The 2023 Grand Tournament of Sumo is nearing the home stretch with the Aki basho (or Fall tournament) getting underway this Sunday from the historic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. Last time out the rikishi had to battle the sweltering conditions in Nagoya. So the cooler weather in Tokyo will likely be appreciated as they battle each other over the next 15 days.
Hoshoryu won the tournament in Nagoya, as well as a promotion to the rank of ozeki. At the Aki Basho plenty of eyes will be on him and his rival Kirishima (who was promoted to ozeki after the tournament that preceded Nagoya) to see which of them can take the next leap and become the sports’ next yokozuna.
For a more in-depth preview of the 2023 aki basho, go here.
Aki Banzuke (Sumo rankings)
|8-5||Kirishima 🇲🇳||Ozeki||Takakeisho 🇯🇵||10-3|
|5-8||Nishikigi 🇯🇵||Komusubi||Tobizaru 🇯🇵||6-7|
|8-5||Hokutofuji 🇯🇵||M1||Meisei 🇯🇵||6-7|
|8-5||Abi 🇯🇵||M2||Asanoyama 🇯🇵||8-5|
|6-7||Shodai 🇯🇵||M3||Tamawashi 🇲🇳||2-11|
|5-8||Takanosho 🇯🇵||M4||Ura 🇯🇵||7-6|
|7-6||Gonoyama 🇯🇵||M5||Shonannoumi 🇯🇵||6-7|
|8-5||Onosho 🇯🇵||M6||Ryuden 🇯🇵||5-8|
|9-4||Takayasu 🇯🇵||M7||Oho 🇯🇵||4-9|
|6-7||Kotoeko 🇯🇵||M8||Hiradoumi 🇯🇵||4-9|
|8-5||Midorifuji 🇯🇵||M9||Hakuoho 🇯🇵||0-0-13|
|9-4||Kinbozan 🇰🇿||M10||Endo 🇯🇵||8-5|
|8-5||Mitakeumi 🇯🇵||M11||Hokuseiho 🇯🇵||9-4|
|6-7||Takarafuji 🇯🇵||M12||Sadanoumi 🇯🇵||6-7|
|8-5||Myogiryu 🇯🇵||M13||Nishikifuji 🇯🇵||4-9|
|4-9||Aoiyama 🇧🇬||M14||Kotoshoho 🇯🇵||5-8|
|10-3||Atamifuji 🇯🇵||M15||Chiyoshoma 🇲🇳||2-11|
|4-9||Kagayaki 🇯🇵||M16||Tsurugisho 🇯🇵||8-5|
Results, Highlights and Analysis
- Kagayaki def. Daishoho via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Chiyoshoma def. Tsurugisho via yorikiri
- Atamifuji def. Kotoshoho via yorikiri*
- Myogiryu def. Aoiyama via yorikiri
- Sadanoumi def. Nishikifuji via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Takarafuji def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri
- Mitakeumi def. Endo via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Kinbozan def. Midorifuji via oshidashi
- Kotoeko def. Hiradoumi via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Takayasu def. Oho via oshidashi
- Onosho def. Ryuden via oshidashi*
- Gonoyama def. Shonannoumi via oshidashi
- Takanosho def. Ura via okuridashi
- Nishikigi def. Tamawashi via oshidashi
- Kotonowaka def. Shodai via yorikiri
- Asanoyama def. Wakamotoharu via yorikiri
- Meisei def. Daieisho via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Hoshoryu def. Abi via tottari (arm bar throw)*
- Hokutofuji def. Takakeisho via hatakikomi*
- Kirishima def. Tobizaru via tsuridashi (frontal lift out)*
*Must see bouts!
We are off to the races! Day one got off to a slow start with a slew of short yorikiri and oshidashi spare a great back and forth between Atamifuji and Kotoshoho and a great throw by Kotoeko on Hiradoumi.
Bout of the day for me is newly minted ozeki Hoshoryu passing the Abi test.
Win or lose, when you fight Abi you’re gonna feel it. Abi, recently demoted from komusubi, locked on a stiff arm to Hoshoryu’s throat right off the tachiai. But Hoshoryu showed off his nimbleness in being able to steer that arm off of his throat and use it to lead Abi onto his face and out of the ring.
Other notable results were Meisei catching Daieisho with a henka and Kirishima beating Tobizaru with a mini-forklift hop. Tobizaru’s shoulder looked as if it may have popped out afterwards. Hopefully that doesn’t rule out the flying monkey.
The other ozeki Takakeisho started with a loss. His first bout with Hokutofuji was too close to call after he went for an all out dive.
