Kyushu Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the penultimate day of the last tournament of 2021. With today’s torikumi, there seem to be a few things afoot. First and most obvious is that they have scheduled Abi to fight Terunofuji. With the current roster of 2 Ozeki and 1 Yokozuna, you might expect that the Yokozuna would fight the lower ranked Ozeki on day 14, and the highest ranked Ozeki on day 15. I can see why they would want to have Abi fight Terunofuji, but I think it means that Shodai will not face the Yokozuna. This is a real shame for Shodai, as I think he is being robbed of a chance to put his brand of sumo up against Terunofuji. For myself, I am disappointed.

Should Terunofuji win against Abi today, he would take the yusho. Should Abi win, it’s a bit more complex. Assuming that Terunofuji faces Takakeisho on day 15 in the closer, it could be anywhere from a Terunofuji yusho, to a three way tie with a playoff.

For the match itself, I am sure that Abi will bring his best sumo. I doubt that he is going to be too “psyched out” by Terunofuji. I think this will come down to pure sumo mechanics. More details below in the match preview.

Kyushu Leaderboard

lksumo’s post has the details of the road to the emperor’s cup, so take a look.

Leader: Terunofuji
Hunter: Abi
Chaser: Takakeisho

2 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Kaisei vs Chiyonokuni – Clearly this is intended to be a funnel match for Kaisei. He holds a narrow 7-5 career advantage over Chiyonokuni, whose hit and move sumo can face problems with a Kaisei’s enormity. Should Kaisei win today, he will be 7-7.

Kotonowaka vs Tochinoshin – What may be another funnel match, Kotonowaka is 6-7, and will either be make-koshi at the end of today, or ready for Darwin. For Tochinoshin, I think with 5 wins now, he may be able to hold onto the lower rungs of the banzuke in January.

Akua vs Terutsuyoshi – This pair have already sorted their kachi (Akua) and make (Terutsuyoshi) koshi. So this is all about rank in January. Terutsuyoshi seems to have some health problems, and I hope that the break across Christmas and New Years lets him get his body in better order.

Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Another battle of the make-koshi. As Shohozan is headed out of the top division, they are going to use him to life-boat more than a few rikishi. Having him face folks that could use another win in hopes that his degraded condition provides his opponent with that white star they need. Although Chiyotairyu is already make-koshi, a win today would keep him from possibly hitting double digit losses at the end of Kyushu.

Aoiyama vs Chiyomaru – Another match that could be a life-boat, Aoiyama broke his 9 match losing streak on day 13 with a win over Shohozan. A win today would put bulbous Chiyomaru in make-koshi condition, or a Chiyomaru win would put him at 7-7.

Sadanoumi vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru also has to “win out” to reach 8, and his best option after today is a 7-7 Darwin match. That brutal day 13 loss to Akua really left him in a tight spot. He’s likely to struggle with Sadanoumi’s speed causing him to lose target focus every other step.

Yutakayama vs Chiyoshoma – A “Mini Darwin” match, we have 6-7 Yutakayama with a 9-3 career advantage, and 7-6 Chiyoshoma coming in at 7-6. A Yutakayama win takes them both to 7-7, where a Chiyoshoma win takes him to kachi-koshi, and Yutakayama to make-koshi.

Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – The ugly race for the most losses in 2021 heats up with this pair of matches. Kagayaki is already 3-10, and headed for a brutal punt back to Juryo, minus some unthinkable banzuke luck. He’s up against make-koshi Shimanoumi, who is at no risk of demotion. I think that at this point, it would be tough for someone like Kagayaki to get fired up and bring his best sumo to the dohyo. So I would guess Shimanoumi today.

Takarafuji vs Kotoeko – A fight between even an injured Takarafuji and an injured Kotoeko is really no contest at all. Takarafuji has a 4-1 career record, and I expect that he is going to outmatch Kotoeko without much trouble at all.

