Aki Day 14 Preview

Normally by this point in a basho, the yusho is decided, or down to two rikishi. Today, we get an army of sweaty, large fellows who each want to take their shot. And it’s a wide roster of fresh faces and old favorites than we are used to, and to be honest, any one of them could end up with the goods. With the three top men in sumo all sitting it out, we were bound to get a result that was out of the ordinary. But none of Team Tachiai saw this coming, but now we finally come to the closing brawl to end it all, as you can tell I am delighted.

Aki Leaderboard

This isn’t a leaderboard, it’s a roll call! Target yusho winning record will either be 11-4 or 12-3, depending on who loses which matches this weekend. Hoo boy!

Leaders: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Okinoumi, Tsurugisho
Chasers: Goeido, Asanoyama, Takarafuji, Meisei, Yutakayama

2 Matches Remain

Please consult the excellent write up on the madness from Tachiai’s own lksumo, who is second to none at these things, which is just down the page.

What We Are Watching Day 14

Ishiura vs Wakatakakage – Winner kachi-koshi. I think Ishiura deserves a henka today.

Shohozan vs Azumaryu – First time match up between these two, with Azumaryu still needing 2 more wins to lock in kachi-koshi. It looks like yet again there is some manner of log-jam for Juryo demotion, and we will get far more denotable rikishi than there will be promotable rikishi out of Juryo.

Onosho vs Yutakayama – A win today for Onosho and he’s made his 8, but we saw the “wall of hands” from Yutakayama on day 13, and that might just be a formula now for him. Luckily Onosho does not hesitate to take a few blows to his face.

Tochiozan vs Enho – As with the last basho, Enho has stalled in the second week a bit, and needs just one more win to get his kachi-koshi. Should that happen, he would also give Tochiozan his make-koshi, and add his venerable name to the log-jam that is eligible for Juryo.

Terutsuyoshi vs Takagenji – How is it these two are 3-10? That’s just so miserable. I don’t really care which one wins right now, as both of them will need to regroup for November. I suggest they forget this match and visit the Ueno Zoo instead.

Tsurugisho vs Kotoyuki – Tsurugisho holds a 2-0 career advantage over Kotoyuki, but I might look for the “Fierce” Kotoyuki to make a dent in that small lead on day 14.

Kagayaki vs Kotoeko – With Kagayaki already make-koshi, will Kotoeko get the win and head into day 15 ready for a Darwin match? You know they are coming, the schedulers love that stuff. I would encourage Kagayaki to tune up his tachiai a bit more. He’s got the pieces in his box of toys, but he’s not quite assembling in the best possible way. He strikes me as being somewhat in the mold of Kisenosato, so maybe he should seek out the Oyakata’s guidance.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi has won 3 of his last 4 matches, and looks really dialed into his sumo right now. Given that Shimanoumi is struggling, and likely hurt, I would say we may see the Sakaigawa man get his 8th today.

Chiyotairyu vs Daishoho – Guys! Yeah, you – scheduling committee! These are some miserable blinking matches. Truth be told, some well loved sumotori are in shambles this tournament, and Chiyotairyu is probably one of the ones that comes to mind.

Nishikigi vs Shodai – But if not, I am sure Shodai comes to mind instead. Shodai is capable and competent, but he has been the washroom attendant’s soiled cleaning rag this September. But his 4-2 career record over Nishikigi should give some hope that maybe he can pull a few more wins together.

Daieisho vs Meisei – I would guess they want to “weed out” Meisei from contention by putting him up against Daieisho, from whom he has never taken a match. But Daieisho is one loss from make-koshi, and Meisei has been defying expectations since shonichi.

Tomokaze vs Asanoyama – Oh, here’s some red meat! We get yusho-capable Asanoyama going up against “never had a make-koshi” pull-man Tomokaze. Sorry, Tomokaze, but your next loss is a new experience. Take heart in knowing that it’s part of being in the big leagues, and you are in the thick of it.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – You could just say “pusher-thruster match” here, but that would miss the glory of this bout. Both men bring a unique take to maneuver – attack sumo, and this is a fantastic clash of styles. 5-3 advantage for Tamawashi, but Hokutofuji is on a mission to pick up win number 8. The winner is kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Aoiyama – As bad as Kotoshogiku’s knees are, I think he’s going to end up winning this match. Something is really wrong with Aoiyama, and I think that he will succumb to the Kyushu Bulldozer.

