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).
If you want to be an Ozeki, you got to beat the Ozeki. I mean, that rule’s not written down anywhere, but to put together 33 wins over three consecutive tournaments from the sanyaku ranks (komusubi or sekiwake), which is what’s required for Ozeki promotion, you’re probably going to have to beat some Ozeki. Anyway, Sekiwake Mitakeumi’s not quite ready for that run yet, showing good effort against Ozeki Takayasu until the point when Takayasu gets a right-handed overarm grip and tumbles him to the ground with the uwatenage (overarm throw). Mitakeumi finishes the tournament at 8-7, while Takayasu gets the runner-up spot behind Tochinoshin with an excellent 12-3 record.
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.
That’s three losses in a row for Yokozuna Kakuryu, who gets manhandled by Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi picks up his all-important eighth win by returning to an aggressive style of sumo that seemed to have deserted him in recent days. Kakuryu is now tied for second place at 10-3 with Takayasu, and only the slim hope of back-to-back Tochinoshin losses can help either one of them have a chance at a playoff.
Mitakeumi has now dropped five straight bouts, and his confidence has completely disappeared. He loses to the hapless 4-8 Okinoumi today, resorting to a pull-down right after the tachiai instead of using his strength on offense. Sigh.
After a seven-bout winning streak to start the tournament, Mitakeumi has now lost three in a row. He has a solid tachiai that backs up Arawashi, but Arawashi defends with an arm bar on Mitakeumi’s left side. Shifting his hips and applying all his weight to Mitakeumi’s arm, Arawashi drives Mitakeumi into the clay. Nice tottari (arm bar throw) for Arawashi to improve to 5-5.
Both men enter this bout at 7-1, trying to keep Yokozuna Kakuryu from running away with the tournament. But it’s Tochinoshin who ends the day victorious, winning with a magnificent tsuridashi (lift out), picking up Mitakeumi bodily and lifting him clear off the ground. Massive win for Tochinoshin, and a warning shot to everyone in his way.