- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2022 Day Three
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Terutsuyoshi beat Tochinoshin by yorikiri, but he also very briefly lifted the much bigger and stronger former Ozeki. It was payback for their March match, when Tochinoshin lifted him clean out.
Match of the Day
Ozeki #1 East Mitakeumi versus Maegashira #2 West Kotonowaka
A match that was all about the finish, Kotonowaka stood up to Mitakeumi initially, but then got bulldozed after a reengagement. It looked for all the world that Mitakeumi was going to shove him out, but Kotonowaka did a fancy spin ON the tawara. The gyoji initially pointed to Mitakeumi, but the mono-ii reversed the decision and replay showed Kotonowaka kept his heel up long enough for Mitakeumi to be heading down and out.
This is now Kotonowaka's basho. He is at 3-0 after beating all three Ozeki., and he gets Terunofuji on Day Four. If he can beat the Yokozuna, he will be at 4-0 with all the toughest matches behind him. Even if he loses, he'll be tied at 3-1 with the lone Yokozuna and having beaten the Ozeki with the highest men on the Banzuke in his rear-view mirror. He controls his own destiny more than anyone.
Of course, there are twelve more days in this basho, and beating a Yokozuna is always easier said than done. Kotonowaka also just scraped by Mitakeumi. Yusho winners have those matches in their Emperor's Cup runs, but it isn't a sign that he will dominate. Terunofuji hasn't looked overwhelming, but he took Takayasu and then Kiribayama on two straight days and manhandled them when he couldn't back them up. Wakatakakage, Abi, Hoshoryu, and Daieisho have also been frisky enough that facing lower Sanyaku shouldn't be pleasant for anyone.
Then there are the Ozeki that Kotonowaka has now left lying. Shodai looks as hopeless as he ever has, which is saying something. Takakeisho has little power to move opponents backward, leading to more mawashi involvement than he would probably like. Mitakeumi doesn't look that bad, but he's been disjointed in his sumo. Kotonowaka is standing tall after beating all three Ozeki, but the Ozeki are not fighting like they'll be racking up victories against on-form rikishi. Prepare for the Natsu basho to get even more off the rails.
Some of the tournament's wild nature appeared early on Day Three. Sadanoumi tackled Meisei after Meisei was about to win the match. Kotoshoho went all over the dohyo and fought wildly to eventually beat Nishikigi. Tochinoshin and Terutsuyoshi traded lifting each other in a strange but enjoyable match. That was all pre-Sanyaku, where Hoshoryu and Abi both moved around to win after losing the tachiai. The action was chaotic and entertaining from the first match to the last.
Don't expect that on every day. Sometimes matchups will lead to a series of easy wins in the first half of Makuuchi. Sometimes matchups lead to beneficial opponents for struggling rikishi. Sometimes the on-form rikishi collide with the rikishi who are finding their style of sumo. But even if we get a quick, straightforward day of sumo that will be a change for this basho.