Abi vs Takarafuji – Well, Takarafuji is coming in with his smooth, under-control sumo, and Abi-zumo is this wild, chaotic maelstrom of flying arms and legs. They are tied 3-3 over their career, so this could be a wild match. Takarafuji, at 9-4, is performing well above his recent average.

Okinoumi vs Endo – At long last, they stop bottom-feeding Okinoumi, putting him up against Endo when right now Endo is quite genki. I like this Endo, because if anyone knows what kimarite Ozeki Sakaigawa Namiemon used on day 4 of Haru in 1872, it’s Endo, and he can and will replicate it. Of course Okinoumi is the ultimate everyman / Cinderella story, and I still think we may see him on the “brawl to end it all” after the final match on Sunday.

Ryuden vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho has yet to lose to Ryuden, but I can’t help but wonder if Takakeisho is going to bide his time. I am not saying throw the match, but he just came off injury, he has reached 10 wins to take back Ozeki, does he need another yusho right now? Maybe not….

Mitakeumi vs Goeido – These last two matches are complete barn-burners, dripping with meaning at the surface and in deeper thought. Goeido and Mitakeumi have been more that competitors, they have spoiled each other’s basho for a few years now. They will compete with that legacy of “I owe you one” on day 14, and it literally may decide who is in the playoff on day 15.

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – You could look at the 12-9 career record and assume they wanted to give wounded Ozeki Tochinoshin a chance to stake his final claim on day 15 against Goeido. But nothing is easy for Tochinoshin right now. He’s too hurt, too banged up, but he’s going to get up there on Saturday and he’s going to put it all on the line. It’s going to hurt, and its going to be more than anyone should ever go through, but he’s going to fight Myogiryu with all the strength he can muster. Good luck big man.

Aki Day 13 Highlights

The much hoped for grand brawl has formed, and the final two days of the basho are going to be fantastic. We know for sure that the yusho winner will have no more than a 12-3 record, and that puts 4 rikishi in contention with another 5 possible should all of the leaders take at least 1 loss over the next 2 matches. The yusho will not be decided until senshuraku, and it will quite possibly involve at least 2 rikishi in a playoff for the cup. In the last big story of Aki left open, Tochinoshin’s kachi-koshi hope stayed alive today with his defeat of Ryuden. If he can beat Myogiryu on day 14, his fate is decided in the final match of the basho. The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan is most pleased. This one is coming down to the wire, and Team Tachiai is giddy with excitement.

It reflect on the fact that you have Tsurugisho, in his first Makuuchi tournament, a valid yusho contender going into the final weekend. You have Okinoumi, a long serving veteran who has been a stable mid-Maegshira for forever, with occasional flashes of awesome along the years. He’s likely toward the end of his career now, but he’s in the mix for the cup. The two leading tadpoles (and Sekiwake), Mitakeumi and Takakeisho, are the men to beat. Both have a yusho to their name already, and both are capable of performing under the pressure of the final weekend.

It’s a great time to be a sumo fan!

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – One sided match that was all Takanosho with zero offense from Azumaryu. Good chance we may see Takanosho back in the top division for November.

Yutakayama defeats Enho – Yutakayama worked hard to generate a high-intensity battery of tsuppari that Enho could not penetrate. Enho employed multiple attack plans, but was completely shut down by Yutakayama’s wall of flying hands. I know some readers may have wondered why I have been a Yutakayama backer in the past few basho. I think that he is Asanoyama’s future foil, and a rival for Abi.

Onosho defeats Nishikigi – It took him the whole first week, but Onosho seems to be back in his groove, with 4 consecutive wins. Nishikigi opened strongly, getting Onosho backed to the tawara, but Onosho seems to like this kind of start to a match, and once again rallied strongly and drove Nishikigi out. With that red mawashi finally kicking in, a kachi-koshi is still very much possible for Onosho.

Shohozan defeats Meisei – Shohozan now kachi-koshi while kicking Meisei out of the leader group for a second consecutive day. For yet another day we had matta-madness, and frankly I think it’s quite overdone now. By the time the match finally was allowed to continue, both rikishi were hesitant at the first step. This kind of gyoji action has the potential to really ruin sumo. The match itself was the kind of brawl we would normally expect from Shohozan, and it was great to see him finally execute “his brand of sumo”.

Sadanoumi defeats Takagenji – Not sure how, but I feel sorry for Takagenji right now. Not that Sadanoumi did anything to cause this, other than give him a hearty denshamichi today. Just that his sumo is nowhere to be found right now, and I am going to guess it’s mostly his off-dohyo troubles. That’s ok, little Genji, we will save a spot for you to come back later.

