Osaka Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the final weekend! This is where we finish sorting everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and crown the yusho winner who gets to take home the Emperor’s cup. The schedulers have not pushed to get a big crowd of rikishi into a 7-7 record this basho, so there was never really a funnel to drive a group into Darwin matches. But if everything turns out correctly, we could have a few for day 15. Right now there are 10 rikishi with 6-7 or 7-6 scores. Including some famous names.

Haru Leaderboard

With Daieisho in the lead, he controls the outcome right now. Chances are pretty good it will be him who lifts the big red fish on Sunday. He is the only one of the group who has prior yusho experience, and so I think that gives him a bit of an edge. He also seems to be healthy, and his sumo is working quite well at the moment.

Daieisho faces Midorifuji today, and a Midorifuji win would blow the race wide open. I am not sure what his chances are, but that would be quite the exciting turn of events.

Leader: Daieisho
Chasers: Kiribayama, Wakamotoharu, Midorifuji
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kotonowaka, Kinbozan

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Mitoryu (7-6) vs Shonannoumi (7-6) – Shonannoumi visits from Juryo for his first ever match against Mitoryu. The winner gets kachi-koshi and the loser is qualified for a Darwin match.

Myogiryu (5-8) vs Oho (6-7) – Myogiryu is already make-koshi, but if he can manage a win on day 14, he can send to make-koshi. Of course if Oho wins, it’s a Darwin match for him. If sumo had a “most likely to be mistaken for a shrubbery”, my vote would be for Oho right now. Get your sumo together sir!

Tsurugisho (7-6) vs Nishikifuji (8-5) – Tsurugisho is fighting for kachi-koshi today against Nishikifuji. If he loses, yes – Darwin! Tsurugisho has a nearly even career record against the Isegahama man, so it could be a big fight. Will we see another Tsurugisho henka today?

Aoiyama (5-8) vs Bushozan (4-9) – Both of them are already make-koshi, so this is probably to see if Aoiyama can bludgeon out another win, and maybe nominate Bushozan for a Juryo return trip. Someone’s got to take a hike if we are going to get Ichinojo and Asanoyama to the top division in May.

Hokuseiho (7-6) vs Hiradoumi (6-7) – Call this a mini-Darwin, if Hiradoumi loses he is make-koshi, and Hokuseiho kachi-koshi. If he is able to topple the Tokyo Skytree, it’s Darwin time for both of them.

Ichiyamamoto (4-9) vs Takarafuji (6-7) – The good news – I am pretty sure Takarafuji saved himself from making a trip to Juryo, so everything past that is an upgrade. He can still actually finish with a kachi-koshi, but the only way to do it is for him to have a 7-7 score at the end of today, and survive a possible Darwin match tomorrow. He has a 4-1 career record against already make-koshi Ichiyamamoto.

Azumaryu (3-10) vs Ura (7-6) – Lets be clear, this is another “donor” match. Azumaryu will give up a white star to Ura to secure his kachi-koshi in all likelihood. Should Ura lose through some bizarre twist of events, it’s Darwin time for him as well.

Hokutofuji (7-6) vs Chiyoshoma (8-5) – Hokutofuji holds a 7-1 career record against Chiyoshoma, so chances are good he will pick up his 8th win and be kachi-koshi. If not… Darwin!

Kotoeko (8-5) vs Takayasu (8-5) – No Darwin match for either of these guys, they are both already kachi-koshi. But one of them will get a chance to try for double digits. Kotoeko won their only prior match, and may be able to surprise Takayasu today.

Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Kagayaki (5-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about who gets what rank. Kotoshoho seems to have recovered some of his fighting form in the last few days, he has won the last 4 in a row.

Mitakeumi (4-9) vs Takanosho (7-6) – A decider for Takanosho, he either can best Mitakeumi today or he faces a Darwin match tomorrow. Personally, I think that Mitakeumi is going to put him on the clay today.

Abi (8-5) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi in this first ever match up, it’s all about deciding rank for the May banzuke. I would love to see Kinbozan surprise Abi today with a rapid grab-and-chuck of his lanky hide out of the ring, just to keep matters interesting, and have Kinbozan finish his maiden basho with double digit wins.

