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.
There’s some speculation that something is physically wrong with Yokozuna Kakuryu, but it’s honestly hard to tell against the fury of Takayasu. The Ozeki is a churning hive of activity, like thousands of bees clumped together into a 360lb dynamo. Kakuryu tries his best, though, a last-gasp push on Takayasu’s throat serving merely to anger the bees further. Takayasu launches Kakuryu off the dohyo for his eleventh win. All of this is academic however, as Tochinoshin has already clinched the championship.
Takayasu wins easily over Arawashi, blasting him off the line and needing but a few short shoves to send him out. Still two losses behind the tournament leader, Takayasu will have to hope that Tochinoshin loses both of the last two days in order to force a playoff. With Tochinoshin’s performance today, that looks unlikely.
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.
At least one of the Ozekis is performing up to standards. Despite a slightly more tentative-than-usual tachiai, Takayasu controls the action against Tamawashi, sending him out of the ring to his seventh loss. Tamawashi’s heading the wrong direction at 3-7.
Shodai has the best “oh, crap, I lost again” face in sumo. Ozeki Takayasu is happy to be the cause of it, earning his sixth win of the tournament.