Natsu Day 12 Highlights


Takayasu-12

Pivotal Day Did Not Disappoint.

There were indications that day 12 would be a decisive day in the Natsu basho, and it delivered. Just to review some of the items that were resolved overnight

Goeido’s Kadoban Doom – He easily defeated Aoiyama, and is now one win away from his kachi-koshi and reaffirming his Ozeki rank. To be certain, he has had a fairly weak performance this basho, but it will now likely be enough to life the kadoban doom. Day 13 he faces hapless Maegashira Takarafuji, which he should win with ease. Goeido should send flowers and sake to Kisenosato, his withdrawal scrambled to torikumi, and brought more upper Maegashira into matches in the final week than would have been normal.

Ojisan Kotoshogiku’s Fade – Mitakeumi was successful in handing the Kyushu Bulldozer his make-koshi. He will rank no higher than Komusubi come July, if he does not choose to retire and enjoy his kabu. This means we will likely be back to 2 Sekiwake as is normal, and we may see a new Sekiwake in Nagoya.

Takayasu’s Ozeki Bid – As expected, Takayasu made fairly easy work out of an injured Takarafuji, securing his 10th win. He is now eligible for promotion to Ozeki, but it is not guaranteed at this point, the NSK still must have their say. If he is promoted, and Kotoshogiku will certainly be demoted, the bottle-neck in San’yaku will be cleared, and Maegashira promotion lanes are once again open.

Highlight Matches Aplenty

*Note, almost all of the matches today were great, don’t settle for the NHK highlights, supplement them with Jason’s All Sumo Channel or Kintamayama’s great daily digest.

Onosho defeats Tokushoryu – This fast rising youngster secured his kachi-koshi. They traded attempts at slap downs, but Onosho’s connected.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – Another rikishi with a good looking future, Kagayaki secured his winning record today. Kagayaki seems to have fixed some of the problem he had with his tachiai, and as long as he does not get into the poor habit of moving backwards, he’s going to do great stuff.

Ura defeats Hokutofuji – Again Ura engaged his hyper-dimensional plane shifting mode, and deployed something very henka flavored, but not quite “jump out of the way”, it was more of a attack from the side move. To his credit, Hokotofuji read the move well, and responded very well. But Ura was now in about 3 places at once, and only his feet were still in this dimension. He had Hokotofuji turned around and shoved from behind off the dohyo before you could even understand what he did. With 10 wins Ura is now in special prize territory. The question is, which one. One other thing that is great to see, both Ura and Hokutofuji have really excellent manners in the ring. During the Asashōryū these seemed to go out of fashion, but I am so glad these guys are bringing it back.

Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – What a great bout this turned out to be. Both rikishi put in a lot of effort, and brought their best sumo. Tochinoshin is wonderful to watch when he is healthy, but the smaller, rounder Takakeisho used Tochinoshin’s height and mass against him with great effect. The throw at the edge was expertly done, and both these rikishi may be in contention for well deserved special prizes.

Yoshikaze defeats Chiyonokuni – What a fantastic battle, it ranged back and forth across the dohyo, with Yoshikaze always having the upper hand, but Chiyonokuni refusing to concede. Slapping, pushing, multiple attempts at throwing each other, neither one could close the deal until Yoshikaze was able to turn Chiyonokuni to the side and push him out. I could watch that again (and I will!). Yoshikaze is going to make a great coach, and I expect he will produce a great generation of berserkers that will improve sumo for decades.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Another milestone in the sunset of once Ozeki Kotoshogiku. Mitakeumi shut down at least 2 attempts to establish the hug-n-chug. I am now hoping against hope that Mitakeumi can get 8 wins, as I think it’s time he was Sekiwake. It’s rare that a rikishi can survive in San’yaku for more than 2 tournaments, and he has been fighting at Tamawashi levels for the last 2 basho.

Terunofuji defeats Shodai – This match did not disappoint. Shodai gave Terunofuji two handfuls of trouble, and many of Terunofuji’s preferred winning combos had no effect on Shodai. It should be noted that after the match, Terunofuji seems to have been hurt, and was helped back to the hanamichi by one of his elves.

Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Great day for Goeido 2.0 to take the dohyo. Aoiyama seemed disoriented and distracted, poor guy. He is better than his 2-10 record would indicate, but he and Ichinojo need to discover that bulk is only sometimes a kimarite at the upper ends of sumo.

Hakuho defeats Tochiozan – Hakuho formula for yusho cake: Head-slap, discombobulate, slap down to the clay. For the most part, the only one who can stop him now is Harumafuji, and that will come as the final bout of day 15.

Natsu Day 11 Highlights


Day-11-2

And Then There Was One

Overnight in Tokyo, the yusho race narrowed when Harumafuji lost to Mitakeumi. This leaves Hakuho as the sole, undefeated leader of the basho going into day 12. The bout with Mitakeumi was lost when the Yokozuna inadvertently stepped out of bounds, and the Gyoji awarded the match to Mitakeumi.

Across the board the matches were a notch above the average thus far for Natsu, with a host of close contests that were hard fought and won.

Most impressive to me was the effort that Aoiyama put up against Terunofuji. For once Terunofuji battled an opponent who was too tall and too massive to lift and eject. To his credit, Aoiyama would not surrender, and gave Terunofuji a real challenge.

Selected Matches

Takakeisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Takakeisho racks up his kachi-koshi. While he has been a fairly standard pushme-pullyou to date, he fights with a lot of energy and vigor. With any luck he will take a page from Mitakeumi’s book and increase his skills in yotsu-zumō (belt fighting and throws).

Hokutofuji defeats Daishomaru – Last basho was the first tournament where Hokutofuji did not have a winning record, and it’s great to see him come roaring back. I continue to believe that if Hokutofuji can stay healthy, he is going to be a big deal. In today’s match, he blasted Daishomaru off the dohyo in a very convincing manner.

Ikioi defeats Kotoyuki – Crowd favorite Ikioi also secures his kochi-koshi, and in the process Kotoyuki is injured. This is notable in that he exited the dohyo in a wheel chair. Kotoyuki went kyujo for day 9 for a single day, and returned. Now he seems to be more severely injured.

Ura defeats Shodai – I am sure Shodai has watch full speed and slow motion replays of this bout a few times, and would really like to know what on wizardry took place. He had Ura pinned at the edge, and suddenly a tear in space-time opened again (as Ura is known to do), and suddenly Shodai is stumbling off the dohyo and Ura is high stepping back to his side. Centuries from know, physicists are still going to be working out the math this guy uses to phase between universes. Ura now has 9 wins and is cruising towards a special prize, as well as a possible visit by the Nobel committee.

Endo defeats Yoshikaze – This match was all Yoshikaze, but he could not finish Endo. After multiple to throw, lift out and move over the tawara, Ends rallied and turned the tables on Yoshikaze. Very nice effort from both, and I am sure Endo was happy to avoid make-koshi.

Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyonokuni – Ojisan Kotoshogiku easily deploys the hug-n-chug against Chiyonokuni, and just like that the Kyushu Bulldozer lives on another day.

Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan put up a stiff fight, but Takayasu finally got his 9th win, and is now 1 win away from the 33 win threshold to be considered for promtion to Ozeki. This is likely to come day 12 when Takayasu faces already make-koshi Takarafuji.

Terunofuji defeats Aoiyama – A battle of two giants, this match raged as a contest of strength that was frankly, kind of epic. I have not been much of an Aoiyama fan ever, but today he impressed me. The man-mountain stood his ground against the Kaiju and stalemated him for an impressive length of time.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Goeido 2.0 showed up today, but we have the REAL Hakuho right now, and there is likely no one who can defeat him this tournament. Goeido is now in real trouble, as he needs to find 2 more wins in the next 4 days somehow to save his Ozeki rank. There is the very real and very silly possibility that Nagoya may see 4 Sekiwake, two of them dethroned Ozeki. Nuts.