Nishikigi (4-9) vs Ryuden (1-12) – Wow, these two are in dire need of rework. I am going to guess Ryuden is injured and he won’t be his normal level of fierce until he can get his lower back and hips in better condition. In the mean time, I am going to hope that Nishikigi does not attempt a kotenage today and add an elbow injury to Ryuden’s list of problems.

Tamawashi (3-10) vs Sadanoumi (5-8) – This pair is also make-koshi, but it would be good to see Tamawashi do no worse than 5-10 this March. Given how he is struggling day to day, he may be an easy mark for Sadanoumi’s high speed sumo.

Daishoho (8-5) vs Shodai (8-5) – Both start the day with 8-5 records, and Shodai won their only prior match, on day 9 of Kyushu 2019. It almost seems like a different world. Shodai was a Maegashira 10 headed for Ozeki, and there was no such things as COVID-19 causing problems around the world.

Meisei (4-9) vs Tobizaru (4-9) – Both have matching 4-9 records, and I wonder why Tobizaru has done so poorly this basho. He won opening day against Takakeisho, and then has been mostly down hill since then. He will be exiting the san’yaku with the May banzuke, but I am certain he will return.

Daieisho (11-2) vs Midorifuji (10-3) – With the preliminaries out of the way, it’s time for the main event. A Daieisho win will eliminate Midorifuji from the yusho race, a Midorifuji will will open up a tie to start the final day, possibly with multiple rikishi in the lead depending on how the matches that follow turn out. They have fought twice before, and both have won one. The first, day 11 Aki 2022, went o Midorifuji by hikiotoshi. Daieisho evened the score on Kyushu day 12 with a yorikiri win. We all know what must happen here. A glorious, lead busting katasukashi. Midorifuji, please make it so.

Endo (8-5) vs Kotonowaka (9-4) – Both of them have kachi-koshi, but I am certain that Kotonowaka wants to run up the score to double digits if at all possible. He is not quite to the point where he is ready to try for Ozeki the first time, but I think its going to happen this year. Endo loves to play spoiler, but his day 13 sumo was disorganized and sloppy, and he has lost thee in a row. Maybe he can bounce back.

Wakatakakage (7-6) vs Kiribayama (10-3) – Wakatakakage either overcomes a 5-8 career deficit, or it’s time for him to get a well deserved day 15 Darwin match. Frankly, Kiribayama’s sumo has been better over the last 14 days, and I hope he take the win today.

Wakamotoharu (10-3) vs Hoshoryu (9-4) – I guess the question is – can Wakamotoharu force himself into a Sekiwake slot by winning 11 or 12? I would love to see him make the case. He has only won twice in 7 fights against Hoshoryu, who has a strong chance to finish with double digits himself.

Osaka Day 13 Highlights

With the developments on day 13, the scheduling team has a veritable sumo playground for the final weekend. We have so many potential outcomes right now, and so many ways they can match rikishi up and down the banzuke to consider.

Midorifuji endured his third straight loss today at the hands of Hoshoryu, dropping to 10-3 and leaving Daieisho, who won his match against Meisei, the sole leader of the tournament. While he has been de-throned, he is not out of the running yet, as there are two days of high intensity sumo action left in this basho. The crew mathematically in the hunt number at 4, and as of today, any one of them could head back to Tokyo with the hardware.

Highlight Matches

Ichinojo defeats Bushozan – Face slap to start the match by Ichinojjo, followed by mutual shoulder rams. For a moment the are separated, staring angrily at each other. Bushozan decides its time to skip the foreplay, and dives in for a hold. Ichinojo deftly throws him down by uwatenage, and Bushozan breaks his fall with his face. Ichinojo now 12-1.

Mitoryu defeats Takanosho – Mitoryu continues his dominance over Takanosho, who will have to look for his kachi-koshi tomorrow instead. Takanosho puts in the work, but can’t find a way to break Mitoryu’s stance. Mitoryu settles into a right hand… ear hold? Could someone check if a mimiyotsu (耳四) is a thing in sumo? So we have Mitoryu with a (ok, just run with it) mimiyotsu, and Takanosho is rightfully confused. The gyoji is confused, the shimpan look aroused and curious, the fans are wondering where they go from here. In fact, nobody knows for a time, and the two stand there trying to decide if they are still going to fight. The answer turns out to be yes, yes, Mitoryu did not really intend to do that, and they will fight. So it’s back to sumo time, and Takanosho charges ahead, and Mitoryu slaps him down. Both end the day 7-6.

