Osaka Day 4 Preview

Welcome to day 4, we are fast approaching the end of act 1 of the Haru basho. Act 1 is where we see who is hot, and who is not. The rikishi get to try to break free of their ring rust, and get into their competition sumo. It’s clear that there are a cadre of rikishi who are going to be doing well through the first week (8 with a 3-0 record to start day 4), and 7 who have yet to find their first win. It’s very early in the basho, so you can’t really take much away from these figures, but for fans who watched through the past two basho, there are some notable performances to point out.

First off is Mitakeumi, he is looking very solid, and this is the kind of sumo his fans expect from him. If he could fight consistently at this level, he would have made Ozeki last year. More so than most, I think he has more than a couple of injuries that bother him at times, and keep him from showing his full potential.

Asanoyama – He is on an Ozeki run right now, and I think he is fighting well. Given that there are just 2 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki, he is going to need to beat at least one of them in order to make the case that he should join Takakeisho at sumo’s second highest rank. Good luck to him, he has massive potential, and I think he has a solid chance of making the grade at some point this. year.

Takayasu – Watching the former Ozeki continue to struggle is a real heartbreak for his fans. I am sure that much of the problem is motivation and confidence at this point. That damaged left elbow seems to be working well enough now, but he has still to score his first win of the basho.

Tokushoryu – It should not be a surprise to anyone that dear Tokushoryu is really having trouble fighting at this rank. His posting to the top division in January was a bit of a gift, and his yusho was a marvel of being able to bring some of the best sumo of his career to the dohyo every day. No one can ever take that away from him or sumo fans. But it looks like he has reverted to average, and is struggling.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Azumaryu vs Meisei – In general, these two are evenly matched. But in reality Meisei is still struggling to recover from an injury, and his sumo is all over the place. That gives a clear advantage to Azumaryu to go along with a considerable advantage in height and weight.

Tsurugisho vs Kotonowaka – As with most of Kotonowaka’s bouts in Osaka, another first time match. Tsurugisho is fighting poorly and clearly still working to overcome the rather worrisome injuries sustained in the first week of Hatsu, so I expect him to limp through this basho.

Shimanoumi vs Chiyomaru – Speed vs size today, with a healthy dose of genki-gravy, as it seems Chiyomaru has a belly full of high-energy fighting spirit right now. They are tied 3-3 in their career record, so I am looking for a good struggle today.

Kaisei vs Daiamami – Kaisei is still looking for his first win in Osaka, and the only bright spot is that Daiamami seems to really be out of sorts with his sumo right now. I suspect he finds the empty stadium a distraction, and it’s impacting his matches.

Nishikigi vs Aoiyama – Given how wells Aoiyama is fighting right now, I think this could be a brutal match. We have winless Nishikigi going up against lossless Aoiyama. Will we get to see the V-Twin attack from the man-mountain again today? He holds a narrow 5-4 career record over Nishikigi.

Chiyotairyu vs Ishiura – Another Kokonoe rikishi oozing genki (at least I hope that’s genki…), Chiyotairyu is going to face 3-0 Ishiura in a big man / small man match. I know folks get worked up about henka, but seriously, he should deploy a flying henka against Chiyotairyu’s cannon ball tachiai today. I would applaud.

Kotoshogiku vs Terutsuyoshi – Kotoshogiku is struggling due to his deteriorating body, and I think Terutsuyoshi is struggling because the setting for the matches is an empty arena, and its distracting him. The guy clearly loves the roar of the crowd, and the lack of any noise in the hall may keep him from getting into “fight mode”. The two have split their 2 prior matches, so it will come down to if Kotoshogiku can get a grip on the highly maneuverable salt master.

Ikioi vs Tochiozan – Two long serving veterans facing off on day 4, and surprisingly we have seen zero good sumo from Tochiozan this march, and his record shows it (0-4). Ikioi is on the short side of their 7-11 career record, but I favor him to take day 4 and leave Tochiozan in quarantine mode with zero wins.