In the rematch Hokutofuji adjusted and anticipated Takakeisho’s push and used it to drive him down to the dirt.
- Tsurugisho def. Kagayaki via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Atamifuji def. Daishoho via yorikiri
- Kotoshoho def. Chiyoshoma via suikuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Nishikifuji def. Myogiryu via yorikiri*
- Sadanoumi def. Aoiyama via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Mitakeumi def. Takarafuji via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Hokuseiho def. Endo via kimedashi (arm barring force out)*
- Kinbozan def. Kotoeko via tsukitaoshi (frontal force down)*
- Hiradoumi def. Midorifuji via yorikiri*
- Onosho def. Oho via oshidashi
- Takayasu def. Ryuden via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Shonannoumi def. Takanosho via sukuinage*
- Ura def. Gonoyama via oshidashi
- Tobizaru def. Tamawashi via hikkake (arm grabbing force out)*
- Daieisho def. Shodai via oshidashi*
- Asanoyama def. Kotonowaka via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Abi def. Wakamotoharu via hikiotoshi
- Kirishima def. Meisei via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Hokutofuji def. Hoshoryu via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Nishikigi vs. Takakeisho def. Nishikigi via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
* Must see bouts!
We were treated to some sensational matches on Day 2 of the aki basho, a day I will be naming Hokutofuji’s Revenge. With his active hands the popular Hokutofuji was able to smite down Hoshoryu, the man who beat him in a playoff last tournament to lift the Emperor’s Cup.
There were lots of other great moments to touch on from this day, too. Nishikifuji blasted through Myogiryu with an incredibly forceful tachiai. Kotoshoho threw Chiyshoma after a fun, and prolonged, bout. Shonannoumi showed he’s no fluke in out working and eventually throwing a tough Takanosho.
And Hokuseiho looked aggressive (finally) in immediately trying to throw Endo. However, a stalemate ensued, but Hokuseiho forced the action again and locked up a fantastic kimedashi finish. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from Hokuseiho (who was woeful at the last tournament).
Tobizaru looked like he was protecting his shoulder a little, which I think he injured on Day 1. He avoided a big clash with Tamawashi. Instead he turned and played matador, slinging Tamawashi into the first row.
Match of the day for me is Kotonowaka vs. Asanoyama. Look at this beauty:
Asanoyama and Kotonowaka were meeting for only the second time (Asanoyama won their first clash, too). After a big impact off the tachiai, Kotonowaka seized the advantage and got Asanoyama to the straw. He kept pushing forward, though he was pushing high, allowing Asanoyama to bend back and not get forced out. After he got his footing back, Asanoyama advanced and used his grappling superiority to great effect, finding a hold and scoring an uwatenage.
- Daishoho def. Chiyoshoma via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Tsurugisho def. Aoiyama via yorikiri
- Nishikifuji def. Kagayaki via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)
- Atamifuji def. Aoiyama via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Sadanoumi def. Kotoshoho via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Mitakeumi def. Hokuseiho via oshidashi
- Takarafuji def. Endo via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Kinbozan def. Hiradoumi via kubinage (head lock throw)*
- Midorifuji def. Kotoeko via katasukashi*
- Ryuden def. Oho via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Onosho def. Takayasu via orkuridashi (rear push out)
- Shonannoumi def. Ura via oshidashi
- Gonoyama def. Takanosho via oshidashi
- Nishikigi def. Asanoyama via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Wakamotoharu def. Shodai via yorikiri
- Abi def. Daieisho via oshidashi*
- Kotonowaka def.Tamawashi via yorikiri
- Takakeisho def. Meisei via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Hokutofuji def. Kirishima via yorikiri*
- Tobizaru def. Hoshoryu via okuridashi*
*Must see bouts!
Another great day of matches, this time with a plethora of interesting and seldom seen finishing techniques.
Hokutofuji will scoop the headlines from this day, and rightly so, after his fantastic win over Kirishima. Check that out below and see how his fast hands and feet have proven to be a nightmare for his third ozeki in a row. He certainly seems intent on proving his runner-up performance last basho is something he can improve upon. Wouldn’t bet against that at this stage, either. Watch how he’s not only able to force the action against Kirishima, but also swiftly react and get himself out of trouble.
Hoshoryu also took a loss on Day 3. He met Tobizaru, whose elusiveness and unpredictability always gives the Golden Boy trouble. Tobizaru was able to pull a disappearing act on Hoshoryu this day, reappearing behind him for an all out dive/push.
