Natsu 2021 Day Five
Four different rikishi won by hikiotoshi, the hand pull down. That means Kotonowaka, Kagayaki, Hidenoumi, and Onosho all won despite moving backwards and desperately grabbing at their opponents. (Levels of desperation did vary.)
Match of The Day
Maegashira 4 West Myogiryu versus Maegashira 1 West Hokutofuji
Two winless rikishi squared off, and looked like winless rikishi. They both looked like they were certain there was a false start, which meant they half-grabbed each other at the tachiai and then actually engaged. It meant neither man had a good gameplan going. Hokutofuji got Myogiryu moving backwards, but began falling before Myogiryu went out. Despite a mono-ii, the gyoji's decision for Myogiryu stood. It wasn't pretty, but it was intriguing.
On Day Five, there is a sole leader in Terunofuji. That stands out, certainly, and can make it feel like this is his basho. Eight rikishi are right behind him, though, and he isn't necessarily running away with things. This thing is far from over, although you would rather be Terunofuji than anyone else.
This lead pack cluster is, in a way, much more the kind of basho that the Sumo Association wants compared to recent tournaments. The Sanyaku is performing very well so far, not unlike the Haru basho. The difference is that the Ozeki are struggling much less, and the biggest threats come from the named ranks. The most likely rikishi to overtake Terunofuji are Ozeki Takakeisho, Ozeki Shodai, Sekiwake Takayasu, and Komusubi Mitakeumi.
Let's consider the four Maegashira who have just one loss. The lowest ranked one, Tamawashi, is a former yusho winner, although that was a surprise win over two years ago. He is winning at a low rank after showing his 36 years last time out. Next up the Banzuke is Endo, who has been a fan favorite and solid performer for years, but he has never sniffed a yusho. Hidenoumi is at his highest rank ever, and has never looked like a contender. Onosho has been the most spectacularly up and down rikishi in Makuuchi over the last year or two.
If these four all keep winning, they will face some of the one-loss Sanyaku rikishi. And even if they don't have great chances to win it all, they could win one match against anyone. That is the fun of sumo, and the anything can happen in a single bout quality is heightened by this cluster of strong starts. Tamawashi and Endo can pull surprises, and Onosho is looking close to his former young Sanyaku rising star. (Although that has happened before, and it doesn't last, but he has a ton of ability.)
Then there is the fact that the Sanyaku are all performing well. No Ozeki had a model match, but they did all perform their sumo. Terunofuji threw aside Wakatakakage after they locked up initially. Shodai performed his defensive read and react sumo against Meisei. Takakeisho did his perfect rhythm slap down over Kiribayama. Asanoyama once again struggled more, but he got his left hand on Tobizaru's mawashi and won. They will face each other later, once we hit the final stretch drive. We're being set up well.