Nagoya Day 12 Preview

It’s time for one last discussion of the funnel from me this basho. At the end of today, the funnel narrows quite a bit, and so the goal is to steer as many as possible to a 6-6 score today. True you can get someone to 7-5 and then try to hand them 2 losses, but that seems to be less likely than to keep them on a win-one, lose-one tempo that the schedulers have been trying to maintain. Right now there are twenty (20!) rikishi in the sweet spot of 5-6 or 6-5. Absolutely brutal.

Of course any rikishi can escape the funnel just by winning more matches, or losing them. The funnel consume those that can’t quite give any more on the clay, and are stuck looking like they are just “going through the motions”. The real make or break day will be Saturday, when the schedulers need to make sure the 7-6 and 6-7 scores all end up in the right place. I would guess we could have as many as six Darwin matches on day 15.

With all of the COVID kyujo, we are down to 18 matches in the top division from 21 on day 1.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Day eleven did a fantastic job of narrowing down the leader board, giving us 2 men at 9-2 in the lead, and a group of 4 at 8-3 waiting in the wings. For the schedulers, its time to see if they can get dirt on the two leaders and notch up the hype around the race to the cup. Looking at the matches today, it looks like they are not wasting any time getting that project underway.

Leaders: Terunofuji, Ichinojo
Chasers: Takakeisho, Tobizaru, Nishikigi, Nishikifuji

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Yutakayama vs Kagayaki – Look who it is! Kagayaki gets a second visit to the top division. At 6-5 and ranked Juryo 3e, he may be harboring dreams of a rapid return to the top division. But right now his score is just as middling as all of the other salaried ranks, so he should think again. He does have a 9-6 career advantage over 5-6 Yutakayama, so maybe he can knock Shodai’s stablemate out of what’s left of the funnel.

Onosho vs Chiyoshoma – With Onosho at 6-5 and Chiyoshoma at 5-6, the goal is to have them both finish the day at 6-6. Chiyoshoma has not been consistent in his sumo this July, and it’s anyone’s guess how this one will end up. I do note that he and Onosho at a 5-4 career record that has a 1 win advantage for Chiyoshoma, but Chiyoshoma has won the last 3 matches in a row. The most recent one was January of this year.

Daiamami vs Takarafuji – With Daiamami deeply make-koshi and headed lower, they are using him to donate wins to rikishi they want to keep their score up. In the case of his opponent today, 5-6 Takarafuji, he needs a win here to stay in the funnel, so its Daiamami and his gimpy ankle to the rescue.

Chiyomaru vs Midorifuji – This should be kachi-koshi day for Midorifuji, as he is up against a 3-8 Chiyomaru who has already booked passage on the Juryo barge of the damned. He just needs to increase his 1-0 career score over Chiyomaru to take him his 8th win today.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – 21 career matches between these two, with Myogiryu at 7-4 to start the day against Chiyotairyu’s 6-5. A Myogiryu win is kachi-koshi for him, but pushes Chiyotairyu back into the middle of the funnel. A Chiyotairyu win puts him one whit star to go with 3 days left in the basho.

Oho vs Meisei – Possibly kachi-koshi day for Oho, a win here against Meisei and he will have his 8. At 6-5, Meisei can pull himself out of the funnel with a win today, or drop back to 6-6 with a loss to remain in the neck of the this July’s funnel.

Tochinoshin vs Nishikifuji – First ever meet up, and I am curious to see if Nishikifuji’s “oversized sumo” works against Tochinoshin, who is (lets face it) larger than life in most cases. Nishikifuji is already kachi-koshi at 8-3, but I am expecting him to get at least 2 more wins before the end of day 15 and finish double digits. Tochinoshin is at 6-5 and very much one of the Darwin candidates.

Endo vs Shimanoumi – Another battle of the make-koshi, with 2-9 Endo looking for a few more wins to keep away from a double digit losing record. He’s likely to find one today from 1-10 Shimanoumi, who seems too banged up to overpower anyone right now.

Terutsuyoshi vs Sadanoumi – This one interests me, as it seems that they could have found a better opponent for Terutsuyoshi today. I would think they want him to pick up a win and end the day 6-6, but there is a strong case that 3-8 Sadanoumi has a solid formula for winning against him, as he has the last 2 of their 3 fights.