The forgotten ozeki Takakeisho beat Meisei on Day 3. For the second day in a row he won with his defense (a welcome sign for me). He allowed Meisei to charge forwards while he switched stances, deftly for such a big man, to find the angle he needed to thrust down his very eager opponent.
Those were all great bouts, but I’m digging a little deeper for my match of the day. I really enjoyed Onosho vs. Takayasu. I feel like Onosho’s aggressiveness veers into poor sportsmanship sometimes. But I have to praise him for how good he’s looked while going 3-0 so far this tournament. Against Takayasu (who has looked pretty good himself so far), Onosho was able to defend against both the former ozeki‘s pushes and his attempted hatakikomi before pivoting and finding an angle to score the rear push out.
Also want to praise Abi (who I’ve started called The Wolfish) for showing he doesn’t just have pitter-patter strikes in his locker. He put his legs into his pushes against Daieisho, surprising me and the sekiwake.
- Atamifuji def. Chiyoshoma via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Daishoho def. Aoiyama via kimedashi (arm barring force out)
- Kagayaki def. Kotoshoho via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Tsurugisho def. Nishikifuji via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Myogiryu def. Takarafuji via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Hokuseiho def. Sadanoumi via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Kinbozan def. Mitakeumi via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Endo def. Midorifuji via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Takayasu def. Hiradoumi via okuridashi
- Oho def. Kotoeko via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Gonoyama def. Ryuden via yorikiri*
- Onosho def. Shonannoumi via oshidashi
- Ura def. Tamawashi via oshitaoshi
- Nishikigi def. Tobizaru via yorikiri
- Kotonowaka def. Takanosho via oshidashi
- Wakamotoharu def. Meisei via yorikiri
- Daieisho def. Hokutofuji via oshidashi*
- Shodai def. Hoshoryu via sukuinage*
- Takakeisho def. Asanoyama via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Abi def. Kirishima via hikiotoshi*
*Must see bouts!
Another great day for ‘the forgotten ozeki‘. Takakeisho looks healthy and formidable, in reaching 3-1 with a very impressive win over Asanoyama. See that below:
Asanoyama is both incredibly powerful and a great technician, so to see Takakeisho handle him so easily was pretty shocking. I’ve noticed when Takakeisho waits and lets his opponent put his hands down to the ground first, you can expect a big bang. He exploded into the tachiai in this bout and rocked Asanoyama back so forcefully that the former ozeki couldn’t recover. When Asanoyama was able to get his bearings and put some muscle into pushing back, Takakeisho, who had baited Asanoyama into that moment, responded with a perfect slap down. Fantastic stuff to see from the man who looked unbeatable at times in January.
Kirishima and Hoshoryu both struggles again on Day 4. And both looked unusually rash in their performances. Both over-committed and both paid the price. Hoshoryu didn’t get his head up in time and was driven down by a strong Shodai. Kirishima went head first into Abi and got a stiff shot to the throat as punishment.
Takakeisho vs. Asanoyama was my bout of the day. But I need to shout out a few others for great performances on Day 4.
Hokuseiho again looked aggressive in beating Sadanoumi. Onosho, who may have ditched his famous pre-fight wand wave touch down, smashed through Shonannoumi. And Myogiryu beat Takarafuji in a fun veteran brawl.
- Kagayaki def. Chiyoshoma via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tsurugisho def. Atamifuji via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Kotoshoho def. Daishoho via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Aoiyama def. Nishikifuji via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Takarafuji def. Sadanoumi via yorikiri
- Myogiryu def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri*
- Endo def. Kinbozan via yorikiri
- Mitakeumi vs. Midorifuji via oshidashi*
- Oho def. Hiradoumi via oshidashi
- Ryuden def. Kotoeko via oshidashi
- Takayasu def. Shonannoumi via hatakikomi*
- Gonoyama def. Onosho via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)*
- Shodai def. Ura via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Takanosho def. Daieisho via oshidashi*
- Tobizaru def. Kotonowaka via hatakikomi*
- Wakamotoharu def. Nishikigi via yorikiri*
- Kirishima def. Asanoyama via sotogake (outside leg trip)*
- Hoshoryu def. Tamawashi via oshidashi
- Takakeisho def. Abi via oshidashi
*Must see bouts!
Another bout of the day for Asanoyama, for his losing effort against Kirishima. Both men are strong and highly technical wrestlers. Asanoyama is the stronger of the two. And Kirishima is the more refined. That showed in their match. The match was also a good demonstration of how Asanoyama’s technique derives from the top half of his body and that Kirishima’s comes from the bottom half.
In their match, which had a long pause (not due to exhaustion, but rather due to taking time to strategize), Kirishima came out on top by toppling the top heavy Asanoyama with a wicked trip.
