Natsu Day 10 Preview

We find ourselves at the end of act 2, with the middle third of the tournament almost spent. 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. its now crystal clear that Terunofuji has the potential to run away with the yusho, and may even have a shot at a perfect 15-0 result. He has the toughest part of the schedule yet to complete, but as of today, nobody can approach his level of competition.

Natsu Leaderboard

With Takakeisho’s loss day 9, nobody is close to Terunofuji now. He could just walk away with this thing.

Leader: Terunofuji
Hunt Group (2 wins behind): Takakeisho, Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, Endo, Chiyotairyu

6 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Akua vs Azumaryu – Today it’s Azumaryu’s turn to visit the top division, but he is not in any position to be considered for return to his former Maegashira rank. He has a 4-0 career record with Akua, and the two of them have matching 3-6 records. So very much a scratch-n-dent match to open day 10’s top division bouts.

Ishiura vs Okinoumi – These two have not fought since September of 2018, so it’s going to be a lot like fresh ground for both of them. The past couple of days, we have seen improving sumo from Ishiura, and we have seen Okinoumi drop a match to Ichinojo. So I am expecting them both to come in at full power and ready to win.

Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – I am looking for Terutsuyoshi to put a lot of energy into getting Chiyomaru off balance, and maybe bouncing like an errant weather balloon. All he needs to do is start that guy rolling, and he may make it all the way to the Sumida river.

Shimanoumi vs Kaisei – Both of these guys are on course for a mild make-koshi, but Kaisei needs to try to dodge that outcome given his M15e rank. True, there are rikishi in worse shape who may muscle themselves in line ahead of him on the Juryo barge of the damned, but why tempt fate? Shimanoumi has lost his last 2, so he may have picked up a problem in week 1,

Kotoeko vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki holds a 10-3 career record over the muscular Kotoeko, but he’s been fighting quite poorly this basho, and that may not indicate much going into this day 10 match. I would love to see Kagayaki return to form, but right now that does not seem to be probable.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – Both of them are big, round fellows, and both of them have been able to bring a hefty pile of explosive energy into the early moments of their matches. But I am going to eagerly see if yet again Chiyotairyu chooses to fight via the mawashi rather than his prior normal of tsuki/oshi sumo. Chiyotairyu comes in with a 7-2 record, where as Tsurugisho is at a humble 2-7, and faces the real possibility of make-koshi today.

Kotonowaka vs Endo – It’s school time on the dohyo as youngster Kotonowaka gets to take a short class with a master sumo tactician. Kotonowaka has never won a match against Endo, and there is little chance that this will change today.

Tochinoshin vs Daiamami – This first time match runs the real risk of being a last-time match as well. Tochinoshin really seemed to have significantly re-injured his damaged knee on day 9, and I would not be surprised to see him withdraw from the tournament prior to today’s match. His next loss would send him to make-koshi. He’s ranked M7e, so the chances of him dropping out of the top division are minimal. The worry is that once Tochinoshin’s knee gives out, there may be no route back for him to fighting form.

Hidenoumi vs Tamawashi – A surprisingly well balanced match, these two are roughly equivalent size and strength. Tamawashi tends towards higher intensity, and Hidenoumi toward higher endurance. Their prior matches are split 1-1, so it’s going to be a solid clash of styles.

Chiyoshoma vs Ichinojo – Chiyoshoma holds a 5-3 career record over Ichinojo, but has lost the last 3 in a row. So let’s see if Chiyoshoma’s new no-nonsense sumo baffles Ichinojo and carries the day.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – This one is going stink, and I am sure we will be able to feel it all the way in Dallas. Takarafuji is not fighting well, he’s 2 losses away from make-koshi. Aoiyama just came back from a first half kyujo. He’s rested, and ready, and can bludgeon just about anyone into tapioca pudding on a given day. He also has a 21-4 career record over Takarafuji. Ouch…

Myogiryu vs Tobizaru – Now that Tobizaru is safely make-koshi, will his sumo improve? If it does, it would not be the first time that this has happened. If it helps at all, Myogiryu has been fighting poorly as well, and may not be able to offer too much offense.

Hoshoryu vs Hokutofuji – I am excited to see if Hoshoryu can keep his win streak rolling. Hokutofuji is making some kind of move to NOT end up with the “Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All of Sumo”, and that simply will not do. So please, Hoshoryu, help that fellow reach his destiny.

Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – Wakatakakage needs to win 3 of the last 5 to hit kachi-koshi for May, which would be quite an achievement for his first visit to the top of the rank and file. But today he draws Daieisho, who is fresh from putting his friend Ozeki Takakeisho into the dirt on day 9. They have 2 prior matches, which they split 1-1.

Meisei vs Takanosho – Fans on social media are starting to wonder (on Tachiai as well): “What happened to Takanosho?”. It’s a fair question, his performance has taken a measurable dip, and he’s now 3-6, and sailing for a removal from the Sekiwake slot he has held for almost a year. Meisei holds a 6-0 career record over this Takanosho, so it could get ugly today.

Asanoyama vs Mitakeumi – It’s time for the spicy meatball sandwich at the end of the top division, where the Ozeki are facing increasingly potent opponents. Let’s start with this saucy morsel, where struggling Ozeki Asanoyama has to overcome perpetual spoiler Mitakeumi. Coming in with a 7-2 score for Natsu, and a 6-4 career match lead, it’s going to be a bit of a hill to climb for Asanoyama today.

Kiribayama vs Terunofuji – Well, to be honest, I don’t expect Kiribayama to offer much of a fight today, unless he has one of those flashes of brilliance we know he is capable of. Stand by, Kiribayama, the Kaiju is a’commin through.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Back to the next spicy number for our supper on day 10, it’s this box-car of sumo doom. Normally Shodai uses some of his best cartoon sumo against wild and crazy Takayasu. But his sumo mechanics are so off normal right now, it’s tough to know what he can muster. Shodai does have a 12-8 career record against the hairy one, but I think I give an edge to Takayasu today.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – What better way to end the day with a good old tadpole battle. It’s the Grand Tadpole vs the Mega-thrust, and it’s going to come down to the tachiai. I am looking for Takakeisho to hit and deflect early, and try not to let Onosho square his shoulders against Takakeisho’s body. May the best bull frog win!

Natsu Day 9 Highlights

To my delight, this tournament it turning into a bit of a coming out party for a couple of promising rikishi, as they are squarely in the joi-jin for Natsu, and seem to have found a formula that lets the credibly compete. in the case of Wakatakakage, he beat two Ozeki and two Sekiwake. That’s potent sumo from a Maegashira 1, who typically end up with deep make-koshi their first time ranked at the top of rank and file. Likewise, Hoshoryu now has 2 wins against Ozeki, but has yet to face the rest of the San’yaku. My advice to them is to be on your toes, as Hoshoryu is a credible competitor. Hoshoryu suffers a bit from being in the shadow of his Yokozuna uncle, Asashoryu. Usually the first thing that comes up with discussing Hoshoryu is his connection to his uncle. For myself, I am well past that one, and I am now far more interested into how his sumo develops. He has even found himself the topic of interest by sumo association chief, Hakkaku Oyakata:

Plus, look at that banner picture – a strong “Clark Kent” vibe all over this guy.

Highlight Matches

Chiyotairyu defeats Hakuyozan – I really like that Chiyotairyu has been showing us yotsu-zumo this tournament. As a guy primarily known for explosive tachiai followed by thrusting, this variation makes him tougher to fight, as opponents don’t know what quite to defend against. Today he improves to 7-2 by grabbing a hold of Juryo visitor Hakuyozan and walking him out.

Akua defeats Kotoeko – Massive effort by Akua gets him his 3rd win of the tournament. Kotoeko was fighting with all he could muster, but I saw him lose his balance at least twice in that match. Akua used almost the entire length of the dohyo to execute that hatakikomi, teetering on the bales as it finished. He improves to 3-6.

Ishiura defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma got the better of the tachiai, and was initially in control of the match. But Ishiura closed in and got a left hand grip, which served as the basis for a shitatedashinage which won the match. Both end the day at 5-4.

Chiyomaru defeats Tamawashi – Chiyomaru gave up a lot of ground at the tachiai and immediately following. Tamawashi advanced with gusto, chasing him down to secure teh win. But Chiyomaru is a wily fellow, reversing Tamawashi at the bales and delivering one massive shove to center mass to recover the win. He improves to 6-3.

Daiamami defeats Shimanoumi – Daiamami left Shimanoumi no room to work, bundling him up and moving him back and out for his 5th win, he ends the day 5-4. This match turned when Shimanoumi gave up his inside hand position, and let Daiamami take offensive control.

