- Fantasy Basho
Kyushu 2021 Day Four
Kimedashi. Terunofuji never got a solid mawashi grip on Onosho, so he just wrapped his arms around Onosho's thrusting attack. That led to the arm-bar force out.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #5 East Takayasu versus Maegashira #6 East Shimanoumi
Unsurprisingly, a Takayasu match was the longest match of the day, but this one was extremely long. The match began with Shimanoumi keeping up the energy, seeming to avoid the long hug stalemate Takayasu loves. Takayasu managed to fend him off, grab the sagari, and almost undo Shimanoumi's mawashi. Then they had the long stalemate, with an orange mawashi draped on the ground between them. Eventually, Takayasu won with an easy throw as he tired out Shimanoumi.
Terunofuji, Shodai, Takakeisho, and Mitakeumi all kept pace, making the top 4 ranked rikishi 15-1 through 4 days. This is how sumo is meant to work. A strict promotion and relegation system for each rank should mean the very best are always at the top. The scheduling, where the top ranked wrestlers will not face each other until the second week, means the best rikishi should rack up wins early. The Yokozuna, the two Ozeki, and the top Sekiwake are fighting worthy of that rank.
That may be how sumo is meant to work, but it is not how sumo was working recently. In September, no one looked able to threaten Terunofuji's preeminence. July was different only because there were two Yokozuna, and both Hakuho and Terunofuji were head and shoulders above the rest. The Banzuke coming into this basho made it look like the now sole Yokozuna would reign supreme.
Terunofuji is still doing quite well, but he's now got rivals making sure he cannot falter even once without threatening his yusho chances. The last few matches of each day are now worth watching because they will impact the leaderboard. Even Meisei and Ichinojo have done well enough at 2-2 so far that if they have a run they can make noise. The only Sanyaku man falling apart is shin-Komusubi Kiribayama, who is proving that it is always terrible to be a Komusubi.
A strong Sanyaku does not mean there is a lack of action elsewhere. Takayasu feels strangely committed to be on the dohyo for a record amount of time this basho. Wrestlers like Chiyoshoma, Ura, Terutsuyoshi, and Ishiura will guarantee at least one match has an odd maneuver. Hokutofuji and Abi are beating up on the rikishi in the lower part of the banzuke. This basho has been exciting across the Banzuke for four days.
The strength at the top just emphasizes the interesting matches elsewhere. Everyone in Maegashira can do what they are doing, and the best men are waiting to fight at the end. This is Terunofuji's basho until he loses his spot on the yusho arasoi, but that time feels more likely to come.