The trip came after Asanoyama, who was thinking through what move to do next, forget where his right leg was. The limb was far too close to Kirishima, who had already threatened to trip him in an early phase of the match.
The other ozeki all got wins today. Hoshoryu survived a scare to get Tamawashi out (after eating some of the old man’s nodowa strikes). Takakeisho continued to look powerful (and healthy), bouncing Abi out of the ring without incident.
Another bout I want to highlight from this day is Takayasu vs. Shonannoumi, two fighters who are at opposite ends of their careers. It was the veteran Takayasu who came out on top this time (in their first ever meeting). He showed the young pup exactly how to exert pressure, bait a reaction and then punish it when it comes.
The wins for Takakeisho and Takayasu but them at the top of a crowded leader board. With a third of the basho gone there are seven rikishi with leading 4-1 marks.
That group includes a number of very young wrestlers (Gonoyama, Kinbozan and Atamifuji).
Of the leading pack, right now it looks like Takakeisho has the best chance of staying on top.
- Aoiyama def. Chiyoshoma via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tsurugisho def. Kotoshoho via oshidashi
- Myogiryu def. Kagayaki via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Nishikifuji def. Daishoho via yorikiri (frontal force out)*
- Atamifuji def. Mitakeumi via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Kinbozan def. Takarafuji via yorikiri*
- Endo def. Sadanoumi via yorikiri
- Midorifuji def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri*
- Kotoeko def. Onosho via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Hiradoumi def. Ryuden via tsukitaoshi (frontal thrust down)*
- Takayasu def. Gonoyama via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Shonannoumi def. Oho via yorikiri
- Hokutofuji def. Takanosho via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Meisei def. Abi via oshidashi
- Wakamotoharu def. Tobizaru via oshidahi*
- Ura def. Daieisho via oshidashi*
- Kotonowaka def. Nishikigi via yorikiri
- Takakeisho def. Tamawashi via oshidashi
- Kirishima def. Shodai via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Hoshoryu def. Asanoyama via suikuinage*
*Must watch bouts!
Wow, what an amazing day of action. So many of these bouts were exciting back and forth affairs with sensational finishes.
It was a good day for the ozeki as Takakeisho shoved out Tamawashi with ease and Kirishima and Hoshoryu scored beautiful beltless arm throws over Shodai and Asanoyama.
Those were great bouts, but the rank-and-filers really brought it on Day 6, too.
Kotoeko vs. Onosho and Ryuden vs. Hiradoumi were a ton of fun and had the crowd wailing over the thrills and spills. Hiradoumi got the win, but he simply must stop leading with his head. After each bout, win or lose, we see him wincing and I think it’s because he’s concussing himself off each and every tachiai. That’s a disaster waiting to happen and I hope he’s pulled aside and given a speaking to sooner rather than later.
David slew Goliath again, with Midorifuji beating Hokuseiho for the second time in two basho. He tried to replicate the stunning throw he pulled off last time, but Hokuseiho was able to defend. But in defending the third or fourth of those, he was forced out of position and eventually out.
Oh and Ura vs. Daieisho was bonkers. Ura was able to withstand Daieisho’s powerfurl surge forwards and then reply with his own, scoring the oshidashi and earning perfect marks for style points, too.
Take your pick for bout of the day. If I have to choose it’s probably Kirishima and Shodai, because of Kirishima’s recovery leading to the sukuinage.
- Atamifuji def. Kagayaki via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Nishikifuji def. Kotoshoho via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Myogiryu def. Tsurugisho via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Sadanoumi def. Chiyoshoma via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Takarafuji def. Daishoho via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Mitakeumi def. Aoiyama oshidashi
- Hokuseiho def. Kinbozan via yorikiri
- Endo def. Hiradoumi via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Takayasu def. Midorifuji via uwatenage*
- Shonannoumi def. Kotoeko via yorikiri
- Gonoyama def. Oho via okuridashi*
- Ura def. Ryuden via uwatedashinage (pulling over arm throw)*
- Takanosho def. Onosho via oshidashi
- Asanoyama def. Abi via oshidashi*
- Tobizaru def. Meisei via oshidashi*
- Wakamotoharu def. Hokutofuji via yorikiri*
- Daieisho def. Kotonowaka via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Nishikigi def. Hoshoryu via oshidashi
- Shodai def. Takakeisho via oshidashi*
- Kirishima def. Tamawashi tsukiotoshi
Must see bouts!
