Hatsu 2021 Day Ten
Match of the Day
Maegashira 5 East Endo versus Ozeki 1 West Shodai
Both Shodai and Endo have the ability to turn a match around, and they both kept doing it. Endo's multifaceted skills allows him to surprise almost any opponent. Shodai can handle most anything. That meant they kept twirling around in a series of attempted grips. At the end, Shodai was able to avoid Endo's last ditch throw, although it required a Mono-ii to sort it out.
Azumaryu over Akiseyama
The Juryo guy who has 2 wins in his first 9 pops up to face a wrestler at 6-3? Advantage the Juryo visitor, apparently.
Hoshoryu is asserting himself as the master of throws, and his sotogake against Kotonowaka was a wonderful example.
The identity of the top two in the yusho race is the same and they are still one win apart. However, the tier below them got sorted out a little more. Essentially, with five days left, odds are just five rikishi have a shot: Daieisho, Shodai, Asanoyama, Meisei, and Ichinojo. Anyone else needs Daieisho to lose three times, at least, and have similar carnage above them.
The only matchups among that quintet which have already happened are Daieisho versus Shodai and Daieisho versus Asanoyama. Since Daieisho won both, he's sitting pretty. But every other matchup will probably occur if everyone keeps winning. With Takakeisho's kyujo finally happening on Day Ten, Shodai versus Asanoyama is your likely musubi no ichiban on Day Fifteen. The fun result would be the winner of that is lined up for a playoff with Daieisho, but that's putting the cart well before the horse.
Ichinojo has to be considered for a moment. The Mongolian giant hasn't looked like the old unstoppable force he once was, but he's been effective. On Day Ten, he did his withstand the tachiai and just hold on maneuver against Midorifuji. It resulted in a plain yorikiri after a long match, but it's an Ichinojo special. Don't forget that this is a rikishi who has two jun-yusho to his name and extensive Sanyaku experience. In this barebones basho, his Maegashira 12 rank could be a serious under-ranking.
Also in a lower spot than his talent and performance, but to a lesser degree, is Meisei. Meisei had an arm injury a year ago as he was firmly establishing himself in upper Maegashira. After a demotion and a Juryo yusho, Meisei is winning once again. This is a talented 25 year old finding his groove. He shouldn't be discounted.
Yet there are three favorites. Daieisho, Shodai, and Asanoyama will likely get to face Ichinojo and Meisei before the basho is done. They also are higher ranked rikishi with better histories. Daieisho could be pushing through to a new level. Shodai and Asanoyama are Ozeki. Each man has five more matches to set them up for the finale.