Tamawashi vs Tsurugisho – It delighted me that Tamawashi halted his losing streak at 7 yesterday, but I have a lot of confidence that he is going to be deeply make-koshi this July because of some injury we sumo fans know nothing about. That may explain how he drew Tsurugisho today, in hopes that Tsurugisho can pick a win and finish the day 6-6.

Tobizaru vs Ichinojo – The first big match of the day. 8-3 Tobizaru’s job is to get 9-2 Ichinojo down. I don’t think he will be able to force him out, so he will need to try and win by guile, agility and sheer crazy ass sumo. Should he succeed, it will knock Ichinojo out of the leader position he shares with Terunofuji. He holds a 4-2 lead over Ichinojo on the clay.

Kiribayama vs Ura – Does Ura get to deliver a make-koshi to Kiribayama today? I don’t worry about Kiribayama at all right now. He’s going to be a big deal as long as he can avoid serious injury, and these crummy basho scores are part of the learning process. An Ura win would take him to 6-6 and put him square into the lane for a Darwin match on Sunday.

Hoshoryu vs Hokutofuji – Oh goodie – both men are 6-5 to start the day. Hokutofuji can push Hoshoryu back to 6-6 and queue him up for the Darwin run by just bashing the daylights out of him with some brutal nodowa sumo today. Sadly he has never done that, failing to win a single match from Hoshoryu in 4 attempts. Winner likely exits the funnel.

Wakamotoharu vs Abi – Well, we had a pair of 6-5’s, now it’s time for a pair of 5-6 rikishi. Winner centers to 6-6 and walks the Darwin path, loser likely headed for make-koshi by Sunday. Abi has won their 2 prior matches, but I am not sure that will matter for much today.

Wakatakakage vs Okinoumi – Time to save Wakatakakage, it seems. He has a 3-0 record against Okinoumi, and at 6-5 he needs 2 wins out of the last 4 days to keep his Sekiwake slot. At one point a couple of weeks ago there was serious Ozeki hype around him. Hopefully he did not believe that noise. Most rikishi stumble their first attempt to get to Ozeki, it’s part of the process.

Takakeisho vs Nishikigi – This match is for fun and rank, as both are kachi-koshi at 8-3. Takakeisho has a 4-1 advantage over Nishikigi, and this might be thought of as a “gimmie” match for Takakeisho, except that Nishikigi insists on going chest to chest early, grappling his opponent and using that sumo body of his to control his opponent. This is absolute kryptonite to Takakeisho. So I think the schedulers matched these two to see if Nishikigi could pull it off.

Aoiyama vs Shodai – What’s Aoiyama doing all the way up here? Who cares, two guys with out-sized bodies trying to get the other one to leap into the front row. Sign me up. If Shodai wins, it’s kachi-koshi for him, and he clears kadoban. An Aoiyama win and he ends the day 6-6 and centered in the funnel.

Terunofuji vs Daieisho – Daieisho has a tall order today, he needs to find a way to get Terunofuji out or down. With his mega-thrust sumo technique, he can in fact move the Yokozuna around, and has managed to do so three in the last year. I expect Terunofuji will focus on defense for the opening moments of this fight, and wait for Daieisho to expend his first couple of combos before he tries to move to offense. A Daieisho loss and he is back in the middle of the funnel.

Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

The big news for day 11 is that two more stables have detected cases of COVID, and are now kyujo. This includes Sadogatake, home to all of the “Koto” rikishi. Joining Sadogatake is Tamanoi heya, where Azumaryu trains. At this point about 1/5th of all rikishi in sumo are out due to COVID policies. This includes some rikishi that were in the middle of important, career elevating tournaments (Kotonowaka) that won’t get that momentum or experience back. As mentioned on prior days, given how virulent Omicron BA4/5 is, quite a few people in the sumo kyokai are likely infected now, and one has to wonder if they are even going to finish this tournament if they keep benching all of the talent.

List of fusensho (and opponents) today

  • Yutakayama – (Kotoshoho)
  • Oho – (Kotoeko)
  • Daieisho – (Kotonowaka)

The elimination of so many competitors from the top division has a dramatic impact on the television format, as the current producers for both NHK and Abema are struggling to fill the time that would normally be taken by the matches themselves. Lets hope we don’t get an Isegahama or Kokenoe covid-kyujo, or they will need to start showing Shin-Chan cartoons between bouts.

