Its a rare day indeed when one of my “Always regrettable” predictions comes to pass. I had picked Terunofuji for the cup prior to the tournament, and he delivered. This punctuates his climb back to Ozeki in absolutely grand fashion, and probably marks a “top” for his sumo career. I am very happy for him, and hope he gets a chance to savor it with all of his heya-mates who, I think, really did everything they could to help him get to this day of days. There are plenty of fans across the sumo world who are looking for Terunofuji to campaign for the rope. It would be a fascinating development. But we know that during this March tournament, Terunofuji re-injured at least one knee, and has been getting daily medical treatment to keep himself going. As Herouth pointed out when hits all began back in Jonidan. It’s clear that Terunofuji’s fighting spirit would carry on long after his knees has given up. We hope he can heal up and return healthy and strong for May. But for today, it’s celebration at Isegahama, and rightfully so. I hope that they make an exception to the COVID restrictions, and Shunba can attend the party.
Tokushoryu defeats Kotoshoho – Well, Kotoshoho did manage to get one win by coming back form kyujo. Also, Tokushoryu minimized his make-koshi to 7-8. The match was traditional Tokushoryu, giving way following the tachiai, and dumping his opponent at the edge. I guess Kotoshoho did not practice that one. Go get healed up, Kotoshoho.
Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – This is possibly some of the best sumo of the entire basho. Hidenoumi stayed calm, absorbed everything Hoshoryu tried, and just wore him down. Both are kachi-koshi, so complimented to them for a solid tournament and some great sumo.
Tobizaru defeats Kaisei – Well, mini-henka from Tobizarum gets him enough leverage to get control of Kaisei’s big body. Tobizaru gets a bit of a spin going and rolls Kaisei to the clay to improved to 10-5. Tobizaru has a fair amount of potential. He just needs to be careful with the gimmick sumo, as it can rob you of the fundamentals.
Daiamami defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka worked hard to make this an oshi-zumo match, but Daiamami would not follow suit. Under a series of Kotonowaka thrusts and hits, Daiamami kept working that right hand inside. That Daiamami right hand was the key to the win, and he improves to 9-6 to finish Haru.
Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kagayaki wrapped Kotoeko early, and then kept his feet wide, bracketing Kotoeko’s stance. With Kagayaki in solid sumo form, Kotoeko did not have many options, and was forced out. Kagayaki improves to 6-9 to end Haru.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tamawashi – Terutsuyoshi hops to the side at the tachiai, and engages laterally and low. Tamawashi has few defensive options, and not nearly enough room on the dohyo to implement them. It was a rapid trip to the tawara, as Terutsuyoshi picks up his kachi-koshi win on the final day.
Midorifuji defeats Okinoumi – When Okinoumi is hurt, he really can’t do much with his sumo. Today it was Midorifuji to show us some really good sumo, and put Okinoumi for a win. The oshidashi lifts Midorifuji to a final score 5-10.
Myogiryu defeats Ryuden – I look at Ryuden, and just hope he can get healed up and come back strong in May. Myogiryu was absolutely solid today, and lost no ground to Ryuden in spite of Ryuden’s repeated attacks. Myogiryu improves to 7-8.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Another traditional Chiyotairyu bout, strong opening blast with the cannonball tachiai, into an immediate slap down. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-9.
Meisei defeats Tsurugisho – Surprisingly good mawashi battle, which netted Meisei the kanto-sho (fighting spirit). Once Meisei got him upright, Tsurugisho could not apply much pressure to stop Meisei’s slow advance to the bales. Meisei ends March 10-5.
Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – Wakatakakage’s hit and shift sent Hokutofuji most of the distance to the west side bales, and a quick body shove followed up to send Hokutofuji out. Wakatakakage gets the gino-sho (technique), thought I did not think of much of today’s technique. He finishes March 10-5.
Chiyoshoma defeats Onosho – Chiyoshoma did not get a Darwin match, even though he was eligible. Instead he got to fight a very poorly performing Onosho. As a long term sumo fan, I am not used to seeing this kind of sumo from Chiyoshoma. No tricks, no henka, just straight ahead sumo. With the win today he is kachi-koshi, and I am happy he could do it with good form.
Kiribayama defeats Takarafuji – I am certain that Takarafuji is delighted this basho has ended. He sometimes has real performance problems, and suffers double digit losses, such as this March. As the two were fighting, they became a tangle of arms and legs at the bales, and Takarafuji dropped backwards to the clay. Kimarite was reported as okurihikiotoshi, or the seldom seen “rear pull down”. Kiribayama improves to 7-8.
Daieisho defeats Akiseyama – The first Darwin match goes to Daieisho, who completes a pretty impressive recovery to kachi-koshi from a cold start of 1-5. Daieisho kachi-koshi, Akiseyama make-koshi.
Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Second Darwin match! Ichinojo goes soft as soon as Mitakeumi gets the advantage, and hands the Original Tadpole his 8th win for kachi-koshi.
Aoiyama defeats Takayasu – Takayasu finishes with a 1-4 record for act 3. He did, in essence, throw away the yusho. I have had some fans on Twitter and here on Tachiai suggest he just “choked”. I think we may come to find out that he re-injured either the elbow or the knee in the day 10 to 12 range. Aoiyama improves to 11-4, wins the kanto-sho (fighting spirit) prize, completes a very genki Haru.
Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Takanosho wins the final Darwin match, and all of the san’yaku who were “on the bubble” lock down their ranks on the final day. Tochinoshin got the better of the tachiai, but left his body wide open. Takanosho counter attacks straight at center-mass, and Tochinoshin is out 3 steps later. Takanosho improves to 8-7 and is kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin down to 7-8 and is make-koshi.
Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – The big match, it was Takakeisho who took the early advantage. Terunofuji looked to my eye to set up to take the first step back, in exchange for landing a hold anywhere on Takakeisho’s body. It was only successful for a moment, but it was enough to open Takakeisho’s body. Terunofuji attacked center mass and drove Takakeisho back, and on the second shove, out. Terunofuji finishes Haru 12-3, takes home the Emperor’s cup, wins the shukun-sho (outstanding performance) priz, and a promotion to Ozeki. Not sure what else they could award the man, but I am sure he deserved it. He finished the ultimate sumo comeback story strong, and was utterly victorious.
Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Oh, one last matter to conclude while Terunofuji has his hair re-built. It was Asanoyama’s job to send Shodai home kadoban, and he made it happen. Again we saw Asanoyama pass on 2 chances to dominate the match, as he was solely focused on getting his preferred grip. Once Asanoyama’s left hand was in place, he was in business. His finishing uwatenage sealed the deal for Shodai, and the tate-gyoji who took a fall. Asanoyama finishes Haru 10-5.
Thus ends our coverage of the Haru basho action. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing your time with us, reading our posts, and taking the time to comment. Team Tachiai does this for the love of the sport, and we appreciate you coming along with us for this March tournament.