Haru 2021 Day Three
Fusensho. Or the default win. We had two of them, as Kotoshoho gave Ryuden the easy victory because of an ankle injury and Hakuho gave Onosho the freebie because of an ongoing knee problem. These are the first of Haru, and it's a reminder they count as a normal win in the standings.
Match of The Day
Ozeki 2 East Takakeisho versus Maegashira 2 West Wakatakakage
In true Takakeisho form, this was a clash of extremely hard thrusts. They did have the ability to disrupt Wakatakakage at first, but Wakatakakage reloaded to fight back. Dangerously and riskily, the Maegashira got in closer to Takakeisho's tsuppari. Miraculously, this strategem worked, as it made Takakeisho go backwards and out.
The story of the day is that, once again, this tournament will end without a Yokozuna finishing all fifteen bouts. This has becomes sumo's new normal now, but it probably won't last. Either both aging and injury prone Yokozuna will retire, although they haven't yet, or some other rikishi will elevate to Yokozuna status. The Banzuke may still be crowned with Yokozuna, but Ozeki will finish each day's Torikumi.
Going forward, the story of the basho may be an extremely strong and even group of rikishi in the group just below Yokozuna. Somehow, the only undefeated rikishi remaining after three days are Terunofuji, Ichinojo, and Myogiryu. Apparently, this Haru basho it is nice to be an extremely large Mongolian man and/or Myogiryu. Let's talk about Myogiryu first, as he is a 34 year old wrestler whose last extended stretch in Sanyaku was over five years ago. Myogiryu has looked solid and has a three match win streak.
By contrast, Terunofuji and Ichinojo have both looked extremely impressive. Terunofuji is simply swallowing up opponents and forcing them out or down. This is the Terunofuji that was threatening Yokozuna-dom pre-injury, and the one that is a serious contender for any yusho. Ichinojo, meanwhile, has rediscovered the grab the other guy and throw him down hard brand of sumo. This is how he fought when he got 14 wins at Haru 2 years ago. These are two rikishi who are going to be tough to beat the rest of the basho.
Yet don't rule out the rest of Sanyaku being able to do it. Daieisho is the only non-Yokozuna Sanyaku member to not be 2-1, and his 0-3 has been tough bouts to difficult opponents. Everybody else is 2-1. The three Ozeki are all former Yusho winners. Mitakeumi has won two Yusho in the past. Takayasu is a former Ozeki. Even Takanosho, who has the least impressive resume, has proven to be a consistent Sanyaku wrestler.
This should lead to a very interesting second week, but the first three days have already been intriguing. The fireworks have started in the warm up portion of the basho. Every win matters in any sumo tournament, but losses are mattering already. Buckle in.