Natsu 2022 Day Fourteen
Public League Leaderboard
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Maegashira #4 West Takanosho
Komusubi West Daieisho
Maegashira #12 West Sadanoumi
Utchari. Wakamotoharu was backed to the edge quickly by Ichiyamamoto, but after stalling out in a very odd grip with his left arm pushed in the air, he attempted a backward pivot throw. And it was magnificent.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #14 East Oho versus Maegashira #5 West Tobizaru
Slapfests usually don't get the sustained applause and appreciation from the crowd as long grappling battles. This one, though, went long enough and had enough back and forth action it felt like two rikishi repeatedly trying to throw each other. Oho had the harder shoves, but Tobizaru was better at hitting and shifting to stay alive. Eventually, the movement made Oho get too turned around and end up shoved out.
The consequential matches on Day Fourteen weren't classics. Takanosho won after Kiribayama went to the clay on a failed leg trip attempt. Hoshoryu easily dispatched Aoiyama to remove the Bulgarian from yusho contention. Daieisho withstood Sadanoumi's best opening attack, and then the Maegashira had little left and went to the clay. In the musubi no ichiban, Terunofuji had to move Shodai slightly to make his victory something more than the most basic of yorikiri.
We are left with a final day of sumo in which four men can win it all and that's it. By the time Terunofuji mounts the dohyo to face already make-koshi Ozeki Mitakeumi, he'll know what he needs to do. Takanosho and Sadanoumi will see each other earlier in the day. If Takanosho loses, a Terunofuji victory seals the Emperor's Cup. If Takanosho wins and Terunofuji wins, there will be a playoff between the two with the Yokozuna seeking revenge for his loss on Day Eight. A Sadanoumi victory, a Daieisho win over Shimanoumi, and a Terunofuji loss means a four-way playoff among 11-4 rikishi.
Although a fun possibility, the four person elimination setup after regulation sumo is finished is unlikely. It would be a fitting end to this basho. Natsu has seen some significant upsets and surprising turns, but the sumo has been uneven. The middle of the basho had some notable non-mono-ii calls, which can only be a controversy because two rikishi are simultaneously awkwardly heading out or down. There were also a number of weird slips and accidental step outs. Even Terunofuji, poised for another Emperor's Cup, hasn't looked invincible but able to overcome problems through strength and immovability.
That sloppiness can actually be very exciting. Mitakeumi has looked terrible, and he was easily pushed back on Day Fourteen by Takakeisho. The thought he could beat Terunofuji in the basho's final match isn't easy to dismiss anyway. The one reason he may not is he will not be fighting for something, since he became kadoban by losing to Takakeisho. By contrast, the entirety of lower Sanyaku still needs to be sorted, as both Komusubi have their kachi-koshi and are fighting like Sekiwake. An Abi victory over Wakatakakage on the final day would make both Sekiwake 8-7 and unable to be demoted. Takanosho, Kiribayama, and Kotonowaka have Komusubi worthy performances, but will likely be crowded out.
Those considerations will be for after the basho. On Day Fifteen, there could be a four-way playoff and Special Prizes need to be awarded. Takanosho, Daieisho, and Sadanoumi will likely all get one, but they probably have stipulations for one or multiple awards. And every day, the lower Maegashira keep producing fun matches. Why should that change on Day Fiteen?