Haru 2022 Day Fourteen
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu
Maegashira #6 West Kotonowaka
Komatasukui. Terutsuyoshi began with a henka on the henka-master Chiyoshoma, which led to a very awkward engagement. Terutsuyoshi was able to go low, grab Chiyoshoma's leg, and get him off balance to go backward and then over. They officially credited it as an "over thigh scooping body throw."
Match of the Day
Ozeki East Shodai versus Maegashira #7 East Takayasu
It's worth remembering that Shodai looked hopeless the first week and that he is an excellent defensive wrestler. Takayasu seemed to be slightly better off at the tachiai, getting his left hand on Shodai's belt. Then Shodai moved forward a little bit, although Takayasu reversed it. Shodai was back at the tawara, nearly upright, seemingly already lost. Instead, he used the leverage against the rice bales to launch a devastating throw against the leader.
There was good sumo before the final three matches, which were always going to be the only ones affecting the yusho race. In particular, Hoshoryu reversed his match against Endo at the edge and then Hokutofuji wheeled Abi around the dohyo to good effect as an immediate prelude to the final trio of matchups. Those took it to another level. Shodai showed why he deserves to stay at Ozeki by throwing over Takayasu. Kotonowaka needed little time to escort Mitakeumi over the edge. Wakatakakage took Takakeisho's hardest shove, then got inside and drove him back.
If you are wanting maximum chaos on Day Fifteen, you will want Kotonowaka to beat Hoshoryu, then have Takayasu lose to Abi and Wakatakakage drop his match to Shodai. That will give the Haru basho a three-way playoff to decide the yusho. It's unlikely, but not impossible. Abi's constant action is the type of sumo that can bother Takayasu. And while Wakatakakage is fighting as well as anyone, Shodai has been 7-1 since sitting in a 1-5 hole to start the basho. Three men sitting on 12 wins after 15 matches is well within reason.
Of course, Hoshoryu is fighting for his eighth win and to keep a Komusubi rank. He is no pushover for Kotonowaka. If Kotonowaka loses, then he is out of the yusho race. If that happens, we should still recognize what Kotonowaka has done. He dominated the Maegashira he faced, aside from the equally dominant Takayasu, and has beaten two Ozeki. He still could win the yusho or gain a jun-yusho, but even if he doesn't then he has announced himself as a presence at the top of the banzuke.
Hoshoryu is one of 10 rikishi sitting at 7-7 and fighting for a kachi-koshi. Among that group, Shimanoumi versus Kotokuzan, Endo versus Tamawashi, and Daieisho versus Aoiyama are all 7-7 matchups. Winner gets a promotion, loser gets a demotion. For Kotokuzan, that's likely a trip back to Juryo. For Ichiyamamoto, facing 8-6 Juryo visitor Hidenoumi, a loss makes a 7-8 record and a guaranteed drop to the second division. That will kick off a fun final day for Haru.
Whether we get the bonus matches or not, Haru 2022 should be remembered as a great basho. We are guaranteed to get a first-time yusho winner, whether it is Wakatakakage, Takayasu, or Kotonowaka. Shodai and Takakeisho already fought back from trouble to keep their Ozeki status from kadoban. Mitakeumi got double-digit wins in his Ozeki debut. Wakatakakage has possibly started an Ozeki run. Kotonowaka and Hoshoryu are young men who have shown they can hang with the Sanyaku. And we still have one more day of matches.