Another day of mixed success for the ozeki. Nishikigi was able to power through his calf injury to force out Hoshoryu; who is looking a little shook in his first basho as an ozeki. I’m very surprised by this, but I’m also confident he will be able to get over this little blip and get back to his impressive, and stoic, form soon.
Takakeisho lost to Shodai in one of those bouts where he seems to let his aggression get the better of himself. He’s looked great in cooly dispatching opponents up to this point, but after he started a fire fight with Shodai he seemed more intent on landing a good slap than getting his opponent down or out. The display did add further proof to the theory that Takakeisho is pretty much back to full health, though.
Kirishima was the only ozeki to get the win this day. He easily handled Tamawashi (the only rikishi who is winless this tournament).
My bout of the day is more of a ‘performance of the day’. Wakamotoharu has quietly got himself into the leading pack and this day he was able to push out Hokutofuji. Wakamotoharu has shed some of the high octane/high risk offense we have seen lately and seems to just be focused on solid technique.
Notice how he sweeps his feet incredibly low to the surface, something all wrestlers drill daily. Keeping his feet low like this make it very unlikely that a push back from the strong Hokutofuji halts his momentum or sends him backwards. It’s incredible that, from this position, he’s able to generate enough power to push his opponent back.
Compare this to what we saw with Meisei. He lost to Tobizaru because he kept his feet too high and was stepping back, instead of skimming, when searching for the boundary.
There’s a lot of parity in this tournament, which most wrestlers bunched together with 4-3 and 3-4 records. However, two wrestlers have surged out to 6-1 leads. Takayasu is looking like his old self. We’ve seen this at the beginning of tournaments this year only for him to fade away as wear and tear catches up. The other leader is young Atamifuji, whose numbers might drop when the match-making shifts from ranking based to record based.
- Atamifuji def. Aoiyama via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Myogiryu def. Daishoho via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Chiyoshoma def. Nishikifuji via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Tsusugisho def. Takarafuji via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Kagayaski def. Sadanoumi via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Hokuseiho def. Kotoshoho via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)
- Takayasu def. Mitakeumi via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Endo def. Oho via isamiashi (forward step out)
- Onosho def. Kinbozan via hatakikomi
- Midorifuji def. Ryuden via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)*
- Gonoyama def. Kotoeko via oshidashi
- Shonannoumi def. Hiradoumi via shitatenage (underarm throw)*
- Abi def. Shodai via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Asanoyama def. Meisei via yorikiri
- Daieisho def. Nishikigi via hatakikomi
- Hokutofuji def. Kotonowaka via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Wakamotoharu def. Tamawashi via hatakikomi*
- Takanosho def. Kirishima vua tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Ura def. Hoshoryu via hatakikomi*
- Tobizaru def. Takakeisho via oshidashi*
Must see bouts!
A bad day for the ozeki class with all three taking loses. Takakeisho lost to Tobizaru in my bout of the day, which saw the flying monkey hand fight perfectly and manage to swat away Takakeisho’s thrusts and prevent the bigger man from getting a hold of him. He stuck and moved and finding an angle to get the winning push.
There’s no shame losing to Tobizaru. On his day the extremely likable rikishi can beat anyone. Kirishima and Hoshoryu will perhaps be feeling a little more sore considering who they lost to.
No disrespect to Ura and Takanosho, but you’d expect Kirishima and Hoshoryu to beat those under most circumstances.
Hoshoryu tried to be too cute against Ura and misjudged how low his opponent would come in. He then went too low in on Ura and lost to a slap down. Kirishima was simply out muscled by Takanosho (who is having one of his better tournaments).
Takayasu and Atamifuji both won to remain in the lead with 7-1 records. Takayasu beat fellow former ozeki Mitakueumi.
Finally, shout out to Midorifuji for finally landing his favourite katasukashi.
- Kotoshoho def. Myogiryu via uwatenage (overarm throw)*
- Sadanoumi def. Daishoho via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Aoiyama def. Takarafuji via hatakikomi
- Hokuseiho def. Chiyoshoma via abisetaoshi (backward force down)*
- Tsurugisho def. Mitakeumi via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Endo def. Kagayaki via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Atamifuji def. Kinbozan via oshidashi (frontal push out)*
- Oho def. Nishikifuji via oshidashi
- Takayasu def. Kotoeko via yorikiri*
- Onosho def. Hiradoumi via hatakikomi*
- Midorifuji def. Shonannoumi via makiotoshi (twist down)*
- Takanosho def. Ryuden via yorikiri
- Asanoyama def. Tamawashi via yorikiri
- Meisei def. Shodai via sotogake (outside leg trip)*
- Abi def. Tobizaru via oshidashi
- Hokutofuji def. Nishikigi via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Daieisho def. Wakamotoharu via oshidashi
- Takakeisho def. Gonoyama via oshidashi*
- Kirishima def. Ura via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Kotonowaka def. Hoshoryu via kotenage (arm lock throw)*
*Must see bouts!