Mitakeumi defeats Harumafuji – Mitakeumi clearly had control of the match from the tachiai, but the match ended when Harumafuji seems to have inadvertently stepped out. I would say that Harumafuji does seem to be favoring one leg over the other, and we might assume that he actually did injure himself on day 9.

Natsu Day 11 Preview


kaiju mode
Ozeki Terunofuji Headed to McDonalds In Ryogoku, 11:22 PM Tuesday

We Start The Final Act

As we begin the last 5 days of this awesome tournament, it’s time to check up on a few of our story threads

Takayasu’s Ozeki Run – I would declare this on uncertain footing but still quite possible. Takayasu needs to face another Yokozuna who is currently unbeaten, and both Ozeki, one of which is operating in kaiju mode. That leaves him with 2-3 plausible wins, so still possible.

Injured Yokozuna Corps – Kakuryu already has withdrawn. He is probably facing pressure now to retire. He can in fact hang his hopes of delaying that by his November yusho in Fukuoka. Kisenosato insists on competing even though he lacks the strength in his upper body to present a reasonable threat to the upper San’yaku. Harumafuji and Hakuho have reverted to their genki forms, and are unbeaten and undeterred. It’s wonderful to see them both back to their former potency, and we are reminded of how they dominated everything sumo for years.

No-Zeki – Goeido is kadoban, this tournament, and is only 6-4 as of today. It’s not too far of a stretch to think he can pick up 2 more wins, but that’s very weak performance for an Ozeki. This week he faces all 3 Yokozuna, so I would guess at least 2 more losses are inbound. His match with Tamawashi may be the decider. Terunofuji on the other hand seems to be in the same mode he was in during Osaka. That of a rampaging sumo powerhouse with unbeatable strength. He has yet to face any Yokozuna, and I am guessing that he has a fair chance of beating any of them, except Kisenosato. I think he could actually injure Kisenosato.

Mitakeumi’s Komisubi Residency – He was out to strong start, but then hit some very rough patches. Now, Mitakeumi is in real danger of going make-koshi and being pushed back to rank and file Maegashira. I personally don’t think that’s going to harm him, as there is still a bunch of brush clearing that needs to take place in San’yaku before the promotion lanes are actually open. He has faced all of the Ozeki, but still needs to get by Harumafuji on day 11. After that he should draw some easier matches, and may end up 8-7 if he is not too discouraged.

Ojisan Kotoshogiku – We are at day 10, and he is still not make-koshi. His next loss seals his demotion, but he has faced both Ozeki and all three Yokozuna. Is it possible he can win his last 5 matches and escape demotion? Yes, but it would be highly improbably. But look at who he is likely to face: Chiyonokuni (2-8), Okinoumi (1-9!), Daieisho (2-8), Aoiyama (2-8)? We get to Tochiozan before we find a rikishi who is looking strong. So don’t write of Kotoshogiku yet. Then there is the thought of a Shodai – Kotoshogiku match, which might be a big deal.

Upper Maegashira Blood Bath – Ranks M1 – M5 contain 10 rikishi, only 3 of them have even or winning records. This is not atypical by any means, as the upper Maegashira are frequently the punching bags of the San’yaku, but the last few basho had been relatively gentle on these folks. But Natsu has brought the pain back with vengeance.

Juryo Meat Grinder – Upper Juryo is in worse shape than anything I have seen in some time. None of the top 6 Juryo ranks has anyone with more than 6 wins. Without a strong leader or leaders, it throws the promotion picture into chaos. It’s clear that a number of rikishi will be booted out of Makuuchi, but are any of these Juryo guys worthy to replace them?

Osunaarashi In Trouble – He is 1-9 right now. Given that the NSK has given him brutal demotions in the past, it’s reasonable to ask how far down the banzuke he will fall. It was clear from watching him in person that his multiple, unrecovered injuries have robbed him of the physical presence he used to command.

