Hatsu 2022 Day Fifteen
Katasukashi. We got two under-shoulder swing downs on Day Fifteen, since both Terutsuyoshi and Wakatakakage won with the sidestep and pull.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #14 East Kotonowaka versus Maegashira #6 West Abi
These two came in on equal records, with a shout at a yusho through a playoff scenario. And they fought like it. Abi started off with a perfect example of his tsuppari to the throat attack, and he seemed to have Kotonowaka dead to rights. Then the youngster quickly and forcefully powered off of the tawara and reversed course. Now Abi was moving backwards, and he had to do his own great escape to avoid a loss. Abi managed to regroup which meant the two clashed hard for a third time. Abi was able to push from the side as they were moving for the win. This may have been the match of the basho.
It was Mitakeumi's basho, after all. The final match was a bit anticlimactic. Terunofuji and Mitakeumi clashed at the start with a big thud. After that, Mitakeumi easily got an inside grip and bulldozed the Yokozuna out. Terunofuji may be dealing with some knee issues, but Mitakeumi also did his brand of sumo to beat the Yokozuna and lift the Emperor's Cup. That is his third Yusho, and he just collected 33 wins over 3 basho--the unofficial rule of thumb for an Ozeki promotion. He was told he was under consideration in the trophy ceremony on the dohyo.
Mitakeumi's win on Day Fifteen and championship overshadow the efforts of Abi somewhat. He now has two straight 12-3 Jun-Yushos in his return to Makuuchi from suspension. He beat a Yokozuna and a Sekiwake, as well as many higher Maegashira. He could vault to Sekiwake for March, mostly due to a very strained situation if Mitakeumi gets his Ozeki promotion. Takanosho ended up 7-8, so he goes down from the rank. The next winning record is Wakatakakage at 9-6 from Maegashira #1. Maybe Onosho gets a shout for his 10 wins from Maegashira #5 East. Few rikishi have a better claim for Sekiwake West than Abi.
One who has an argument is Hoshoryu, who actually beat Abi when they faced. More consequentially, Hoshoryu had 11 wins from the rank just ahead of Abi. Abi's resume is slightly better for March, but Hoshoryu may have announced his coming long term place towards the top of the Banzuke. There are two more basho before Hoshoryu's 23rd birthday, and he displayed a range of skills as well as power during the Hatsu basho. He was 6-4 and never in the yusho race, so he had a quiet 11 win tournament.
The other impressive youngster for Hatsu was Kotonowaka. He could have been in a yusho playoff when Day Fifteen began, and he earned a Special Prize. He's just 24, but fights like a long-serving veteran. His ability to parry attacks due to outstanding footwork is top notch. He also has now added a ring awareness that helps him turn a match around. And when he gets a hold, he usually has his opponent in hand.
Hatsu 2022 will ultimately be remembered as Mitakeumi's basho, and justifiably so. His losses, to Hokutofuji and Onosho, were ultimately footnotes to his championship. If he gets the Ozeki promotion in the next few days, and he really should get the jump in rank, then the January 2022 tournament will always hold a special place for Mitakeumi. Even if he has to wait on it, it was a great third championship.