Takanosho vs Tochinoshin – We saw some quality sumo from Tochinoshin on day 3, and everyone is hoping that he’s gotten the start of a recipe to actually compete in spite of that damaged knee. He goes up against 3-0 Takanosho on day 4, and Takanosho won their only prior match.

Sadanoumi vs Kiribayama – Kiribayama won their only prior match, and in spite of bringing his normal rapid attack and lighting fast reflexes to each match, Sadanoumi comes into day 4 with a disappointing 1-2 record.

Takarafuji vs Tamawashi – These two are evenly matched over their careers (11-10), and they come in with matching 1-2 records. It will be a contest between Takarafuji’s “defend and extend” sumo, and Tamawashi’s flat out offense.

Shohozan vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki’s fundamentals based sumo tends to shut down Shohozan’s energetic mobiltiy attacks, and as a result Kagayaki has a 9-5 career advantage over “Big Guns” Shohozan. I did really like that lunge at the tachiai Shohozan mixed into his day 3 win. Maybe we will se more of that!

Ryuden vs Onosho – These two are evenly matched, and the outcome seems to be driving by Ryuden attempting a hatakikomi. Thus if Onosho is off balance and forward, we can count on Ryuden to read it instantly and put him on the clay. Both rikishi come into day 4 with matching 2-1 records.

Myogiryu vs Abi – Myogiryu is looking to break out of 0-3 quarantine club, and this may represent his best chance to turn things around. He has split the prior 6 matches with Abi, but Abi’s sumo is even more disorganized and frantic than normal.

Yutakayama vs Mitakeumi – Oh yes indeed! The “Big Unit” against the “Original Tadpole”, they have only met twice before, and the split the pair. Mitakeumi has a spotless 3-0 heading into day 4 vs Yutakayama at 2-1. I expect this to be a big oshi battle with a lot of movement, and a lot of bruises.

Tokushoryu vs Endo – Tokushoryu brutal circuit of the joi-jin continues, and today Endo is going to grab the front of his mawashi and send him tumbling. Tokushoryu has not won a single match from Endo in 7 attempts. Sorry, Hatsu yusho winner, it’s more quarantine for you.

Asanoyama vs Hokutofuji – You can think of Yutakayama vs Mitakeumi as the appetizer with Asanoyama vs Hokutofuji being the main course. Asanoyama holds a 4-2 career advantage, and comes in at 3-0. But this is a new day, and Hokutofuji is a man on a mission. That mission – to lay the doom on everyone. Should be an excellent match.

Enho vs Shodai – Any why not indulge in a little pudding after your mains? Enho vs Shodai should be just the ticket. I am curious to see if Shodai has become discouraged after his day 3 loss to Mitakeumi. In the past, he would take his first loss, and it would shake his confidence, and he would struggle to return to genki. Don’t let Enho smell indecision or worry, or he will sacrifice you to the elves and sell your bones to the gnomes who live under the chikara-mizu bucket.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – Takakeisho had a moment of worry when he went to the clay day 2 in an ill-conceived yotsu match with Okinoumi. He faces off against Daieisho, who is a member in goods standing of the 0-3 quarantine club. Takakeisho holds a 5-3 career advantage.

Hakuho vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi has beaten Hakuho precisely once. It was Aki day 1 in 2015, and he surprised The Boss with a surprisingly strong yotsu match. Hakuho of today seems to be a bit more vulnerable, but I would be utterly surprised if he gave Okinoumi a kinboshi today.

Takayasu vs Kakuryu – Yokozuna Kakuryu holds a narrow 12-10 career record over Takayasu, and his fans would dearly love to see him rally and start winning matches. A win today would in fact be a kinboshi, as the former Ozeki is now ranked at Maegashira 1. But Takayasu’s sumo seems to lack power, and I am going to look for Kakuryu to give him just enough space to make a mistake.

Osaka Day 1 Preview

It’s been 6 weeks, and the sumo world is ready for more action on the doyo. While we are looking forward to the next 2 weeks, we can’t help but worry about a tournament tinged with illness, should it come to that. The team at Tachiai hope for the best, with a strong, healthy showing by everyone from maezumo lads up to the Yokozuna.

