Maegashira 3 Tochinoshin wins the January 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, his first-ever top-division championship and the first from a mid-ranked Maegashira since M7 Kyokutenho in 2012. He finished with an outstanding 14-1 record, losing only to Yokozuna Kakuryu on Day 7. Over the course of the tournament he used five different kimarite (winning techniques): yorikiri (9), tsukiotoshi (2), tsukidashi (1), tsuridashi (1), and oshidashi (1).
Ozeki Goeido charges into Yokozuna Kakuryu’s clutches, trading momentum off the tachiai for a left-handed overarm belt grip. It’s a bad trade. Kakuryu plants his feet and rolls Goeido with the overarm throw, both men tumbling off the dohyo in the final bout of the January tournament. Kakuryu gets up pulling on his right fingers (sprain? dislocation?) and treating his right arm/wrist fairly tenderly, so here’s hoping it’s an injury he can recover from before March. His domination for the first ten days of the tournament was a delight to watch, and sumo benefits from a strong Yokozuna (not-subtle-throat-clearing-hints directed at Kisenosato and Hakuho). Goeido finishes with a very Goeido-like 8-7. Kakuryu is probably disappointed with the 11-4 record that put him out of the running for the championship days ago, but it’s his best record since a 14-1 yusho in November of 2016. Alright, that was fun, see you in March!
Goeido gets his kachi-koshi on Day 14, several days later than he would have liked. Finally returning to form, he gets a good launch at the tachiai and puts his head underneath Mitakeumi’s chin. Mitakeumi gets lifted up and backwards and doesn’t have enough of a grip on Goeido’s left arm to defend. Both will enter the final day at 8-6.
Goeido’s out of the running for the tournament championship, but he still needs to get eight wins. Improving to 7-6 against Okinoumi helps his cause. This is the kind of sumo he should have been doing the past few days.
The Ozeki matchup is no contest. Goeido gets blown off the shikiri-sen at the tachiai and flails at Takayasu’s arms, but Takayasu keeps his hands in Goeido’s face like a cruel uncle stiff-arming a frustrated child. Two good shoves to the torso and Goeido falls out. Takayasu has an excellent record of 9-3, but he’s running out of time to catch the streaking Tochinoshin and Yokozuna Kakuryu. Goeido needs to find a way to win two more bouts to prevent yet another kadoban (probation for Ozeki) tournament.
Oh, Goeido, maybe someday you’ll grow up to be a real Ozeki. Gone is the stable footing and good posture of the first half of the tournament, and now you’ve fallen back into the bad habit of either letting your opponent get inside or leaning too far forward on the attack. Or both, one often leads to the other. Arawashi got you today with nice kotenage (arm lock throw) while going backwards, but it didn’t have to be that way. Both men finish at 6-5.
It’s feast or famine for Ozeki Goeido, dominating opponents one day and getting blasted out of the ring the next. Who knows which Goeido is going to show up for any given bout? He completely loses the tachiai today, letting Shodai get deep inside to completely demolish his balance. There’s no recovery from that horrible position. Shodai pulls even at 5-5, Goeido falls to a disappointing 6-4.