Natsu 2022 Day Eleven
Public League Leaderboard
Maegashira #4 West Takanosho
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Maegashira #2 East Kiribayama
Maegashira #6 East Ura
Maegashira #12 West Sadanoumi
Maegashira #15 West Ichiyamamoto
Tsukiotoshi. Or at least officially Shodai won by "thrust down." He really deflected Tamawashi just enough to send the Mongolian to the clay before the Ozeki went down himself. It;s a reminder kimarite don't always tell you what happened as clearly as it may seem.
Match of the Day
Ozeki East Mitakeumi versus Sekiwake East Wakatakakage
These two had an odd match, which was best described as a loose grapple. That made it even more exciting, since neither man had a great advantage. Each rikishi got the other one in serious trouble that was well defended. Then they had a stalemate where they went shoulder to shoulder, with each man's upper body being essentially horizontal. In the end, Wakatakakage kept his stance better and used Mitakeumi's loose mawashi to back him down.
Takanosho is officially in the driver's seat. He beat Hoshoryu in a thrilling match that saw him push out Hoshoryu before the Mongolian could deliver a desperation throw. More importantly, he is the sole leader at 9-2 with most of sanyaku in his rear view mirror. He hasn't faced Wakatakakage, and he can't fight Takakeisho in regulation. Otherwise, the tougher matchups by rank have happened for him, including a crucial kinboshi. That puts him in command of the yusho race.
That doesn't mean it will be easy. On Day Twelve, he will see Ichiyamamoto. Although Ichiyamamoto fell to Shimanoumi, he is still 8-3 and a handful on the dohyo. Wakatakakage will be a likely opponent for Takanosho in the last few days, and Wakatakakage is fighting for his Sekiwake rank. Takanosho is also yet to face Kiribayama and Ura, the higher Maegashira who are sitting on 8 wins. Those aren't classic Yokozuna-Ozeki matches for a zensho yusho, but they will be fun and help decide this particular basho. Kiribayama and Ura also still need to face each other.
Likely, the real candidates for the yusho are among the 6 at 9 or 8 wins. Mathematically, the 5 rikishi with 7 wins could still win it, but they need to overcome so many other competitors it would take a lot of carnage above them. None of Takanosho, Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi, or Ichiyamamoto have experience at fighting in a yusho race, but the nature of sumo is that someone always needs to win. They won't all win out. Someone likely will.
The most likely someone to win out, especially including a possible playoff, is Terunofuji. A Yokozuna makes the rank for a reason, and Terunofuji was fighting like a Yokozuna before getting promoted last summer. He is not 100%, quite clearly, but he might not need to be. He is just so strong and has such solid footwork, Terunofuji will be able to beat the best from anyone else. Look at his match on Day Eleven with Abi, where he took Abi's best opening two-handed push, stood up, and redirected the match for a simple win.
Even if Terunofuji comes out on top at the end, it won't be a boring outcome. He'll overcome three clear upsets in the first week. He needs to navigate the cluster of rikishi on top of the leaderboard. There might also be a playoff with this many rikishi near each other. And if the Yokozuna doesn't win, we are probably getting a memorable finish to this basho.