Day 14 started with the news that Ura had withdrawn from the tournament after injuring his ankle in his match against Abi. He had already racked up 9 wins, and will have a final score of 9-6. We hope he can get things back together in time for Nagoya in July. He was fighting quite well this tournament, and we would love to see him contend for the cup in week 2 again some time soon. As a result, Wakatakakage got a free win today, which is kachi-koshi for him.
Today was the day that the Darwin funnel fell to ruin. Out of the vast number of rikishi who could have ended today with 7-7 scores (22 I think), only 4 actually ended up that way. As a result, there were a large number of make and kachi koshi marks decided today. As pointed out in the day 14 preview, this is a risk on day 14 if the schedulers are in fact running a funnel plan. They did a great job of keeping the bulk of the top division tied up and moving through for the second week, my compliments to them.
The yusho race is down to two, Yokozuna Terunofuji and Maegashira 4 Takanosho. They fought already (Takanosho won) so they won’t fight again unless there is a need for a playoff after the final match of day 15. The winning record for the emperor’s cup this time will be a somewhat meager 12-3.
Mitoryu defeats Kotokuzan – Whatever sumo Kotokuzan had in March that got him into the top division for Natsu has long since run off, leaving him unable to really fight at this point. With today’s loss he is 2-12, while Mitoryu improves to 6-8. I feel bad for Kotokuzan, given how hard he worked to get to Makuuchi. Hopefully he can fix his health problems and come back.
Midorifuji defeats Chiyoshoma – A nice, deep right hand grip for Midorifuji at the tachiai. I was curious what he was going to do with it. He tried a couple of things, and Chiyoshoma stayed on his feet, and locked in. his second surge found leverage, and he swung Chiyoshoma around for a shitatenage. Two men escape the Darwin funnel with Midorifuji kachi-koshi at 8-6, Chiyoshoma make-koshi at 6-8.
Okinoumi defeats Kagayaki – This kind of reminded me a bit of butsugari, with Kagayaki pushing against Okinoumi, and Okinoumi deciding he was not putting enough effort into it and thrusting him down at the bales. Go regroup in Juryo, Kagayaki. Come back when you are fighting well. Okinoumi advances to 8-6, and is kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho had the advantage for the bulk of this match, but could not convert that to a win. This is youth and inexperience. Myogiryu is a seasons vet, and knew that he wanted to wait Kotoshoho out for a time. He let Kotoshoho lean in and push, then broke Kotoshoho’s balance, powering the throw. That’s loss number 8 for Kotoshoho and he is make-koshi for Natsu. Myogiryu improves to 6-8.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – The conversion of Chiyotairyu from his starting for to today is tremendous. I recall watching his day 2 and 3 matches and wondering if the thunder-god had run out of energy. It seems it just took a bit longer to get him ready to fight. He blasted Shimanoumi away from the center of the dohyo, and just kept hitting him center mass. This was solid, powerful oshi-zumo done well, and it carried Chiyotairyu to kachi-koshi at 8-6.
Takarafuji defeats Yutakayama – I would like to think this 3rd win was enough to keep Takarafuji in the top division, even if it’s in the bottom ⅓ of the banzuke. A couple of mistakes by Yutakayama, 1) Attacking Takarafuji’s neck – there isn’t one 2) Not defending against Takarafuji’s right hand mawashi grip. The loss for Yutakayama was his 8th, and he is make-koshi for Natsu.
Kotoeko defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu’s balance was off at the initial merge following the tachiai. This allowed Kotoeko to turn him to the side, and attach his left hand low and deep on Azumaryu’s mawashi. From this position, Azumaryu had few defensive options, and Kotoeko quickly drove him back, and walked him out. Kotoeko improves to 6-8.
Wakamotoharu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had a narrow window of time to put Wakamotoharu out of the ring, and he nearly achieved that goal. But Ichiyamamoto did not defend well, and was attacking high. Wakamotoharu secured a right hand grip, and shut Ichiyamamoto down. As Wakamotoharu attempted a grip shift, Ichiyamamoto drove forward to finish Wakamotoharu off. By the thinnest of margins, Wakamotoharu got his revised grip, and executed a throw. the both went crashing out of the ring. A monoii ensued and the match was called for Wakamotoharu. He gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Tobizaru defeats Oho – I think this match is a thumbnail of why Oho may not be ready for the top division. He came to the ring today with a pretty good thrusting routine, but it was predictable, repetitive, and failed to do much against Tobizaru. I was amazed that each of his combo’s was nearly identical. He did get Tobizaru in trouble for a moment, but Tobizaru rallied and sent him out of the ring. Both end the day at 6-8.
