Takakeisho took the outright lead at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, beating Myogiryu to improve to 10-2 and secure promotion back to ozeki.
The sekiwake, who is making his return from a knee injury, sits alone atop the standings after joint overnight leader Meisei lost to former frontrunner Okinoumi, leaving both maegashira at 9-3 on Day 12 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Takakeisho needed 10 or more wins here to earn promotion back to sumo’s second-highest rank following his demotion to sekiwake after withdrawing hurt from the past two tournaments.
The 23-year-old Chiganoura stable grappler stayed unbeaten in seven top-level meetings against No. 6 Myogiryu (6-4-2), who missed a pair of bouts earlier in the tournament. Following a hard collision, Takakeisho slammed the maegashira straight to the clay with a powerful left-handed shove.
Takakeisho — whose rapid rise included a first title last November at the Kyushu Basho — will continue his quest for a second Emperor’s Cup against ozeki Goeido on Friday.
“Before the tournament I was well aware of what I need to do, and I’ve kept doing it day by day,” Takakeisho said.
“(My knee) has troubled me a little bit, but I’ve been able to do pretty well. There are some talented men around me on the leaderboard, so I need to keep winning.”
Competing as a demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki, Goeido (8-4) secured a winning record and his continued place at the second-highest rank with a victory over No. 5 Ryuden (6-6).
After a false start, Goeido gained a solid one-handed inside grip before throwing his opponent down with his outside hand.
Fellow kadoban ozeki Tochinoshin, meanwhile, is on the verge of demotion following a loss to sekiwake Mitakeumi, who remains one victory off the pace.
Coming into the bout with an 8-3 head-to-head advantage, Tochinoshin (5-7) failed to generate any drive from his heavily strapped left leg and looked powerless to stop Mitakeumi (9-3) bulldozing him out backward.
In his battle with No. 8 Okinoumi, No. 10 Meisei fumbled for a grip and was driven out quickly by his fellow rank-and-file grappler, who had relinquished his share of the lead the previous day.
No. 14 Tsurugisho (9-3) continued to impress in his top-level debut, staying within one win of the lead by slapping down No. 10 Sadanoumi (6-6).
Komusubi Abi (7-5) moved within one bout of a winning record by pushing out No. 4 Shodai (2-10).
Komusubi Endo was no match for No. 4 Tamawashi, succumbing to a pushout that left both men at 7-5. The former sekiwake had the momentum from the outset, overpowering his opponent with a series of thrusts.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5