- Fantasy Basho
Hatsu 2022 Day Twelve
Katasukashi. One done well, the under shoulder swing down allows a rikishi moving backwards to grab his opponents' arm and swing them over to the side for the victory. And it's even better when you can do it to a Yokozuna, like Meisei did on Day Twelve.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi versus Maegashira #6 East Hoshoryu
Hoshoryu has done some things when given an opportunity this basho, but this match looked like Tamawashi would just overwhelm him. Instead, he withstood the tough blows from the man 15 years his senior. Then, in a flash, Hoshoryu went down and under to grab the back of Tamawashi's mawashi for a whirl around oshidashi. Not just anyone could have done that.
The sumo itself wasn't spectacular, but the results sure were something for Day Twelve. In the third from last match, Abi was facing Sekiwake Takanosho to show he could stay in the yusho race. He did just that with a forceful, but boring, tsukidashi. Then it was Mitakeumi's turn to keep his spot atop the leaderboard. Instead, Onosho allowed him to go off balance for a simple slapdown. That meant Terunofuji just needed to best 5-6 Meisei. Meisei never allowed Terunofuji to get a grip and moved sideways perfectly. And so three men were tied atop the leaderboard.
With three days remaining, those three will almost certainly have a round robin. Of course, don't assume any sumo schedule is guaranteed. Shodai should be Terunofuji's final opponent, but he's been less than great this basho and could be skipped. Also, a three way round robin over three days means each man needs a third opponent. Terunofuji gets Takanosho on Day Thirteen while Mitakeumi and Abi square off. The Day Fourteen schedule will likely depend on the winner of that match.
An Abi win will cause him to need to face Terunofuji, most likely. A Mitakeumi win, though, would just make the final match of the basho a clash between Terunofuji and Mitakeumi. So Mitakeumi would need a Day Fourteen opponent. Who that could be is a bit up in the air, as he hasn't faced Shodai or Takanosho. None of those would be guaranteed wins, as Mitakeumi's defeat on Day Twelve shows. Abi losing at least makes him less likely to win the yusho, but he too would need an opponent that could help clarify the race.
That brings us to Kotonowaka. The scion of Sadogataka-beya has a 9-3 record after twelve matches, and he could tie his career best record of 12-3. As a 24 year old, he could be ready to firmly ascend up the Banzuke for good. He hasn't been spectacular, but fundamentally solid and effective. More immediately, Kotonowaka will face a serious upgrade in his strength of schedule. On Day Twelve, Kotonowaka gets his chance at Tamawashi. That could be exciting on the dohyo, and however the result ends up, it will change who is effecting the outcome.
The losses by Terunofuji and Mitakeumi make the final weekend much more interesting, but it also shows anything can happen. Neither one got blasted off the dohyo, but thrown off balance enough to never recover in the match. In sumo, it is usually the little things that decide a match. And over three days, with the leaders facing each other, there are lots of little things to watch out for.