One third of the way through the tournament is really far too early to start comparing this tournament to the performance of the simulation tournament. We’ll do that much later on as we see what it got right versus where there’s need for improvement. What matters to me at this point is that this tournament is contrasted from that one by featuring such strong starts from our leadership.
In the mock basho all sanyaku stumbled out of the gates early to chase a rank-and-filer, in sole ownership of the lead after Day 5. We start Day 6 of this tournament with three sanyaku undefeated. The joi-jin took a bath in the simulation and they’re getting pummeled in real life. But crucially, they’re not picking off as many big wins so early on. They’re definitely getting a few but the meat grinder is in fine form.
For me, this old-school, dominant Hakuho paired with the youth and promise of Asanoyama at the top of the table is a whole mood (as the kids are fond of saying lately). Confidence, patience, strength, authority…it just feeds my optimism for where we are now versus where we were at this point in May. And as we see on Day 6, my optimism has reason to grow by the end of the day.
Azumaryu defeated Nishikigi (2-4): Nishikigi wrapped up Azumaryu and started him moving backwards with both arms outside Azumaryu’s arms. However, he wore himself out trying to lift the Juryo visitor, Terunofuji-style, over the bales. Azumaryu took over and pushed Nishikigi out. Yorikiri.
Terunofuji (5-1) defeated Kotoshoho (5-1): Kotoshoho began with a slight advantage of position after the tachiai but Terunofuji’s size and strength reigned this bout. Kotoshoho allowed Terunofuji to get a mirror belt-grip and that was a huge mistake. As Takayasu showed, use all your might to keep him off. From here Terunofuji took over the bout and quickly worked Kotoshoho back and out. Yorikiri.
Takayasu (4-2) defeated Kotoyuki (1-5): Kotoyuki tried a few slaps and a nodowa at the tachiai, and twisted around for a change of direction but all attempts in the opening volley had no effect on Takayasu. With one shove, Takayasu demonstrated who was boss, forcing Kotoyuki out. Oshidashi.
Kotonowaka (4-2) defeated Chiyomaru (0-6): Chartreuse vs Emerald. Chiyomaru gave it his all, but like Kotoyuki before him, all attempts had no impact. Kotonowaka walked Chiyomaru out easily. Oshidashi.
Wakatakakage (3-3) defeated Sadanoumi (2-4): Henka! Sadanoumi fell for it. Wakatakakage pushed down with both hands on Sadanoumi’s back and Sadanoumi fell to the clay. Hatakikomi.
Shohozan (1-5) defeated Kotoeko (4-2): Shohozan landed a weak harite slap that served to piss off Kotoeko. Kotoeko’s slaps and thrusts took over the bout, forcing Shohozan into retreat, circling ‘round and ‘round. Kotoeko was too aggressive, though, as Shohozan needed only one sidestep to push Kotoeko out. Oshi—wha..? Hatakikomi? Huh.
Tochinoshin (4-2) defeated Kotoshogiku (4-2): Kotoshogiku IS keeping his knees straight at what amounts to an awkward tachiai. The first attempt was out of sync, so matta… Ross called the henka at the next tachiai, as Kotoshogiku rolls across the dohyo… but mada matta! Tochinoshin, pissed at the gyoji more than anything, lands his left-hand overarm grip after a solid tachiai, and worked Koshogiku to the edge. Rather than try to power the former ozeki over the edge, Tochinoshin wisely chose to throw him back to the center of the ring. Uwatenage.
Tamawashi (5-1) defeated Myogiryu (5-1): Matta fest today. Tamawashi started things out way early. Once they got going for real, Tamawashi seemed interested to see what Myogiryu would be able to do and let Myogiryu try some thrusts but not enough to move Tamawashi back. Tamawashi decided it was time to act and shoved Myogiryu back. Another shove and Myogiryu was out. Surprise, surprise, Oshidashi.
Shimanoumi (2-4) defeated Ikioi (2-4): Ikioi was determined to keep Shimanoumi at arms length, pushing his opponent’s arms. He tried a pull but a balanced Shimanoumi followed well, stayed upright, pushing Ikioi out Oshi—Yorikiri? Okay.