Natsu Leader board

LeadersHarumafuji, Hakuho
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takayasu, Shodai, Tochinoshin, Ura

5 Matches Remain

* Note, we are almost to the point where the math required for anyone to catch Hakuho or Harumafuji becomes unworkable.

Matches We Like

Kaisei vs Toyohibiki – In spite of his injuries, it seems Kaisei decided he is not going back to Juryo, no matter what. He needs 2 more wins to make that a reality. He has a 10-5 career advantage over Toyohibiki.

Tochinoshin vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu trying for kachi-koshi against a resurgent Tochinoshin. I am looking for Tochinoshin to employ his massive strength and size advantage if he can grab the mawashi, Tochinoshin will be thrusting with everything to keep the big Georgian away.

Chiyotairyu vs Takakeisho – Less of a mismatch than a M7 vs M14 bout should be. If Takakeisho wins, he claims his kachi-koshi. But Chiyotairyu has beaten him 2 out of their 3 times they have matched before. I would guess Chiyotairyu is going to try for a quick slap down before Takakeisho can set his feet and start his sumo.

Ura vs Shodai – Also a match likely better than you would expect with a M10 vs M5 bout. Ura deploy his quantum sumo against Shodai’s flawed tachiai. As Ura will probably go low and crazy, it’s going to be fun to see how Shodai reacts. This is their first ever match. May be the best match of day 11.

Endo vs Yoshikaze – Time to see if Endo learned anything from the Mitakeumi vs Yoshikaze bout. I am guessing he did not. Interestingly enough, these two are tied 5-5 over their career. Endo is looking a bit off now, and may be hurt, where Yoshikaze seems to actually be enjoying himself almost as much as Hakuho is.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyonokuni – Yes, Chiyonokuni is already make-koshi, but he has not been phoning in his matches. He has stepped on the dohyo each day with a plan to win, and he has given it his all. Kotoshogiku has a narrow path to hold onto Sekiwake, and the next step is defeating Chiyonokuni.

Tochiozan vs Takayasu – This is a must win for Takayasu. Given the brutality of the rest of his schedule, he needs to bank this win. Tochiozan is stronger this basho than he has looked since Nagoya 2016, so it’s not a foregone conclusion. Also of note is Tochiozan leads the career matches 18-5, so he has a habit of beating Takayasu. Much as Kintamayama seems to play on it, it does seem true that Takayasu is a chronic worrier, and it may restrain his sumo on day 11.

Terunofuji vs Aoiyama – The only question is what look of pain Aoiyama will have on his face moments after the tachiai. Kailua for the win over the man shaped meat mountain.

Hakuho vs Goeido – Only Goeido 2.0 has a chance here, and it would be so very magical if he appeared and battled Hakuho to a win. But reality says Hakuho is going to play with Goeido for a bit, then toss him around. Success here means that Goeido can come out of it without an injury.

Harumafuji vs Mitakeumi – I am still hoping to see the death-spin. It’s been many months since Harumafuji tried to put a man in orbit, and I do so hope he can pull that one out this basho. Mitakeumi is still going to be a big deal in a while, but day 11 he gets to “enjoy” Harumafuji.

Kisenosato vs Tamawashi – Although Kisenosato has won all 9 of their prior meetings, Tamawashi has a fair chance against the one-armed Yokozuna. I am still looking for Kisenosato to do the responsible thing and go kyujo.

Natsu Day 7 Preview


Yoshikaze

Harumafuji / Yoshikaze Street Battle Round 6.

Welcome to the middle weekend of what has so far been a very solid and exciting basho. The NHK schedulers work to bring out some popular match ups for this weekend, as they know they have a chance of attracting a lot of eyeballs.

For today, we expect the Kisenosato match to once again be something fans are fixed on. Going up against Daieisho could have been considered a rest break for the one-armed Yokozuna, but today he faces Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi has suffered more than a couple of defeats he feels he could have and should have won. So he may be eager to reclaim some pride by dismantling the injured Kisenosato.

For fans of Osunaarashi, he may make it to the NHK highlights for day 7, as he is visiting Makuuchi to fill in the gap left by Kakuryu’s kyujo.

