Hatsu 2021 Day Five
Match of the Day
Komusubi 1 East Takayasu versus Maegashira 1 West Daieisho
This was Daieisho at his best, much as he's been all five days of Hatsu. Daieisho's arms were windmilling in a difficult tsuppari attack from the start. More interestingly, Takayasu gave nearly as good as he got. That just meant Daieisho had to up his attack for the victory.
Juryo 6 West Hidenoumi over Maegashira 14 West Midorifuji
THe day was relatively chalky, without the huge upsets at rank that have happened the first four days.
Tamawashi was credited with winning tsukiotoshi, but really he landed an extreme version of his signature nodowa on Onosho. Onosho's head was so forcefully pushed back, he went sideways and down. Probably not a trick others will copy.
It's time to talk about Daieisho. After five days, he sits atop the yusho race at 5-0 with Meisei and Akiseyama. More importantly, those wins came against the Ozeki and Komusubi. Presumably, his next two matches are against the Sekiwake. (Day Six will be against Terunofuji.) By the second week, his schedule will, in theory, get much easier.
This is why being a Maegashira 1 is usually awful. Even if you're in fine fighting form, you will take a tour of sanyaku during the first week and have a bad record. Hokutofuji is experiencing this right now. Usually, that leads to a second week which is uneven and unimpressive. Daieisho has instead set himself up for a chance to have his direct contenders for the yusho falters as he faces steadily lower ranked opponents.
Takakeisho has proved a pusher with less than average height can be a dominant force if he just keeps pushing and pushing. Takakeisho is also showing how steady and powerful a rikishi must be with such a style to succeed in this basho. (The Ozeki's first win over Kotoshoho doesn't change much, since Kotoshoho is having a terrible basho himself and it was an awkward slap-down.) Daieisho's yusho chances are directly related to his ability to keep up the intensity.
So far, so good. A Daieisho yusho would be somewhat surprising, since he is a 27 year old who has made it to Sanyaku but never really stuck there. Of course, January has become the month for suprising yusho. Last year, it was Tokushoryu from the last spot on the Banzuke. The year before, it was Tamawashi in a come from behind yusho at 34. In 2018, it was Tochinoshin as the first Maegashira to lift the Emperor's Cup in six years. Daieisho winning wouldn't be that big a shock.
Daieisho might be reaching a new level. Certainly, he is more consistent and focused. Sometimes that can be the major difference. The problem is that consistency and focus are also the things that can change quickest over the punishing 15 days of a basho. Right now, though, Daieisho is the favorite for the yusho if he keeps it up.