In action on the dohyo, the leader group is now down to two, with just 4 chasers. We will likely have a yusho race after all. Two more rikishi hit their 8th win today, and are kachi-koshi: Takakeisho and Nishikifuji, with another 4 on deck for a try tomorrow. The funnel crop is a bountiful as ever, and this could be one of the largest group of 7-7 rikishi I have seen in my lifetime on this earth, unless they all go covid-kyujo first.

Highlight Matches

Onosho defeats Daiamami – Daiamami’s injured ankle really can’t support much in the way of sumo right now, and Onosho makes fast work of him. It’s stand him up, slap him down. The tsukiotoshi takes Onosho to 6-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takarafuji – I marveled at Chiyoshoma’s work to keep Takarafuji from getting a proper mawashi grip, or setting up his defensive foot placement. That was high-skill sumo tuned for a very specific engagement, and I loved it. From the center-mass tsuppari chest strike at the tachiai, to the point where he chose to go chest to chest with Takarafuji, Chiyoshoma had this one dialed in. Both end the day at 5-6.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – Terutsuyoshi grabs a drumstick and proceeds to walk Chiyomaru about for a while before dumping him off the dohyo. 8 losses for Chiyomaru now, and he is make-koshi and headed back to Juryo, 5-6 for Terutsuyoshi after that fine ashitori.

Midorifuji defeats Tsurugisho – Midorifuji had trouble deciding what to do with his left hand. He was inside and low, but changed up the spot he was gripping Tsurugisho’s mawashi, and it simply was not working out for him. But fortunately for him, his right hand was in excellent position to load the throw, and it was shitatenage time! Midorifuji improves to 7-4 and can earn his kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Nishikifuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Nishikifuji gets a deep double inside grip early and simply brutes Chiyotairyu around. It is surprising that as big and bulky as Chiyotairyu is, that he can’t overpower Nishikifuji, or if whatever injuries he’s dealing with rob him of any power to shut down the yori in any meaningful way. Nishikifuji scores his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for July by yorikiri.

Myogiryu defeats Nishikigi – I think the false start wrecked Nishikigi’s timing, and he was not quite in normal form when the tachiai did take place. He struggled for hand positioned, and was well forward of his toes. Myogiryu was aware of this, took a step back and hit the hatakikomi. Nishikigi hit the clay, and Myogiryu advanced to 7-4.

Tochinoshin defeats Meisei – Fighting Tochinoshin involves a lot of guess work, it seems. There are days when he’s rather tender, and unable to really employ is overwhelming strength. Today was not one of those days. Meisei goes for the inside grip, Tochinoshin obliged. Tochinoshin worked to get his left hand outside, and then it was time for Meisei to endure some power sumo. A quick waltz across the clay, and it was a yorikiri win for Tochinoshin, with both men finishing the day at 6-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi finds his third win of the basho by overpowering the hapless Shimanoumi, lifting him and driving forward to win by yorikiri. Sadanoumi improves to 3-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Wakamotoharu – Hokutofuji did an excellent job of keeping Wakamotoharu from settling into any manner of offense or defense. Hokutofuji attacked multiple points via clever combos, and left Wakamotoharu wondering what would happen next. With Wakamotoharu trying to respond to the last attack, Hokutofui grabbed a leg and powered forward. The resulting watashikomi gave Hokutofuji the win, and he finishes the day 6-5.

Ura defeats Okinoumi – This was about as vanilla a match as you might ever find from Ura. He was straight into the grapple against Okinoumi, and battled him face to face. But Okinoumi could not resist the temptation to reach that left hand for Ura’s belt. Ah ha! A stray appendage to grab and tug! Well, that was the end of Okinoumi as Ura unleashed a tottari, giving his opponent a face full of clay. Ura improves to 5-6.

Tamawashi defeats Kiribayama – I am all smiles that a seemingly injured Tamawashi achieved his first ever win against Kiribayama today. Tamawashi was all forward power and attacking Kiribayama’s face and neck, until the moment when he moved a hand behind Kiribayama head and pulled forward. The power transfer was large enough that it flipped Kiribayama end over end to win by hatakikomi. Both end the day at 4-7.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – Abi learns the hard way that his double arm thrusts are utterly worthless against the Boulder when Ichinojo is on his game. A stray arm was a perfect hand hold for Ichinojo, and Abi found himself on the receiving end of a kotenage attempt. Abi did not go out, but did not recover. Horribly off balance his 200kg beast of a rikishi chased him down and pushed him out from the rear (okuridashi). Ichinojo improves to 9-2.

