- Fantasy Basho
Nagoya 2021 Day Nine
Chiyoshoma did technically win with a fairly common hakatakikomi, but it should be pointed out he beat Tamawashi by going for a flying henka that disrupted his countryman.
Match of The Day
Maegashira 3 West Tobizaru versus Maegashira 2 West Ichinojo
Tobizaru continued his streak of very awkward but interesting matches. On Day Nine, he actually sought to engage the much bigger Ichinojo. To be clear, he engaged him and then moved away to retry it. This made Ichinojo seem unsteady, which is usually good for his opponent. Here, it just made him charge into Tobizaru and send him flying.
The further we go with Hakuho and Terunofuji leading by two wins, the more we can rule out the chances of anyone else winning. Over the next 6 days, the current 3 loss group needs to win out while the leaders drop half their matches. And that would only produce a playoff opportunity. Kotonowaka and Ichiyamamoto have a better chance mathematically, but don't have any kind of pedigree where they could seriously challenge the leaders right now.
Not only is the yusho race limited, but the special prizes are starting to be narrowed. If Kotonowaka and Ichiyamamoto keep up this pace, then they are likely to get some sort of recognition. The Fighting Spirit and Outstanding Performance Prizes are built for these kind of bashos. Kotonowaka is 23 and seems to be taking his sumo to the next level. Ichiyamamoto is winning most of his matches in his Makuuchi debut. Hoshoryu might even have pipped the Technique Prize already with his range of throws. He just needs to collect 2 more wins and a kachi-koshi.
Nagoya has been a remarkably even basho, aside from Hakuho and Terunofuji dominating. There's a collection of rikishi who seem to be fading away at different speeds. Another group of rikishi are mid-career rikishi who need to reassess their sumo. This means they sometimes must face each other. That means the basho will see matchups of struggling rikishi. The logic of sumo is that one rikishi must win each match.
Then there's a group of rikishi who are entering their prime and figuring out what they need to do to stay in upper-Maegashira. This is the most exciting element of the basho right now. Meisei, Wakaktakakage, Takanosho, Daieisho, and Hoshoryu all could start a long Sanyaku run, but they are still working out getting there. They could beat anyone else on the Banzuke, but it won't be a guarantee.
Hakuho and Terunofuji are not likely to win their remaining matches until they square off. Predicting who might topple them is a fool's errand. Sumo can throw up a surprise at any moment, which is what makes the sport fascinating. The best part is the surprise itself is often unpredictable.