Haru 2022 Day Eight
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu
Ozeki #2 West Mitakeumi
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage
Maegashira #6 West Kotonowaka
Tsukiotoshi. Both Takakeisho and Abi won with a "thrust down," which is telling. The two oshi-zumo men both faced fellow pusher thrusters in Onosho and Daieisho, respectively. And they won by being the rikishi who could get to the side and hit the side of their opponent.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu versus Maegashira #9 West Wakamotoharu
Wakamotoharu should be applauded for giving it his all, and he made the master of the long match go on for quite awhile. That being said, he never found a good opening. Takayasu had a firmer grip, wider feet, and just knows how to lean on someone. Eventually, Takayasu won, getting his kachi-koshi and remaining unbeaten, by throwing a gassed Wakamotoharu.
The very top of the leaderboard did not change on Day Eight. Takayasu is still the undefeated sole leader, and sitting at one loss right behind him is the trio of Mitakeumi, Wakamotoharu, and Kotonowaka. What did change was the two-loss pack. Takakeisho dispatched Onosho, while Abi turned Daieisho away. The other rikishi sitting on two losses, Kiribayama, Endo, Wakamotoharu, and Nishikigi, lost on Day Eight. There is now a six man pack vying for the yusho.
And they won't face each other for a few more days. Takayasu and Kotonowaka squared off on Day Four, providing Kotonowaka his only blemish. The Ozeki-Sekiwake battle royal with the other four is penciled in for the last few days. Takayasu and Kotonowaka will be more interesting opponents if they have a few more wins before facing the named ranks. They need to do that against a few more Maegashira, and then it's the consequential matches.
Shodai, the Ozeki not in this group, can still play a major role, too. He is technically the top man competing, as the highest ranked Ozeki when the Yokozuna pulled out. He hasn't been fighting that well, but he looks like he is figuring out ways to cope with his lack of power. At 3-5, he needs to focus on getting 8 wins to stay an Ozeki in May. That's not an easy job, but it also means he will keep at it. Shodai could easily pull the suprise win against anyone in the yusho race.
Really, anyone could. Sumo is a sport of extremely thin margins. An accidental step out here or a hair pull there can change the calculation for anyone currently chasing Takayasu or Takayasu himself. In the end, a loss is a loss is a loss. The leaders will, of course, also eventually all have to face each other. Someone will lose those matches, because that's how sumo works.
What will make the next week more interesting than a usual basho is that six men are in a strong position. There is not a dual at the top, as exciting as that can be. If one of the leaders drop a match, that does not necessarily put anyone in a strong position. There will be many more rikishi that are direct competitors to contend with before the Emperor's Cup is delivered. The top six in the yusho arasoi won't necessarily be facing each other immediately, but that doesn't mean important matches aren't happening every day.