The hall will be nearly empty, with a few members of the press, and the sumo association in attendance. I can only say I think it’s going to be downright odd, and perhaps a bit unsettling for the rikishi. But as they say around the world – “The Show Must Go On!”.

The scheduling crew have given us some tasty day 1 morsels, and I believe this basho marks another leg on the transitional journey. We have the rikishi most likely to lead the next age at the top of the banzuke, and they will all get to try their sumo against the fading legends. Will we see a Yokozuna retirement following Osaka? Probably not, but I think bizarro basho may be a turning point. The winds of the Reiwa era have already swept away the legacy Ozeki, and we know the top of the banzuke is next.

What We Are Watching Day 1

Kotonowaka vs Daiamami – These two have split their prior 2 matches, with Daiamami preferring to drive forward, and Kotonowaka (formerly Kotokamatani) looking to disrupt his opponent’s balance. In recent years, top divisions debutants seem to frequently “catch fire” and have solid, sometimes double digit, win records. I am looking for Kotonowaka to possibly follow this trend.

Meisei vs Shimanoumi – These two have not had a match since May of 2018, and they are long overdue for a bout. Meisei is freshly back from Juryo, and needs to get into a winning groove early to ensure he makes his 8.

Azumaryu vs Chiyomaru – A battle of the marus, where the much larger and rounder maru holds a clear advantage (11-4). In fact, Chiyomaru has taken the win in the last 4 matches, and I would suggest that Azumaryu really needs to open with a win to avoid early nomination for the Juryo doom-barge.

Tsurugisho vs Nishikigi – I am not sure why, but the fact that Nishikigi is back in the top division makes me happy. He’s kind of an “everyman” who manages to persist in doing competent sumo in spite of being blind as a bat. He has a 4-2 career advantage over Tsurugisho, although their last match (Kyushu) featured Nishikigi getting thrown.

Kaisei vs Aoiyama – Alright! Battle of the bigs today, with big Dan Aoiyama clearly the favorite (12-6). Both of them are right around 200kg, so I am calling this a Haru dohyo early stress test. That’s nearly half a ton of rampaging sumotori on the loose folks!

Kotoshogiku vs Ikioi – Follow up the mega-fauna match with a battle of the relics. Both are storied veterans who have just accumulated too many injuries to compete at higher rank, but they battle it out with as much gusto as they can manage every day. I could state that Kotoshogiku holds a 11-7 career lead, but this match is going to come down to which rikishi is in less pain and misery on Sunday.

Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Let’s stick with the theme – with the battle of the ancients out of the way, lets have a pixie fight! Josh pointed out that Terutsuyoshi draws a lot of energy from the crowd, and may be hampered by the ghostly silence in the Edion arena. But it will likely come down to which version of Ishiura shows up today: The aggressive high-energy corvette or the henka dispenser.

Chiyotairyu vs Tochiozan – I would put Tochiozan in the “Injured Relic” grouping as well. I love watching his high-efficiency sumo, but his performance on any given day is mostly governed by how hurt he feels that afternoon. With 2 months to train, heal and prepare, we may see some excellent sumo from him, at least in the first week. Of course, all of the efficiency in the world may not matter when Chiyotairyu unleashes the cannon-ball tachiai.

Sadanoumi vs Tochinoshin – In our Heru preview podcast, I predicted that former Ozeki Tochinoshin would end the tournament with a deep make-koshi. Not because he lacks strength or fighting spirit, but because I am fairly sure there is not much that can be done for his damaged knee. Without a stable stance, there are no options to unleash his massive strength. Tochinoshin fans, best to buckle up for this basho.

Takanosho vs Kiribayama – Takanosho ended Hatsu with 7-8 make-koshi, but due to banzuke math as only can happen after a 3rd round of sake, he kept his rank. He’s up against Kiribayama, who finished Hatsu with a debut double digit win and a fighting spirit prize. With 6 weeks to prepare, we will see if Takanosho has gotten his sumo back in order.

Shohozan vs Tamawashi – Shohozan holds a 13-4 career advantage over Tamawashi, who has been fading out slowly since his January 2019 yusho. Both of these guys would classify as Heisei relics, but they have managed to keep their bodies up enough that they continue to compete in the mid-Maegashira ranks.

Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – Well bust my buttons! Another “theme” match. I see what you are doing here, torikumi committee! So we have two fundamentals-focused rikishi, but Takarafuji has a clear advantage, as his “extend and defend” approach nearly always dominates Kagayaki (6-3). I continue to hold out hope that the rikishi voted to have the “best chest” (no, not kidding) will take the next step in his sumo.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – Onosho fans, try to keep in mind that he typically starts cold and rusty, and then catches fire by day 5. So I am not going to be surprised if he drops this match to the taller and faster Myogiryu. But if Onosho can get locked on Myogiryu’s center-mass, he has more than enough power to drive Myogiryu out.

Ryuden vs Abi – I am looking for one of Ryuden’s trademark matta cheap-hits today. Abi holds a 5-1 career lead, so if Ryuden does not disrupt Abi’s tachiai, Abi will get the neck attack running and that tends to carry the match.

Enho vs Mitakeumi – I had to check, but this is their first ever match up. Biggest concern would be Enho going for a leg pick and re-injuring Mitakeumi’s damaged knee. It’s going to be so very odd to not hear the crowd approach near-riot intensity when Enho mounts the dohyo. I think this may hamper him a bit.

Hokutofuji vs Yutakayama – Oh thank you Great Sumo Cat! This is going to be such a fun match, as Hokutofuji has never beaten Yutakayama. But given that “Cap’n Stompy” is fighting with his best sumo these days, he may be able to take one back. I imagine that Hokutofuji may be disappointed he does not get a Yokozuna for his day 1 opponent, as is customary, but I think the NSK wanted to give the Yokozuna a break.

Tokushoryu vs Shodai – This may be an early indication on Shodai’s mental state. Shodai is a great rikishi with a confidence problem, its evident that his emotions can take over from his sumo and help him get into losing streaks. On the other side of the shikiri-sen, veteran yusho winner Tokushoryu is calm and focused every day. But everyone wants to know how he’s going to fare at the top end of the banzuke.

Asanoyama vs Okinoumi – Asanoyama has a double-digit goal for Haru, and he gets a good start on day when when he faces another Heisei veteran, Okinoumi. Asanoyama has a 7-1 career lead, but Okinoumi will bring experience and a strong yotsu-zumo skill set to the match. In spite of the lopsided career record, I think this one has a lot of potential.

Takakeisho vs Takayasu – With pre-basho training sessions closed to the public and the press, the work up of the kanban rikishi can only be assumed. But it seems Takayasu, no longer feeling the stress of trying to return to Ozeki, has a much better mental state and is possibly in his best condition in years. I picked Takakeisho to shine this basho, so let’s see how he manages an opponent who out weighs him, and has an easy 15cm reach advantage.

Daieisho vs Kakuryu – First Yokozuna fight, everything pre-basho indicates that Kakuryu is in excellent form, and I am going to look for his reactive sumo to be engaged for his day 1 match. Of course we will all be looking to see if he wins moving forward.

Hakuho vs Endo – Oh Great Sumo Cat, how you shower us with fine contests this shonichi! The rematch of Hatsu’s day 2 barn burner where Hakuho recieved payback for the blood Endo shed in Kyushu. There is no love lost between these two, so this match has a lot of potential. The worry is that Endo has not fully recovered from elbow surgery, and is actually in no condition to compete.

Kyushu Day 13 Preview

We are kicking off the final 3 days of the Kyushu basho. It looks almost certain that Hakuho will pick up the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time, and he will need yet another warehouse in Chiba to store all of that beef he has coming his way. While we wait for “The Boss” to once again face limp condemnation from the YDC over even the slightest breech of protocol, the schedulers are showing us that with so many middling records, it’s Darwin matches for everyone. Coming out of today, we will have at least 3 new make-koshi rikishi, and possibly a few new cremates for the rikishi already aboard the slow, smelly barge back to Juryo.

