Natsu 2021 Day Fourteen
They officially credited Aoiyama's win as a tsukihiza, or knee push-down. It means Akua slipped and his knee went down without a clear move from Aoiyama.
Match of The Day
Maegashira 8 West Endo versus Ozeki 2 West Terunofuji
It was the match that stood out on the Torikumi before fighting began, and it delivered. Terunofuji could seal the yusho with a win, while Endo was fighting to keep his hopes alive. Endo got inside from the jumo, and began pushing Terunofuji back to the straw bales. Of course, he isn't that easy to beat, so Terunofuji turned it around. They attempted simultaneous throws, with Endo also getting a leg trip in. The two men went down nearly simultaneously, with the gyoji pointing towards Terunofuji. After a monoii, the match was declared for Endo.
If you were scripting it for narrative purposes, Day Fourteen did exactly as it should. Beginning at the top, Takakeisho and Endo had to win to stay in it. An Endo win would also hand Terunofuji a crucial second loss. The result needed in the Terunofuji-Endo match didn't only happen, but it was a match of the basho candidate. Takakeisho's victory over Shodai imemdiately after was less dramatic, he slapped his fellow Ozeki aside, but just as crucial to the yusho race. We have a chance at a three-way playoff on Day Fifteen.
The undercard had excitement, too. Enough rikishi were fighting to get a kachi-koshi or avoid a make-koshi that some wild bouts took place in lower Makuuchi. Both Ishiura and Tobizaru henka-ed, with Tobizaru living up to his Flying Monkey shikona. Kiribayama vs Chiyotairyu and Kotonowaka vs Myogiryu were both exciting matchups, featuring a veteran taking on a youngster. Yet Kiribayama got the upper hand in his match, while Myogiryu showed veteran know-how has its place.
It's a reminder everyone has something left to fight for until the end. Take Aoiyama and Akua. Aoiyama missed the first eight days and will definitely slide down the Banzuke. Akua guaranteed a make-koshi from the lowest Maegashira slot, so he's definitely going back to Juryo. Yet they collided in a desperate matchup, although Akua's generally poor form this tournament showed up again. Each win and each loss will affect next basho's ranking, and every rikishi knows that.
The final day should have plenty of matches along these lines. Just four rikishi still remaining, Onosho, Shimanoumi, Kotonowaka, and Chiyoshoma, are on 7-7. Shimanoumi and Chiyoshoma face each other on senshuraku. Yet Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Ichinojo, and Chiyotairyu will be fighting for a tenth win. And no one ever likes to lose.
All of that will be a warm-up for the last two matches. Endo and Shodai will see each other in the next to last match. That will be a wild match, even if not the prettiest, as both men have excellent recovery skills and a variety of tricks. Endo has been better this month, but Shodai has the career lead of 7-3 over 10 matches. Then we'll get to the main event. Takakeisho and Terunofuji have been the two best rikishi in sumo for the last few basho. They are in position to fight for it all as Ozeki on the final day. Terunofuji wins, and the Emperor's Cup is his. Takakeisho wins and it's playoff time. If Endo has toppled Shodai, that will be between three men. Get excited.