Okinoumi vs Ishiura – Another “Mini Darwin”, the winner gets to go onto the 7-7 bracket tomorrow, the loser is make-koshi. There is almost no chance that Ishiura will find the sumo today to overcome Okinoumi, at least without a henka.

Onosho vs Myogiryu – These two are in the make-koshi bracket, fighting to see ho many losses they will have at the end of the basho. Right now Myogiryu has the worst score in the top division at 2-11, and is likely to see a big drop down the banzuke for January. Onosho is looking to stay away from the ignoble result of double digit losses by winning his last two.

Hidenoumi vs Takanosho – Over to the kachi-koshi bracket, we get to see if this edition of Hidenoumi can win against someone who will likely hold a named rank in January. He has only won 3 of their prior 8 matches, so this is a fairly tall order for him.

Daieisho vs Takayasu – Takayasu is really not fighting anywhere close to his potential. I would say under normal conditions, he would mop the floor with Daieisho. But Takayasu of Kyushu 2021 is not showing good power on offense or defense, so I think that this one may favor Daieisho. If he wins, he will advance to the Darwin bracket tomorrow.

Endo vs Wakatakakage – Another mini-Darwin, and this one is a first ever match up. If Endo wins, he is kachi-koshi, and Wakatakakage is make-koshi. If Wakatakakage wins, they both advance to the Darwin bracket on day 15.

Ichinojo vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has struggled in his test matches in act 3. So we can assume that a fair portion of his strong 9 win score comes from over demotion, and his ability to dominate the rikishi that far down the banzuke. He has a healthy 8-4 career advantage over Ichinojo, so maybe he can score win number 10 today.

Hoshoryu vs Kiribayama – Both of these rising Mongolian stars have 5-8 records, both are make-koshi, and both need to go refine their sumo. Frankly, I am surprised that Hoshoryu is not nursing a worse score given how poor his sumo has been in the second half of the basho. There are still 2 more matches left, and he can reach double digit losses, if he can’t find a way to execute.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – A long standing rivalry, 27 matches between these two, the record favors Mitakeumi 24-3. They both have 9-3 records starting today, and a Mitakeumi win would send him to the coveted double-digit win mark, in spite of his tradition week 2 fade. Since nakabi, he is 2-3. Ouch!

Ura vs Meisei – Hey, what’s Ura doing all the way up here? Well, just hope he stays safe. He beat Meisei the only prior time the fought. The real question is, which kimaraite? There’s always another katasukashi, but a solid ashitori can really satisfy.

Shodai vs Takakeisho – Ah, the Ozeki fight! Takakeisho, you can blow this daikon up if you just stay focused on center mass, move forward, and don’t lose your cool and pull. Shodai is plenty wide and tall, and if he uses the “Wall of Daikon” technique, he will present a very broad target for you. Both are kachi-koshi, so this is just for pride.

Terunofuji vs Abi – The curiosity of the day. M15w fights the Yokozuna on the second to last day of the tournament. Abi will open as he always does with a double arm attack to the neck. I am sure Terunofuji is reviewing match video of people beating Abi. His double arm thrusting is not unstoppable, but it is effective. The trick is to get underneath, thrust upward against an elbow, and get inside to lock him up. As Abi’s right hand is his dominant one, Terunofuji should thrust up with left, go in with his right. I think Abi will connect at least one volley against the Yokozuna, so he will need to keep his feet for just a moment. For a great example of this in action, see a much healthier Tochinoshin take Abi apart. I think this is very close to what this match will look like today

Kyushu Day 13 Highlights

After a false start on day 12, the schedulers did get “Make-koshi day” after all, minting 7 new losing records for Kyushu today. It was brutal satisfying at the same time. They were also able to piece together a few scraps of their Darwin-funnel, and may have a couple of 7-7 matches for day 15, with 11 rikishi still in the funnel for tomorrow.

