Haru 2021 Day Eleven
Hoshoryu beat Okinoumi with a sukuinage, the beltless arm throw. Except it wasn't a typical sukuinage. Okinoumi was on the edge of a solid yorikiri, and Hoshoryu twisted himself around at the rice bales for a beautiful throw and win.
Match of The Day
Ozeki 1 East Shodai versus Komusubi 1 East Takayasu
On the Torikumi, this should have been circled when it was announced. The highest ranked wrestler versus the yusho leader. This is also a matchup of styles, too, and it delivered. Takayasu wants a match with limited motion, where he can work his opponent down. Shodai at his best is all motion and reaction. That motion and reaction befuddled Takayasu and gave him his second loss with a whirling, pulling shove to the clay.
Takayasu loses, and now it's a little bit closer. The yusho isn't settled, and it takes just one slip. The last four days are just slightly more interesting. This situation is because the Torikumi behaved as it should. The three Ozeki won on the same day for the first time all basho. Haru has been unusual, but it's climax might be what the JSA wants. For Takayasu to win, he must withstand an effort from the top of the Banzuke.
The bottom of the Banzuke is still chaos. Among the eight rikishi who have already secured 8 losses and a make-koshi, the lowest ranked one is Maegashira 11 West Kotoshoho. He has no wins and has been out with an injury since Day Three. Two others are the absent Yokozuna. The juryo demotion pool is unclear. Among those clinging to 7 losses who need to win out, only Maegashira 15 Yutakayama is in the traditional drop zone.
Sanyaku is just as tough. No Sanyaku wrestlers have secured losing records, either. The disaster basho struck Maegashira 1 this time, as both Takarafuji and Onosho are sitting at just two wins. Right behind them, Hokutofuji, Wakatakakage, and Meisei are all on 7 wins and dangerous for anyone seeing them over the next few days. Predicting either individual matches or the overall shape of the rest of the basho will likely be risky.
This will make the last four days a sort of battle royal, with each rikishi wanting to eclipse those around him. Each match will also have some extra weight, either in shaping the yusho or just deciding who will be getting a small promotion. There's also a clash of generations going on, with recent debutants mixed with serious veterans below the joi-jin line.
Yet the change is inevitable, as evidenced by the big off-dohyo news. Yokozuna Kakuryu will retire after his serious injury. We haven't seen him fight for a year, so it's worth remembering his career achievements. He managed 6 yusho, 8 jun-yusho, and 41 basho as a Yokozuna. Rikishi rarely achieve these heights. He might have always been in Hakuho's shadow, but Kakuryu was a great sumotori who gained the sport's highest achievement. His retirement also provides a space for someone else to step up. The Sanyaku is fighting to see who has a chance to jump into that space. Below them, the rikishi are trying to get in range.