Aki 2022 Day Fifteen
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
15 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi
05 Sekiwake #1 East Wakatakakage
18 Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
34 Maegashira #12 West Ryuden
Nodowa. It's always been Tamawashi's trademark, but he used the throat thrust throughout Aki. A particularly effective one gave him the yusho.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi versus Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
It wasn't classic back-and-forth sumo, but it won the yusho for Tamawashi. Takayasu did not get immediately rocked back at the tachiai, to his credit. He even looked like he had a chance to halt Tamawashi's momentum and extend the bout. Yet, in the end, Tamawashi's pushing was just too strong, and a re-grouped Tamawashi had one final nodowa for the Emperor's Cup.
In the end, it was all Tamawashi's basho for Aki 2022. On the far side of 15 matches, his pushing seems too strong, capable, and on-point to be denied. Yet there is no getting around this being a surprising yusho. For starters, Tamawashi is a Maegashira #4, the lowest ranked man to receive the Emperor's Cup since Terunofuji's win from the foot of the Banzuke in his comeback basho in July 2020. More significantly, at 37 years and 10 months, Tamawashi is the oldest winner since 1917.
His career looked like it was fading over the last year or so, except for his odd ability to beat Terunofuji in 2022. He had a habit of fading over the second week, but avoided that this basho. Hokutofuji, whose opening 8 match winning streak made him the early favorite, did suffer such a slide. He lost 5 of his last 6. Takayasu did not fall that hard, but went 3-2 over his final five matches, which cost him the yusho. What Tamawashi just did is extraordinarily difficult for anyone and literally unheard of for someone his age.
The Jun-Yusho is a three-way split between Wakatakakage, Takayasu, and Ryuden, all at 11-4. Wakatakakage lurked just outside serious yusho contention for most of the basho, and handed Tamawashi his first loss on Day Seven. (And his brother Wakamotoharu gave him his other loss on Day Twelve.) Wakatakakage (Technique) and Takayasu (Fighting Spirit) also get a Special Prize, along with Tamawashi and Tobizaru (Outstanding Performance). That's cold comfort compared to winning the Yusho.
Looking ahead, the next basho will be intriguing. Sanyaku will once again be crowded. Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu will keep their Sekiwake places, but will be joined by dropping Ozeki Mitakeumi. Kiribayama also has a claim, although he's likely to be Komusubi East. Daieisho and Tobizaru should also be Komusubi. At the other end of Makuuchi, the bottom five men have demotable records, but there are certainly not five Juryo promotion candidates. Kyushu will be interesting, to say the least.
And Tamawashi can probably not repeat his Aki performance there. It was shocking he won this yusho, and repeat championships is the domain of Yokozuna. But he did get this yusho, fighting with his style of sumo and cruising to the cup at the age of 37. We'll not only likely not see this in Kyushu, but we'll probably never see anything quite like it again.