Aki 2022 Day Ten
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
15 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi
26 Maegashira #8 West Hokutofuji
18 Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
29 Maegashira #10 East Nishikifuji
Fusen. Daieisho gets the first free win of the Aki basho in Makuuchi, as Yokozuna Terunofuji has decided to withdraw.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Maegashira #2 East Kotonowaka versus Maegashira #1 West Midorifuji
A matchup so nice, they fought it twice. These two are both looking at breaking into Sanyaku in November, and they came right at each other. Midorifuji's tricks looked like it topped Kotonowaka's fundamental soundness, as he unleashed his signature katasukashi at the edge. However, Kotonowaka managed to keep himself airborne long enough as he was turning to run into Midorifuji's right leg to make him step out with his left. Gyoji said it was Midorifuji, but a mono-ii was called and they had a redo.
In the torinaoshi, Kotonowaka was right on top of the katasukashi attempt, and he won with a nice sukuinage.
Hokutofuji took his first loss, as Takayasu kept him in check and waited for Hokutofuji to make a mistake. It was officially an oshitaoshi, because you have to call it something, but Hokutofuji lost his feet against Takayasu's solid base. Tamawashi easily handled the clearly ailing Mitakeumi, so Hokutofuji and Tamawashi are both sitting at 9-1. Takayasu is one loss back from that pair along with Nishikifuji.
Nishikifuji? Yes, Nishikifuji. Isegahama-beya has overall not had a stellar Aki basho. Yokozuna Terunofuji pulled out on Day Ten after giving up four kinboshi. Takarafuji looks like he will be retiring in the near future, and Terutsuyoshi's sumo is completely off track. But they do have Nishikifuji, who is absolutely in a yusho race in just his second Makuuchi basho. He has mostly been beating lower-Maegashira until Day Ten. Then he handled a previously very genki Wakamotoharu and is in with a shout.
Day Eleven's matchups will clarify things in the yusho race quite a bit. There will be one leader again after Day Eleven. Hokutofuji and Tamawashi square off. Meanwhile, Nishikifuji will square off with 7-3 Chiyoshoma, another excelling lower Maegashira. Takayasu gets 5-5 Myogiryu, which he should win based on current performance. The other three loss rikishi, Wakatakakage, Tobizaru, and Oho have interesting matchups, too. Wakatakakage gets fellow Sekiwake Hoshoryu, while Tobizaru sees Ura in some guaranteed fun. Oho sees rookie Hiradoumi.
Every single one of those matches could eliminate someone from yusho contention. The men who are two back need the leaders to lose, while they themselves keep winning. With five matches left, the math gets tough pretty quickly if you aren't right in it. In a typical basho, the Sanyaku ranks square off over the last third of the basho. They are then beating each other up to clarify the yusho race, as they've positioned themselves for yusho contention.
In Aki, the Sanyaku is mostly on the outside looking in. The four top ranked men, the one Yokozuna and three Ozeki, all lost for the second straight day. They are out of the Emperor's Cup. The highest man in contention is Sekiwake Wakatakakage. Likely, we get another Maegashira Yusho. But that surprise yusho could come from many places.