I feel the urge to express my disappointment with Ozeki Takakeisho for not taking Abi seriously today. At least that is the impression I had from that match. Abi came ready to fight to the best of his ability, and was prepared to win. When I saw Takakeisho give up his footing, resort to pulls and more or less let Abi run him about, it says to me that he was not really prepared to face that opponent today. Abi is super powerful if you let him use his “one weird trick”, which can be shut down with a bit of practice, a bit of force, and some superior timing. We know Takakeisho can show excellent timing, and we know he can hit with massive force. As a result, he yields the challenger spot to Abi, who is the only man who can challenge Terunofuji at this point. So what did the schedulers do? Put them face to face on day 14 to possibly decide the yusho. If Terunofuji wins the match, he wins the yusho. Should be fantastic.

But I have confidence that Terunofuji will take this match seriously, and probably be working most of the day using the same technique that greats like Harumafuji used to shut down Abi-zumo. I look forward to day 14.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Kaisei – Solid strategy from Ishiura today, moving early to get to the side of Kaisei and prevent the big man from squaring up against him. Even with that advantage, Ishiura found it tough to move nearly 200kg of rikishi, but persistence got the job done. Both end the day at 6-7.

Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi got inside at the tachiai, and set up a right hand nodowa. Yutakayama really did not like that, and batted Terutsuyoshi around, breaking his grip and sending forward. Yutakayama circled behind and pushed, improving to 6-7. Terutsuyoshi drops to 5-8, and is make-koshi for November.

Kotonowaka defeats Chiyomaru – In a story as old as sumo, Chiyomaru attacked high, Kotonowaka attacked center-mass. We all know which one tends to come out the winner. Both end the day at 6-7.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyotairyu – Its a bit unusual to see Tochinoshin work the slap/slap/pull combo, but it had two advantages. First, it does not require movement, reducing strain on his injured knee and back. Second, Chiyotairyu was about to use it too. The win improves Tochinoshin to 5-8, Chiyotairyu is now make-koshi.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – We got to see Aoiyama use the V-Twin today, thought it did not have its normal effect. Shohozan could not sustain a counter-thrust effort, and resorted to just enduring Aoiyama’s attacks. Big Dan repeatedly tried to pull Shohozan down, and eventually one of them stuck. Aoiyama improves to 4-9.

Akua defeats Tobizaru – Fast match, Tobizaru went to drive him hands inside, and met Akua’s hatakikomi. Never even got a second step in as Tobizaru tumbles to the clay. Akua improves to 8-5, and is kachi-koshi.

Kotoeko defeats Kagayaki – In the match that may have been set up to see who would have the most losses in sumo this year, it was Kagayaki who took the ignoble laurels. A nice rally by Kotoeko to drive Kagayaki out. Both end the day at 3-10.

Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Its fun to see a rikishi known for speed, Sadanoumi, succumb to that kind of rapid combo. In the first step, Chiyoshoma both stood Sadanoumi up, and pulled him forward. The upward thrust was just up, not back, and seemed to have done nothing to remove any of Sadanoumi’s forward momentum. Chiyoshoma improves to 7-6.

Chiyonokuni defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi had one moment of offense before Chiyonokuni took over and drove Shimanoumi from the ring. That was the 8th loss for Shimanoumi, and he is make-koshi, while Chiyonokuni improves to 8-5 and is kachi-koshi.

Hidenoumi defeats Takayasu – We did not see Takayasu resort to “wild man sumo” today, he stayed calm, focused and intense, and lost to Hidenoumi. Hidenoumi simply generated better, more focused sumo and made it stick. The finish saw Takayasu pulling Hidenoumi down, but it was too late to rescue the match. Takayasu eats loss #8 and is make-koshi as Hidenoumi improves to 8-5, and is kachi-koshi.

Takanosho defeats Hokutofuji – How good was that? Takanosho opens with a nodowa, which is Hokutofuji’s signature move. He opens the throttle and just gives Hokutofuji some denshamichi-sumo. Both end the day at 9-4.

Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Okinoumi chose to put his hands in Onosho’s armpits, and drive forward. Effective, but Onosho was able to finally set his feet and push back enough to stop Okinoumi from pushing him out. Okinoumi deftly reversed gears, and Onosho fell to the clay. Okinoumi improves to 6-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Hoshoryu – Basic sumo mechanics here, Hoshoryu was too high at the tachiai, and left his chest open for Wakatakakage to attack at close range. With his hands inside, Hoshoryu was busy trying to repel Wakatakakage’s opening combo, and failed to set his feet and hold ground. It was 3 steps to the bales, and loss number 8 for Hoshoryu. He needs to regroup and get used to his larger body. Wakatakakage improves to 6-7.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – We assumed this was a “gimme” match for Daieisho, and it sort of panned out that way. Myogiryu put up and adequate defense, but did little to evade Daieisho’s thrusting attacks. Daieisho improves to 6-7.

Kiribayama defeats Takarafuji – Kiribayama made the mistake of attacking Takarafuji’s neck at the open. We all know he had that thing removed more than a decade ago, and Kiribayama recognized his mistake and just abandoned that line of offense. This tactical error let Takarafuji set up his defense, and Kiribayama was stuck. In desperation he went for where Takarafuji’s neck should be again, with no results. But then, some brilliant sumo! Kiribayama changed up his grip, moved to the side and put his right hand on Takarafuji’s mawashi knot, and threw him. Kiribayama improves to 5-8. Way to stay in the match, sir!

Ura defeats Ichinojo – Who needs a tachiai? They both stood up and sort of inched toward each other. This left Ichinojo a bit disoriented I think, and as soon as Ura got in range, out came the slap from above. Well, this left Ichinojo wide open for Ura to duck in, and just like that Ichinojo is in trouble. Unable to reach Ichinojo’s belt, Ura decided we had not see katasukashi for a couple of days, and out comes his forth of this tournament. So lets count them up, 4 x katasukashi, 2 x tottari and an ashitori. Thats quite the variety of kimarite! Ichinojo takes his 8th face first in the dirt, and Ura improves to 10-3.

Endo defeats Meisei – I am not sure why so many matta were called on this one, but Kimura Tamajiro clearly did not like what he was seeing from Endo. When they finally started (4th attempt?), both were expecting another matta call, and it really wrecked the tempo of the match. Endo could not get any sort of grip, but Meisei left his chest open, and Endo resorted to thrusting him out. Endo improves to 7-6.

Abi defeats Takakeisho – Tamajiro on the matta streak yet again. Did someone forget to give this guy his coffee today? Takakeisho started well enough, but Abi broke his stance, and Takakeisho resorted to pulling. Once started, he seemed unable to set his feet and attack to the front again. With Abi, this means you are pretty much done. Abi pressed the attack, and Takakeisho took his second loss still trying to reach past Abi’s long arms and pull. Abi improves to 12-1, and will face Terunofuji tomorrow.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi got captured by Shodai early, and decided to arm-bar throw the Ozeki. This almost started to work, but Shodai had his defense up, and did not allow Tamawashi to complete the rotation. Both end the day at 9-4.

Terunofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi got one attack in, then was captured by the Yokozuna with a frontal right hand grip. Terunofuji did not give Mitakeumi time to consolidate into yotsu and return fire, he stood Mitakeumi up and drove forward for a quick win. Terunofuji remains unbeaten at 13-0.

Kyushu Day 13 Preview

With a cry of “Never give up!” the schedulers went back to the drawing board. The day 12 “Make-koshi day” was a flop, as nearly all of the marks won their matches. The Darwin funnel crumbled, and the grand plan of a day 15 barnyard brawl was nowhere to be found. In times like these, the best take to the izakaya and consult the wisdom of yeast. Perhaps they were encouraged to try again, that the plan just needed more time. They were encouraged to be less subtle, and just drive for what they want, and let the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan handle the details.