Kotoyuki defeats Tochiozan – Kotoyuki has now won 4 of the last 5, and seems to be locked into his “fierce” mode. Tochiozan getting perilously close to being the subject of a day 15 Darwin match, which would make long term sumo fans uncomfortable. Just within the past year, there was talk about a resurgent Tochiozan possibly becoming a late-career San’yaku regular.

Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, I guess it was henka o’clock in Tokyo today. Weak ass sumo from Ishiura, taking a win from now 3-10 Terutsuyoshi. Nobody likes a heel, sir.

Tsurugisho defeats Takarafuji – With his win over Takarafuji, Tsurugisho is now at 10 wins in his first top division basho. Not unusual for shin-maku rikishi, but this time out, it’s enough to get him a lead spot in the yusho race. Takarafuji gave him a great fight, but as Tsurugisho is pushed back to the tawara, he suddenly “hulks out” and you see him flex and lift Takarafuji into a match winning sukuinage. Where has that been this basho?

Okinoumi defeats Kagayaki – I love the move Okinoumi applied in this match. Kagayaki is too well positioned and too stable once he gets his feet set to push around much, or to slap down. So Okinoumi reaches inside with Kagayaki’s arms latched around his shoulder, and pulls him down, essentially imploding his stance. Although the kimaraite is listed hatakikomi, it’s the implosion pull that won the match. Really neat move. Okinoumi remains tied for the lead

Kotoeko defeats Daishoho – Kotoeko won this through sheer grim determination and gutting it out. Both men fought with fury at the tachiai, until the settled down to an endurance test in the middle of the dohyo, each holding a right hand inside grip. When Daishoho’s stamina started running low, Kotoeko was able to break his grip, which set up the yorikiri. Kotoeko saves himself from make-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is an absolute mess right now, and really is not putting up much offense or defense. He picks up his 11th loss while Daieisho dodges the make-koshi mud-ball once more.

Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – Asanoyama showing some remarkable versatility today, he adapted well to Tamawashi’s oshi-zumo form and found a moment when the former Sekiwake was off balance and attacked. I will state that Asanoyama seems to have an impressive level of strength supporting his sumo.

Aoiyama defeats Shodai – Now I am really feeling sorry for Shodai, and that’s an odd state for me. Aoiyama attempt a push-pull, and it nearly blows up on him, but Shodai never squares his hips, and is pushed to the side for the loss.

Hokutofuji defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze opens strong, and stalemates Hokutofuji with great effect. But his bad habit of pulling asserts itself, and he finds himself under renewed attack. Well, it worked so well the first time, why not try it again? Well Tomokaze is getting an ugly lesson in top echelon rikishi, as his second pull against Hokutofuji is his last. Give it up Tomokaze, bring your real sumo against these guys and you will do just fine. This cheap stuff is not for the big fights.

Endo defeats Kotoshogiku – I gained still more appreciation for Endo’s skill as a technician because of this match. Granted Kotoshogiku’s forward pressure is a fraction of what it should be if his body were not so damaged. But Endo absorbs his attacks, and patiently sets up his win. With a kachi-koshi at Komusubi, we see Endo stick in the san’yaku for the first time ever. It’s been a long time coming, but maybe it’s finally his time. Oh, there was also the terribly painful interview following his kachi-koshi.

Abi defeats Shimanoumi – As with any Abi match, its a wild storm of thrusting and pushing, but today it featured a twisting pull at the end. Abi completes the Komusubi kachi-koshi sweep, making the November san’yaku ranks the most hotly contested in sumo.

Mitakeumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu tries an hatakikomi as Mitakeumi is rushing forward to win, but Myogiryu touches out before Mitakeumi could land. A monoii results, but the gumbai is upheld and Mitakeumi retains his slot as co-leader for the cup. Mitakeumi tends to fade out in week 2, but he’s won 4 of the last 5, and with his 10th win, he is probably getting in position for another bid to become Ozeki shortly.

Tochinoshin defeats Ryuden – You know this hurt, you can see it especially in that step Tochinoshin takes just after he forces Ryuden out. Ryuden’s sumo was great this match, but Tochinoshin seems to have access to at least some of his amazing strength. Once the Ozeki got his left hand outside grip, you knew he was going to lift, even if that was the end of his knee and by extension his sumo career, he was going to do it. Bold move, and it worked. 2 more to go.Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Classic Goeido sumo. Takakeisho had no time to react or even adjust his stance. This is unusual for Takakeisho, who usually has the faster first move. The biggest issue for Takakeisho is Goeido got the drop on him at the tachiai, and by the time the Goeido locomotive crashes into him, he is still low in his crouch. I would guess that Takakeisho correctly worried Goeido might deploy a henka, and slow-rolled his tachiai. Instead he got a face full of Goeido, and a fast trip to the clay. I love this form of Goeido, and I wish he could do it every match. So fast, so overwhelming.

