2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 12
It’s Day 12 of the Kyushu Basho and yokozuna Hakuho remains in the lead with a 10–1 record. Komusubi Asanoyama is still just one off the pace at 9–2, and three rikishi picked up their kachi-koshi [majority of wins] yesterday to hang tight in third place—ozeki Takakeisho, M10, Shodai, and M13 Kagayaki. Thankfully, there was some more spirited sumo in the mid-ranks yesterday as nearly everyone is trying to pull out of their 50/50 doldrums and get to 8 wins before something goes awry.
• One oddity about Hakuho’s match yesterday was that he had backed out of the tachi-ai at the last minute. His opponent, M5 Ryuden, was champing at the bit to get the match started, so perhaps this was just gamesmanship on the yokozuna’s part to throw Ryuden’s timing off. If so, it clearly worked as Hakuho outmaneuvered more than he outmuscled his way to a yorikiri win.
• Despite getting his tachi-ai [initial charge] mojo back, sekiwake Mitakeumi lost to komusubi Endo yesterday, sending his record to 5–6. Endo has been struggling a bit this basho, too, but he stood firm and got in low with a belt grip, forcing Mitakeumi into a high, unbalanced stance from which he couldn’t apply his greater strength. It was a mighty struggle, but Endo was in control all the way.
• Asanoyama held onto his sole possession of second place with a very solid win over M3 Takarafuji. With the komusubi having already faced, and mostly beaten, all but one of the rikishi ranked equal or above him (the one remaining is his opponent today—Mitakeumi), he has a relatively easy final four days of the basho. And if he continues to fight the way he has, the pressure will actually be on yokozuna Hakuho to finish strong each day to maintain his one win lead over Asanoyama.