They took brush in hand, and crafted this torikumi for our day 13. It has triumphs and perils aplenty, and I think we may see at least one upset. Hold on to your zabuton folks, its going to get bumpy.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Leader: Terunofuji
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Abi
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Ura, Hokutofuji

3 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Ishiura vs Kaisei – As long as Ishiura does not do a bizzaro tachiai today, he stands a fair chance of beating Kaisei. It may seem odd given the tremendous size different between the two of them, but Ishiura has beating him 3 times out of their 7 career matches. The usual strategy involves getting to the side of Kaisei and either throwing or pushing him out. To prevent this, Kaisei just needs to keep Ishiura locked to his front quarter, and be enormous.

Yutakayama vs Terutsuyoshi – One of these two is make-koshi today. they come in with matching 5-7 records, and the loser gets to exit the fair city of Fukuoka with a losing record for November. Their 4-4 career record indicates it will be an even fight, but I give a slight edge to Yutakayama, who finally seems to be fighting with vigor.

Kotonowaka vs Chiyomaru – Another make-koshi bracket match, Kotonowaka needs one more loss for make-koshi, and Chiyomaru is at 6-6 in the middle of what is left of the funnel. Should Kotonowaka win, it would put them both candidates to hit 7-7 at the end of tomorrow. They have a 2-2 career record, but Kotonowaka is looking a bit better in week 2 than he did in his terrible week 1.

Chiyotairyu vs Tochinoshin – I worry that if Tochinoshin picks up a few more black stars, he may be a candidate for the Juryo barge that will be captained by Shohozan this time. He already has a 4-8 record to start day 13m, but Chiyotairyu (5-7) has lost the last five in a row! This guy was on a firm kachi-koshi path up until his fight against Ura on nakabe, and now he’s a mess. I have to wonder if he got injured last weekend.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – Every captain needs his bosun, and so we get Juryo barge captain Shohozan checking paying a visit to “Big Dan” Aoiyama,. Not that Aoiyama is at any risk of being relegated to Juryo, but he is another rikishi who opened strong, and has, as of today, a 9 day losing streak. Both of them are hurt, both are at a fraction of their expected sumo power, and this match could be miserable indeed.

Akua vs Tobizaru – Akua wants a win today to hit his kachi-koshi. His opponent, Tobizaru, is at 6-6, and finds himself on the path to Darwin on day 15. I think this will provide significant motivation for sumo’s flying monkey, and I am looking to him for the win today.

Kotoeko vs Kagayaki – I had to look at this twice, but Kagayaki has just ONE more win that Kotoeko going into day 13. As someone who has admired Kagayaki’s sumo for a while, this is staggering. I imagine that he’s going to pick up his 4th win today over Kotoeko, but maybe lksumo will make an attempt to figure out: at what score would Kotoeko be at risk of dropping out of the top division in one massive punt down the banzuke?

Sadanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – I genuinely want to see Chiyoshoma pick up a kachi-koshi this November. I think the mechanical improvements he’s made in his sumo should be the catalyst for a posting to the joi-jin in January. To get there he needs to win 2 of the last 3 matches, which is a tall order given how even the competition is right now. Sadanoumi at M16w is fighting well above his rank, and this could be thought of as a bit of a “test” match for him today.

Shimanoumi vs Chiyonokuni – Could be some great symmetry here today, with Chiyonokuni win delivering kachi-koshi to him and make-koshi to Shimanoumi at the same time. Should Shimanoumi prevail, it’s back into the Darwin funnel for both of them. What could go wrong?

Takayasu vs Hidenoumi – I am a bit sad that day 13 finds Takayasu fighting to stave off make-koshi. Its even worse that he is against Hidenoumi, who comes in with a superior 7-5 record. As a die-hard Takayasu fan, I worry what kind of doom a make-koshi this month might bring to his rank, as there are 2 more matches for him to endure after today.

Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Another great test match, its time for criminally over-demoted Hokutofuji to try out against some of his normal opponents. Takanosho is my favorite for a named rank in January. He’s already kachi-koshi, and he has been fighting well enough. I look for Hokutofuji to open big, and it will be up to Takanosho to blunt his opening attack and wait for an opening.

Onosho vs Okinoumi – Of course there is the potential of 4-8 Onosho to win against Okinoumi, but given the balance problems Onosho has been suffering, I think it’s unlikely. A win today would put Okinoumi back into the funnel, but that may not be an issue for him, as he has won 3 of the last 4 matches, and seems to be in a good mode right now.

Hoshoryu vs Wakatakakage – Another battle for “make koshi day”, as one of these two is going to be make-koshi at the end of today. The other will be back into the funnel for another day. Wakatakakagi has won the last 3 in a row, and I give him a slight edge today.

Daieisho vs Myogiryu – The seems to be giving Daieisho a chance to rescue himself with this match. Myogiryu has a 2-10 record for January, a 2-9 career deficit against Daieisho, and is likely going eat a loss today. While it’s nice to give Daieisho a chance to dodge make-koshi for a day, he’s back into the funnel if he wins.

Takarafuji vs Kiribayama – Both of these men come in with 4-8 make-koshi records. This level of performance is not uncommon for shin-sanyaku rikishi, so Kiribayama should just do his best today and hope that he can keep Takarafuji from setting up his defense. Kiribayama will need to stay mobile, and not let Takarafuji put his 30kg weight advantage to work.

Ichinojo vs Ura – There is about 70kg weight difference between these two, and looking at the stats, my first reaction is “I hope nobody gets hurt”. Not that the risk is solely on Ura, his grab-and-tug attack strategy could lead to some truly epic and painful outcomes to Ichinojo. A loss today would be make-koshi for Ichinojo, so I expect him to throw everything into this match.

Endo vs Meisei – Endo can still reach kachi-koshi. He just needs to win 2 of his last 3 matches. This is not out of the question given his skill level, provided his body is up for the level of sumo he will need to transact. Should he prevail today, it will be make-koshi for Meisei, who seems to have run out of momentum that his 10-5 finish at M3 in March gave his rank.

Abi vs Takakeisho – Here comes the big question mark. A pair of oshi powerhouse sumotori, their first fight in 18 months. They share an even 2-2 history, and are well matched. I expect Abi to aim high, and Takakeisho to aim center mass. Abi’s much longer reach will be his advantage, and Takakeisho’s tadpole tenacity will be the Ozeki’s advantage. I expect Abi to open strong and be in charge of the first moments of the match, and Takakeisho will have to shut down Abi-zumo before he turns on the wave-action system.

Shodai vs Tamawashi – Luckily, Shodai is already kachi-koshi, so this is all about record and rank for Tamawashi. I think if we see “Wall of Daikon” early today, the capable veteran Tamawashi will pick up his 4th loss.

Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi – In spite of his traditional week 2 fade, Mitakeumi has a chance here to play spoiler. He has only beaten Terunofuji once since his return to the top division last year, out of 8 attempts. This includes the July 2020 day 15 match when M17e Terunofuji supplied a big yorikiri to finish out his first yusho from the bottom of the banzuke. There is a 15 match history between these two, and it 11-4 in favor of the kaiju.

Kyushu Day 12 Highlights

Firstly, happy Thanksgiving to all of our American readers and followers. We deeply appreciate all of you, and the time you spend with us during the tournaments each year. Today I give thanks for our audience. I am grateful for the chance Andy gave me to write about my love for sumo, and grateful that anyone takes the time to read it.

