Nagoya 2022 Day Six
Public League Leaderboard
Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo
Maegashira #6 West Tobizaru
Shitatenage. Tobizaru technically beat Nishikigi by the underarm throw. In reality, there isn't a kimarite for "getting thrown so that all your momentum is going over, but you kind of pull on the other guy's arm to go into him and send him out first in a moment of desperation.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #8 East Tochinoshin versus Maegashira #9 West Kotoeko
Tochinoshin likely came in wanting to get a solid grip. Kotoeko likely came in wanting to get the match moving around the dohyo. They both got what they want. Tochinoshin was absolutely latched on, which usually spells trouble for an opponent. Kotoeko just kept going sideways and around. That began to wear out Tochinoshin, although he didn't let go. Kotoeko was on the verge of getting sky craned a few times, but found a way at the edge to slip to the side and out of the grip. That made Tochinoshin go over and out first.
Ichinojo's extremely functional win over Mitakeumi means he remains the sole leader. More interesting is what happened in the next group. Midorifuji earned his second loss by getting crushed by Kotoshoho. Later in the day, Nishikigi and Tobizaru were in a 4-1 clash guaranteeing one of them would go back to 2 losses. In a wild finish, it was Tobizaru that stayed one back from Ichinojo. Now the leaderboard reads Ichinojo at 6 wins, Tobizaru at 5 wins, and a 10 man group sitting on four wins.
That chase group includes the Yokozuna, an Ozeki in Takakeisho, and an up-and-coming star in Kotonowaka. The other seven rikishi keep the basho's upside down theme, but only Terunofuji and Takakeisho have won a yusho among the current top 12. Kotonowaka is the only other one who has been in things in the final day recently. Whether Takakeisho or Kotonowaka can keep it up is unclear for many different reasons. Terunofuji should be favored in his remaining 9 matches, even if he's likely to drop one more at some point.
The basho does need an Ichinojo loss to become legitimate interesting. A Tobizaru loss while Ichinojo keeps winning makes the yusho race boring. An Ichinojo loss and a Tobizaru loss on the same day would blow everything wide open. Both of those rikishi have been prone to streaks of late, so it could turn in a hurry. Terunofuji and Takakeisho could be poised to strike. There are also enough rikishi at 2 losses that some will keep it going. That's the basic setup right now as the first week comes to a close.
Ichinojo's first six days shouldn't be dismissed too lightly, however. He has not yet faced a Maegashira, yet is undefeated. That means a kinboshi, plus beating two Ozeki and both Sekiwake. He'll get the third Ozeki on Day Seven, when he sees Shodai. Shodai has been bad this tournament, and Ichinojo has a 12-4 advantage in their career matchup. Don't rule out a Shodai win, because Shodai could do it despite everything, but Ichinojo may be clear of the first week undefeated against Sanyaku.
Ichinojo should be celebrated if he keeps looking like this. He stormed into sumo as a Makushita Tsukedashi in 2014, getting a Jun-Yusho in his Makuuchi debut. He then suffered from a bout of shingles, stopping some progress. Ichinojo was an imposing figure, but never became the dominant rikishi he seemed destined to become. He pulled off a 14-1 Jun-Yusho to a Hakuho Zensho Yusho in March 2019. Then he suffered injuries and had a trip down to Juryo. Recently, he's been a solid upper Maegashira. This July, he's been dominating again, and Ichinojo may finally get a crowning achievement in his career.