Oshi-zumo reigns supreme this Fall (at least for now), with a collection of pusher-thrusters doing very well, while some of the more grappling heavy wrestlers are struggling.
Our two leaders after Day 9 are former ozeki Takayasu and youngster Atamifuji, both of whom are extremely powerful pushers. On this day Takayasu mashed Kotoeko while Atamifuji launched Kinbozen. Check out those bouts below.
I really don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like we might be seeing Takayasu back to his best. The last two tournaments we have seen him get off to good, and powerful, starts before fading away (as wear and tear builds up). But he’s still looking good at Day 9. Maybe this is the basho he finally gets to execute to his full abilities instead of being so hampered by his long, and severe, injury history.
Atamifuji is just blasting through people with ease at this stage. Though, he is still being matched against wrestlers lower down in the rankings. Even so, Kinbozan is no slouch and Atamifuji brushed him aside with frightening efficiency. Watch how he skims the ground with his feet while maintaning forward momentum.
Both Takakeisho and Gonoyama are having good tournaments so far. They met on Day 9 and Takakeisho seemed determined to show the makuuchi sophomore that there are levels to this game. These two may look similar, and fight similar, but on this day Takakeisho was the man.
This day saw Hoshoryu continuing to struggle. He took a loss, on a photo finish, to Kotonowaka.
Kirishima survived a tricky Ura bout, which involved our favourite pink-clad rikishi doing another flip.
Some other wrestlers I want to show some love to are Kotoshoho, Hokuseiho and Midorifuji. All have had some nightmarish basho performances this year. And all are showing signs of improving here, regardless what their win-loss record looks like at the end.
Kotoshoho is looking far more confident and patient out there (he threw down Myogiryu this day).
Hokuseiho seems to have made adjustments (he avoided losing to the tripmaster Chiyoshoma, despite trips appearing to be his Achilles’ Heel).
And Midorifuji is going back to what brought him here, beating big guys with trickery, not brute force (he outfoxed Shonannoumi with a rarely seen makiotoshi).
- Hokuseiho def. Nishikifuji via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Kinbozan def. Tsurugisho via uwatedashinage (pulling over arm throw)
- Endo def. Myogiryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Midorifuji def. Kagayaki via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)*
- Kotoeko def. Daishoho via yorikiri
- Hiradoumi def. Chiyoshoma via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)
- Atamifuji def. Takayasu via oshidashi*
- Kotoshoho def. Oho via oshidashi
- Onosho def. Sadanoumi via yorikiri
- Ryuden def. Aoiyama via yorikiri
- Mitakeumi def. Gonoyama via shitatenage (underarm throw)*
- Takarafuji def. Shonannoumi via yorikiri
- Shodai def. Tamawashi via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Abi def. Takanosho via oshidashi
- Hokutofuji def. Tobizaru via oshidashi*
- Kotonowaka def. Meisei via oshidashi
- Daieisho def. Asanoyama via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Hoshoryu def. Wakamotoharu via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)
- Takakeisho def. Ura via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Nishikigi def. Kirishima via yorikiri
*Must see bouts!
The 21-year-old Atamifuji stands alone atop the leaderboard at 9-1 after defeating Takayasu today. He did this with brute force and impeccable timing. The two big pusher shovers met as you’d expect and the veteran Takayasu was able to put Atamifuji on the back foot. However, the young Isegahama man then fired off a shove, high to Takayasu’s chest, just as the former ozeki was pivoting and coming forwards for a shove of his own.
The result was a strike that knocked Takayasu off his feet and send him thigh first into the straw bails. It took Takayasu sometime to get up and he walked away from the dohyo very gingerly. He had looked so great up this tournament. I really hope this isn’t an injury that is going to ruin his basho.
Bout of the day is Shodai’s win over the struggling Tamawashi, who dropped to 0-10 after the sukuinage loss.
Tamawashi had success early on with his nodowa technique and had Shodai leaning and walking back. But the elder statesmen got too greedy in rushing forwards and hoping he could force out his opponent. Desperate for a win, Tamawashi just pumped his feet forwards and didn’t notice Shodai side-stepping and getting a solid underhook on his right side. From there Shodai used Tamawashi’s momentum against him to toss him over, a move that took them both into the front row.