Endo defeats Kaisei – There are days when Endo is healthy and fighting well, it’s fun to just pause video of him in random spots and examine his body position. Normally he wants to go left hand shallow at the tachiai, but today you can see him bring that right hand in first. Kaisei is higher and has both hands low to guard against such opening gambits. But it left him completely invested in a lot of forward pressure, which Endo does not supply. He tumbles forward and Endo picks up his 7th win.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tsurugisho – Great big man / little man sumo. Tsurugisho is a bit resereved in the tachiai, not knowing what kind of sumo Terutsuyoshi was going to start with. It turns out it is a left hand frontal grip. Terutsuyoshi tries to overcome Tsurugisho’s mass advantage with a surge of strength, but Tsurugisho is just too heavy. When force won’t work, leverage will have to do. Terutsuyoshi lifts a foot, set up the kakenage, and advances to 3-6. Great match from Terutsuyoshi today.

Kotonowaka defeats Takarafuji – One of the worst matches I have seen from Takarafuji, pretty much ever.
He chooses a turn to the side, allowing Kotonowaka to circle behind and drive him out from the rear. Kotonowaka improves to 5-4.

Ichinojo defeats Okinoumi – In the preview, I had guessed that Okinoumi would benefit if the two went chest to chest at the tachiai. But Ichinojo seems to be dialed in an strong right now, and he made fast work of Okinoumi to advance to 7-2. When that much Mongolian is on the move, there is little that anyone can do to stop him.

Kagayaki defeats Hidenoumi – Kagayaki seems to have found his sumo at last. He was focused and strong today, fighting Hidenoumi, whose toes are still causing him visible pain. Kagayaki advances to 4-5, and may be able to end an acceptable score from this basho.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Its a little heartbreaking to see Tochinoshin serve as ballast for the likes of 3-6 Myogiryu, but that’s what we have now. Today we saw him struggle to keep his feet following the match after Myogiryu stampeded him over the bales in a shockingly easy win. Myogiryu improves to 3-6.

Aoiyama defeats Kiribayama – Welcome back to Big Dan, nice to see you ready with your go-to sumo: stand him up, slap him down. It took just a second or two, and Kiribayama got a face full of clay.

Meisei defeats Tobizaru – Interesting to watch these two start a frantic slapping match, and gradually watch the intensity fade ad both of them start to fade. As both continue to tire, Tobizaru ends up too far forward, and Meisei slaps him down, giving him his 8th loss and make-koshi. Meisei improves to 4-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage seems to have been expecting a huge body slam at the tachiai, and was ready to absorb Mitakeumi’s big hit. Instead Mitakeumi shifted to his left, grabbing Wakatakakage’s mawashi with his left hand and spinning him down to the clay. Henka? more or less, yes. But it’s still a win and Mitakeumi improves to 7-2.

Hokutofuji defeats Takanosho – Hokutofuji really has me worried now. Unless he picks up 2 more losses, he’s not going to get his make-koshi at all. The big difference is that Hokutofuji’s nodowa seems to have worked today, and he used it to shut down any offense that Takanosho might have had in mind. Both end the day with 3-6, but Takanosho has now lost 5 in a row.

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – Takayasu was focused on keeping Terunofuji away from his belt, which led Takayasu to batter the Ozeki’s head and face repeatedly. It worked for a time, as Terunofuji could only endure the attacks and work to open a gap to switch to offense. But Takayasu’s focus on Terunofuji’s head lead to his hand getting tangled in Terunofuji’s mage. It would have been called as a hair pull, but moment’s later Takayasu hits the clay from a Terunofuji hatakikomi. The Kaiju remains perfect at 9-0.

Hoshoryu defeats Shodai – Wow, two days in a row for Hoshoryu and a second Ozeki scalp. He may end this tournament with a make-koshi, but we have now seen what he is capable of, and it’s a matter of him refining his sumo now, and gaining constituency. Shodai was high and soft at the tachiai yet again, and put up strong resistence to Hoshoryu’s attacks. But as with yesterday, Hoshoryu’s agility was on display as today he used an outside leg trip (sotogake) to topple the Ozeki, as Hoshoryu improves to 4-5.

Daieisho defeats Takakeisho – Sadly, Takakeisho went down today at the hands of his friend, and picked up his second loss. This leaves Terunofuji 2 wins ahead of everyone and everything for May. Hopefully Isegahama put his order in at the fish market on the way home. Takakeisho put himself out of position and off balance today, in stark contrast to his high efficiency sumo from the past week, and Daieisho made him pay. Daieisho improves to 4-5.