Aoiyama defeats Wakatakakage – Its 3-0 now for Aoiyama against Wakatakakage. Somehow this giant man-mountain has Wakatakakage’s number, and can put him on the deck any time, any place. At the rapid conclusion of today’s match, you can see the frustration on Wakatakakage’s face. Aoiyama improves to 5-6 and pulls Wakatakakage back to the middle of the funnel.

Shodai defeats Endo – I am sure Endo did not know what to expect, having no idea which version of Shodai would show up. Looks like Ozeki Shodai was on the clay today. Endo showed some great offensive combos, but Shodai was ready for all of it. Note that Shodai’s form was terrible, but his sumo was good enough to overwhelm Endo and propel him out by yorikiri. Shodai improves to 7-4, and somehow has managed to get himself one win away from kachi-koshi, and clearing kadoban.

Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – I am absolutely impressed that Takakeisho was able to keep Tobizaru off his belt, and keep his own balance under control in the face of the antics of the flying monkey. Tobizaru put a lot of energy into this match, and I complement him for all of the work to prepare. An off-balance combo left Tobizaru struggling to stay upright, and Takakeisho slapped him down for the win. That’s kachi-koshi for Takakeisho, he picks up his 8th win of Nagoya.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Where to start with this. Well, Hoshoryu, that was a jerk match. Yes, it’s a combat sport, and he was focused on the win, but that whole match was executed to put maximum torque into Terunofuji’s damaged knees. That first time when Terunofuji tossed you away, then waved you back in, that should have been your first indication that you had the Yokozuna’s interest. My compliments to Terunofuji for focus, concentration and patience. You let Hoshoryu expend his energy, then locked him up, took him apart and tossed way the husk. You have a long way to go, Hoshoryu, before you might fight like that, hope you enjoyed the comparison. The look on Hoshoryu’s face following his ejection from the dohyo told to story. Terunofuji improves to 9-2.

Nagoya Day 11 Preview

With the start of day 11, we are in the final act of the basho. Act 3 sorts everyone between kachi-koshi and make-koshi, and we crown a yusho winner. Normally we would start to track the yusho race on the middle day, but this basho has had such low scores that we really did not have separation from the rikishi who will contend for the cup from the rikishi who will struggle just to get 8 wins until now. But after day 10, we are down to 4 rikishi in the leader group, with 3 one win behind. I guess that is close enough.

We have had another stable pull out of the tournament, and I have to wonder if maybe a sizable percentage of the rikishi population may be brewing a COVID infection right now.

Nagoya Leaderboard

The yusho race is going to result in a score no higher than 13-2, and if everyone in this group picks up a loss, it will be lower than that. Out of this leader group, only Yokozuna Terunofuji has prior yusho experience. Given those facts, he must be considered the favorite as of today.

Leaders: Terunofuji, Ichinojo, Tobizaru, Nishikigi
Chasers: Takakeisho, Kotonowaka, Nishikifuji

5 matches remain

Bonus: Nagoya Juryo Watch by lksumo

J1e Ryuden (8-2) will finally return to the top division in September. While there are several other contenders, none of them has a promotion case yet. M16w Daiamami (2 wins) and M17w Chiyomaru (3 wins) will be Juryo-bound with one more loss. Several others still have work to do to stay in Makuuchi, led by M16e Yutakayama (4 wins) and M9e Shimanoumi (1 win).

What We Are Watching Day 11

Onosho vs Daiamami – We have an already make-koshi Daiamami up against 5-5 Onosho, who needs to find 3 more wins over the next five days. Everyone please keep in mind, the goal for the scheduling team is to get him to 7-7 by the end of Saturday, so the intent is to give him a win today and a loss tomorrow.

Chiyoshoma vs Takarafuji – Another fine match, I expect them to go chest to chest in short order following the tachiai, and for Takarafuji to hold a strong defensive line against Chiyoshoma’s attack. They have an even 7-7 career record, so it comes down to who wants it more: 4-6 Chiyoshoma or 5-5 Takarafuji.

Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyomaru – A loss today for 3-7 Chiyomaru will be his make-koshi and a certain return to Juryo. Terutsuyoshi has a 7-4 career advantage, so I am going to guess he has a strong chance of handing Chiyomaru his ticket to ride the Juryo barge today.

Tsurugisho vs Midorifuji – Another fine funnel match, we have 5-5 Tsurugisho against Midorifuji at 6-4. If we can get a Tsurugisho win out of this one, they both will be 6-5, and well positioned in the funnel. They have only met once before in the top division, in March of 2021, which is the only time that Tsurugisho has won against Midorifuji.

