Haru 2021 Day Fourteen
Kubihineri, the head twisting throw. See below.
Match of The Day
Komusubi 1 East Takayasu versus Maegashira 8 West Tobizaru
Takayasu swallowed up Tobizaru nearly from the beginning. Takayasu kept his feet wide, while grabbing a deep and powerful hold on Tobizaru's mawashi. In fact, Tobizaru had his left arm so awkwardly up in the air that his only approach was to try and grab Takayasu's head. This led to the kind of stalemate that usually leads to a Takayasu win. Yet once again Takayasu couldn't finish off his opponent. After a long time, and being forced to the edge, Tobizaru's only choice was to try a twisting throw while holding Takayasu's head. Somehow it worked, although a mono-ii was needed to make sure Takayasu's knee was down before Tobizaru stepped out.
And then it all came down to Terunofuji versus Takakeisho. Day Fifteen is relatively simple. Terunofuji is sitting on 11 wins, and if he beats Takakeisho, then he wins the Emperor's Cup. If Takakeisho wins, then those two will be in a three-way playoff. The third rikishi in that playoff will be either Takayasu or Aoiyama. They both have 10 wins, and they face each other on Day 15.
Takayasu's loss was the big moment of the day, setting up the above scenario. Certainly, a former Ozeki now ranked at Komusubi who was leading most of the basho should beat a Maegashira 8. Yet Takayasu also has never looked 100% in March. He has not been able to put away opponents. He has gotten to have a chance at his first yusho through veteran guile, strategy, and a renewed stamina. Interestingly, Aoiyama and Takayasu have faced each other 22 times previously and split the matchups evenly.
Of course, it makes no difference what happens between Takayasu and Aoiyama if Terunofuji wins. He beat Takakeisho on Day 15 in November, but then lost the subsequent playoff. They are a clash of styles, yet also both powerful rikishi who can overwhelm opponents. It's all about whether Terunofuji can get a belt grip. If so, he will likely win and grab his 3rd career yusho.
Terunofuji has already surpassed the probable qualifications for an Ozeki promotion, returning him to the rank after three-and-a-half years and an epic comeback from injury. If he loses to Takakeisho and loses the playoff, he will still have 35 wins over the last three basho, with three straight Jun-Yusho. More strikingly, he will have racked up 56 wins over 5 basho, with 1 Yusho and 3 Jun-Yusho. Those 5 basho are the total of his return to Makuuchi. He already has a remarkable story without a yusho, but the championship would take it over the top.
The yusho isn't the only intrigue on Day Fifteen. Kotoshoho might just be able to save his Makuuchi slot if he beats Juryo visitor Tokushoryu. Three matches feature clashes of 7-7 rikishi, Akiseyama vs. Daieisho, Ichinojo vs. Mitakeumi, and Tochinoshin vs. Takanosho. Daieisho, Mitakeumi, and Takanosho all are fighting to keep their Sanyaku ranks. Similarly, Shodai will be working to keep away from kadoban status on Day Fifteen. Hokutofuji and Wakatakakage are likely battling not just for a 10th win, but the likeliest Sanyaku promotion in May.
Still, the excitement will come in the last few matches, and maybe after.