- Fantasy Basho
Hatsu 2022 Day Fourteen
Uwatenage. It wasn't just Kotonowaka's overarm throw, but the fact he pulled it off right as Takanosho had him on the ropes. And Tochinoshin pulled out one when it seemed Okinoumi had him stalled out in a yorikiri attempt.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #6 East Hoshoryu versus Ozeki West Shodai
This was the least intriguing match of the last half of Day Fourteen on paper. But they fight on the dohyo, and these two had two great fights. From the tachiai, the two locked up, which went to form. Form here was interesting, though, because Shodai did his best defensive sumo while Hoshoryu was attempting leg trips. Shodai worked Hoshoryu around the dohyo and to the edge. Then Hoshoryu did a last minute throwing attempt. They landed so close together that it was unclear if Hoshoryu's hair or Shodai's knee went down first.
Mono-ii. Torinaoshi. Then they had an awkward tachiai that seemed to disrupt Hoshoryu. They regrouped, and Hoshoryu absolutely overpowered Shodai. Think of it as a warning of what he might do in the future.
Abi ended the day with an exclamation point, and set up some fun possibilities for Day Fifteen. It wasn't even just a win over a Yokozuna, which is always notable. Abi picked up his third career kinboshi, and against a third Yokozuna. Abi also overwhelmed Terunofuji with his usual two-handed tsuppari attack. Terunofuji never came close to a grip, and Abi managed to get the Yokozuna sideways before shoving him off the dohyo. Most importantly, Abi and Terunofuji are now tied at 11 wins.
Abi's victory is also a major opportunity for Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi easily handled Takarafuji, guaranteeing he would go into his final match with a share of the lead. Terunofuji's loss meant Mitakeumi will go into the final day as the sole leader. All he needs to do for his third yusho (and quite possibly an Ozeki promotion) is win his final match. The complication for Mitakeumi is that that match will be against Terunofuji. He has a 4-12 career record against the Yokozuna, and Terunofuji has won 8 of 9 matches since he returned to Makuuchi in July 2020. If Terunofuji wins that, we'll have a playoff between them.
And they will be joined by either Abi or Kotonowaka. Both men are sitting at 11-3, and can join a playoff by winning and getting a Terunofuji win at the end of the day. They won't both make it, because they face each other early in the Makuuchi lineup. Abi and Kotonowaka have never faced off, because they've been in different parts of the Banzuke for their careers. This match will be a stylistic clash with a guarantee of a Jun-Yusho to the winner, with possibly more at stake. Kotonowaka is 24 and done well before, but this could be a sign he is about to really shine.
Abi and Kotonowaka are both likely in-line for one or more special prizes. Your other candidates for those are probably Onosho, Hoshoryu, and Ishiura. There are other men fighting for something on Day Fifteen. Wakatakakage is at 8 wins with a Maegashira #1 rank, so if he beats Onosho, he'll probably get a Sekiwake rank. Ura versus Chiyomaru, Tochinoshin versus Ichinojo, and Sadanoumi versus Oho are matchups of 7-7 rikishi. If Oho loses, in particular, he'll immediately return to Juryo. Hidenoumi's absence means he'll drop too, and Kaisei and Tsurugisho look to be in trouble of demotion.
All of that will be a fine setup for the senshuraku musubi no ichiban. Terunofuji against Mitakeumi will be the most consequential match not only of the day, but of the basho. And it, too, may be a setup for something bigger. A Terunofuji win gets us a three-way playoff after the official end of the tournament. Even a Mitakeumi win will get the half-Filipino rikishi a third yusho and a possible Ozeki promotion. That's pretty exciting, too.