On a final note, today I fly back to California. Tokyo has been great, and I am oh so grateful that I had a chance to watch sumo in person, in the Kokugikan.

Matches We Like

Onosho vs Chiyotairyu – These two have me twice before, and Onosho won them both. Onosho has seemed to settle into a winning pattern during his first tournament in Makuuchi. Most likely being a thrusting battle.

Tochinoshin vs Ishiura – Having taken Ura’s lunch money, it’s time for Tochinoshin to try to give Ishiura the same atomic wedgie. Their prior two meetings were split 1-1. The big Georgan is fighting well for a change, after multiple basho of lackluster performance.

Ura vs Sokokurai – The crowd (and myself) love to see what crazy ass stunt Ura will produce on the spot this time. He is attracting a lot of sponsorship now, and if he can continue to at least keep a middling record, he is going to be around for the foreseeable future. This is the first match between these two, and they are fairly evenly paired.

Takakeisho vs Shodai – Their first match up ever. Shodai is making headway in spite of the mechanical problems with his sumo. But this is really a battle of the young guns, as Takakeisho has not been in sumo very long, and is himself an up an coming rikishi. Albeit with better sumo mechanics in my opinion.

Tochiozan vs Hokutofuji – Tochiozan turned a corner in Osaka, and reverted back to an earlier winning form that we had not seen much of since last year. Then there is Hokutofuji and his aggressive rise through the ranks. After his first ever losing record in Osaka, he is fighting hard to continue his upward climb. This is their first match, and I think it could potentially be one of the better matches today.

Chiyoshoma vs Takayasu – After Takayasu swallowed his first loss, it’s time to see if he can escape his old trap. In prior tournaments, he would suffer a disappointing loss, then go on to lose several more bouts, many of which should have been “gimmies’. It’s as if he goes into a funk and has trouble pulling out. He should be able to handle Chiyoshoma, but it will come down to Takayasu’s focus and drive. Still 5 wins to make Ozeki.

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – At what point does Kotoshogiku call it quits? If we have Goeido 2.0 today it could be a spectacular loss for Kotoshogiku.

Harumafuji vs Yoshikaze – Likely the big match of the day, for all the wrong reasons. I grumble that I am on a plane rather that in the Kokugikan to watch this. These two have a long running habit of beating the daylights out of each other, and there may even be some personal hatred tossed in too. With both men fighting fit for the first time in nearly a year, do they pick up where they left off in Nagoya?

Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – The Great Pumpkin refuses to accept his injury, so he battles on. I expect Mitakeumi will attack left hard and fast, as others have done. But he has the strength to actually make a dent in the big Yokozuna. Out of their 4 career bouts, Mitakeumi has never won a single match. There is a good chance that changes today.

Natsu Day 6 Highlghts


Hakuho

It Feels Like An Old Fashioned Basho.

Remember last year when every tournament was a contest between Hakuho and Harumafuji to see which one could go without losing a single bout? Those were heady days when to two Mongolian super-sumotori ruled the dohyo, and nobody could really do much to them.

Then there were injuries, hospitalization, recuperation, and problems galore. For fans of these two great Yokozuna, it’s quite enjoyable to see them dominant once more. Each has a powerful and distinctive style of sumo that will be sorely missed once they retire (which is coming sooner than any of us want).

Items of note

Takayasu lost his first match today to fellow Sekiwake Tamawashi. This match was lost at the tachiai, which was sloppy for Takayasu. He slipped to 5-1

Goeido seems to be running the 2.0 software again, which I really like. I have had fears over the stability of his injured ankle, but it would seem that he is back to something close to his Aki form, which is excellent Ozeki class sumo.

Also working hard to ensure we never get to No-Zeki is Terunofuji. Today he looked like a cat toying with a grasshopper. Even the gyoji caught a piece of the action.

Select Matches

Onosho defeats Kotoyuki – Onosho continues to impress. Today he exploded into the tachiai and the momentum just carried Kotoyuki out.