Asanoyama defeats Onosho – Asanoyama struggled to recover this one, after he was too high at the tachiai, and not ready to defend against Onosho’s mega-thrust. But you can count on Onosho to be off balance during these attacks, and Asanoyama was able to grab his arms and keep him from centering his feet. The rest was sumo mechanics, and a win for Asanoyama. He improves to 5-4.

Natsu Day 9 Preview

Are you ready to tear into the second half of this tournament? There is still quite a lot of sumo to be enjoyed, and we are not even close to resolving any of the story lines. Its time to start sorting out the kachi from the make-koshi, and start looking at who is going to play a role in the yusho race. But first, this public service announcement from Team Tachiai stalwart, Herouth:

I have been asked repeatedly on Twitter, so here to preempt the questions:

No, if Terunofuji wins the yusho he can’t become Yokozuna immediately, he needs two consecutive yusho (or equivalent) as an Ozeki to become Yokozuna.

But if he does, he will match Futabayama’s unique achievement of winning two consecutive yusho without being an Ozeki in the first.

Do take that to heart, dear readers. If Terunofuji should win his second consecutive yusho, there will be a wave of jubilation across the sumo world, but it’s only step 1 of a 2 step process. The Kaiju will have to win two in a row to make a bid for the rope. As we pointed out in week 1, he’s the only one consistently putting up Yokozuna scores right now, so it’s a matter of letting Terunofuji continue his work.

Natsu Leaderboard

It’s time for us to start tracking the leader board, and it tells the story we all expected: Terunofuji in sole command of the lead, Takakeisho one win behind, and the 7 chaser waiting for someone to put dirt on Terunofuji. I don’t expect we will see Ozeki to Ozeki matches until later in week 2, but the Terunofuji and Takakeisho match up could be the one for all the hardware. If things follow the normal order, with a 4 Ozeki crew, this could be the second to last match on the final day. Hint, the 3-2 career record narrowly favors Takakeisho.

But do keep an eye on Mitakeumi. I know the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan smiles on him, and he is in the group 2 wins behind Terunofuji.

Leader: Terunofuji
Chaser: Takakeisho
Hunt Group: Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Onosho, Ichinojo, Endo, Okinoumi ,Chiyotairyu

7 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 9

Hakuyozan vs Chiyotairyu – Juryo 4 Hakuyozan comes up to fill a torikumi gap, and gets a chance to face Chiyotairyu for the first time. I am going to say Chiyotairyu is the favorite, but I am hoping we get to see him take the mawashi again today.

Kotoeko vs Akua – Akua is in a tight spot. He’s the bottom man on the banzuke, and he needs 6 wins out of the next 7 matches to avoid demotion. Suffice to say, he should book his ticket on the barge of the damned back to Juryo now, and avoid the rush. Kotoeko holds a 4-2 career record, and has been fighting quite well this May.

Ishiura vs Chiyoshoma – I believe in the magic of sumo, and it would be a magical day indeed if both of these evasive rikishi decided on a henka to start their 16th career match. It’s been a long time since we saw two largely unclad men leap away from each other as if they had simultaneously urinated on an electric fence. Please?

Tamawashi vs Chiyomaru – Alright, the dohyo is consecrated ground, and certainly would never be provisioned with an electric fence. But you could take a 5-3 Tamawashi and put him up against 5-3 Chiyomaru, and get a pretty good fight out of it. Now, it’s true that Chiyomaru has never won against Tamawashi. But maybe today can be the day.

Shimanoumi vs Daiamami – Oh dear, the schedulers are going for symmetry again. Now a pair of 4-4 rikishi face off, and there is a bit of a favor to Shimanoumi, who seems to have finally found his sumo. It’s always the last place you look, isn’t it?

Kaisei vs Endo – Why is this even happening? Oh yeah, Endo is significantly under-ranked this time out. But a M8 who normally is comfortable in the joi-jin up against a M15e lovable parade balloon might just be a bit much. Endo has a 9-6 advantage on the clay, so I am guessing Kaisei won’t get a rebound win after Ura gave him the business day 8.

Tsurugisho vs Terutsuyoshi – Symetery again with a pair of 2-6 rikishi, fighting it out like a pair of junk yard dogs trying to be the next guy to go make-koshi. Terutsuyoshi has been fighting hurt, and except for his day 8 mega-toss, this has been a forgettable basho for him. But he has a 5-8 career deficit against Tsurugisho.