On the subject of Hakuho, its true that I am a fan. But I have a secret hope, in that Hakuho lingers a while longer past his 2020 Olympics goal. Just long enough to have one of the new generation beat him straight up for a yusho. Bonus points if it’s Takakeisho or Asanoyama. Why? He’s the greatest rikishi of our time, and possibly any time. But some of his stuff just seems to beg for a “comeuppance”. The passing of the torch basho have been punctuations to end of dominant Yokozuna careers since I became a fan of sumo before Chiyonofuji faded from dominance. May “The Boss” face a fitting and noble close to his the career, going out guns blazing, but no longer able to dominate the new generation.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Shodai??? Shodai!!! Shodai…

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: None
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Shodai

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Daishomaru vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu has a kachi-koshi at the top of Juryo, and a healthy number of Makuuchi rikishi eligible for demotion. I would guess “Mr A” is coming back for January. He faces the bosun of the Juryo barge, Daishomaru, who holds a 3-1 career advantage. May not help him today.

Shimanoumi vs Nishikigi – More of “Club Make-Koshi” fight it out in this first ever match between a flagging Nishikigi and a surprisingly low-scoring Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi has had a few very good fights in those 4 wins, but it seems he’s headed downward as well.

Daishoho vs Yutakayama – The captain of the Juryo barge meets a man on the hunt for his 8th win. Daishoho is 0-3 against Yutakayama, so I am going to guess this is a “gimme” match, it’s also a Maegashira 15 facing off against a Maegashira 9. Hoo boy. I am looking forward to lksumo’s assessment in a few weeks of where a few of these pivotal rikishi of the new era are going to rank for Hatsu.

Kotoshogiku vs Ishiura – Ishiura is operating at a new level of sumo, one not seen since his Makuuchi debut 3 years ago in Kyushu. The relic of Kotoshogiku will do his best to blunt Ishiura’s superior agility with strength, bulk and forward power. Let’s hope the Kyushu bulldozer has a few more big matches in him.

Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Is it just me, or do you hear Kagayaki grumbling all the way from Kyushu. He seemed genuinely cranky following his day 12 loss to Ishiura, and I expect that he has frustrations he needs to express. Via hitting Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi, for his part, still needs 2 wins, and seems very focused and orderly about the process. I think this comes down to who’s head is in the match.

Shohozan vs Chiyomaru – One more win needed by hometown brawler “Big Guns” Shohozan to pick up his kachi-koshi, and it may come today against Chiyomaru. Big Maru may have good cause to not push things too hard, he is already kachi-koshi, and needs to make sure he stays healthy for January.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi is also in the “needs one more win” club, and although he and Kotoeko are evenly matched on paper, Kotoeko is having a terrible tournament. If Terutsuyoshi fights like he has during week 2, this should be kachi-koshi interview for him.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – A Tsurugisho loss here would sort him into the make-koshi bin, and he comes in with a 4 bout losing streak. Chiyotairyu, however, is my candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.

Shodai vs Enho – These two have never fought before, and I am eager to see how Enho’s busy “grab anything and tug” technique works against Shodai’s cartoon sumo. Shodai has the size, and some kind of other-worldly luck, but Enho has speed, agility and a solid belief that he can win against anyone. Guess if you practice against the dai-Yokozuna and beat him once in a while, everyone else seems like a bag of Showa-era rice.

Onosho vs Takanosho – Onosho gets my second nomination for day 7 Darwin match, and I think he’s got quite the hill to climb to get to 8 wins, but I think he can do it. Today’s fight against Takanosho is going to be tough for him, as Takanosho has much better footwork and balance. Onosho holds the power and speed advantage, and they are tied 1-1 from their 2 prior matches.

Aoiyama vs Ryuden – Hey, Big Dan, do us a favor and knock Ryuden around a bit before you give him a clay facial. I love Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi’s sumo, but yesterday’s henka feels like we need a penalty round for him. Please do oblige.

Meisei vs Okinoumi – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and Meisei is 0-3 against Okinoumi over his career. The winner of this bout is another good candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Daieisho vs Myogiryu – More Darwin appointees ahoy! I think that this one favors Daieisho due to his superior osha-attack form, so it will come down to if Daieisho can get the inside position at the tachiai, or if Myogiryu can disrupt him and get a mawashi hold.

