Yokozuna Harumafuji drops his second bout in a row, getting manhandled by Takakeisho and showing none of the good lateral movement which is so often the key to his success. Takakeisho is heavier and shorter, and uses his size perfectly, staying lower than Harumafuji at each contact. They bounce off each other, each time Takakeisho moving slightly forward and down, and Harumafuji slightly upward and back. Great job by the youngster, returning to his highest rank of M1.
Yokozuna Harumafuji had to win six consecutive bouts to come from behind and steal the championship from Ozeki Goeido last tournament, and it looks like he’s already digging himself into an early hole this time around. It’s not a particularly pretty win for Onosho, with both men stumbling out of the ring gracelessly after Onosho slams down on Harumafuji’s neck forcing him to touch the ground, but he’ll take it. Onosho has spent only three tournaments in the top division, finishing each time with an outstanding 10-5 record, so he’s definitely earned his elevated rank of Komusubi (only three below Yokozuna). Let’s see if he can handle the toughest competition in the thin air at the very top of the division.
Yokozuna Harumafuji wins the September 2017 Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, earning his ninth top-division championship. He beat front-runner Ozeki Goeido on the last day to tie things up at 11-4, and then beat Goeido again in a single playoff bout to claim the title. Over the course of the tournament he used four different kimarite (winning techniques): yorikiri (8), uwatedashinage (2), uwatenage (1) and shitatenage (1).
OK, now we’re at the final match of the day – winner take all, loser goes home. Well, they both go home. But only one of them goes home with the trophy. Fifteen days, 280-or-so bouts in the top division, it all ends now. Barring a meteor strike that destroys the building, one of these two will be champion. Love it. The actual bout is mercilessly quick. Harumafuji hits hard, his head landing underneath Goeido’s chin. Goeido reacts by trying to pull down on the Yokozuna, but Harumafuji isn’t anywhere near overextended enough for this to work. Harumafuji is attached to Goeido’s torso like a leech, and he walks the Ozeki over the edge to disappointment. Standing outside the straw bales, Harumafuji pats Goeido’s back, a classy display of sympathy for the loser. But congratulations to the Yokozuna, who wins his ninth top-division championship!
Day 15. Final bout. Everything on the line for Goeido. If he beats Yokozuna Harumafuji, he’ll win his second championship, exactly one year after winning his first. If he loses to Harumafuji, they’ll finish with equal 11-4 records and will need one more bout to determine the champion. Harumafuji starts a step back from the white shikiri-sen, giving himself a few extra centimeters to build up speed before slamming into Goeido. But Goeido holds his ground, and pushes Harumafuji back, fighting the Yokozuna’s arms. Harumafuji has an excellent low position, and slings his left arm up to slam it home on Goeido’s belt. Goeido tries to fight it, but when he reaches over with his right arm he lets Harumafuji wrap him up with a smothering double-underarm, and Harumafuji pounces. Goeido is too far out of position, and Harumafuji shoves him out. They’ll get a few minutes break before meeting right back here for the deciding match.
Yokozuna Harumafuji stays one win behind tournament leader Goeido, now the only man who can prevent Goeido from winning his second championship. Harumafuji dispatches Mitakeumi with no-nonsense sumo, using his superior strength and two belt grips to walk out the younger wrestler with ease. Mitakeumi sits at 7-7, and will need to beat Yoshikaze tomorrow if he wants a winning record this tournament.
Harumafuji gets the job done quickly, totally dominating Yoshikaze with strength and speed to carry him over the edge. With Goeido’s (10-3) loss today, the Yokozuna (9-4) can force at least a playoff for the championship by beating Goeido on the last day. The math for all the other possible outcomes is complicated, but there are still a host of wrestlers with a chance at the title.