Kotonowaka vs Takarafuji – First time match, and I urge you Kotonowaka, attack center mass, and don’t let him grab you and stalemate your sumo. Of course because Kotonowaka does not really know any better, that’s exactly what I expect to happen. The good news is that would allow Takarafuji to pick up his 4th win.

Okinoumi vs Ichinojo – Are you tired of the symmetry? Better not be, because here are a pair from that 6-2 chase group working to narrow the field. The ponderous bulk of Ichinojo presents problems for Okinoumi, as there is quite a lot of Ichinojo to try to move about. He has only beaten the Mongolian Boulder twice in 7 career matches.

Hidenoumi vs Kagayaki – Every time in the past week I have begun to hope that Kagayaki had broken through what must be an encrusting shell of ring rust or sumo atrophy, he just can’t seem to get it together. Maybe Kagayaki should just own up and ditch that black mawashi, and go back to his traditional bronze. Maybe he sent it to the cleaners, and it shrank. Imagine the difficulties that could impose…

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – Symmetry returns, and we are back to thrashing the poor crowd at 2-6, desperately trying to avoid make-koshi like plate of curry trying to escape Chiyomaru. Let’s face it, there is no escape at this point. But we get to see a hapless Tochinoshin limp around, and Myogiryu fight to his left side, putting maximum strain on Tochinoshin’s banged up right knee.

Aoiyama vs Kiribayama – Welcome back to Big Dan! I actually consider this match to be a bit of a long shot, as Kiribayama was in sad condition following his day 8 loss to Takayasu. But if he manages to get that toe re-attached, he gets the pleasure of facing a fresh and feisty Aoiyama, who may have a lot of pent up sumo to express on his first day back in competition.

Meisei vs Tobizaru – This could be make-koshi day for Tobizaru today, he comes in with just 1 win and seven losses. Should Meisei continue his 5-1 career winning record, it’s demotion zone for Tobizaru. As Team Tachiai commented in our pre-basho podcasts, Tobizaru is well above his skill level right now, and will need a couple of tournaments to re-group. But I expect him to be part of the top ranks of sumo in a year or two. Exit question – how far into the stands will he get today?

Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – To stay in range to play spoiler, Mitakeumi is going to need to put the “best of his career so far” Wakatakakage onto the clay. Wakatakakage has not taken a win in any of their 3 prior matches, and I think that he struggles with Mitakeumi’s combination of speed and girth.

Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Both of these guys are on the make-koshi path right now, and both of them are in possession of solidly losing records in spite of them both fighting with energy and vigor. Hokutofuji continue to puzzle me by being just a bit less than what is needed to be a dominant rikishi. Should Takanosho fail to win 5 of the 7 remaining matches, he would likely vacate a Sekiwake slot, a rank he has held since November of 2020.

Takayasu vs Terunofuji – Hello high interest match! This one is a real challenge for Terunofuji, who has dropped 9 of the last 10 matches against Takayasu. If we find him with a white star at the end of today, it may be a bell weather that the Kaiju is going to sweep the upper ranks.

Shodai vs Hoshoryu – First ever match, and I think everyone will admit, we are hoping that Hoshoryu can surprise yet another Ozeki. Somehow, Shodai has reverted to his older, sloppy sumo mechanics. It’s to the point that his former senpai called him out on NHK during the day 8 broadcast. I think we have seen little of Shodai’s amazing recovery moves at the edge this basho, so maybe he is saving them for week 2.

Daieisho vs Takakeisho – The career record reads 8-5 in Takakeisho’s favor, but the real story is that Takakeisho seems to have a working, repeatable formula for putting Daieisho on the clay. The exception being Daieisho’s January march to the yusho, where he was able to get a hatakikomi against the grand tadpole. I am looking for Takakeisho to reach kachi-koshi today.

Asanoyama vs Onosho – I give up on Asanoyama for now. I think that ankle was iffy to start, and got no better after Hoshoryu used it to win his day 8 match. I just hope he can find 4 more wins and reach the safety of 8. That being said, I am curious what he is going to do about Onosho’s mega-thrust attack.

Natsu Day 8 Highlights

Top of the post, we have to salute Terunofuji, who is 8-0 at the end of Nakabi. The former and shin-Ozeki could go on vacation today, and not have to mount the dohyo again until September, and be just fine. But its clear that is not his plan. He is the favorite for the yusho now, and should he take the cup again in May, the talk of him beginning a campaign for Yokozuna would rightly begin. As we have laid out in prior commentary, Terunofuji’s win / loss record makes him the most dominant man in sumo right now. He has, at least by score, been turning in Yokozuna grade performance.