Azumaryu defeats Oho – Let me get this straight. Oho defeats former Ozeki Asanoyama on day 12, who is still fighting like he belongs in san’yaku. Day 13 he loses to an injured guy who has the second to worst record in the basho. It was the old “Grapple – sidestep – push” number, and Oho was oblivious to it all. Fine, be that way. Azumaryu happy for the win, and is now 3-10.

Nishikifuji defeats Hokuseiho – Nishikifuji defeats the Skytree to reach kachi-koshi. Hokuseiho was the aggressor here, but really did not mind his feet or his balance. Nishikifuji dances him around and swings him to the clay a moment before Hokuseiho could finish pushing him out. Nishikifuji kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Takarafuji defeats Myogiryu – Ok, that’s 4 wins in a row for the injured Takarafuji. Unlike acts 1 and 2, Takarafuji seems to have found a way to hold ground, and was able to withstand Myogiryu’s pushing attack at first. Once Myogiryu was able to consolidate and break Takarafuji’s stance, he rushed forward into Takarafuji’s tsukiotoshi. Myogiryu make-koshi at 5-8, Takarafuji improves to 6-7.

Kinbozan defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi has fought well this March, but he was completely out-classed by Kinbozan’s offense today. Kinbozan had the stance, the hand placement and the forward drive to push Hiradoumi back, and quickly put him across the bales to advance to 9-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Aoiyama – That tachiai deflection by Tsurugisho is not something I expected to see in this battle of the mega-fauna. I would not call it a henka, as there was too little speed for that. More like when you see a container ship move from one pier to another. But Tsurugisho managed to get to the side and behind Aoiyama, disrupting all of his offense and defensive plans. A quick grapple and walk for Tsurugisho, and it was yorikiri time. Tsurugisho now 7-6.

Ura defeats Daishoho – Ura remains unbeaten against Daishoho, and today he had a good strong ottsuke to defend against Daishoho’s right hand. Ura follows the block with a break and attack, coming in lower the second time and driving Daishoho back. A solid oshidashi win for Ura, and he is now 7-6.

Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kotoeko picks up kachi-koshi on the donor match, his first kachi-koshi since last year in Osaka. We got to see two volleys of traditional Ichiyamamoto sumo, but then he came under pressure, and tried to pull. Wrong move against the very stable Kotoeko, and Kotoeko ran him out the nearest exit, improving to 8-5.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – I am not sure what Chiyoshoma had in mind, but it fell apart before it could really get started, and he was immediately off balance. Takayasu chased him about, and dumped the stumbling Chiyoshoma into the zabuton row. Takayasu fans can take some comfort that at least he was able to get kachi-koshi, both now 8-5.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – To me it looked like Nishikigi used a variation of the “Wall of Daikon” that is Shodai’s hallmark. Kagayaki had a couple of good hits, but could not get any arm extension, as Nishikigi maintained a close cover. Nishikigi normally likes to get a belt or body hold, but instead just rammed Kagayaki back with his body, winning by oshidashi. Kagayaki make-koshi at 5-8, Nishikigi improves to 4-9.

Sadanoumi defeats Mitakeumi – After being MIA for most of the month, we finally get to see some of Sadanoumi’s speed. Mitakeumi blew the tachiai, with his hands going complete catawampus. As a result Mitakeumi was nearly upright, and a bit off balance. Sadanoumi rotated and thrusted with his left, sending Mitakeumi tumbling into the salt basket. Sadanoumi advances to 5-8.

Shodai defeats Ryuden – Shodai wins his donor match against hapless Ryuden, scoring Shodai a kachi-koshi in the process. A really fast grip change by Shodai set up the double inside hold. From there it was lift and walk ahead, and Ryuden was out. Shodai now 8-5.

Kotoshoho defeats Tamawashi – Kotoshoho is now on a 4 match winning streak, after a terrible start to the basho. He’s finally looking like he should, and he really surprised the fans, and Tamawashi, by that hikiotoshi. Kotoshoho improves to 5-8.

