Hatsu 2021 Day Twelve
Match of the Day
Maegashira 14 West Midorifuji versus Maegashira 10 West Aoiyama
Styles make matchups, and there may be no bigger contrast than Aoiyama and Midorifuji. Aoiyama is a huge, keeps his feet, and relentlessly thrusts at his opponent. Midorifuji is smaller, keeps moving, and seeks to grapple his opponents. They each had their kind of match, with multiple phases between oshi and yotsu. The win came for Midorifuji with, yes, a katasukashi. Yet he did the underarm swing down with his right arm this time.
Okinoumi over Takayasu
Terunofuji over Asanoyama
As mentioned above, Midorifuji once again pulled the Katasukashi. Also, Hoshoryu pulled out a henka for the second day in a row. Space should also be given to Tokushoryu's attempted ipponzeoi, the one armed shoulder throw. It was a bold move, but it gave Kotoshoho his first win after it failed.
The yusho race is still a two man race at the top, but now it is pretty much only a two man race. Terunofuji's victory over Asanoyama means no rikishi sits just one win back. The five man grouping at 8 wins isn't technically out of it, but with three days left, they need to win and need Daieisho and Shodai to lose. This didn't change on Day Twelve.
Day Twelve was really a day for the lower part of Makuuchi. 15 days is a short time frame, but lots of things can unfold over a basho. For Ichinojo and Kotonowaka, they can possibly get double-digit wins and shoot up the rankings for March. Both certainly look good enough to do it. Sadanoumi needs to win out to avoid Juryo, and Akua's current 3-9 might have already sealed a demotion. Any matches for those four should be required viewing for the next three days.
Matches will also be required viewing just for entertainment value in the lower ranks. Midorifuji has four katasukashi wins in his seven victories. This has made him appointment viewing, especially as he seems to always want to yank an opponent sideways in a sport that favors forward motion. Also entertaining of late is Hoshoryu. The young Mongolian started with five losses, and looked like he was crashing back into Juryo. Instead, he's won his last seven, with the last two coming from exaggerated henkas. Both henkas saw him immediately follow up with an attack, which means Hoshoryu has a good strategic mind.
The leaders are fun to watch two. Daieisho's tsuppari has been sharpened into a lethal weapon. Any rikishi facing Daieisho now has to be braced to deal with his brand of sumo. Shodai always had an ability to counter anyone else's moves. His last year saw a jump in form, and rank, which largely resulted from him taking a tiny bit of initiative. Shodai is still the most likely rikishi to have something fun happen at the edge of the dohyo.
Just three days, but plenty can happen in just three days.