Aki 2022 Day Two
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
Yorikiri. Sometimes a day is just dominated by the simple force out. Day Two had eleven matches end with yorikiri.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Komusubi #2 West Kiribayama versus Ozeki #1 West Shodai
This was a wild one from the start. Shodai blew up whatever Kiribayama was trying to do initially, and even flung his arms away so fast Kiribayama looked like he would go right out. Instead, he regrouped, charged back at Shodai, and got blasted again. From there, though, Kiribayama used his comfort in strange positions to get sideways and then snake his long left arm to get a rear grip on Shodai's mawashi. Techinically, the end was a Yorikiri, although the match belies the simplicity of that kimarite.
An almost unbelievable 23 rikishi are even after two days. Included in that group are both Yokozuna Terunofuji and Maegashira #1 East Tobizaru, after Tobizaru got the kinboshi. Tobizaru? Tobizaru! The match wasn't really excellent, as Tobizaru basically tried his damnedest not to get in a belt battle and somehow succeeded. Terunofuji should have been able to swallow up the smaller man, but he never clamped on. In the end, it was Tobizaru who worked through the chaos of the match to get the yorikiri win.
The large cohort of 1-1 rikishi display the huge parity in the upper division of sumo right now. Terunofuji is unquestionably the best rikishi going right now, and he has generally competed like a Yokozuna this calendar year. On the other hand, he hasn't been waltzing through the first week of any basho. He's more likely to outlast most other rikishi rather than dominate right now. A Tobizaru upset is certainly surprising, it was his first victory over Terunofuji since Terunofuji's 2020 return as well as his first kinboshi, but a Terunofuji loss early in the tournament isn't so shocking.
The Makuuchi division is just incredibly even right now, which is part of why lower Sanyaku is historically big. Of the three Ozeki, only Mitakeumi is not at 1-1, and he won with strategy and guile as much as athleticism against Ichinojo on Day Two. In the Sekiwiake trio, the non .500 wrestler is the 0-2 Wakatakakage. The two competing Komusubi are both 1-1, with Ichinojo and Kiribayama also having one excellent win and one disappointing if expected on paper loss. There's no reason to think any of these wrestlers will be unable to get to a kachi-koshi. Mathematically, of course, they won't all get there.
The Maegashira ranks seem to have even more parity. The safest bet on Day Two was that an 0-1 rikishi facing a 1-0 rikishi would win. That happened 9 times. A rikishi who maybe wasn't his best on Day One found a way to win on Day Two. Even the nine rikishi who won both of their first two matches (Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Nishikigi, Wakamotoharu, Hokutofuji, Nishikifuji, Takanosho, Oho, and shin-Maegashira Hiradoumi) aren't exactly a list of pre-tournament favorites. The two who have recently been near yusho contention, Mitakeumi and Takanosho, were injured in July.
One rikishi going on even a three or four match win streak could bust open this basho. And that small a win streak isn't terribly uncommon even in 8-7 or 7-8 bashos. The key will be if it is one rikishi or two. On the other hand, the parity we're seeing is a lot of fun at times. Anyone can beat anyone, which may mean a surprise yusho winner is even more likely.