Abi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru gets one moment to attack, but bounces off Abi at the tachiai. Abi moves behind and runs him off of the dohyo for an okuridashi win. Abi gets his kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Compliments to Meisei for holding his ground quite well under the withering mega-thrust attack from Daieisho. It took until the 6th volley before Meisei’s balance was wrecked, and Daieisho pushed him into the waiting gyoji. Daieisho maintains his spot on the leader board at 11-2.

Wakamotoharu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s opening combo was nearly enough to finish Wakamotoharu straight from the tachiai. But he allowed Wakamotoharu to rally, and settle into a left hand inside position. He took a moment to consolidate his stance, then drove forward to win by yorikiri. Wakamotoharu remains one behind the leaders at 10-3.

Kiribayama defeats Endo – We got to see Endo get lost yet again when his left hand failed to do any work at the tachiai. Kiribayama was tack sharp at the initial clash, and got his hands around Endo before turning him and running him out by okuridashi, improving to 10-3.

Hoshoryu defeats Midorifuji – Impressive defense by Midorifuji against Hoshoryu’s opening combo. Hoshoryu brought his right hand up across Midorifuji’s neck and attempted to pull him down, but Midorifuji was able to keep his feet. They then proceed to open up with some outstanding yotsu-zumo attacks, each unable to overwhelm the other. Hoshoryu’s avenue of attack was limited by Midorifuji’s hazu-oshi, but Hoshoryu managed to pivot and lower Midorifuji to the clay. Huge effort by both men, and Hoshoryu is now 9-4.

Wakatakakage defeats Kotonowaka – Ok, that’s seven wins out of the last eight matches for Wakatakakage. He needs to get his week 1 sumo in better condition, and he’s an Ozeki candidate. Kotonowaka gave him a tough fight, and was in control most of the match. But a rescue throw at the bales ended the match. They fell together, and it was declared a rematch (good!). Second try – its all Wakatakakage, who attacks low, dials up the forward pressure and rampages Kotonowaka out in a hurry. Wakatakakage now 7-6.

Osaka Day 13 Preview

If I had to give a name to today, it would be “Donor Day”. There are several matches where 7-5 rikishi are up against make-koshi rikishi who are probably fighting hurt. So have the poorly performing ones donate a key win to get the ones you want to ensure are kachi-koshi that important 8th win. Sure… why not.

Haru Leaderboard

The yusho race is a tie between Daieisho and Midorifuji. They both have matches that they have a good chance of winning today, and that should set up a head to head contest either day 14 or day 15. While it is natural to focus on the two leaders, the three men in the hunt group have a good shot at being involved in the final two days if either of the leaders pick up another loss. This could be an exciting finish to a solid basho.

Leaders: Daieisho, Midorifuji
Chasers: Kiribayama ,Wakamotoharu, Kotonowaka
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Endo, Daishoho, Kinbozan, Chiyoshoma

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Ichinojo (11-1) vs Bushozan (4-8) – Once again we get Ichinojo visiting the top division from Juryo. He has already secured his first-class ticket back to Makuuchi, and now it’s time to see how much he can run up the score. He is right now in sole possession of the lead for the Juryo yusho, with Asanoyama one win behind. He has never fought Bushozan before, but given that Bushozan is already 4-8 and fighting poorly, I don’t expect this to be much contest.

Mitoryu (6-6) vs Takanosho (7-5) – A Takanosho win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and I expect he is going to have every gram of sumo power he can summon on hand today. He has a 1-6 career deficit against Mitoryu, who needs 2 more wins to reach the safety of 8.

Azumaryu (2-10) vs Oho (6-6) – I am going to guess this is a “donor” match, where an poorly fighting Azumaryu donates a white start to keep perennial dumpling Oho around in the top division. Out of their five prior matches, Azumaryu has won 2 of them, but I doubt he will be able to prevail today.

Hokuseiho (7-5) vs Nishikifuji (7-5) – Winner of this match gets kachi-koshi. They have never fought before, and both have struggled in week 2. I give a slight edge to Hokuseiho due to his enormity.

