Nagoya 2022 Day Eight
Public League Leaderboard
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Maegashira #2 East Kotonowaka
Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo
Maegashira #6 West Tobizaru
Maegashira #8 West Nishikigi
Maegashira #13 East Ichiyamamoto
Maegashira #17 East Nishikifuji
Kekaeshi. It looked like Kotoeko just slipped and his hands hit the ground after the tachiai. Replay showed that Tobizaru very cleverly kicked his right leg out from under him for a "minor inner foot sweep" win.
Match of the Day
Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus Maegashira #4 East Wakamotoharu
It was certainly something. To begin with, the match looked like it was easily going to be Ichinojo's after a few seconds. The Yokozuna casually marched Wakamotoharu to the edge and almost walked him over. Then Wakamotoharu wriggled aside and turned around to the middle of the dohyo. Terunofuji still had a grip, but with an extended right arm and no purchase with his left. Wakamotoharu gained a stalemate. And then they leaned on each other for a long time, but in the sort of awkward, neither man is comfortable but also doesn't want to let go because that would be worse. This extended the match to two minutes.
Then the weirdness began. The premier gyoji, Shikimori Innosuke, went to stop the match because Wakamotoharu's mawashi had come loose. Terunofuji got that signal as the gyoji came up, but Wakamotoharu didn't. That seemed like a Wakamotoharu win, except that Terunofuji was definitely distracted by the gyoji. The shimpan consulted, Wakamotoharu had his mawashi tightened by Shodai, and they reset them as best they could to where they were before the confusion. In the restart, it was all Terunofuji and a Yokozuna win.
The most interesting match and the one that will be talked about the most is the musubi no ichiban. Terunofuji was close to giving up another kinboshi, the gyoji look less than stellar once again, and the reset back to the previous position is always weird. Yet that wasn't the most consequential bout of the day. That belonged to Kotonowaka's handling of Ichinojo, moving seven men into a tie for first place at 5-2. Among those seven are Terunofuji, Kotonowaka, and Ichinojo. The septet is rounded out by Tobizaru, Nishikigi, Ichiyamamoto, and Nishikifuji.
Kotonowaka performed excellent sumo to beat the previous leader. He took Ichinojo head-on at first, but moved sideways after latching onto a grip and found easy leverage for a yorikiri. He still needs to face the lower Sanyaku, beginning with Wakatakakage tomorrow. Kotonowaka has looked the best so far in Nagoya, especially with how Terunofuji struggled to put away Wakamotoharu before the odd restart. He also just beat the man who was previously fighting the best. Kotonowaka's second week could be the start of something big for him.
The lower-ranked leaders also look strong. Tobizaru's tricks and cleverness are working, which makes him exceedingly dangerous. Nishikigi's strong defensive sumo has been on point, turning opponents aside when they try to get things going. Ichiyamamoto has kept forward momentum as much as possible, often disrupting any gameplan other rikishi have. Nishikifuji is proving he belongs in Makuuchi in his debut basho, because he can focus on an efficient sumo that works against most lower-Maegashira. Do not discount any of them.
Yet one, two, three, or all four of them could start dropping matches. That is the very nature of a sumo tournament. They also are all 6-2, so we know they haven't been invincible in Nagoya over the last week. The same holds true for Terunofuji, Kotonowaka, and Ichinojo, too. Terunofuji was actually taken out by Wakamotoharu on Day Eight, although under truly odd circumstances. Even though he won, the fact that the wild gyoji interference/shimpan conference/mawashi retie/restart had to happen shows the Yokozuna may be vulnerable.
So also don't lose sight of the fact that there are ten men at 5-3. Overcoming seven other rikishi in the standings adds to the difficult of being one loss behind, but they also just need to keep winning and hope other slip up. With such a crowded leaderboard, most rikishi still competing are in the same boat. And we still have a whole week left.