- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2021 Day One
Kotoeko beat Chiyoshoma with a perfectly executed kotenage (arm lock throw), despite going backwards most of the match. Terutsuyoshi won with an ashitori (leg pick), although that seemed to be because Kotonowaka was completely surprised by it.
Match of The Day
Maegashira 2 East Meisei versus Ozeki 2 West Terunofuji
It was Terunofuji's return to Ozeki, and Meisei wasn't the easiest matchup. He's been doing his own, slower climb up the Banzuke while Terunofuji reclaimed his Ozeki status. And then Meisei seemed to get the initial advantage with a double underarm attack. Terunofuji bottled him up and worked him out. It was an impressive display of force.
It was a very straight-ahead kind of Day One for the Natsu Basho. There were no big upsets. The only Sanyaku wrestler to lose was Daieisho, and he was a Komusubi facing an Ozeki. The entire top part of the Banzuke performed to plan. The closest things to an upset were that Meisei got a good grip on Terunofuji and Daieisho pushed Asanoyama back.
The sumo was generally very straight-ahead, too. Yorikiri and Oshidashi dominated the kimarite list. Largely, rikishi went right at each other, and the matches were over fairly quickly. Even an obvious exception, Terutsuyoshi baffling Kotonowaka with a leg pick, was a quick match with little struggle. This was a day as the Sumo Association almost would have planned it.
Oddly, that made it less exciting than some more unusual days. An upset produces a reaction, even when an Ozeki or Sekiwake is struggling. Exciting Kimarite pulled seemingly from nowhere build the energy in the day. There was none of that on Day One. The safest, most conservative guess about how the Natsu Basho would start would have been the most correct.
The notable aspect watching the sumo was that once again the Kokugikan was devoid of fans. The Coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo will make this a spectator-less tournament for at least the first three days. Fortunately, no one associated with the Sumo Association tested positive in the round of testing that took place in the preceding week.
The feeling was that the rikishi were there to take care of business, and largely they did. There weren't even many matta or confusing endings. They went out, did their sumo, and went back down the hallway. This might not be full of spectacular matches or the kind of results that create discussion, but it does set the table for more. If the Ozeki and Sekiwake just keep winning, then we'll have an epic battle royale over the final few days.
That's how sumo works, and is the logic of a basho. Eventually, the top rikishi can't avoid each other, and the hope is that the top rikishi are undefeated when they do collide. Even a straight-ahead day of sumo can get us closer to that moment.