Myogiryu (5-7) vs Takarafuji (5-7) – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and I am going to guess that Takarafuji with 5 wins has done enough to secure his presence in the top division for at least one more basho. These two have a 25 match history, with the score of 16-9 favoring Myogiryu, who won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022.

Kinbozan (8-4) vs Hiradoumi (6-6) – Another first ever match, its kachi-koshi Kinbozan looking to run up the score against Hiradoumi needing 2 more wins over the last 3 days to hit his 8. I think that Hiradoumi has a solid shot here, given that he brings a lot of strength to his matches, and can win if he gets his hands where he wants them.

Aoiyama (5-7) vs Tsurugisho (6-6) – A classic battle of the mega-fauna! Both of these whoppers are close enough to 200kg to be classified as cargo, and it’s going to be big vs big on the dohyo today. An Aoiyama loss today would be make-koshi, and the best he can hope for is a day 15 Darwin match at this point.

Daishoho (8-4) vs Ura (6-6) – I agree with the schedulers, it’s time for Ura to get lined up for his Darwin match on day 15. He has a 3-0 record against Daishoho, so I am looking for him to get his 7th win today as a prelude for 7-7 to start Sunday.

Ichiyamamoto (4-8) vs Kotoeko (7-5) – This might be another “donor” match, with the injured Ichiyamamoto donating a white star to Kotoeko to allow him to complete his kachi-koshi. Kotoeko has won 4 of their 5 prior matches.

Chiyoshoma (8-4) vs Takayasu (7-5) – Ok Takayasu fans, time to hope he can beat Chiyoshoma and at least get his score to 8 wins. Given how well he started the basho, its a surprise to see that he has now gone 1-5 since he fought Ichiyamamoto on day 6.

Kagayaki (5-7) vs Nishikigi (3-9) – Kagayaki needs to win the remainder of his matches to reach kachi-koshi, and he’s got an even match against an already make-koshi Nishikigi. If Kagayaki can get a hand hold on Nishikigi, he tends to be able to limit Nishikigi’s mobility, and win the match. Nishikigi’s job today – stay mobile. They share a 9-8 career record.

Mitakeumi (4-8) vs Sadanoumi (4-8) – Both are already make-koshi with matching 4-8 records. It’s a battle of the make-koshi to see if either of them can soften their demotion range. Mitakeumi has a 3-1 career record, but as both of them are fighting poorly, its anyone’s guess how this one is going to go.

Ryuden (1-11) vs Shodai (7-5) – Shodai needs one more win to reach kachi-koshi, and I think he should be able to get that today. With Ryuden fighting poorly most likely due to a chronic hip injury that was never given time to heal, he’s only 1-11. Yes, likely another donor match to get Shodai to kachi-koshi.

Tamawashi (3-9) vs Kotoshoho (4-8) – Botha re already kachi-koshi, but I really liked how Kotoshoho rallied on day 12 in his fight against Ura. Tamawashi is a much larger, more powerful opponent, so we may not see the excellent mobility Kotoshoho used against Ura. They share an even 2-2 record.

Abi (7-5) vs Tobizaru (4-8) – A win today is kachi-koshi for Abi, though that day 12 stinker against Mitakeumi left a bad impression that may take a while to fade. Tobizaru already make-koshi at 4-8, and ends up with a demotion in spite of his solid sumo in the “big” matches.

Daieisho (10-2) vs Meisei (4-8) – Daieisho gets what should be a cream-puff match against an already make-koshi Meisei. A Daieisho win today would either keep him even with Midorifuji or put him one ahead, depending on the outcome of the penultimate match of the day. Daieisho has an 11-3 career record against Meisei.

Wakamotoharu (9-3) vs Hokutofuji (7-5) – This might look like another donor match, but Hokutofuji is quite capable of defeating Wakamotoharu, provided he is in acceptable physical condition. In fact, he has a narrow 3-2 career record against Wakamotoharu, and won 3 of their 4 matches in 2022.

Kiribayama (9-3) vs Endo (8-4) – I was disappointed to watch Endo flub his day 12 match. There are times he relies far too much on that left hand frontal grab at the tachiai, and when it fails (as it did day 12 against Wakamotoharu), he is left to improvise, poorly. I think this is going to Kiribayama’s match to lose if he can keep his hips out of Endo’s reach for the first and second step.