If I had to label today, it would be “Funnel Buster”. I have been talking up the Darwin Funnel that was implemented in the middle weekend, and had been grinding away with great effect ever since. It has been driving a surprisingly broad cohort of rikishi toward 7-7 scores at the start of day 15. This is a tough plan to run, because in the final days of the basho, as it’s easy for anyone to break out either to the kachi-koshi or make-koshi side. There are a fair number of matches intended to squeeze the group toward a 6-6 score to end today, and almost all of them went the other way, instead dealing out a fair number of 7-5 and 5-7 results. There is still time to try and recover, but I think the much hoped for Grand Darwin event on day 15 is not to be this time out.

As a footnote to that, today was intended to be “make-koshi day”, with a large cadre of 4-7 rikishi set to get their 8th loss. Some of them did, but most of them found the sumo power to improve to 5-7.

That being said, some fantastic action today from Fukuoka.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin opened strong, and was moving forward. But between his bad back and his crummy knee, he was quite off balance. Sadanoumi turns him and, using what appeared to be minimum force, placed him over the bales. Kimarite is listed as amiuchi, fisherman’s throw, but it me it looked more like, “Here, just exit sir”. Sadanoumi advances to 8-4, and is kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin drops to 4-8, and is make-koshi.

Chiyonokuni defeats Ishiura – Not quite sure what Ishiura’s plan was here, but it looked similar to Hattorizakura, which I know was never the intent. Chiyonokuni easily improves to 7-5.

Kotonowaka defeats Shohozan – Shohozan opened strong, putting a lot of power into a double arm opening combo to Kotonowaka’s face. It worked for a time, but Shohozan could not keep up the pressure. Kotonowaka rallied, and drove him across the east side. Kotonowaka now 5-7

Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi gets a left hand shallow grip, and digs into Kaisei’s chest at the tachiai. This is a strong position for Terutsuyoshi, but sadly Kaisei’s enormity prevents Terutsuyoshi from doing much with it. Kaisei stands his ground, and gradually moves himself to the center of the ring. With Terutsuyoshi’s back now to the bales, Kaisei drives forward for a text-book yorikiri. Kaisei up to 6-6 following today.

Akua defeats Chiyotairyu – YES! Mutual henka! Rarely seen and always a treat when it happens, the look of mutual surprise was priceless. Left guessing what to do next, Akua attacks first and is rewarded by connecting low and strong against Chiyotairyu, who had yet to set his feet. Akua improves to 7-5.

Yutakayama defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama first up the V-Twin, and at least stalemates Yutakayama for a time, but that bum knee betrays Big Dan as he moves forward. With his balance poor, Yutakayama picks him off in passing, and sends him down for this 9th loss in a row. Yutakayama up to 5-7.

Chiyomaru defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko seemed to be holding his own today, but ate a full force hikiotoshi as he stepped forward to press the attack against Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru one of the few funnel rikishi to hold the line today, he’s now 6-6.

Tobizaru defeats Kagayaki – Tobizaru moves to his right at the tachiai, was that a partial henka? Kagayaki tracks him well, but that turn cost him valuable territory, and most of his forward power. Tobizaru the advantage and never gives Kagayaki a moment to set is feet, driving him out to advance to 6-6.

Ura defeats Hokutofuji – No handshake / nodowa tachiai from Hokutofuji today, which was the right choice. He tries to keep Ura at distance, and works to minimize his attack profile. Ura, of course, digs in and waits for the first grab and tug body part to present itself. Ura does some clever mini-pulls to try to get Hokutofuji to bring an arm forward, and those sumo reflexes of Hokutofuji kick in. Out comes that right hand to attack against the pull, followed by the left, and Ura is in business. Unable to convert it to a katasukashi (he would have needed the right arm for that), Ura had to settle for a tottari as Hokutofuji tumbles forward. Both end the day at 9-3. I hope Ura gets to fight Shodai this basho, as I think the “Wall of Daikon” technique would completely shut down Ura’s sumo.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Hidenoumi got Chiyoshoma locked up chest to chest, and then waited it out. This was a solid choice, and his larger size did a lot of the work for him, draining Chiyoshoma’s stamina a bit at a time. The battle of attrition pays off when Hidenoumi consolidates his grip, lowers his hips and drives forward for the win. Hidenoumi advances to 7-5.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi gets inside Abi’s attack radius and lands a big shove to send Abi back. In a blink of an eye, Abi rallies and drives hard against Tamawashi’s neck, takes control of the match, and finishes Tamawashi in 4 steps. Abi improves to 11-1. Wow.

Okinoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Okinoumi needed a win today, and that big tachiai was just what the man needed. Not just the power into the initial merge, but the follow through as well, pushing through Shimanoumi, breaking his stance. With Shimanoumi on the move, Okinoumi just kept moving forward for the win. Both end the day at 5-7.

Takanosho defeats Onosho – Superior sumo mechanics from Takanosho. He read Onosho’s balance correctly, and timed the thrust to meet Onosho mid stride, deflecting him to the side. Onosho’s left foot tells the story here. It’s up in the air as Takanosho connects. A second push from behind was all it took to finish him. Onosho hits his 8th loss of a rough basho for him, and is make-koshi. Takanosho pick up his 8th win and is make-koshi, and may find himself back in the named ranks for January.

Daieisho defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu opened strong, but a minor pull down attempt by Daieisho breaks his stance, and opens up his chest for Daieisho to strike. Daieisho lunges in with both hands, find’s Hoshoryu’s neck and walks him out. Both end the day at 5-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu had early control of this match, but could not keep up the pressure. I am going to guess whatever robbed him of his sumo this November is still in play. Wakatakakage recovers, and the two lock up at the center of the dohyo. Myogiryu is still in charge of this match, but can’t generate enough power to finish Wakatakakage, and each time Myogiryu charges, he gives up a bit of advantage. Wakatakakage gets his left hand inside, raises Myogiryu and runs him off the dohyo for his 5th win, improving to 5-7.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji does get to set up his preferred defend and extend sumo, but Ichinojo seems to have better position in spite of the ensuing stalemate in the center of the dohyo. There is a moment of activity in the middle of it as Takarafuji swaps grip, and gets settled in to his preferred left hand inside. Locked into the Boulder, Takarafuji tries to generate some offense, but Ichinojo is just too big, and too well positioned to move. At this point Ichinojo just has to wait for Takarafuji to tire, which happens about 2 minutes in, and finish him off. Takarafuji takes loss number 8, and is make-koshi. Ichinojo improves to 5-7.

Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Endo gets his frontal grip at the tachiai, and gets to work, getting to the side of Mitakeumi. Unable to square his hips or his shoulders to Endo, Mitakeumi is in trouble. In an attempt to improve his stance, Mitakeumi raises up to turn toward Endo, giving up ground. From there it was a simple yorikiri for Endo, and he’s got his 6th win. The traditional Mitakeumi week 2 fade is now in full effect.

Shodai defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama’s left hand missed its target at the tachiai, and that was his only chance to generate offense. The “Wall of Daikon” technique comes in on Shodai’s second step, and Kiribayama is powerless to stop it. An 8th loss for Kiribayama, and he is make-koshi for November. Shodai gets his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi.

Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu just could not resist the invitation to bring his “wild man sumo” to the dohyo today. That was just what Takakeisho needed. With Takayasu’s arms wide of his body, his chest was wide open for attack. Sure, Takayasu got a good face slap in, but that was pretty much it. Takakeisho improves to 11-1. He gets Abi tomorrow, and I think Abi’s long reach could be trouble for the Ozeki.

Terunofuji defeats Meisei – I love that everyone in the top division seems to give an extra 10% when they fight Terunofuji this November. Every last one of them thinks “Hey, let’s get some dirt on this guy”. Almost all of them get their hopes up in the first moment of the match as they get the Yokozuna back, and they start to believe they can actually do it. Then Terunofuji gets bored with their itty bitty sumo, and throws them out. Terunofuji improves to 12-0.