Ura defeats Ichinojo – Simple, Ichinojo let Ura dictate the form of the match. Ura went low, stayed low, Ichinojo tried to follow and Ura was in control. Done.

Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – A festival of pushing, shoving, slapping and bashing until Takakeisho lost his balance and fell. The pushme-pullyous seems to be running sumo now. Did everyone forget the rest of the kimarate list?

Takanoiwa defeats Shodai – Shodai is still too high at the tachiai, and never got his footing.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – Tamawashi won this one on the line. Takayasu was off balance from the start, and Tamawashi made him pay for it.

Yoshikaze defeats Kotoshogiku – Good bye Kotoshogiku, you were one of the good ones, and you will be sorely missed, as you are a real character. But you have nothing left, please take your kabu and become a great leader of young rikishi. Also, Yoshikaze is really running well this basho.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Like a ping pong match with 300 pound plus big men. And to be honest, it was all Terunofuji. Sadly the Gyoji got in the way at some point and got hit with Chiyonokuni being tossed around like a hacky-sack. It’s strange to say, but it looks like both Ozeki are running well this basho, and its so very very welcome.

Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Aggressive, adaptive, committed. Goeido 2.0 was on the dohyo today, and he provided Mitakeumi with a valuable lesson. No plan survives first contact, and Goeido got inside his decision loop and shut him down.

Kisenosato defeats Daieisho – Kisenosato got the easy match today. Poor Daieisho is far out of his element. He will be back, but we hope he is not damaged by this tournament ranked much higher than he should be right now.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Hakuho could have won this match in the first three seconds, but he was not going to let Endo off easily. He kept slapping and pushing, pushing and slapping. Demonstrating the match was going to last until he got tired. well, Endo decided he had enough and exiting the dohyo after a solid push to give him cover.

Harumafuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama is known for landing hay-makers, so what did Harumafuji do? Grabbed two handfuls of flabby breast meat and started shoving. Aoiyama was really unable to move his arms, or land any blows. Kind of disgusting, but effective.

Day 15 Osaka Recap


sansho-osaka

Beyond The Yusho

In addition to one of the more dramatic ends to a sumo basho that I have ever witnessed, there was a lot of great action on the dohyo for the final day. As we highlighted earlier, a lot of rikishi were still battling to secure a winning record (Kachi-koshi), and bid for promotion on the May ranking sheet.

First and foremost, in the Yokozuna battle, Kakuryu was able to prevail over Harumafuji, and finish the tournament with 10 wins. While not earth-shattering, his double digit score puts him squarely in the territory expected for a Yokozuna. Harumafuji’s loss continues to worry, as it’s clear he was hurt most or all of Haru, and competed anyhow.

Special Prizes

  • Outstanding Performance / Shukun-sho: Takayasu (3rd shukun-sho, 8th sansho overall)
  • Fighting Spirit / Kanto-sho: Takakeisho (1st kanto-sho, 1st sansho overall)
  • Technique / Gino-sho: not awarded

I thought there were some great kimarite unleashed in Osaka, and the Gino-sho should have been awarded.

Match Results

Takayasu was able to beat Tamawashi in the battle of the Sekiwake, and pushed his record to 12-3. Firstly, don’t worry about Tamawashi, he finished 8-7, and will remain at Sekiwake for May. Takayasu, however, now only needs 10 wins in May to secure an Ozeki promotion. This also marks a shift, as in prior basho, Takayasu would have a big early winning streak, run out of gas, get a disappointing loss, and then proceed to continue losing. This time, he pulled out of his losing streak and racked up 2 additional wins.

Kotoshogiku, in what may be his final match as a sekitori, faced another veteran Yoshikaze. After a good tachiai, Kotoshogiku quickly established his favored inside grip, and applied his familiar hug-n-chug (gaburi-yori) to the Berserker, and rapidly had him out. Yoshikaze already had his kachi-koshi, and this was (possibly) a goodbye match. I was happy that Kotoshogiku could end on a high note, while Yoshikaze lost nothing.

