Haru 2022 Day Eleven
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu
Ozeki #2 West Mitakeumi
Maegashira #6 West Kotonowaka
Ozeki #1 West Takakeisho
Maegashira #15 West Tochinoshin
Tsuridashi. Tochinoshin didn't just get his eighth win on Day Eleven, but threw it back to his Ozeki days by lifting Terutsuyoshi clean up and over the tawara.
Match of the Day
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage versus Maeagashira #7 East Takayasu
This was the match of the day before the sumo started, and then Wakatakakage and Takayasu delivered. What Takayasu wants is to set his feet, loop his arms around the other guy, and stall out in a mawashi stalemate. Wakatakakage wasn't having it, and he began by pushing closely inside. That made Takayasu unable to get his grip, and it provided leverage to Wakatakakage. The former Ozeki didn't relent, but he never had the advantage. Wakatakakage got the moro-zashi, double inside grip and worked for the yorikiri. It also got him a co-leader spot.
The torikumi setup the last few matches to have an impact on the yusho race. Even if each of the last matches ended with an accidental slip or inadvertent step out, the results would have impacted the basho's overall shape. This is the benefit of a multi-man yusho race this deep into the basho. Results will be fun if the sumo is boring. But the sumo was interesting, and it also had all of the impact that the schedulers intended.
In a way, it began with the first Sanyaku match, when Hoshoryu overwhelmed Daieisho and showed he may belong in the upper ranks. Yet the Wakatakakage-Takayasu clash was truly excellent and set Takayasu back into a tie with the shin-Sekiwake. Shodai was the interruption, but he dominated Takarafuji in a way that shows he will play spoiler at some point. Then Mitakeumi needed to beat Abi to stay one win back. He did that by just withstanding Abi's two-arm thrust and then pulling him down. In the final match, Takakeisho stepped aside of impressive youngster Kotonowaka so he could just shove him off the dohyo.
The situation is that Wakatakakage and Takayasu are tied at 10-1. Since they squared off today, they could both win out and have a playoff after their Day Fifteen matches for the cup. Mitakeumi and Kotonowaka are still in with a chance at 9-2. Mitakeumi has not faced any other leader and probably controls his own destiny the best. Takakeisho, meanwhile, still hasn't seen Wakatakakage, Takayasu, or Mitakeumi, and he is only two off the leaders. Although it's a long shot, he is not out of it by any means.
Some words should be said for Tochinoshin, who is technically tied with Takakeisho and, more importantly, got his kachi-koshi to stay in Makuuchi. He will probably not be bursting into the leader race, but some rikishi are fighting for other things. Tochinoshin will be around in May, and the lower part of the banzuke may just be striving for an eighth win. Ichiyamamoto is on the precipice, but he could still stay in Makuuchi if he wins out. Those early matches have meaning.
But the last few matches are what will have the impact. On Day Twelve, Kotonowaka and Wakatakakage will face off in the fourth match from the end. Abi-Ichinojo is the best style clash, even if they are out of the yusho race now. Shodai and Takakeisho have an all-Ozeki battle that could upend Takakeisho's chances or make Shodai's 8 wins extremely difficult. And Day Twelve closes with Mitakeumi and Takayasu facing off in the match that will have the most say on the leaderboard. Then all of those matches will make Day Thirteen even more interesting.