control of his body. Unable to complete the swing and throw of Asanoyama, Ishiura was forced to release his right hand grip, and a moment later Asanoyama settled into his right hand inside grip and immediately loaded the throw which won the match. Both rikishi finish the day with double digits wins at 10-3.

Hokutofuji (7-5) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Fusen – I am hoping that the Sumo Kyokai reads their roster and puts no pressure on Kakuryu to retire just yet. He’s older, he hurt, but they could quickly find themselves in a no-kozuna situation for a time before Asanoyama or anyone else can string two consecutive yusho together. Purists will remark, “big deal, there are plenty of eras in sumo where Ozeki was the highest rank on the banzuke”. This is technically correct, but sumo needs headline stars in these tournaments to attract fans and attention to their broadcasts. Hopefully they go easy on Big-K and let him continue on for a while longer before there are candidates to take the rope.

Hakuho (10-3) defeats Shodai (7-6) Hatakikomi – Shodai took a right elbow from Hakuho directly to the face, but this really seemed to just fire him up, and he charged at the Yokozuna, planting his hands on either side of Hakuho’s face and applying a sharp twist to the left. This seemed to really agitate Hakuho who responded with a powerful thrust to Shodai’s chin with his right hand, and a brutal slap down from his left. Points to Shodai for giving it right back to The Boss. I think that as he fades out, opponents like Shodai are less willing to take punishment from him without returning in kind.