Midorifuji (10-2) vs Hoshoryu (8-4) – Hoshoryu has a chance to shape the yusho race, if he can best Midorifuji. He has only a single win against him in 7 attempt, with the win coming day 5 of Kyushu 2022. Since then Midorifuji won their rematch on day 6 of Hatsu. This should be quite the battle.

Wakatakakage (6-6) vs Kotonowaka (9-3) – At first glance, this might look like a yawner, but Wakatakakage needs to win 2 of his last 3 to hold rank, and I think that Kotonowaka, at 9-3, smells that the promotion lane might be open later this year, and wants to start racking up the 11+ wins per basho to try for Ozeki. They are evenly matched with a 5-4 career record, so I expect a brawl here.

Osaka Day 12 Highlights

It’s great to see that as we step nearer to the final day of the tournament, that so many rikishi continue to elevate their performance, and the matches are more intense, more skillful, and more impactful with each passing day. There were so many stand outs on day 12, all I can manage to say is “wow, well done!” To the top division.

We saw the yusho race even up to 10-2 between Daieisho and Midorifuji, as Wakatakakage gave the Isegahama man a flying lesson in today’s penultimate match. Interestingly enough, the schedulers did not give us a head to head between the two of them for day 13, perhaps hoping they can have it on day 14 or 15. This could make for an exciting weekend of sumo, so get yourself ready for a wild ride to senshuraku.

Highlight Matches

Oho defeats Asanoyama – Color me surprised. Oho’s sumo, and his fighting spirit, have been ho-hum this entire basho. Suddenly when he has a big match like this, he wakes up and fights well. That would seem to indicate some kind of problem between his ears. Asanoyama defended poorly, and allow Oho to get a double inside grip by the second step. From there it was lift and drive ahead for Oho, dumping Asanoyama off the edge of the dohyo. Asanoyama’s loss hands Ichinojo sole lead in the Juryo yusho race, while Oho improves to 6-6.

Kinbozan defeats Mitoryu – Kinbozan tried for and achieved a left hand frontal grip, which gave him all the leverage he needed to lift Mitoryu and move him back, and out by yorikiri. Kinbozan takes his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for Osaka.

Takarafuji defeats Hokuseiho – Takarafuji was not intimidated by Hokuseiho’s stature in the least, he dives in at the tachiai, grabs a left hand inside hold of the giant’s mawashi, and gets to work. I noticed that Hokuseiho’s great height puts his mawashi at a comfortable near-shoulder level for many rikishi. This might be important later. Takarafuji lifts and presses forward, and Hokuseiho is out without too much fuss. Takarafuji now 5-7.

Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Azumaryu scores his second win of the basho, and his second win in three days against a somewhat surprised Tsurugisho. I am sure Tsurugisho did not expect that Azumaryu’s hand inside to land that hard, or to be that effective. Three steps later, Tsurugisho is out by yorikiri, and Azumaryu improves to 2-10.

Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s first and second combo’s did not land with any effect, and he quickly found himself captured by Takanosho, using a right arm over Chiyoshoma’s shoulder. The set up for the throw took just a moment, and Chiyoshoma went crashing to the clay. Excellent sumo from Takanosho, and he is 7-5.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – Myogiryu shows he’s not quite ready for his make-koshi yet. He shuts down Kotoeko’s two attack volleys, and moves him out by oshidashi to improve to 5-7, avoiding the mini-Darwin outcome.

Aoiyama defeats Kagayaki – Aoiyama still cannot hold ground, but he was able to get Kagayaki too far forward, and pull him down in one of Big Dan’s traditional “Stand him up and pull him down” combos. Another mini-Darwin outcome avoided as Aoiyama advances to 5-7.

Daishoho defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi has completely reversed his pattern, and now has won on an odd day, and lost on an even day. It may come down to how he manages to count to 11. He started the match with a solid right hand outside grip, but he could not maintain his left hand ottsuke. Daishoho consolidated his grip, and drove Hiradoumi from the ring. Daishoho kachi-koshi with 8-4.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Bushozan – Whatever injury is bothering Ichiyamamoto, it has him going for immediate pull downs in the tachiai. Surprisingly, it worked today against Bushozan, sending him tumbling out of the ring in a sort of improvised uwatenage. Bushozan now make-koshi as both end the day at 4-8.

