Hatsu 2021 Day Six
Match of the Day
Maegashira 1 East Hokutofuji versus Maegashira 3 East Kotoshoho
Kotoshoho looked like he might get his first win. He got into a belt battle against the pusher-thruster Hokutofuji. He began moving Hokutofuji around the dohyo. Kotoshoho even managed to throw Hokutofuji over. The gyoji pointed to Kotoshoho.
Then they called for a mono-ii, reviewed the footage, and the shimpan said Hokutofuji had kept himself off the clay outside the dohyo a second longer. Tough for Kotoshoho. Great for the viewer.
Daieisho over Terunofuji
Tamawashi over Takanosho
Onosho over Takakeisho
Takarafuji over Asanoyama
Not a good day for pre-tournament favorites. (And while Daieisho winning isn't an upset anymore, really, he beat a Sekiwake who was looking like a force of late.)
Hoshoryu got on the board against Juryo visitor Nishikigi due to a sukuinage, the beltless arm throw. Strikingly, it was in the middle of the dohyo against a slightly bigger man. If he rallies towards a kachi-koshi, it will be with throws like this.
Takakeisho and Asanoyama lost. Again. Terunofuji and Takanosho lost, too. The Komusubi faced each other, but that meant the only Sanyaku wrestlers to win on Day Six were Shodai and Takayasu. That will turn a yusho race upside down.
Except this yusho race already was upside down. There was more attrition elsewhere on the banzuke, but Daieisho and Akiseyama remain unbeaten through six days. Meisei's loss to Okinoumi and Kotonowaka's victory over Ichinojo placed Meisei and Kotonowaka at 5 wins alongside Shodai.
Normally, an Ozeki who is 1 win behind is in the catbird seat, and controls his own destiny. Not so here. Daieisho handed Shodai his only loss. For Shodai to win the yusho, he needs a Daieisho loss, and preferably two. Daieisho also gets an easier schedule over the second week, as he will be done with Sanyaku after tomorrow. Shodai, by contrast, should theoretically finish with some combination of Terunofuji, Takanosho, Asanoyama, and Takakeisho.
Of course, the other Ozeki look terrible, while Terunofuji and Takanosho have had clear moments of vulnerability. Any of the four could always go out injured at any point, although Takakeisho and Asanoyama just look off rather than particularly injured. Shodai, at the very least, has been fighting well, which is actually worth pointing out for a Sanyaku wrestler in this Hatsu basho.
The lower end of the Banzuke has intrigue, too. Kotonowaka's one blemish is to undefeated Akiseyama on Day One. He handled the much bigger Ichinojo on Day Six, which is always impressive and doubly so when Ichinojo has been locked in. The lower half has faced each other so far, but that will change. How the schedulemakers decide to handle Akiseyama and Kotonowaka over the next few days will set up if they'll factor in the yusho race in the end.
Watch closely. This could get a whole lot more interesting.