- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2022 Day Six
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
15 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi
26 Maegashira #8 West Hokutofuji
18 Maegashira #4 West Takayasu
21 Maegashira #6 East Wakamotoharu
36 Maegashira #13 West Oho
Hatakikomi. The basic slap-down isn't usually notable, but it says something about the day's sumo when four separate rikishi win with it.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus Maegashira #3 West Ura
Terunofuji is definitely not 100%, but Ura still needed a great strategy to pick up the kinboshi. First, Ura tried to get under on Terunofuji. After the Yokozuna threw him off that plan, Ura knew to keep the ailing and bigger Terunofuji moving. That he did, refusing to engage until Terunofuji started moving backwards, at which point Ura did get inside well for a solid yorikiri.
With six matches in the books for everyone, just two rikishi stand undefeated. Tamawashi and Hokutofuji being those two rikishi is certainly surprising. Tamawashi does have a yusho to his name, although it was over three years ago, he was a sekiwake then, and that was shocking as it was happening. In the last two years, as he is very much in his late 30s, he has had a habit of fading over the second week of a basho. Hokutofuji, meanwhile, is a former Sanyaku man whose last year was uneven after an injury. He's just gotten on the wrong side of 30, and he has never been in a real yusho race.
The trio at one loss may be even more interesting. Takayasu is showing that the best thing for his sumo now is to have a basho off. He is fighting as well as he did when he went to a playoff in March. Then, too, he came back from a kyujo due to a stablemate's COVID diagnosis. Wakamotoharu is fighting better than he ever has, just before turning 29. Oho is showing much of the promise he has always had since entering sumo in 2018. 22 years old, he may be finding the form that takes him to upper Maegashira and beyond. The leaders are not who any sumo fan would have guessed would be here a week ago.
Yet if you're looking for the best reason why any of the five men with zero or one losses could win the yusho it is the performance of the Sanyaku. The best record currently in the historically large named ranks is 4-2. That is shared by Ozeki Takakeisho, Sekiwake Hoshoryu, and Komusubi Kiribayama. Takakeisho and Hoshoryu both lost to hatakikomis on Day Six, neither one looking like they are ready to lift an Emperor's Cup. Despite the lower rank, Kiribayama may be in the best position of the three since he gets almost all Maegashira in Week Two.
Maybe the Maegashira are more dangerous this basho, though. Terunofuji is fighting like he should pull out to rest his lower body. Since his return to Makuuchi in July 2020, the worry for Terunofuji is that he knees could explode in any match. Perhaps he'll just slowly deteriorate in his lower body instead. In the Ozeki ranks, both Shodai and Mitakeumi are struggling to find their best form. They could all be easy pickings for anyone who faces them.
The surprising nature of the leaderboard on Day Six is an indication that more surprises will be on offer as the basho unfolds. This is not just because the five men in the leader group were not pre-basho favorites. It is also because almost every match can shake up the yusho race. Although always true, this only gets heightened when the most significant matches involve mid-Maegashira rather than Yokozuna and Ozeki.