- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2022 Day Three
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
Sotogake. Both Chiyoshoma and Hoshoryu won over fellow Mongolians with an outside leg trip. Hoshoryu's victory over Ichinojo was more interesting, because a leg trip was the Sekiwake's clear intention the whole match and he eventually got it.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Maegashira #5 East Takarafuji versus Maegashira #6 East Wakamotoharu
Takarafuji looked for all the world like he had handled Wakamotoharu from the start, but for the second time in three days, Wakamotoharu pulled off an utchari. It wasn't exactly textbook, but Wakamotoharu sent the aging veteran around and over the side of the dohyo in his last-ditch effort. That's not a long-term way to keep winning, but it's working right now.
Just six rikishi sit undefeated after three matches, and they are Tamawashi, Wakamotoharu, Hokutofuji, Takanosho, Oho, and Hiradoumi. A few things unite this crop. One is that none of them were a pre-basho yusho favorite. Only Oho and Hiradoumi were coming off winning records, and Oho's was a bare 8-7 while Hiradoumi's was in Juryo. Another is that they'll likely start facing each other in some form. Most significantly, none of them are in the Sanyaku ranks.
In the last three years, there have been four Maegashira yusho, so the named ranks do not have a lock on the Emperor's Cup. On the other hand, the two most recent were Daieisho at Maegashira #1 and Ichinojo at Maegashira #2. The others were the return of Terunofuji and possibly the flukiest yusho win ever by Tokushoryu. The six undefeated Maegashira might be leading the basho right now, but are still not favorites to win. Takanosho has looked the best, and he is underranked compared to his ability after an injury. He'd still need to topple lots of higher-ranked men to snag a yusho.
Of course, the higher ranks are pretty clearly beatable. Terunofuji got back on track in an unconvincing match against Kotonowaka, who is as pushing averse as any rikishi. Takakeisho has two solid wins after Ichinojo ate him up on Day One. Shodai is in bad Shodai mode, flailing around all over the dohyo. Mitakeumi looked like he injured his ankle a little bit at the end of his Day Three loss to Meisei. There's no reason to feel like any of these men will string together a ton of wins this basho.
Among the lower Sanyaku maybe Hoshoryu and Kiribayama could do some damage, but both are still establishing their Sanyaku bona fides because they haven't had enough double-digit win bashos. Looking good after three days with a loss doesn't signal domination is on the horizon, but it's better than not looking good. The upper Maegashira ranks have already been beating each other up, and the rikishi there are even enough to keep going.
After three days, the one likelihood is that this basho will probably not be won with a 15-0 or a 14-1. Since anyone can seemingly beat anyone, the losses are incoming for everyone in some form. Maybe we should see who can limit the damage to determine who is best positioned to take the yusho. But don't skip a match from the time Hiradoumi gets on the dohyo. They could all matter.