Further down the banzuke, Akiseyama has withdrawn from the tournament. He was 1-6 going into day 8, and was clearly not up to full power sumo this month. Whatever injury sidelined him, we hope he heals up and returns strong. This gives Akua a much needed second win to improve him to 2-6. Speaking of which, we look forward to seeing none other than Aoiyama tomorrow on day 9. It seems whatever crippling back pain he was suffering last week has passed, and he’s ready to come knock some heads. A rested up Aoiyama at the start of week 2 could be a formula for fun just as everyone is pushing to get their 8th win.

Highlight Matches

Ura defeats Kaisei – Ura follows the rules of get low and get inside very well. You can watch him not settle to grapple with Kaisei until he is good and ready, and when he settles in it would almost seem that Kaisei has him wrapped up and contained. But you can see that his right hand is fingers up around Kaisei’s shoulder. Kaisei did stop him from the first set up for the sukuinage, but Ura grabs for Kaisei’s leg, and Kaisei reacts. Ura immediately shifts his grip back to being palm up and pulls the sukuinage. Brilliant sumo from Ura today against a much larger opponent. The crowd loves it, and so did I. He improves to 7-1 and leads the Juryo yusho race.

Kotoeko defeats Daiamami – Beautiful counter-move at the tachiai by Kotoeko, deflecting Daiamami left hand grip attempt. By leading outside and left, Daiamami surrendered inside and right to Kotoeko, who attacked with gusto. Daiamami eventually got a right hand inside, just to be met by Kotoeko’s ottsuke, a heartbeat before Kotoeko lifted Daiamami across the bales. Its sumo like this that really impresses me with Kotoeko. That was such a solid match in so many ways. He improves to 5-3.

Okinoumi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru opens with a tradition attempt at his “brand of sumo” – standing Okinoumi up and trying to immediately pull him down. Okinoumi’s too dialed in for that to work today, so the two trade thrusts, but it’s clear that Chiyomaru’s getting nowhere. Okinoumi gets a right hand deep inside grip, and he’s in business. There’s a lot of Chiyomaru to lift, so he just settles for wearing the round one down. Chiyomaru bearing down on Okinoumi, using his enormous bulk to attack, actually changes Chiyomaru’s body position enough to give Okinoumi a chance to lift with his hips, bucking Chiyomaru out for a win. Okinoumi improves to 6-2.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Ishiura – Terutsuyoshi fans around the world cheer as he picks up win #2 of the tournament. If you ever wanted to see two guys start low and fight lower, this is your match. The glorious sukuinage to finish the match was marvelous to see. Sure, I am pulling for Ishiura to have a solid kachi-koshi, but how can you not love that throw? Terutsuyoshi improves to 2-6.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki – Did you see Chiyotairyu reach for the mawashi in the tachiai? I am having a bit more hope that Chiyotairyu has some kind of yotsu-zumo trying to break through. It did open the door for Kagayaka to take over the match, and blast a series of blows to Chiyotairyu’s face. It was looking bad for Chiyotairyu, but a twisting thrust down at the bales took Kagayaki apart, sending them both to the dohyo. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-2.

Kotonowaka defeats Tsurugisho – This seems to be a very sloppy match at first, but if you look closely, you can see Kotonowaka doing some rather impressive off-tempo moves that leave Tsurugisho off balance and out of step. This opens Tsurugisho up for the uwatedashinage, which Kotonowaka uses to send Tsurugisho tumbling to the clay. Kotonowaka improves to 4-4 and still has a decent shot at a kachi-koshi for May.

Chiyoshoma defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin really looks like he needs to regroup and find some way to bring that right knee at least partially back online. Once again we see the straight-ahead sumo version of Chiyoshoma, and for another day is solid fundamentals and good mechanics that hand him another white star. Chiyoshoma improves to 5-3, and I am enjoying his new format quite a bit.

Takarafuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi invested too heavily on that left hand near where Takarafuji’s neck once was, but Tamawashi right hand placement was really good. Twice Takarafuji was able to break contact, disrupting whatever match momentum Tamawashi thought he had already established. This was all about Tamawashi trying to block Takarafuji from setting up a working hand placement, but it fed Takarafuji’s natural inclination to prolong matches. As Tamawashi tired, he became susceptible to Takarafuji’s probing attacks, and once he had tired enough, a quick combo to Tamawashi’s chest sent him out. Takarafuji picks up a much needed win to improve to 3-5.

