“…And then there were four.”
Four remaining front-runners for a possible yusho in this tournament, that is.
And with my somewhat sleep-deprived memory at work, we’ll primarily look at those bouts:
Kitataiki (EM15/7-1) maintains his status against Shotenro (WM9/3-5), nothing terribly memorable here - and tomorrow he is slated to face off against fellow rank-and-filer Homasho (EM12/3-5)… but I suspect that his luck is soon going to run out after that.
The ever-showy McShowboat Takamisakari (EM11/4-4) pulled off a win against Shimotori (WM13/3-5), but would that the quality of his pre-bout warm-up antics were matched by some quality sumo on his part. He will likely keep his place toward the bottom of the Makuuchi line-up, at any rate.
Toyohibiki (WM16) falls from the leaderboard to 6-2 at the hands (or perhaps the torso) of Tochiozan’s (EM10/4-4) yoritaoshi… and Hakuba (WM14/6-2) likewise eats a Russian yorikiri, lovingly served by Aran (WM10/6-2).
Also, Big Daddy Aminishiki (WM6) is forced off the leaderboard with some oshitaoshi loving from Tamawashi (EM7), equalizing both of their records to 6-2.
Moving up to the sanyaku rikishi - Kotomitsuki (WO/1-7) calls it quits (for this basho) citing some issues with his toes as part of the reason for his absolutely horrid sumo. The Ozeki will be fighting under the kadoban (facing demotion) in the next tournament, the Osaka Haru-Basho in March. He will really have to bring his A-Game to bring off the required 10 wins to keep his title and while he might not be showing his age as much as Chiyotaikai was… he might want to take some counsel with his oyakata about putting in his intai (retirement) paperwork.
Kotomitsuki’s withdrawal gives an easy pass for today to Yoshikaze (EM5), who probably really needed it - not that it will help all that much with his 3-5 losing record.
I have to admit, that I was a little worried for Baruto (ES/7-1), coming fresh from a kinboshi victory over Hakuho yesterday as he faced down Harumafuji (WO/6-2), who has been quite the steamroller in his own right this basho. And after an initial lock-up - Baruto deftly worked his migi-yotsu onto Big Harry, and then worked him over the rice-bale ring border for a solid win against the ozeki.
Baruto will face off against fellow European Kotooshu (EO/7-1) on Day 9. I’m not sure who I will be rooting for the most, as I really have been enjoying both of their performances thus far.
Speaking of Kotooshu, he handily defeated Hokutoriki (EM3/2-6) - I’ll have to revisit this later today, as I can’t quite remember if there was particular footage here that stood out to me.
Hakuho (EY/7-1) had himself a bit of a panic moment (likely more a cold shiver at the thought of giving up a second consecutive kinboshi to a rank-and-filer) here as Kisenosato (WM3/5-3) was nearly able to overpower the yokozuna briefly following the tachi-ai, but he regained his composure and took advantge of Kise’s weakening momentum to lever him for a well-played shitatenage underarm throw.
No after-bout swats at people’s heads today from Asashoryu (WY/7-1) - just plain, hard and fast tsuppari handiwork leading up to an straightforward oshidashi ejection for Kakizoe (EM4/4-4).