Nagoya 2022 Day Fifteen
Public League Leaderboard
Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho
Watashikomi. Midorifuji officially got the win over Hoshoryu by a "thigh-grabbing push down." Really, he was pushing Hoshoryu back, got half-thrown, and it wasn't at all clear Midorifuji did stay fully off the ground before Hoshoryu hit. They had to call it something, of course.
Match of the Day
Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho
Terunofuji was fighting for a playoff, while Takakeisho was simply playing spoiler. Takakeisho fought like a Yokozuna promotion was on the line. Terunofuji never got comfortable, and although Takakeisho wasn't overpowering the lone Yokozuna, he was in control. Anticlimactically, but intriguingly, the match was over when Terunofuji's left foot stepped out as Takakeisho was pushing him.
Ichinojo gets the yusho. In some sense, it feels like it was always an inevitably and that it is a shocker. Ichinojo has been in sumo for eight years and seemed like one of the best rikishi since he debuted. At his gigantic size and weight, Ichinojo was always a difficult matchup. Unfortunately, he had often been a physics problem for himself as well as others. During the Nagoya 2022 Basho, he was in his strong form and now he has lifted an emperor's cup.
Arguably, this isn't even the best basho on his record. Ichinojo debuted in Makuuchi in September 2014 as a 21 year old former amateur standout. He went 13-2 for a Jun-Yusho, with a kinboshi over Kakuryu and a chance for the yusho in the last few days. In March 2019, Ichinojo went 14-1 for a Jun-Yusho when Hakuho had a zensho yusho. He won his Emperor's Cup with 12 wins, one of which was a fusensho. He also had a controversial win on Day Four over Takakeisho, pulling the Ozeki's hair and having the judges say it didn't affect the match. That decision did affect the yusho, however, because Takakeisho was one loss back.
That is really par for the course for Nagoya 2022. By Day Fifteen, 23 rikishi had pulled out because of COVID diagnoses throughout the sumo world. Not every rikishi who did go kyujo because of COVID actually had a positive diagnosis. Whole stables were removed for health and safety reasons. That means rikishi who were in the yusho race pulled out on the regular. The story of the basho was who would actually mount the dohyo each day.
The impact of fusensho will be felt even more for the Aki banzuke. Ichinojo did get one freebie win, while Nishikifuji had three. Those are your two Special Prize winners. Nishikifuji registered ten wins as a Makuuchi debutant, a performance which typically earns a Fighting Spirit Prize. He got that, although it wasn't in the typical way. Among the seven 8-7 rikishi, Wakatakakakge, Oho, and Yutakayama all had a fusen win. Two rikishi with 8 wins, Tobizaru and Nishikigi, had to pull out of the basho.
In the end, though, the basho went to fifteen days and crowned a winner. Ichinojo will always have this yusho, with a career that maybe deserved one earlier. He also did fight extremely well throughout the tournament. His kinboshi over Terunofuji was a sign of his strength more than Terunofuji's vulnerability. He also did beat Takakeisho, so he also took down his two direct rivals. And there will forever be a picture of Ichinojo lifting the Emperor's Cup, as well as a banner celebrating his championship in the Kokugikan.
Congrats to the big Mongolian, and we'll see you for Aki.