Aki Day 12 Highlights

大蝌蚪

A pair of story threads for Aki came to a close today, and one more hangs by a thread. Ozekiwake Takakeisho scored his 10th win today, and returned to Ozeki status. It’s a remarkable story, and a great come-back from treatment for knee damage. In addition to getting his 10, he is (for the moment anyhow) the sole leader in the yusho race. Following Takakeisho’s win over Myogiryu, Goeido scored his 8th win, beating Ryuden, and clearing kadoban for the 8th time in his somewhat puzzling career.

But as one Ozekiwake exits, the final match of the day saw injured Ozeki Tochinoshin take one step closer to the drop. At 5-7, he needs to win all 3 remaining matches to clear kadoban, or he will be the shin-Ozekiwake for November. Tough times continue in the top ranks.

Highlight Matches

Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – Yutakayama picks up his 8th win, and with his kachi-koshi moves away from the bottom edge of the banzuke, which has already gobbled up Toyonoshima and Takagenji.

Nishikigi defeats Takagenji – Nishikigi gets a left hand inside at the tachiai, and Takagenji is trapped. A valiant attempt by Takagenji to change his grip, but Nishikigi is latched on tighter than a tick in Texas, and uses his opponents gambit to escort him across the bales.

Daishoho defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan has zero forward pressure today, and Daishoho stampedes him back and out. Tochiozan is perilously positioned should he end the tournament make-koshi.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki meets Onosho’s push at the tachiai, but can only hold his ground for a few moments before the Onosho starts advancing. In spite of Kagayaki getting a good armpit attack going at the start, Onosho’s hips stay much lower, and his feet are much better set. Kagayaki cannot find a break to get lower, as Onosho is relentless. Much as I love Kagayaki, I think his long legs rob him of some natural sumo mechanics at times.

Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – I think this kimarite should be renamed neko-nage, or “cat’s throw”. I see my cats do this to each other all the time. Grab your opponent by the whiskers and pull him down. Of course this would (in the cat world) be followed by biting and kicking, but… yeah whatever.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Azumaryu – Well, that was a henka. Sort of a crab-henka with a pincer move to the knee, so it had some interest to it, but it was still weak sumo.

Kotoyuki defeats Shohozan – This match tells me 2 things. First, the “fierce” Kotoyuki may be the next brawler we look to during honbasho. He takes it to Shohozan and overwhelms him at his own sumo. Second, Shohozan is only operating at a fraction of his power right now.

Okinoumi defeats Meisei – Former co-leaders battle it out, and the veteran takes the white star. Both are still in the hunt, as the group chasing the post day 12 leader is 5 men wide. Okinoumi prevents Meisei from setting up any offense at all, and just moves him away for the win.

Takarafuji defeats Enho – Takarafuji has always been a first-class sumo technician, and today we see that he has solved his version of the Enho puzzle with great results. Again and again Takarafuji stalemates everything Enho tries, and when Enho finally gets super-low and moves for the mawashi, Takarafuji gently lowers him to the clay.

Kotoeko defeats Ishiura – Ishiura brought all of the offense, but a great defensive pivot by Kotoeko at the tawara saved the match, and kept him from make-koshi. First rate effort.

Kotoshogiku defeats Tomokaze – Kotoshogiku had a superior tachiai, and just advanced well. Tomokaze could not respond in time to keep himself inside the ring. Perhaps some of Kotoshogiku’s frustration is now eased…

Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Daieisho kept Asanoyama at arms length, frustrating the Natsu yusho winner in his efforts to get a mawashi grip. As Asanoyama’s efforts become more vigorous, they lead to him becoming unbalanced, which Daieisho reads perfectly to roll him to the clay.

Hokutofuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu opens with his big tachiai, but Hokutofuji surges back after hitting the bales. Chiyotairyu is still looking wrecked after yesterday’s bloody result with Goeido, and as soon as Hokutofuji starts attacking Chiyotairyu’s face, he goes soft and concedes the match. I think a wise most given how painful that lip must be.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Aoiyama takes his two-piston / V-Twin sumo out of the garage and runs over Shimanoumi. After some poor sumo from the man-mountain, it’s good to see him revert to “his brand of sumo” for a win.

