Hatsu 2021 Day Nine
Match of the Day
Maegashira 3 East Kotoshoho versus Maegashira 3 West Onosho
On a day with some sloppy sumo, usually only for one half of a matchup, the Maegashira 3's at least had an interesting looking wild one. Kotoshoho has had the basho from hell so far, combining a loss of his fundamentals with poor luck. This match summed that up, as Onosho blasted him back and sent him spinning. Yet Kotoshoho then seemed to recover, until he basically over-recovered and found himself off the dohyo.
Takarafuji over Daieisho
Endo over Takakeisho
Takarafuji is close in rank to Daieisho, while Takakeisho has been performing in a way that an upset doesn't really count. Yet upsets still happen in lots of ways.
Terutsuyoshi might have sort of been trying to henka Hoshoryu. It half-worked, because Hoshoryu was off balance. On the other hand, he also moved Terutsuyoshi off of the dohyo while being off balance.
Daiesho lost. That is the big headline for Day Nine. Previously undefeated, Daieisho had been steamrolling through everyone. Against Takarafuji, he attempted to blast the veteran's neck with a series of nodowa. Takarafuji famously has no neck, and he withstood the blast appropriately. Daieisho is still in the lead, but with less of a cushion to work with.
Only Shodai is one-win behind, though. Meisei, Kiribayama, and Akiseyama all went from two losses to three losses on Day Nine. With wins by a clutch of 5 win rikishi, there is a group of 10 wrestlers who are two wins behind Daieisho. That includes wrestlers everywhere on the Banzuke, but notably has Asanoyama and Terunofuji in its midst. While those two have had moments of trouble, they are strong enough to make noise if Daieisho and Shodai slip.
The Hatsu basho could close along two different paths. Daieisho and Shodai can keep winning, and this is just a two man race. That's still exciting, but there are only two matches each day that actually matter. By contrast, either Daieisho or Shodai could slip up. It is more entertaining if Daieisho loses, simply because he is in the lead right now. Some of the pack of 10 will lose, but with that many rikishi at 6 wins means someone will stand out. The possibility of a multi-man run to the end is there, even if not guaranteed.
The Hatsu basho has been strange on every level. Whole stables went kyujo due to Coronavirus. The leaderboard feels upside down for the wrong reasons (Takakeisho's struggles, lack of Yokozuna, etc.) There is still that hope it will finish in a different, wild way that is fun and exciting.