After Day 9, it seemed that the three top Japanese ozeki (champions) and the recent Estonian rookie Baruto would dog the heels of the undefeated Mongolian yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu, but then all four stumbled at once on Day 10. Ozeki Chiyotaikai (now 8-2) lost to sekiwake Miyabiyama (5-5), ozeki Tochiazuma (8-2) lost to once-ozeki Dejima (7-3), ozeki Kaio (8-2) lost to fellow ozeki Kotooshu (7-3), and up-and-comer Baruto (8-2) lost to fellow up-and-comer Homasho (9-1), who is now just one step behind Asashoryu. So, it’s still a comeback for the Japanese rikishi, but just not the higher-ranking ones. Last tournament’s phenom, the tiny Mongolian Ama, is at 2-8 this time around, and the Georgian komusubi Kokkai finally broke his 9-game losing streak by lengthening Iwakiyama‘s losing streak to 10.
UPDATE, Day 11: Most of the pack that stood at 8-2 lost again. Only Kaio “protected his 2 losses” to stay in 3rd place at 9-2, behind Homasho at 10-1 and Asashoryu at 11-0.
UPDATE, Day 12: Asashoryu (12-0) handed ozeki Kaio his 3rd loss, dropping him back with the rest of the former contenders, while ozeki Tochiazuma (now 9-3) handed Homasho his 2nd loss. Unless Homasho wins his next 3 bouts, and Asashoryu loses his next 3, the Mongolian grand champion looks to cruise to another tournament victory.
UPDATE, Day 13: The leaders are now Asashoryu (13-0), Homasho (11-2), and Kaio (10-3). At the other end, Iwakiyama (1-12) finally won a bout. The grand champion will cruise to his 19th tournament championship unless he loses his next two bouts, while Homasho wins his next two and then demolishes Asashoryu in a tie-breaker at the end of the basho.
UPDATE, Day 14: Asashoryu (14-0) has clinched it. Homasho (12-2) will likely win the Fighting Spirit award and a higher ranking on the banzuke. No one else has fewer than 4 losses.
UPDATE, Day 15: No surprises. Asa finished at 15-0. Homasho (12-3) won the prizes for both Fighting Spirit and Technique.