I haven’t been following sumo very closely these days, but this week when I checked the standings of the May tournament that concludes this coming Sunday, I noticed that the undefeated Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu had handed the senior yokozuna Asashoryu the latter’s second loss. But I didn’t get my hopes up because Kotooshu was scheduled to face the other yokozuna, Hakuho, yesterday, even though he has a better record against Hakuho than against Asashoryu. Well, this morning I saw that Kotooshu was now 12-0, having handed Hakuho (10-2) his second loss. Better yet, veteran Japanese ozeki Chiyotaikai (4-8) had saddled Asashoryu (9-3) with his third loss. If Kotooshu can win two out of the three remaining bouts, he won’t have to face either yokozuna for a tie-breaker, and will win his first tournament championship in sumo’s highest division (Makuuchi).
DAY 13: All the leaders lost, so Kotooshu (12-1) now has to win just one of his two remaining bouts to win the Emperor’s Cup. Hakuho dropped to 10-3, Asashoryu to 9-4.
DAY 14: He did it! Kotooshu (13-1) got behind the scrappy Mongolian Ama (another crowd favorite) and shoved him down to clinch his first Emperor’s Cup. The last day’s results won’t matter to him, but they will matter to everyone who is 7-7 and needs a winning record to maintain their ranking, like Tochinoshin (‘horse-chestnut-heart’), the Georgian rookie who just made his Makuuchi debut this tournament.