Kotoyuki vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has fallen out of the yusho hunt, but the possibility of him stamping his card for his first ever Ozeki bid is still very much in play. Informed prognosticators (like Tachiai’s very own lksumo) tend to think he needs to be at least 11-4 at Kyushu, so the man is on the hunt fo 2 more wins. Today he goes up against “The Penguin” Kotoyuki, who has upped the power of his flipper attacks. Regardless of the outcome, he is another strong candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – The scheduler decide that one of these men is make-koshi today, call it a “Mini Darwin” if you would. Both of them are big, strong and pack a lot of power in their thrusts. I give stability advantage to Tamawashi, and speed advantage and “willing to try anything twice” advantage to Hokutofuji.

Takarafuji vs Endo – Our second “Mini Darwin” of the day, as the schedulers telegraph in big, ultra-blobby Kanji that day 15 is going to be survival of the fittest. Loser is make-koshi, and we get to see if that day 12 upper-cut left Endo dazed or stunned. If Takarafuji can shut down his opening gambit, it’s going to be a tough day for the Golden One.

Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi surprised me on day 12, and maybe he’s doing a bit better after that day 3 knock to the head. I am sure Takakeisho’s ego is smarting from that day 12 Ryuden henka, and I hope we see a big battle of frustration and angst played out between these two. Mitakeumi needs 2 more wins to hold Sekiwake, and I am sure that having his 3rd bid for Ozeki slip away from him is not bothering him at all…

Abi vs Hakuho – Abi has beaten Hakuho once in their 2 matches. Can he catch lightning in a bottle today? I would not count on it, as Hakuho knows how to win no matter what. I would suppose it comes down to the tachiai face slap coming from “The Boss”. If that fails to find its mark, it might be just the chance Abi needs to apply his sumo. Kintamayama has been including comments on Abi’s “one dimensional” style, and there are many who cite that as a limit to his sumo. But I recall that the same was true of Kotoshogiku. Regardless of todays outcome, Abi is part of the future of sumo, and Hakuho is increasingly part of sumo history.

Kyushu Day 9 Highlights

There was some first-rate sumo today, and as expected the match between Takakeisho and Hokutofuji was the barn-burner highlight of the day. But Mitakeumi also seems to be shaking off the fog of his earlier concussion, and getting closer to normal fighting form. Plus great moves from Shohozan as he shifts gears and decides that while hitting his opponent is fun and good cardio, sometimes you just need to give the other guy a brutal battle hug.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Daishomaru – Welcome back Tochiozan, you can see the experience he brings to the dohyo giving him the edge in controlling this match. Take a look at who holds the center of the dohyo for most of the match. Tochiozan has solid offense, but his defense was nearly unassailable today.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Ishiura – Terutsuyoshi drove harder into the tachiai, and Ishiura was unhappy with his resulting hand placement. As he moved to get better position, Terutsuyoshi advanced with strength and was the winner. Ishiura had solid defensive footing, but Terutsuyoshi showed a lot of strength today, and kept low.

Shodai defeats Daishoho – Hey, Shodai had a half decent tachiai today! He had both hands inside within a blink of an eye, and advanced. Daishoho had no answer and took the loss after it was clear he was beaten. Not sure what injury is plaguing Daishoho, but he may be an early favorite for the barge of the damned headed to Juryo.

Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – I love that Kagayaki is getting comfortable fighting, and now winning chest to chest with his opponent. His oshi-zumo form has been pretty good, but if he can get even a few solid yotsu moves in his toolkit, I predict he will frequent higher spots on the banzuke. I always preach that his fundaments are very good, and you can see them on display. His upper body is a bit awkward, but his defensive foot placement is excellent. I love how low he keeps his feet as he steps forward. That man can transmit power to ground.

Takanosho defeats Yutakayama – Takanosho exceeded my expectations today, his tachiai took him inside, and he did not waste a moment of his superior position. Yutakayama had a good defense ready, but Takanosho was able to pin Yutakayama’s right arm against his body, and lift Yutakayama as he advanced. Unable to generate much forward pressure to counter Takanosho’s attack, Yutakayama stepped out and took the loss.