Kotoshoho vs Yutakayama – More rich and gooey funnel fun, as we have 5-5 Kotoshoho going against Yutakayama at 4-6. The goal would be to have Yutakayama win, and both end the day at 5-6. They have split their only two prior matches, but its notable that Yutakayama has lost the last 4 matches in a row after a fairly strong start to the tournament.

Chiyotairyu vs Nishikifuji – First ever match, and a Nishikifuji (7-3) win would be his kachi-koshi. I expect him to be quite motivated today, and if he can avoid being trampled by 6-4 Chiyotairyu, he will likely get his win.

Oho vs Kotoeko – With Nishikifuji’s kachi-koshi attempt complete, it’s back to the funnel. Those of you like lksumo who are playing the “Bruce mentions Darwin” at home drinking game are probably pretty well lit by now, but remember to pace yourselves. I am frankly surprised that Oho is at 6-4, as his sumo has really not been anything remarkable. Kotoeko at 5-5 seems to be in the process of incremental mummification, as each day he shows up with more bandages on his body. I think Kotoeko will go for a mawashi grip early, and if he can sustain it, he will win. Oho will likely try some tsuki/oshi to get the compact Kotoeko down and out sooner.

Myogiryu vs Nishikigi – How interesting that Nishikigi already has an 8-2 kachi-koshi. He last had a double digit finish in September of 2018, which set up his magical trip to the joi-jin that netted him a kinboshi. I am genuinely excited for this guy, as all indications are that he is a kind, humble and hard working human being. Myogiryu has a great chance to escape the funnel today with a win, that would put him at 7-4 and outside of the grind to take everyone down to 7-7.

Tochinoshin vs Meisei – The goal here is for 5-5 Tochinoshin to score a win and drag Meisei back down into a funnel compatible score before he can escape, which he would with a win today. Tochinoshin and Meisei share a 2-3 record, so there is no clear advantage toward either man from their prior meetings.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Both are already make-koshi, and the question is how deeply in the hole will either 1-9 Shimanoumi or 2-8 Sadanoumi go. In this battle of the *umi, I have to think these guys are hurt and will benefit from dropping down the banzuke and working to recover their form. Sadanoumi leads the career score with 6-3.

Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – With the battle of the make-koshi out of the way, its time for MOAR FUNNEL! Both of these guys are 5-5, and in normal conditions I would think this would be an excellent and exciting match. But Hokutofuji is fighting at just a tiny fraction of his normal ferocity, and he’s really struggling to win with any dominance. I pair that against Wakamotoharu who has faced the top men in sumo and has a 5-5. Guess which person I think will prevail?

Okinoumi vs Ura – Both start the day at 4-6, and the loser drops out of the funnel into the make-koshi track. Both are far enough up the banzuke that its really just a demotion at this point, so there will be a minimum of fuss. Ura has won 2 of their 3 prior matches, and may be able to make it 3 out of 4 today if he can find something to grab and tug.

Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – I am surprised that Tamawashi is one loss away from his make-koshi. He opened strong, then has lost 7 in a row. This might indicate he got hurt on day 3, and refuses to go kyujo, wishing to maintain his record of never missing a match. He has never beaten 4-6 Kiribayama in 5 attempts.

Ichinojo vs Abi – Oh my, Ichinojo is part of the leader group, and seems to have re-connected with his sumo. He has a 4-2 career advantage over 5-5 Abi, who needs to find 3 wins over the next 5 days to stay in san’yaku. Given that Ichinojo is in contention for the cup, I don’t think he’s going to have pity for anyone.

Kotonowaka vs Daieisho – Kotonowaka is in the group 1 win behind the leaders, and I would guess that he is going to give Daieisho a hell of a fight and try to secure his 8th win of July. At 5-5, Daieisho is very much in the middle of the bubble group, and needs to get a majority of wins over the next 5 days to remain at Sekiwake.

Wakatakakage vs Aoiyama – You may wonder what 4-6 Aoiyama is doing up here fighting Wakatakakage (6-4), but then its notable that Aoiyama has beaten Wakatakakage both of their prior matches, and may be able to bring the Sekiwake back toward the middle of the funnel. A Wakatakakage win today would clear him of the funnel, and put him one win away from kachi-koshi.

