Haru 2021 Day Eight
12 rikishi at 5 wins
Daieisho toppled Asanoyama in the day's final bout with an oshitaoshi, the "front push down." This should be distinguished from oshidashi, the "front push out." In other words, Daieisho shoved Asanoyama so hard at the edge that the Ozeki fell backwards and off the dohyo. It's a sign Daieisho's sumo is back.
Match of The Day
Sekiwake East Terunofuji versus Komusubi 1 East Takayasu
Arguably, this could have been match of the day if one of them had fallen on his face after a weak tachiai. The two former Ozeki on the rise back up came in as co-leaders with Chiyonokuni. His loss to Ichinojo set this one up to determine sole lead for the yusho. Takayasu seemed to know he couldn't go chest to chest with Terunofuji. Or at least he did a heck of a job getting his chest to Terunofuji's side. The position had the added benefit of getting leverage under Terunofuji's left armpit. The powerful Mongolian gave his all, but Takayasu stood firm and worked him over the edge.
This basho is now Takayasu's. His victory over Terunofuji made him the sole leader and the favorite. Not only does the yusho arasoi look favorable upon him, but so does his remaining schedule. Takayasu has already faced four fellow Sanyaku wrestlers. The rikishi above him he hasn't faced are Shodai, Takakeisho, and Takanosho, but he doesn't have the full Sanyaku slate to cope with still.
Yet that favorable position is no guarantee of his first Emperor's Cup. For one thing, Terunofuji one win behind isn't ideal. Chiyonokuni is in the same slot and is fighting well. Most importantly, 12 rikishi sit two wins back. All 12 could win from here out for a yusho possibility, and the ones who don't are ripe to play spoiler to someone or multiple someones. No one is safe this Haru.
Up and down the Banzuke, it feels like plenty of rikishi have something to fight for and still a lot of work to get there. There's a full week of matches remaining, but that also is going to move quickly. Shodai is even right now, and would probably like to avoid being a Kadoban Ozeki in May. Takakeisho needs 8 to get out of his kadoban and remain at Ozeki in May. Terunofuji, Takanosho, and Takayasu are all in various stages of putting together an Ozeki promotion. Terunofuji probably needs 11 wins, and 12 would be better. Takanosho and Takayasu could make May their key basho with a stack of wins. Even Daieisho, whose underwater right now, showed the kind of fight that could rally him to maintain his rank.
In the Maegashira ranks, Kiribayama, Wakatakakage, and Meisei would like to show they are worthy of Sanyaku sooner rather than later. 8 wins might get them there. Kotonowaka, Tobizaru, Midorifuji, and Hoshoryu are recent newcomers trying to prove they belong at Maegashira. Below Maegashira 9, the only rikishi with a real terrible basho is the injured Kotoshoho. The Juryo demotion line could be really strange, because so many rikishi are fighting above the usual criteria.
Day Eight had a variety of kimarite, with a few mild upsets. Yet that seems the way this one is going. We should all be thankful for it. The Yokozuna might not be delivering in sumo right now, but everyone else is taking it as an opportunity.