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – Wow! Look at that tachiai from Chiyotairyu. But even more impressive is Sadanoumi skids to a halt and drops immediately into attack position as Chiyotairyu rushes in. With an opponent like Chiyotairyu lumbering into him, Sadanoumi absorbs the second hit and rolls to his right, and no force on earth can slow Chiyotairyu’s advance. Down he goes. Great defensive gambit and execution by Sadanoumi today.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikigi – Kotoeko seems to finally be on a rally, and I am happy to see him fighting well at last. Nishikigi owned the first part of this match, and Kotoeko put all of his strength into slowing down Nishikigi’s attack, and keeping his feet in the ring, waiting for his chance. That chance came soon enough, as Nishikigi surged to finish Kotoeko, but Kotoeko evaded and send Nishikigi out. Defensive sumo done well, and a well earned win for Kotoeko.

Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – I suspect the matta disrupted Tsurugisho’s battle plan, as the second attempt at the tachiai was all Chiyomaru.

Enho defeats Kotoshogiku – Watching Enho busily harry Kotoshogiku was kind of a wonder. I would guess that Enho was executing 2 moves to every 1 of Kotoshogiku, and it completely overwhelmed the former Ozeki. In typical Enho style, he grabs any stray body part that is closest to him and starts tugging with enthusiasm. Much like some over amorous terrier addressing your leg, the immediate reaction is “get that thing off of me!”. During this visceral, human reaction, Enho merrily defeats you. You can’t be too upset about it either, because let’s face it – he’s adorable.

Shohozan defeats Onosho – Wow! Big Guns starts his day with rapid fire double hand face massage to Onosho, and scales it up to volleys of haymakers to Onosho’s enormous head. In self-defense, Onosho closes the distance and goes chest to chest. Ever the full-service opponent, Shohozan obliges and gives Onosho a jolly heave-ho via an expertly delivered uwatenage, with a spicy leg lift to give it an extra flair. Great match.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – As happens most times these two match, Takarafuji suffers terribly and gets a trip to the clay at the hands of Big Dan and the V-Twin attack.

Meisei defeats Myogiryu – Meisei expertly deployed a hard tachiai, a quick thrust combo into a side step at Myogiryu charged to take advantage. Exquisitely timed by Meisei.

Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Daieisho tends to dominate his matches with Asanoyama, I think in part because Daieisho can really move hard into the tachiai. Today Asanoyama was able to get a workable outside grip and focused on getting Daieisho off balance, and succeeded. Asanoyama stays 1 behind Hakuho.

Okinoumi defeats Endo – Another great match, both of these rikishi are master technicians, and they brought out their extensive sumo toolboxes today, and put it all into the match. Feel free to watch it a few times, because it’s a guidebook on attack, counter-attack and improvisation.

Abi defeats Ryuden – As predicted, Ryuden was struggling, and by the time Abi landed the second volley, he was completely disrupted and headed for the clay. You can see him using his best counter-attack strategy, lifting Abi’s elbows from underneath. This has managed to shut down Abi-zumo a couple of times, but Ryuden can’t make it stick today.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi expertly closed the distance to Tamawashi, and used his massive body as both a shield and a plow to contain and eject Tamawashi. Given that Mitakeumi still seems to be suffering from the effects of that blow to the head, this was a simple, and quite effective plan.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – We thought this might be a barn-burner, and indeed it set the dohyo on fire. Both men through everything they could muster into this fight, and I was quite impressed by Hokutofuji’s speed and combination attacks. Takakeisho knew he could not out-reach the Komusubi, or out maneuver him, but focused on what he does best, overwhelming force applied center mass. Hokutofuji landed solidly, but left his chest wide open. Good match, and I dare say that we sumo fans can look forward to these matches for years to come.

Hakuho defeats Kotoyuki – Points to Kotoyuki for taking the fight to Hakuho, but The Boss is not even susceptible to this kind of sumo. Right now The Boss looks a bit bored. Sadly none of his usual challenges are around this November.