Nishikifuji defeats Takayasu – The Takayasu fade continues, he has now lost 5 of the last 6, and I am reduced to hoping he manages to get to kachi-koshi before whatever is left of his sumo gives up for this month. Nishikifuji gets a left hand inside, and you can just see Takayasu increasingly focus on shutting down Nishikifuji’s forward push. None of it worked, and Takayasu is run out of the ring by oshidashi, as both end the day 7-5.

Kotoshoho defeats Ura – A beautiful example of Ura’s grab-and-tug style of high mobility sumo. I am impressed that Kotoshoho was able to maintain his balance and stay in the match, attacking at will and keeping Ura from gaining any advantage. With four arms flailing away, Kotoshoho found himself for a brief moment with a right hand over Ura’s left shoulder, and he rotated into a kotenage that put Ura on the clay. Wonderful sumo, and Kotoshoho is now 4-8.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I hereby declare a new form of the “Dead body rule”. It’s when a former Ozeki seems to be going through the motions, with no real sumo power or fighting spirit. It did not help that Abi decided to employ a leaping henka today. The scored it as an uwatenage, but hey… Abi now 7-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Ryuden – When an injured Sadanoumi beats an injured Ryuden, do you know what to call it? I think we should call an orthopedist, but that is not the sumo way. Ryuden sets up a double inside grip, but can’t do anything with it as Sadanoumi out muscles him and puts him across the bales by yorikiri, improving to 4-8.

Nishikigi defeats Tamawashi – Nishikigi breaks a 4 match losing streak. There was a moment where Tamawashi needed just a bit more power to take him out of the ring before Nishikigi consolidated his grip, but just could not make it happen. Nishikigi takes the win by yorikiri, and both end the day 3-9.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Daieisho made fast work of Hokutofuji, breaking his 7 match winning streak. Most of it came down to Hokutofuji attacking high at the tachiai, and giving up the inside to Daieisho. Daieisho wasted no time in landing his big thrusting attacks against Hokutofuji’s upper body, breaking his stance and getting him on the move. Three steps later, Hokutofuji was out by tsukidashi, and Daieisho advances to 10-2.

Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – Kotonowaka shows us how to get inside and set up a grip in short order. Meisei really can’t do much but go along for the ride as Kotonowaka puts him across the bales by yorikiri. Kotonowaka ends the day 9-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – Endo, when he is not sure to do, seems to want to lead with his left hand to try and get inside and get a frontal grip. It’s a favorite opener of his, and Wakamotoharu correctly anticipated it and shut it down by baring is right upper arm. At that point Endo was open to the throw, and Wakamotoharu wasted no time in rotating into a kotenage and scoring his 9th win, improving to 9-3.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru had no answer to a rapid deployment of the “Wall of Daikon”, and was bodily shoved from the ring. They called it a yorikiri, but something a bit more vegetable related might be closer to correct. Shodai is now 7-5.

Wakatakakage defeats Midorifuji – The pivotal match of the day, and we once again see the seeds of greatness in Wakatakakage. He knew how much this match mattered, and no matter what problems he has with his body or his sumo, he rose to the occasion. Bonus points that he got Midorifuji airborne in the final combo that saw the yusho leader face down on the clay. Wakatakakage advances to 6-6, and the yusho race is tied between Midorifuji and Daieisho at 10-2.

Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu’s opening attempt at a face slap cost him this match. Had he focused on blunting Kiribayama’s opening gambit, he was likely (at least in my mind) to win. Kiribayama landed a strong grip by his left hand, setting up a left hand ottsuke that kept Kiribayama from doing much of anything but wait for his doom. The two worked out their hand hold, and we got to see Hoshoryu try to rally and break that left hand grip, but it was going nowhere. As was clear from the first step of that match, that left hand payed off after the second Hoshoryu escape attempt, as Kiribayama rotated into an uwatenage, hurling Hoshoryu to the clay. Kiribayama now 9-3.