Abi defeats Shodai – Well, now I am at the point where I am feeling sorry for Shodai. He is not really a 2-10 rikishi, he’s just having a bad basho. I am sure there are distractions outside of the dohyo that may have his mind less than sharp right now, and his chaos sumo is just not paying out like it normally would.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Endo clearly had a high-skill match in mind, with a nuanced opening gambit with that left hand of his. But then Tamawashi just gunned the throttle and plowed him out of the way. The up-side being all of the fans along the west-side hanamichi who got up close to “Endo the Golden” for a moment as he struggled to bring himself to a halt.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Takakeisho stood Myogiryu up, and threw him down. Simple, effective and elegant. Welcome back, Ozeki Takakeisho. I once again anoint you as the Grand Tadpole – (大蝌蚪)

Goeido defeats Ryuden – So Goeido blows up Ryuden at the tachiai, but somehow it was a matta too. Shikimori came very close to a handing out a second jicchuugi-sho in as many days. Ok, let’s try again. Then… matta-matta-matta mo’matta. When they finally get things going, Ryuden is able to lure Goeido into a yotsu battle, and even Murray thinks Ryuden has the advantage here. But Goeido keep his cool and dominates Ryuden, expertly swinging him into an uwatenage for his 8th win, clearing kadoban. Crazy ass match.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochinoshin – You know what this match needs? That would be matta with a tart matta gravy. Is this because there are so many kyujo that they need to stretch the broadcast? It seems really out of place. Once they get going, it’s all Mitakeumi, but to be honest I am sure both contestants were probably expecting Shikimori to call them back again. Just one fan’s suggestion here, let the rikishi battle it out, sir. I know in the US, a lot of fans abandoned the NFL because the referees too frequently got in the middle of what should have been legitimate plays, and ruined the sport.

Aki Day 11 Highlights

There has been a fair amount of discussion about the yusho race for this basho on Twitter and Facebook, yep and even in our comments section. I look at it like this: the winning score will be between 11-4 and 13-2. I tend to think given how evenly matched folks are right now it’s closer to 11-4. From that I look at who can put together 11-4 mathematically. From that group I look at who has the stamina and focus to go 11-4, as the pressure of being in the lead group can crush a rikishi’s concentration in the last few days. Using that benchmark, I would come up with the following hypotheticals

11-4 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho
  • Mitakeumi
  • Asanoyama
  • Okinoumi
  • Goeido
  • Endo
  • Shohozan
  • Meisei

12-3 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho
  • Asanoyama
  • Mitakeumi
  • Okinoumi

13-2 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho

Why not Meisei? His best ever record in the top division has been 10-5, and his highest ever rank Maegashira 4. He has never earned a yusho in any of the lower divisions, and may not have endured the pressure of a championship race. I think he has fought well, but if he makes it far enough to be in contention the final weekend, he would probably struggle with the likes of Asanoyama, Takakeisho or Mitakeumi.

I do think this will likely be an 11-4 yusho, and that means a huge amount of competition right up until the end. So far, everyone is on course for a big brawl to end it all.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s lengthy thrusting attack had surprisingly little effect of Tochiozan, who seemed content to stand his ground, and exhaust Chiyomaru’s limited stamina.

Yutakayama defeats Nishikigi – This looked like they could have called a matta, as Yutakayama was early off the mark, but the Gyoji let them fight it out. Nishikigi found himself 2 steps behind from the start, and never had a chance to recover. Yutakayama one win away from kachi-koshi now.

Onosho defeats Takagenji – Onosho completely dominates Takagenji, who takes his 8th loss and a confirmed return to Juryo. I have no doubt he will be back once he gets his sumo and his life in order. He’s in a tough spot.

Meisei defeats Ishiura – Ishiura once again takes flight, and finds that sumo is usually about keeping your feet firmly on the clay. For some odd reason, he makes a leap to his right, I think anticipating a charge forward from Meisei that never happened. Instead he made himself weightless and an easy mark for a shove into the zabuton. Meisei maintains his share of the lead.

Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki again used solid fundamentals to control the early stages of this match, but he could not match Sadanoumi’s intensity. With his heels on the tawara, Sadanoumi finds a route to morozashi and attacks. Kagayaki has no response and finds himself with his 6th loss.

Azumaryu defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki, even the fierce one, is weak against lateral motion. After a strong opening attack, Kotoyuki finds himself lunging for the east side shimpan after Azumaryu deftly steps to the side.