Ura vs. Takakeisho was predictably bizarre. Ura felt the opening shove of Takakeisho and decided to try and beam himself up, letting Takakeisho crash out while his hang time kept him from hitting the dirt first.
A judges’ conference was called and they announced a rematch, despite the replay quite obviously showing Takakeisho touched down first. My thoughts are that they called the replay because Ura’s unorthadox move wasn’t within what they deemed the spirit of the bout and not worthy of clinching the win.
Here’s what Ura thought about that.
Takakeisho quickly won the rematch with a somewhat cheeky hatakikomi.
And here’s what Ura thought about that.
- Kotoshoho def. Takarafuji via oshidashi (frontal push out)*
- Hokuseiho def. Aoiyama via yorikiri (frontal force out)*
- Mitakeumi def. Kagayaki via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Kinbozan def. Nishikifuji via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Midorifuji def. Sadanoumi via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Daishoho def. Hiradoumi via hikiotoshi*
- Kotoeko def. Chiyoshoma via yorikiri
- Myogiryu def. Onosho via uwatenage (over arm throw)
- Gonoyama def. Endo via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Ryuden def. Tamawashi via oshidashi
- Shodai def. Oho via oshidashi
- Asanoyama def. Shonannoumi via yorikiri
- Abi def. Ura via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Tsurugisho def. Hokutofuji via hatakikomi
- Atamifuji def. Tobizaru via uwatenage*
- Meisei def. Nishikigi via yorikiri
- Daieisho def. Takayasu via oshidashi
- Kirishima def. Kotonowaka via yorikiri
- Hoshoryu def. Takanosho via kotenage (arm lock throw)*
Atamifuji is a bad bad man. At least in this tournament. The 22-year-old stablemate of Terunofuji now has this basho in his grasp, going 10-1 with a very impressive win over Tobizaru on Day 11. The charming, lisping rikishi showed he’s more than a pusher-shover in that win, too, executing a fine over arm throw on a notoriously slippery customer.
Takayasu losing to Daieisho, by a rather simple push out that suggests Takayasu was banged up in his bout with Atamifuji yesterday, means Atamifuji is now two win lead with four days left.
His closest pursuers are Takayasu (who might be hurt), Tsurugisho (who has been beating up the lower rankings) and Takakeisho (who will be his largest remaining obstacle).
Takakeisho got to 8-3 with my Bout of the Day, a wild exchange with Wakamotoharu than comes on the heels of a violent bout between the pair in Nagoya. In Nagoya it felt like their palm strikes morphed from strategic to malicious as the pair wailed on each other before Wakamotoharu was able to muscle the ozeki out.
Wakamotoharu looked more composed this time (something I’ve noticed about him this entire tournament) and instead of getting drawn into a fire fight with Takakeisho, he tried to use movement to evade his opponent and look for an angle to pull something off. However, Takakeisho was locked on and was able to cut him off and use raw power to sling Wakamotoharu onto the dirt.
Takakeisho is looking as frightening as he did in January (when all were considering him the most likely next yokozuna). That could be bad news for Atamifuji.
I need to give more praise to Midorifuji today who seems to have gone back to works for him and has now strung together four wins in a row, all through using trickery and great technique. On Day 11, the smallest man in the division took down Sadanoumi.
- Mitakeumi def. Sadanoumi via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Hokuseiho def. Daishoho via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Kinbozan def. Kagayaki via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Midorifuji def. Myogiryu via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)*
- Kotoeko def. Nishikifuji via oshidashi
- Hiradoumi def. Kotoshoho via tsukiotoshi
- Oho def. Aoiyama via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Ryuden def. Takarafuji via uwatenage (over arm throw)
- Ura def. Tsurugisho via uwatenage*
- Shonannoumi def. Shodai via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Tamawashi def. Chiyoshoma via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Abi def. Endo via uwatedashinage (pulling over arm throw)
- Onosho def. Hokutofuji via okuridashi*
- Meisei def. Takanosho via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Takayasu def. Nishikigi via hatakikomi
- Asanoyama def. Tobizaru via yorikiri*
- Daieisho def. Atamifuji via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Takakeisho def. Takakeisho via oshidashi*
- Wakamotoharu def. Kirishima via yorikiri
- Hoshoryu def. Gonoyama via oshidashi*
*Must see bouts!
There’s at least one more twist in the tail of this basho. Atamifuji could have taken a dominating grip on the torunament if he had beaten Daieisho today, but the sekiwake pushed him out after a tense and furious pusher-thruster battle.
That pegs Atamifuji back to 10-2, just one ahead of Takayasu and Takakeisho, who both won today to keep their chances of winning the tournament alive.
