Haru 2022 Day Twelve
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu
Ozeki #2 West Mitakeumi
Maegashira #6 West Kotonowaka
Henka. Chiyoshoma finally did it this basho and unveiled a wild, flying sidestep around Nishikigi. It only half-worked, as Nishikigi was able to turn and stay close. Unfortunately for him, Chiyoshoma was in a pretty decent position for an uwatenage.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #7 East Takayasu versus Ozeki #2 West Mitakeumi
This is about the best Takayasu has ever looked, and the subtlety of his sumo was on full display against Mitakeumi. Unsurprisingly, these two hit hard at the tachiai as a prelude to a lock-up match. Then Takayasu kept his feet wide in an awkward position and worked for a grip. Mitakeumi was clearly much more bothered by this, fighting mostly to prevent a belt grip. Instead, Takayasu waited out for a big grip and easily showed the shin-Ozeki to the edge.
It's pretty much a two man race, although not entirely. Wakatakakage and Takayasu remain the leaders, both picking up impressive wins. Wakatakakage was pushed back by Kotonowaka at the start, but he redirected Kotonowaka to power out the larger and younger man. Takayasu handled the other key contender by slowly taking care of Mitakeumi. Kotonowaka and Mitakeumi both dropped two wins back, making up the small chase group. Since Wakatakakage and Takayasu have faced each other already, a playoff is somewhat more likely.
Yet the two leaders need to win out for a playoff between one-win rikishi, or go 2-1 each. That is easier said than done. Wakatakakage has three more matches and has yet to face any of the three Ozeki. On Day Thirteen, he will face Mitakeumi, looking to bounce back from his loss to Takayasu. Presumably, Day Fourteen and Fifteen will see Wakatakakage trying to close out a yusho run with Shodai and Takakeisho in some order. He could have a three match losing streak, although he is fighting as well as he ever had and could also win his last three matches.
Takayasu will get Takakeisho on Day Thirteen, and he has also not yet faced Shodai or Sekiwake Abi. Those are his likely final two opponents. While neither Shodai nor Abi has performed as well as Takayasu in Haru, they could easily play spoiler. Shodai is on a six match winning streak, and he used his catch tachiai to demolish a surprised Takakeisho on Day Twelve. He needs one more win to keep his rank. Abi is on a four match slide, but his power with a two-hand thrust and tsuppari is always dangerous.
Shodai and Abi are also fighting for their ranks, which makes them even more difficult to face over their final five days. Hoshoryu is another man on 6-6, like Abi, and could stay at Komusubi (or rise up if Abi crashes over the next three days.) Ichinojo beat Abi on Day Twelve and is 8-4 at Maegashira #2, prime position to get back into Sanyaku. Takayasu's excellent performance may warrant a named rank, too. Kotonowaka has also performed nearly as well as Takayasu.
Many things have yet to be settled with three days to go. While Wakatakakage and Takayasu have a clear lead, nothing is guaranteed in sumo and they have a tough row to hoe. They need to keep up their fantastic fighting form for three more days. If they don't, they probably won't be able to lift the Emperor's Cup.