- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2021 Day Three
Oshitaoshi. Onosho beat Ura with the relatively simple frontal push down. Yet the finish seemed to emphasize that oshitaoshi is an indication the loser of the match went down hard while being pushed out.
Match of the Day
Komusubi East Takayasu versus Maegashira 2 West Kiribayama
This match went on for over 3 minutes, which is the sumo equivalent of a 20 inning baseball game or a soccer match needing 12 penalty kicks from each team. The contest can go this long, it just usually doesn't. Takayasu continued his streak of doing enough to prevent losing quickly, but not enough to actually win. Kiribayama was leaned on forever, yet he still worked out a way to pull out the win when the stalemate ended.
Terunofuji has collected three wins over three days. That's the expected result for a Yokozuna. The real surprise is the next rikishi without a loss on the Banzuke is Kiribayama. He is ranked Maegashira 2 West. The next undefeated rikishi after the Misty Horse Mountain is Onosho down at Maegashira 6 West. Terunofuji might run away with the basho without needing to dominate everyone.
Terunofuji won relatively easily against Takanosho, but he didn't railroad the Maegashira. Takanosho put up a strong fight. Terunofuji simply kept his feet, stayed working, and controlled the match. Terunofuji's sumo has been good, but not overwhelming in the first three days. If another Sanyaku wrestler had dominated so far, it could be a sign the shin-Yokozuna is vulnerable.
That Sanyaku wrestler is not there for Aki. The Ozeki pair feature one, Shodai, who has been just okay and one, Takakeisho, who is clearly not healthy enough to compete. Mitakeumi had his moments on Day One and Three, but got blasted by Hokutofuji on Day Two. Meisei looked lost as a Sekiwake until Day Three. The Komusubi, Takayasu and Ichinojo, both look like 80% of their former selves, who were always a bit up and down anyway.
Aki could be a basho for the upper Maegashira, but in a tournament with parity in the upper ranks they will just beat each other up. Hoshoryu had a great opening day against Shodai, then lost two straight tough matches. That's life for a Maegashira 1. Kotonowaka is 2-1 before facing the Sanyaku, but he could have the same tough slate Hoshoryu has soon. Hokutofuji has a nice 2-1 record, although he hasn't been at his best. Wakatakakage did fall when he saw Meisei on Day Three. These were some of the best candidates to steal the Sanyaku spotlight, showing just how hard that task is.
Which makes Kiribayama stick out even more. He doesn't just have three wins in the first three days, but he has a win against a Sekiwake, an Ozeki, and a Komusubi. He will have an easier second week, simply by being a Maegashira 3. Sitting at 3-0 is massively impressive for the up-and-coming Mongolian. Yet at some point soon, he will probably face Terunofuji. That match will loom for everyone.