Endo vs Shodai – Endo is already make-koshi at 2-8, but this man LOVES to play spoiler. There have been tournaments where he had a miserable score, but he won a single or pair of big matches just to play a role in the story. So I suspect that he might give 6-4 Shodai some trouble on the clay.

Takakeisho vs Tobizaru – It was bound to happen, kachi-koshi Tobizaru has a chance to deny 7-3 Takakeisho the safety of 8 wins if he can overcome the Ozeki’s oshi-zumo strengths. With strike-and-move sumo the order of the day for Tobizaru, Takakeisho is going to need to find some way to cut down on the flying monkey’s mobility.

Terunofuji vs Hoshoryu – Terunofuji has a 7-0 career record against Hoshoryu, who needs just 2 wins from his 6-4 score to get his 8, and possibly ascend to Sekiwake. I don’t think he will find one from Terunofuji today, who looks dead set to drive what is left of his body to ruin if needed to be the Yokozuna this July.

Nagoya Day 10 Highlights

We have now finished act 2 of the Nagoya basho – Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned.

The top end of the score board has narrowed enough that I think we are going to be able to start Act 3 on Wednesday with a proper leader board. We had four rikishi pick up their 8th win today and secure their kachi-koshi. At the same time, two rikishi picked up their 8th loss, and are now make-koshi for Nagoya. There are still over 20 rikishi in the funnel for the schedulers to play with, as over the next 4 days they try to herd as many as possible into 7-7 scores.

Highlight Matches

Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – This match was a motley collection of head slaps and neck pulls disguised as sumo. Sure they were battling away, but it was short on any kind of real technique. It only ends when Myogiryu times a push against a Yutakayama pull, and somebody remembers that you can move the other guy if you push against his chest. Myogiryu improves to 6-4 by oshidashi.

Takarafuji defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru inches closer to his make-koshi while Takarafuji evens up to 5-5. On full display are the mechanics behind Takarafuji’s 9-1 career dominance of Chiyomaru, as the “round one” keeps trying to pull down Takarafuji even though they are locked up chest to chest. As with the prior matches, Takarafuji maintains a tight right hand grip, wears Chiyomaru down, and walks him out after he tires. Takarafuji now 5-5.

Oho defeats Kotoshoho – Oho won this match of the first hit. Kotoshoho did not guard his chest well enough at the tachiai, and Oho landed quite the blow center-mass. At that moment, Kotoshoho’s weight was shifted back, and he was never able to get forward and on offense. Oho advances to 6-4 by oshidashi.

Midorifuji defeats Onosho – I loved watching Midorifuji tear down Onosho’s hand placement the moment after the tachiai. He’s so deliberate and methodical, and it robs Onosho of the balance he needs to push effectively. He follows that with a combo to break Onosho’s grip entirely, and tries a pull. It does not work, but it opens Onosho’s chest and Midorifuji dives in for the kill, pulling Onosho around and then pushing him out from behind. The okuridashi advances Midorifuji to 6-4.

Meisei defeats Nishikifuji – A tremendous battle from Nishikifuji as he took the fight to Meisei from the start. After exchanging pushes and slaps, they opted for left hand inside positions, and Meisei put a lot of pivot into every step. This had Nishikifuji up one one leg a few times, but he stayed in the fight (nice balance sir!). Having blown through a lot of energy, they two lock up chest to chest and hug it out in the middle of the dohyo for a good long time. When they finally re-engage, it’s each man trying to put the other off balance, and Meisei proves to have the better footwork. Nishikifuji misses out on kachi-koshi today as Meisei’s yoritaoshi elevates him to 6-4.

Daiamami defeats Shimanoumi – Daiamami finally found his second win, when Shimanoumi was unable to shut down Daiamami’s methodical sumo. After locking up chest to chest, Shimanoumi kept a right arm ottsuke going for as long as he could, but eventually Daiamami found his grip, dropped his hips, and bucked Shimanoumi back, then out. Daiamami up to 2-8 now.

