We’ve still got one undecided lower-division yusho race. But since most of them are already in the books, I wanted to give you all an update.
If you despair of the parity in Makuuchi, you may not want to see Juryo. Last night, Tochimusashi clinched the yusho when Hokuseiho lost to Kotokuzan — even though he lost his own bout to Atamifuji. Hokuseiho had been leading the yusho race into Week 2 until he lost three bouts in a row, falling to Kitanowaka, Kagayaki, and Tohakuryu. Tochimusashi’s win comes in his first tournament in the division, a feat Tomokaze accomplished back in Kyushu 2018.
— 日本相撲協会公式（九月場所 14日目！） (@sumokyokai) September 24, 2022
Pardon me while I get a little teary-eyed, remembering Tomokaze’s charge up the banzuke, devastating knee-injury, and struggles to make it back to sekitori status. Sadly, he closed out Aki 2-5 from within the Makushita promotion zone. He’ll need to look to 2023.
With the news of Jokoryu’s retirement this week, we get another reminder of how grueling this climb is. Jokoryu began his career with a memorable, pace-setting string of white stars (27 w/ 3 division titles + one playoff loss). And then when Enho made his run, Jokoryu stopped him at 21 wins. Bringing us back full circle, today’s yusho hopeful, Hokuseiho, had his eyes on the streak to start his career but lost his first bouts after returning from Covid kyujo.
In the biggest upset of the tournament, Asanoyama did not win the Makushita title. As Leonid covered, the Coyote got caught out by a wily Roadrunner who goes by the shikona, Yuma. Instead, Daiseiryu won, using much the same technique as Asanoyama. I think Yuma just had designs on taking Daiseiryu on head-on, trying for one pulldown — not as intimidated by the journeyman as he was by the former Ozeki. If he’d used his roadrunner tactic, he might have won the yusho.
大相撲九月場所 13日目 幕下
36 大成龍 全勝 幕下優勝🏆 pic.twitter.com/K4D67lIpIV
— ZEAL (@MasakiKudo59) September 23, 2022
I am also encouraged by Setonoumi’s strong performance. We’ve seen him come back from serious injury and win lower division yusho. Now, he’s gone 6-1 from his best rank ever at Makushita 56, opposite Asonoyama (not to be confused with Asanoyama, the former Ozeki). He’ll be thrown into the middle of the division in Kyushu so it will be exciting to continue to watch him.
Oshoumi blitzed poor Wakanosho at the snap, capping off his zensho-yusho in Sandanme. That string of wins included bouts against Hakuho recruit Ishii and former Jonokuchi title winner and Oshiogawa recruit, Kazekeno. Kototebakari’s hopes were dashed in an earlier loss to Shosei, who is competing in Makushita. Kototebakari will fight for a 6th win tonight. While he’s likely earned his promotion to Makushita, that 6th win will lock it in and probably a 20-rank difference when the Kyushu banzuke comes out.
大相撲九月場所 13日目 三段目
78 欧勝海 全勝 三段目優勝🏆 pic.twitter.com/O0Vzbmf9HF
— ZEAL (@MasakiKudo59) September 23, 2022
The Jonidan title comes down to a senshuraku playoff between Takahashi and Chiyodaigo. I will post an update after that is decided. Takahashi won the Jonokuchi yusho race back in Nagoya, defeating Kazuto in the playoff. Chiyodaigo is a journeyman whose peak rank was in Makushita, so clearly no slouch but he’s had several non-Covid kyujo lately, along with the Kasugano-beya Covid kyujo. Given the way he knocked out Toshunryu, I’d say this kid wants it. Those were some haymakers. They say hatakikomi but that’s one of the most fierce hatakikomi I can remember.
— ボス (@boss_jonokuchi) September 21, 2022
In a surprise to absolutely no one, Miyagino-oyakata’s mammoth-thighed recruit, Otani, obliterated all comers in the lowest division to claim the yusho. His dame-oshi (shoves “after the bell,” so-to-speak) will hurt his chances at growing a significant fanbase. Aoiyama comes to mind as someone who fans dislike because of this, while Kaisei gets plaudits for helping his opponents avoid falls. ダメ, pronounced “DAH-MEH,” (not like the title as in, Dame Judi Dench), is a Japanese admonishment which basically translates as, “don’t!” and oshi is from “push,” as in the kimarite oshidashi. If you’ve already won the bout, you’re not supposed to shove your opponent off the dohyo.
Hopefully our regular Jonokuchi division coverage will make its return in Kyushu, but there’s a rather small recruiting class again which might make for another dud of a race. I may double-up by following the Jonidan (or Juryo?) race, as well. But we’ll see.