Meisei defeats Endo – Another funnel match that went the wrong way, this high intensity oshi battle came about after Meisei broke Endo’s grip attempt at the tachiai. Endo matched Meisei blow for blow for a time, but Meisei eventually pushed through Endo’s defenses, and delivered power to Endo’s body. The resulting oshitaoshi send Endo flying into the waiting Tochinoshin, and make-koshi at 6-8 for Natsu, while Meisei is kachi-koshi at 8-6. Quite the change from his 1-14 in Osaka.
Nishikigi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji immediately found Nishikigi at his chest, and pushing forward strongly. If you are Hokutofuji, you tend to pull your opponent in this position, and he did. This failed, of course, and resulted in Nishikigi chasing him around the ring, and eventually out. Nishikigi is our first Darwin score with a 7-7.
Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – This match was all Tamawashi, who was in a mood to get his 8th win today. He attacked without pause, shutting down whatever Tochinoshin was going to try. Traditional “stand him up, then pull him down” sumo from Tamawashi, he improves to 8-6.
Takanosho defeats Kiribayama – Takanosho’s right forearm did a lot of work in the opening moments of this match. Much as we saw Ura do a few days ago, he used it as a shield against his opponent. The match went into a half-grapple / half-push mode, that ended with Kiribayama attempted a leg trip, but did not have the balance to keep upright. Takanosho pushed him forward, and Kiribayama touched the clay. Takanosho maintains his share of the lead with 11-3
Takayasu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Wild tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, I think I saw him kick Takayasu in the shin. As the fight progressed, Terutsuyoshi pout a vice grip on Takayasu’s right hand and backed away. Takayasu deftly put his right on Terutsuyoshi’s shoulder, pulled his hand free, and slapped Terutsuyoshi to the clay. Takayasu improves to 5-9.
Hoshoryu defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama started well, and we even got to see the V-Twin attack for a moment. But Aoiyama tried some kind of pivoting escape move, and accidentally turned his back on Hoshoryu. Hoshoryu seized this opening, and drove Aoiyama from the rig, pushing him from behind for an okuridashi, increasing his score to 8-6 and securing his kachi-koshi.
Daieisho defeats Sadanoumi – This was always going to be a tough fight for Sadanoumi. Daieisho opened strong with his traditional mega-thrusting attack. I was impressed with Sadanoumi’s counter, and he managed to get Daieisho moving back and away. But it was a bit too far forward, and Daieisho slapped him down. Both end the day at 10-4, but the loss knocks Sadanoumi out of contention for the cup.
Kotonowaka defeats Abi – Abi’s initial attack cluster went wide of their mark, and he found Kotonowaka pushing ahead rapidly. Abi stepped to the side, and attacked again. He caught Kotonowaka off balance and had the power to finish him, but Kotonowaka stepped out of the way, and pushed Abi down. Kotonowaka is kachi-koshi at 8-6, Abi is the third rikishi with a Darwin 7-7 score.
Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – The answer to “Who is the next kadoban ozeki?”. That would be Mitakeumi, who will need 8 wins in front of his home town crowd in Nagoya to maintain his Ozeki rank. In this battle of the tadpoles, it was all Takakeisho. Mitakeumi’s lack of defense underscores my hunch that he has some kind of back or hip injury that is preventing him from defending well. Takakeisho ends the day 7-7, and is the 4th and final rikishi with a Darwin score. Mitakeumi is make-koshi at 6-8.
Terunofuji defeats Shodai – Readers know that I think the chief gyoji, Inosuke, has more than a couple of problems, and at time it impacts important matches – like it did today. I do hope the NSK considers if it’s time for this fellow to hang up his gumbai and enjoy his retirement. In the match, Terunofuji captured Shodai early, and ran him around the dohyo, and then placed him out of the ring. Terunofuji improves to 11-3, and is tied with Takanosho for the yusho heading into day 15.