Natsu 2021 Day Twelve
Fusen. Default. Asanoyama withdrew from the tournament for violating COVID rules and lying about it. Takayasu gets the free win, and by extension his kachi-koshi.
Match of The Day
Maegashira 5 East Hoshoryu versus Maegashira 7 East Tochinoshin
This was a match that looked very different in slow motion. On first viewing, Tochinoshin appeared to go sideways on Hoshoryu. After they reengaged, Tochinoshin forcefully grabbed Hoshoryu's belt and sent him crashing out. In replay, it appeared Hoshoryu's feet moved much more than Tochinoshin's at first. Then, the throw at the end was so forceful because Hoshoryu nearly got off a very good desperation throw. A great illustration that every little thing matters in sumo.
The story of the day is that Asanoyama admitted to visiting a hostess club twice after no rikishi were supposed to have contact with anyone outside of their heya due to COVID regulations. He admitted it only after a tabloid ran the story, even though he already made a firm denial to the Sumo Association. He will not participate in Natsu anymore, likely faces a severe punishment, and will no longer be an Ozeki very soon. The full reckoning will take place post-basho.
The effect on the current basho is pretty significant, too. Asanoyama had not been fighting well, but he was at least a talented Ozeki who could have been an intriguing opponent for either leader. Now, Takakeisho and Terunofuji will not see him, making their road to a final yusho-deciding clash easier. With just three more matches, each matchup matters. The matchups for Takakeisho and Terunofuji have changed.
Intriguingly, Day Thirteen might show some accleration in their strength of schedule. Takakeisho gets 9 win Endo, while Terunofuji gets 8 win Ichinojo. Terunofuji versus Ichinojo is the highlight match of the day. The two huge Mongolians have a lengthy history, which has involved some extraordinarily long matches. Their current physical states aren't conducive to a stamina test, but it should be a fun clash. Takakeisho and Endo are a fun stylistic clash, which should close out the day well.
Who stands out on the Day Thirteen Banzuke is Shodai. Shodai is a kadoban Ozeki, meaning he must get 8 wins to keep his rank after getting a losing record in March. On Day Twelve versus Takanosho, he won his 7th match and needs one more win. He hasn't looked great, but no one is better at winning with bad sumo than Shodai. On Day Thirteen, he gets 6-6 Takarafuji. Shodai should win, but it hasn't been that kind of basho for him.
He also won't play as big a role in the yusho race as it may have seemed yesterday. Only one of Terunofuji or Takakeisho will see Shodai, if those two face each other on Day Fifteen. Asanoyama being out means the four Ozeki cannot do a round robin on the final three days, evening out their schedules. Whoever faces Shodai on Day Fourteen has the tougher road. It also makes Shodai's road to 8 wins slightly easier. The schedule will be crucial on Day Fourteen.
And the entire schedule will be worth watching over the last three days. Plenty of rikishi are between 5 and 7 wins after 12 matches, meaning they all are fighting for a winning record. Promotion and demotion is key for any rikishi, and that still has yet to be determined across the Banzuke.