Endo defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi came to this match looking to execute straight ahead fundamentals, but Endo had a plan. Three steps into the match, Endo had his right hand locked in, and loaded the throw. Hidenoumi went for a roll to the clay, and Endo improved to 6-2.

Ichinojo defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi deflected at the tachiai, and it was nearly enough to let Ichinojo’s own considerable momentum carry him out. But not quite enough. Ichinojo turns and puts his right hand inside, and just marches forward, driving Shimanoumi out. Ichinojo improves to 6-2.

Onosho defeats Meisei – Meisei came in strong at the tachiai, rocking Onosho back. Meisei took his second step to press forward, but Onosho was already off balance, and decided to just work with it, and stepped to the side. Meisei found himself lunging into open air, and landed for a loss. Onosho joins the 5-2 crowd that now seems to be a 6-2 crowd.

Hokutofuji defeats Tobizaru – I counted at least 5 pull down attempts between these two as the fight raged across every open inch of that dohyo. Seriously, I don’t recall seeing that much movement and frantic action since the last time that Yoshikaze and Harumafuji went after each other with gusto. Hokutofuji finishes this high-energy match with a mighty shove, and Tobizaru once again goes to greet the fans all the way up in the box seats. Needless to say, they were all thrilled to get some close up time with the Flying Monkey. Hokutofuji improves to 2-6, and is running the risk of putting his make-koshi at stake.

Takayasu defeats Kiribayama – Points to Kiribayama for really putting a lot of energy into his attempt to take down Takayasu. I think this indicates some good things in the future for Kiribayama, but his score this May is a pretty dismal 2-6 following today’s action. He made the mistake of locking up Takayasu, who in fact has super-human levels of stamina. It has been rumored that he will frequently spend afternoons pulling stumps out of newly cleared rice fields in his home town, putting several pieces of farming machinery out of work, and he will still be genki for evening matches against the former Kisenosato. The look on Takayasu’s face as this wears on clearly declares, “I have all day for this, kid. Please do continue”. Too late Kiribayama understands what is happening, and tries for something, anything to break the stalemate. Takayasu, only partially satisfied, tosses Kiribayama into an exhausted heap a the west end of the dohyo. That’s 6-2 for the human stump breaker.

Wakatakakage defeats Takanosho – A grand demonstration of why Team Tachiai things Wakatakakage has a fair amount of potential for higher rank. I love how he expertly stays just a hair width outside of Takanosho’s optimum attack range, using hit and shift sumo to keep the Sekiwake moving where he wants him to go, and finishing him with a big shove. Wakatakakage improves to 5-3, while Takanosho needs to win 5 of his last 7 to hit the safety of 8.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Shodai is back to his crummy tachiai. Even Kakuryu, who was guest commentator on the NHK broadcast, pointed it out. Of course perennial spoiler Mitakeumi was happy to make him suffer for his sloppy sumo, wrapping him out and bundling him out of the ring before he could unleash any cartoon sumo from his bag of Acme kimarite. Mitakeumi joins the growing herd at 6-2.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – I love how efficient Takakeisho is in this match. If you look, he moves maybe a foot from where the tachiai takes place. Three hits and Myogiryu’s face down on the clay. That’s some Ozeki dominance! Takakeisho stays one win behind Terunofuji, improving to 7-1.

Hoshoryu defeats Asanoyama – Like Wakatakakage, we can see flashes of brilliance from Hoshoryu on the right day. Not with the same consistency, but its in there. I think he surprised Asanoyama with the force and aggression he went to the belt, and just drove the Ozeki down. A glorious uchigake, and a direct attack at that taped ankle for a win. Now Asanoyama needs to worry about what it will take to get to 8 wins over the last 7 days. I am guessing Asanoyamam’s ankle is becoming more of a problem as the honbasho days tick by. Hoshoryu improves to 3-5, and was giddy with joy at his win.

Terunofuji defeats Daieisho – Terunofuji missed his tachiai attempt at a mawashi grip, so he settled for just overpowering Daieisho, who ran out of space for his traditional thrusting attack before he could really start. Terunofuji is kachi-koshi for May, improving to 8-0, and is the sole leader for the cup 1 week from today.