Aki 2022 Day Eight
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
26 Maegashira #8 West Hokutofuji
15 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi
02 Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho
18 Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
21 Maegashira #6 East Wakamotoharu
29 Maegashira #10 East Nishikifuji
36 Maegashira #13 West Oho
37 Maegashira #14 East Chiyoshoma
Yoritaoshi. Yes, it was Nishikifuji who lifted Tochinoshin over the edge and out, not the other way around.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho versus Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
This was the on-paper match of the day coming in, and then it delivered. Takakeisho got his preferred slapping battle, but he couldn't immediately put away Takayasu. Instead, Takayasu took on the Ozeki's blows and came inside. That made Takakeisho dance, which is often a sign of trouble. However, he maneuvered around Takayasu successfully enough to deliver a hikiotoshi win.
Hokutofuji has his kachi-koshi. That's not the big news, as he is 8-0, the only undefeated rikishi and atop the leaderboard by himself. Yet we also shouldn't lose sight of the fact he will have a winning record. It's been two basho since he could say that. Also, 8 wins now means he has a simpler route ahead in some ways. Even if he goes 3-4 over the final week, that's 11 wins. 11 wins is often a Jun-Yusho win tally. Those 8 wins make him the current yusho favorite.
The one man one loss behind him is Tamawashi. The 37 year old absolutely dominated Sadanoumi on Day EIght. If he looks like that, he'll remain a threat to Hokutofuji. Those two have yet to square off, but it has to come soon. Tamawashi has seen Sanyaku wrestlers already, including beating Terunofuji. He is maybe in a slightly better position than the leader for remaining strength of schedule, as he won't have his toughest matches to come.
That's the rub for the final week of this Aki basho. Hokutofuji will square off with Maegashira #6 East Wakamotoharu on Day Eight and subsequently face his highest ranked opponent. Hokutofuji is undefeated, but undefeated against only mid-Maegashira. The other leaders have seen more significant challenges. Two-loss man Takayasu got knocked down the leaderboard by the two-loss Ozeki Takakeisho on Day Eight, and on Day Nine he gets Yokozuna Terunofuji. The Wakamotoharu-Tamawashi clash will help think the leaderboard on Day Nine as well.
Takakeisho gets the dangerous Komusubi Kiribayama, and that may just be the beginning. There are 9 Sanyaku men competing right now, meaning Takakeisho should face eight Sanyaku opponents. He's knocked out 1. His last seven matches may have just one Maegashira. Of course, Sanyaku opponents don't mean difficult opponents, especially the way Terunofuji, Shodai, and Mitakeumi have looked so far. At least Terunofuji keeps winning some.
Hokutofuji will not need to face most of the Sanyaku ranks to get to a yusho, but he'll have to face some to prove himself. Additionally, men lower than him like Nishikifuji, Oho, and Chiyoshoma are still theoretically in this yusho race. The Torikumi is almost guaranteed to start looking quite strange. Yet no matter what the schedulers produce, Hokutofuji has the simplest task of any rikishi seeking a yusho. Just keep winning.