- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2021 Day Eight
Henka. Chiyoshoma technically won with an uwatenage, an overarm throw. But he only got there because he went completely around Takayasu at the tachiai, grabbing Takayasu's belt from the side.
Match of the Day
Maegashira 1 East Hoshoryu versus Komusubi West Ichinojo
Hoshoryu returned to the ring after two days out with a fever. He did come in with a 5-3 career record against Ichinojo, but he was not favored here. Ichinojo did look like he was going to overwhelm the younger man. Then Hoshoryu released an almighty uwatenage. However, despite getting the gyoji to point his way, Hoshoryu was judged to have fallen at the same time as Ichinojo.
Torinaoshi. And on the second chance, Hoshoryu bull-rushed the giant. If he has this power in his bag now, everyone should watch out in the future.
Terunofuji did have a scare, as Tamawashi got his trademark nodowa off at the tachiai. This backed Terunofuji to the bales with his head pushed back, but the Yokozuna recovered. Once he got his arms around Terunofuji, the match was actually not very interesting. He easily marched the veteran out for a yorikiri.
Terunofuji's threats are still out there, but another day with another win makes them seem slightly less threatening. Mitakeumi is the highest ranked man with an outside chance at taking the giant macaron from Terunofuji. His 6 wins leave him two off the pace, and he still will need to face the Yokozuna. His chances still require another Terunofuji loss. Myogiryu is just one loss back, but will likely see a much tougher schedule over the next week.
Terunofuji's run to Yokozuna has taken place during, and largely because, of a transitional moment in sumo. Terunofuji's biggest challenger throughout the last year has been the oft-injured Takakeisho. Otherwise, Sanyaku has been filled with inconsistent performers. Before Terunofuji dominated sumo for the last seven basho, the surprise yusho winner was not such a surprise. Terunofuji, a singular and impressive talent even after devastating injuries, took full advantage. The transition is still happening below him, in fits and starts.
Yet Day Eight showed the transition is still happening. Hoshoryu came back from illness and beat Ichinojo with two impressive showings. Fellow youngster Kotonowaka had an impressive match in beating Shodai. Coupled with Kiribayama's previously impressive outings in this basho, these rikishi are showing who the next Sanyaku mainstays could be. And the good version of Takakeisho showed up. If he gets fit, he can lead the transition still. He is, after all, younger than seeming "up-and-comers" Meisei, Wakatakakage, and Takanosho. (Takakeisho is even a month younger than Kiribayama.)
That group of rikishi might not be directly challenging Terunofuji at Aki 2021. They are coming, and sooner rather than later. They also show that threats are out there every day. Shodai, Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, and Takayasu might be maddeningly inconsistent, but they have a ton of Sanyaku experience for a reason. And if two can make Terunofuji falter in the next week, there are opportunities to take the yusho.