Takarafuji defeats Daishoho – After a surprisingly weak tachiai, and a moment where both men are a bit “soft”, the two go chest to chest, which clearly favors Takarafuji. After a protracted leaning session, Takarafuji switches his grip and drops Daishoho to the clay. Takarafuji gets his 8th win, and Daishoho his 8th loss.

Tsurugisho defeats Okinoumi – Co-leader Okinoumi finds himself face down on the dohyo thanks to Tsurugisho’s acrobatics. This knocks Okinoumi out of the leader group, but still within range of most possible yusho outcomes. Tsurugisho reaches his 8th win, and kachi-koshi.

Shohozan defeats Kotoeko – Both men take a left hand inside grip at the tachiai. I have noticed that Shohozan is working more on the mawashi now than ever, and we seldom see his mobile “strike and move” sumo. In a battle of strength, Kotoeko finds out what “Big Guns” has loaded as Shohozan dances him over the bales.

Enho defeats Kotoshogiku – And for another day, Enho delivers some of the most exciting sumo on the torikumi. To his great credit, Kotoshogiku absorbs a fantastic amount of “tries” from Enho: a throw, a twist down, a leg pick – and remains upright and in the fight. But when Kotoshogiku grabs Enho around his neck and tries to pull, he gives up the match. Great sumo from these two. Maybe this is why Hakuho is kyujo so much, he trains with this guy who is throwing the kitchen sink at the Yokozuna several times a day.

Myogiryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Welcome back Myogiryu. Terutsuyoshi did not even really get off of the shikiri-sen before he had Myogiryu attacking with vigor.

Shimanoumi defeats Daieisho – This match was all Daieisho, as Shimanoumi absorbed thrust and blows at a frantic pace. But Daieisho over extended in a push to force Shimanoumi out, only to find Shimanoumi had stepped to the side and left Daieisho with a eye level view of the tawara.

Tomokaze defeats Aoiyama – No this is more like Tomokaze’s typical sumo. Sadly Aoiyama is a bit of a wreck right now, but at least we got to see Tomokaze moving forward and fighting strongly.

Hokutofuji defeats Asanoyama – Hokutofuji surprises Asanoyama, completely disrupting his attempts to establish a belt grip and an offensive stance. For readers asking about the “handshake tachiai”, it’s on full display today. Asanoyama finds himself trying to react to the resulting nodowa, rather than getting a belt grip and getting to work. Asanoyama drops one back from the leader group, but still very much in yusho contention.

Endo defeats Shodai – Endo has control of this match from the tachiai, granted the tachiai was against Shodai. But he catches Shodai shifting his stance and rotates into a beautifully executed uwatedashinage.

Tamawashi defeats Abi – Abi gets his preferred double arm thrust to Tamawashi’s neck at the tachiai. But Tamawashi has his hands pushing against Abi’s chest, and Abi find himself out matched. Abi continues to try working at Tamawashi’s face, which I think Tamawashi has long since written off, and focuses his thrusting attack at Abi’s body, completely disrupting him, and taking the match.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden spends most of this match trying to absorb everything that Mitakeumi throws at him, which seems to be quite a bit. But Ryuden stays in the fight and finds a route to Mitakeumi’s chest. In fantastically timed move, he moves in with his right hand and pivots, turning Mitakeumi who struggles to regain his footing. Before the Sekiwake can plant his feet, Ryuen shoves hard and gets Mitakeumi over the tawara. Great recovery from Ryuden, and he also knocks Mitakeumi out of the leader group.

Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – A wild and chaotic match that was one part yotsu, two parts oshi. Was anyone else amazed to see Takakeisho go for a deep right hand grip as Tochinoshin attempted what looked like a kubinage? With Takakeisho latched on to his belt, the kubinage falls apart, and Tochinoshin falls forward. Takakeisho moves behind and pushes Tochinoshin into a surprised and gyoji, dropping not only the Ozeki but the highest ranking referee in sumo. In the more ancient forms of sumo, this would have counted as 1 win for Tochinoshin (oshidashi vs the gyoji), 2 wins for Takakeisho (Tochinoshin by okuritaoshi, the gyoji by oshidashi), and would have resulted not only in the immediate re-promotion of Takakeisho back to Ozeki, but an on the spot presentation of the rare and seldom awarded jicchuugi-sho (十柱戯賞) special prize.

Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – The matta fest was the attraction, the match itself was a brief and bloody affair. One more win for Goeido to clear kadoban.