Mitakeumi finished strong as well, defeating Tochiozan, and confirming he is a contender for higher rank soon. Since turning from a pure pusher-thruster into a hybrid mawashi / thruster, Mitakeumi has improved greatly. I expect that he may take another dip or two down the banzuke in the coming months, but he has the size, speed, strength and skill to be a sumo leader.

Endo was also able to secure a winning record on the last day, taking it from Tochinoshin, who needs to visit whatever clinic gave Terunofuji his legs back. Ura also was able to defeat Ichinojo through a rather clever use of leverage and balance. It was different enough, the judges called a Monoii, but eventually gave Ura the win. Ichinojo is so tall, I swear it took him 30 seconds to finish falling.

Lastly, thank you readers of Tachiai. You have made this our biggest Basho yet, and it’s been wonderful to have all of you spend time on our site, sharing our love of sumo.

Haru Day 10 Recap


Yoshikaze-Kinboshi

Kinboshi #7 For Yoshikaze

A wild and wonderful day of Sumo at Osaka overnight saw no change to the leaderboard, as the top 4 rikishi all won their matches. But there was plenty of drama, and a healthy dose of the unexpected. Because both Kakuryu, Chiyoshoma lost on day 10, there is really no one outside of Terunofuji or Tochiozan who can hope to challenge the unbeaten leaders Kisenosato and Takayasu.

Ura continues to struggle, but has kept an even record and hopes of kachi-koshi alive.

Ishiura seems to be a step ahead of Ura in his adjustment to the world of Makuuchi. Today he showed some amazing strength and balance in overcoming Takakeisho. Every so often he pulls a move that betrays his uncommon power to size ratio, and fans are left wondering “did I just see that”?

Tochiozan’s win over Diashomaru was henka powered, and that’s rather sad given he is one of the leader group. But Diashomaru was off balance at the tachiai, and may have not survived long anyhow. Tochiozan is either having a great streak, or has revived is prior winning ways, we hope he can maintain this going forward into May.

There was a monii in the Aoiyama vs Okinoumi bout, where once again the “dead body” policy played a role. Aoiyama applied a powerful throw which sent Okinoumi flying head-first off the dohyo, but stepped out a fraction of a second before Okinoumi landed. The Shimpan awarded the bout to Okinoumi.

Kotoshogiku keeps hope alive by winning decisively over Takekaze. He needs 3 more wins to regain his Ozeki rank, and at this point I think he may actually be able to do it if the schedulers give him a chance.

Takanoiwa deployed a henka against Takayasu. As Takayasu charged ahead strongly at the tachiai, Takanoiwa leapt to the side. In one of the more impressive moves I have seen in sumo, many hundreds of pound of sumotori came to a screeching halt, maintained balance, pivoted and attacked. With a single blow to the side of Takanoiwa’s head put him on the clay.

Just when I think Shodai is all hype, he gave Terunofuji a big fight, and nearly won. He’s still too high on his tachiai, but yes, he has promise still. Terunofuji continues to impress, and you can scarcely believe it’s the same rikishi who has limped and hobbled throughout the last year of sumo.

Yoshikaze, in my favorite match of the day, completely and utterly overwhelmed Kakuryu. Yoshikaze had control of the bout front the tachiai, and kept pressing the attack. As is frequently the case, Kakuryu was waiting to exploit an off balance move or mistake by Yoshikaze. I just checked with the EDION arena, he’s still waiting. Kinboshi for the mobile combat platform, the berserker Yoshikaze.

It’s no surprise that Tamawashi failed to provide much of a challenge for the apparently unstoppable Kisenosato, who seems destined to close strong in Osaka. Fans are hoping for a pair of 15-0 combatants facing off on the final day for the gusto, but there are still many challenges to overcome before that is a real possiblity.

Endo was not too much work for Harumafuji, who seems to be back in his grove in spite of his ever increasing roster of physical injuries. Harumafuji shows up every day and gives it his all.