Ishiura (2-4) defeated Kaisei (2-4): I thought the matta foretold a henka but I was wrong. Ishiura hit Kaisei head on! Both men settled at the center, fighting for belt grips. Ishiura secured a left hand grip and with a little sidestep pulled Kaisei forward. This is the Ishiura of the simulation. Unafraid of bigger guys, getting things done with skill and strength rather than games. Please bring it like this more often. Shitatedashinage.
Enho (3-3) defeated Chiyotairyu (3-3): A little submarine work from Enho at the tachiai diverted Chiyotairyu to the side. With the larger man off balance, Enho tugged on Chiyotairyu’s belt to bring him to the floor. Whattaya know? The Miyagino beya brings us twin Shitatedashinage.
Ryuden (2-4) defeated Abi (3-3): Abi’s slaps and pull attempts forced Ryuden into chase mode. Ryuden kept his balance at the pull so Abi drove forward again, slapping and keeping Ryuden upright but this time the pull never came. Instead Ryuden ducked to the side and Abi fell in a heap on the floor. Tsukiotoshi.
Tokushoryu (3-3) defeated Hokutofuji (4-2): Hokutofuji bulled forward with his head down. Tokushoryu moved to the side to let Hokutofuji pass. With both hands on Hokutofuji’s back, Tokushoryu shoved Hokutofuji down onto the tawara. Hataki— Tsukiotoshi.
Aoiyama (3-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (2-4): After a solid tachiai and a few exchanges of slaps and shoves, Terutsuyoshi tried a change of direction and Aoiyama almost fell for it. But as the man mountain threw his arms out to maintain his balance, his right arm connected with Terutsuyoshi’s head. Aoiyama kept Terutsuyoshi in front of him and wrangled him out. Tsukidashi.
Kagayaki (3-3) defeated Yutakayama (0-6): Kagayaki was all business today. Solid tachiai. Poise, control, forward movement…Yutakayama had no chance. Oshidashi.
Takanosho (3-3) defeated Daieisho (3-3): A solid tachiai from both men but Takanosho shifted to the right and pushed Daieisho past. Daieisho lost his balance while trying to turn around to meet Takanosho, landing on his butt. Oshitaoshi.
Shodai (5-1) defeated Endo (1-5): A strong tachiai and some off-balance flailing sumo from Shodai as Endo grabbed the left arm, pulling him forward to the bales. Shodai slipped his left arm in and tried the same tightrope walk throw from yesterday but he was too out of control. Endo tried a trip but missed. As Shodai reclaimed his arm, Endo lost his balance. This gave Shodai an opportunity to wheel back around and pushed Endo out. Oshidashi.
Mitakeumi (6-0) defeated Okinoumi (3-3): A solid tachiai from Okinoumi forced Mitakeumi half-way to the bales but it was not enough. Try as he might, Mitakeumi would not move back and farther. Mitakeumi mustered his strength and drove Okinoumi back to the edge. A final shove back to the center of the ring brought Okinoumi to the dirt. Tsukiotoshi.
Kiribayama (2-4) defeated Takakeisho (4-2): Takakeisho started off with some standard thrusting. The agile Kiribayama lept and got his hands up to the back of Takakeisho’s head, shoving down forcefully. This negated Takakeisho’s advantage as the Ozeki fought to maintain his balance. Kiribayama got his hands into the mawashi and drove Takakeisho backwards and out. Yorikiri.
Asanoyama (6-0) defeated Onosho (0-6): Onosho forced Asanoyama’s head back but it was not enough to get the Ozeki moving backwards. Instead, he quickly secured an left-overarm belt grab, and used his superior footwork to usher Onosho over the edge. Yorikiri.
Hakuho (6-0) defeated Takarafuji (2-4): A straightforward win from the master. Strong tachiai and he drives Takarafuji back. Takarafuji tries to move left along the edge but the master kept him in front and continued the forward pressure until Takarafuji stepped over the bales. Yorikiri.