Natsu 2022 Day Six
Public League Leaderboard
Maegashira #11 East Aoiyama
Maegashira #3 West Tamawashi
Maegashira #5 West Tobizaru
Maegashira #12 West Sadanoumi
Maegashira #15 West Ichiyamamoto
Fusensho. With Onosho's rib injury, Tobizaru got the free win on Day Six. Somehow, in this basho that seems to have everything else, that was the first fusen match.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #2 East Kiribayama versus Maegashira #2 West Kotonowaka
Kiribayama kept it awkward, which was always going to be to his benefit. Kotonowaka half-caught the Mongolian at the tachiai, but all that seemed to was get him sideways to Kiribayama. Kotonowaka's strength and footwork still allowed him to move Kiribayama around, but he never got solid momentum. Kiribayama waited out to then completely behind Kotonowaka for an easy win. The Misty Horse Mountain versus the Harp of Youth should be a fun rivalry to watch for the next few years.
Aoiyama is undefeated, followed by four Maegashira on one loss each. That's exactly how the Sumo Association wanted it to go. Aoiyama will turn 36 between this basho and the next, has been struggling for kachi-koshi over the last year, and has never seriously threatened an extended Sanyaku run. But here we are, and having six wins banked seems extremely important in this basho. Day Seven sees him face a similarly surprising well-performing veteran in one-loss Sadanoumi in a consequential match for the yusho arasoi if not the eventual yusho picture.
The story of Day Six is Tamawashi's third straight kinboshi over Terunofuji, although the match itself was boring and this basho is determined to provide shockers all the time. For some reason, Tamawashi has had Terunofuji's number in 2022. (The Yokozuna had a 10-5 career advantage before this year.) The ageless wonder did his usual nodowa and just moved Terunofuji back. Now Terunofuji is two wins off the pace, looking less than dominant, and Tamawashi is the highest ranked rikishi among the undefeated and one-loss set.
At this point in Natsu 2022, the expectation should be that his fortunes will change. That's just how things are going. Kotonowaka was in the driver's seat by beating the three Ozeki in his first three matches. Since then, he has lost three straight, including two to fellow Maegashira. Perhaps it's because the Ozeki are not as formidable as Ozeki should be. Takakeisho got overwhelmed by Abi on Day Six; Shodai was swallowed up by Takanosho. They could both be eyeing going kyujo, especially Shodai. Of course, he looked the same last time out and rallied over the second week.
That is difficult to do again and again, especially as the Sanyaku wrestlers begin facing each other. Now, if Terunofuji, Takakeisho, and Shodai don't perform to standards, or especially if they pull out, that changes the back half of the basho. Already, a clash of the titans isn't being set up for the final few days. No one has fought consistently in a manner that suggests they'll dominate over the second week. Everyone seems like they could lose at any moment.
That factor has actually made Natsu an extremely fun basho to watch, and someone going on a tear after being 3-3 or 2-4 would be exciting in its own way. What Natsu has really been so far is a day-to-day basho. Each day produces something new and interesting. Let's just hope that keeps happening.