Tsurugisho defeats Kotoeko – To me it looks like Kotoeko changed his mind about where he was going to aim his hands at the moment of tachiai. This left Tsurugisho with an excellent deep grip that gave him total control over Kotoeko’s body. It was quick work to apply the yorikiri and march Kotoeko out, both men finishing the day at 5-5. Odd note, Tsurugisho forgot his kensho…

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochinoshin – Well, that’s a henka. Terutsuyoshi steps to the side, grabs Tochinoshin’s leg and upends him. Terutsuyoshi improves to 4-6.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma decides he is going from right hand inside to right hand outside, and that moment of transition is where he lost the match. With Chiyoshoma’s chest suddenly wide open, Nishikigi attacks center-mass, and Chiyoshoma has no way to hold his position. An oshdashi win for Nishikigi, 8-2 and kachi-koshi. Next stop double digits for Nishkigi. Will be be back in the joi-jin in September?

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – This one almost qualified for “what the hell was that?” status. Hokutofuji fights in reverse gear pretty much the whole match. Aoiyama does his best, but after the 4th exchange loses his balance and belly flops on the dohyo. The listed kimarite is hikkake, so hey, close enough. Hokutofuji now 5-5.

Tobizaru defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu finds that he can’t blast Tobizaru off his feet at the tachiai, and ends up partially engaged in a yotsu battle. He quickly recognizes this is not going to end well, and starts trying to pull Tobizaru down. Much to everyone’s delight, Tobizaru keeps his feet under this level of attack, and pushes Chiyotairyu out. Oddly enough both men and the gyoji end up clumped together in the southeast corner of the dohyo. Tobizaru hits his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for July.

Wakamotoharu defeats Okinoumi – If you take a look across Wakamotoharu’s 10 matches this July, you can see that he really has put together a solid sumo style. He has been quietly moving up the ranks a few at a time, mostly through hard work, excellent fundamentals and mountains of stamina. His match today against the high-skilled Okinoumi underscores that Wakamotoharu hard work really has paid off. Though he is just at 5-5, his sumo looks fantastic, and I expect he is headed for higher rank.

Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Well, there’s the Boulder again. He’s back to being enormous and quite strong. The key to this win was his left hand. First it was gripped to the front of Tamawashi’s belt, then it was around his body. It let him control Tamawashi and keep him from breaking free and engaging in his desired attack modes. With Tamawashi captured, Ichinojo moves him back, then slams him down. Eight wins for Ichinojo at 8-2 and kachi-koshi for Nagoya.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – There are days, like today, where Hoshoryu looks like the “next great rikishi”. Fantastic work to shut down Kotonowaka’s advantage coming out of the tachiai, then setting up the uwate, then hurling Kotonowaka to the clay. Solid, strong performance from Hoshoryu, who improves to 6-4 on the strength of that kakenage.

Kiribayama defeats Abi – Excellent work by Kiribayama to shut down Abi’s double arm attack mode. To be honest Abi had not set it up well, and found himself suddenly exposed and standing tall. Kiribayama took that moment to apply a fair amount of force center mass, and push Abi out. Kiribayama’s oshidashi improves his score to 4-6.

Wakatakakage defeats Endo – Endo gambles every match these days on landing that left. It’s easy to anticipate, and Wakatakakage does. But Endo finds the mawashi, and Wakatakakage moves to defend. Endo moves to finish the match, but finds that Wakatakakage’s right hand has him locked against the bales. He tries to pivot away, but turns his back to Wakatakakage. With his stance, his sumo and his balance now completely disrupted, he catches a Wakatakakage broadside full in the chest and hurtles into the front row. That’s an 8th loss for Endo, and he is make-koshi while Wakatakakage advances to 6-4.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Fans expect big exchanges of high powered thrusts from these two, and they were happy to supply. Takakeisho is the one with more forward power today, and when Daieisho finds his heels on the bales, he tries to escape, but finds Takakeisho chasing him down. He exits the ring by okuridashi, and Takakeisho improves to 7-3.

Shodai defeats Ura – Ozeki Shodai seems to be back. Makes us fans wonder what the hell happened week one where he looked like hell. He takes a firm hold of Ura, and keeps him from doing much outside of common yotsu-zumo. Even so, Ura gives him a big fight. Shodai gets him on the move and dumps him into the front row with a bounding yoritaoshi to improve to 6-4. He needs just 2 more wins in the final 5 days to make kachi-koshi and clear kadoban.

Terunofuji defeats Sadanoumi – Sadly this was never going to be too much of a contest. The genki version of Sadanoumi that took the jun-yusho in May is nowhere to be found this July in the Nagoya heat. So the Yokozuna gets a nice hold, shakes his prey a couple of times to make sure nothing is going to spring loose, then walks Sadanoumi out. Terunofuji is kachi-koshi at 8-2 with that yorikiri walk out.