Takayasu took a measured win over the banged up Nishikigi. Takakeisho blasted through Kotonowaka, ignoring the fact that that was one of the biggest and strongest lads in the division.
Takakeisho and Atamifuji will meet tomorrow in a bout that could either see them tied heading into the penultimate day or see the 21-year-old keep his lead.
Behind those three, the rest of the division is rather punched up around 7 win marker. That includes the other ozeki Kirishima and Hoshoryu who are both yet to get kachi-koshi.
Kirishima could have gotten his today (and saved his ranking), but for a heady play from Wakamotoharu during my bout of the day. These two trained together in the lead-up to this one, with Kirishima reportedly dominating in those matches. Maybe Wakamotoharu was holding back a trick, though. In there match, he seemed very familiar with Kirishima’s trip game and was able to escape a throw and crush down on his kadoban opponent.
Hoshoryu got another lucky win today, beating Gonoyama in a match that would have been very embarrasing to lose. Embarrassing because Hoshoryu made such a scene of trying to intimidate the wrestler who was only making his second top division tournament. Hoshoryu refused to break off his stare from Gonoyama and also wouldn’t get set until his lesser ranked opponent got ready first.
The match itself was chaotic, not controlled as we are so used to seeing from Hoshoryu, but he was able to stay in just a fraction longer than Gonoyama on the push out (seen too many of these finishes from Hoshoryu for my liking this tournament).
- Takarafuji def. Chiyshoma via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Endo def. Nishikifuji via oshidashi
- Midorifuji def. Kotoshoho via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)
- Aoiyama def. Hiradoumi via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Kotoeko def. Kagayaki via yorikiri
- Sadanoumi def. Oho via yorikiri
- Myogiryu def. Ryuden via yorikiri
- Kinbozan def. Shonannoumi via oshidashi
- Hokuseiho def. Takanosho via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Tamawashi def. Daishoho via oshidashi
- Asanoyama def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri
- Ura def. Meisei via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Hokutofuji def. Takayasu via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Tobizaru def. Onosho via tsukiotoshi*
- Shodai def. Nishikigi via oshidashi
- Kotonowaka def. Abi via oshidashi
- Wakamotoharu def. Tsurugisho via yorikiri*
- Daieisho def. Gonoyama via hatakikomi*
- Takakeisho def. Atamifuji via yorikiri*
- Kirishima def. Hoshoryu via yorikiri*
Well, well, well, looks like things aren’t going to be as simple as Atamifuji running away with the Emperor’s Cup with days to spare. On Day 13 he met Takakeisho and the ozeki showed the youngster that he will have a big say in who wins this tournament.
Had Atamifuji won he would have taken a two bout lead over Takakeisho (his nearest challenger) into the final two days of the tournament. However, that didn’t happen. Keisho got the win and tied Atamifuji with a 10-3 record.
I think nerves got the better of Atamifuji this day. The 21-year-old was facing his toughest opponent ever (if you don’t count his stablemates). And he’d never had this kind of pressure on him to perform. In the warm-up he looked jittery, while Takakeisho was as still as stone.
See the false start below and lack of reaction from Takakeisho. The crowd did react to this, though. They went wild for Takakeisho’s stoicism and I’m sure that only intensified the nerves for Atamifuji.
The match itself was pretty standard for Takakeisho. He manhandled Atamifuji, just as he had done to other over-sized opponents this week.
His key to winning was how firmly he planted his feet, while also finding great angles to cut off the ring and drive Atamifuji back.
If they keep winning then we’ll see this bout again to decide the cup on Day 15.
The level of drama and important on the above match was unrivalred thus far in this tournament. But I’m still going elsewhere for my bout of the day.
Midorifuji vs. Kotoshoho was superb. Both men were whirling dirvishes in the beginning before stalling out and trying to figure what to do next. From that position Midorifuji tried to set up his favourite katasukashi technique, which Kotoshoho blocked. Midorifuji switched to a sukuinage and was eventually able to complete the move. I’m picking this one partly because I’m overjoyed at seeing both these men find their footing again on the dohyo and perform with such gusto.
Ura’s marathon bout with Meisei was fun, too.
How to watch
You can stream this tournament via the Abema TV app. Live sumo on Abema comes only with a paid subscription, which costs around $8 a month. The Abema app is entirely in Japanese with no English version. Matches can also be viewed on the official Grand Sumo app. This is also entirely in Japanese with no English version. That app also features unavoidable spoilers.
Alternative methods to watch, both live and on demand, can be found on Twitch and YouTube.
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