With the middle day of Aki 2021 now behind us, its a race to senshuraku, and the yusho. Starting with tonight’s preview, we will be tracking the yusho race as it unfolds. At the start of this process, Yokozuna Terunofuji seems completely unassailable. The only rikishi within striking distance is Maegashira 10W, Myogiryu. They have had 16 prior matches, and Myogiryu has won 4 of them, with the record being 1-3 in the most recent Terunofuji era. Their last match was a Myogiryu win, in May of this year.
Regardless of how the yusho race turns out, Terunofuji made his 8th win on the 8th day. An expected outcome for a Yokozuna. Terunofuji always had a big helping of raw talent on the dohyo, but he has refined that into being an absolutely overwhelming sumo power right now. I think after day 15, the biggest disappointment of Aki will be that we did not get to see the rematch between Hakuho and Terunofuji to end it all. As of right now, that match will be Terunofuji vs Shodai, which (it goes without saying) strongly favors Terunofuji.
Chiyomaru defeats Kaisei – Chiyomaru needed to get his attack to done quickly, before Kaisei could set up any defense. His pull attempt was expected, but he converted it to a pull/push attack on Kaisei’s chest and right arm which broke his balance and sent him tumbling to the clay. Chiyomaru improves to 5-3.
Tokushoryu defeats Kagayaki – Excellent work by Kagayaki in keeping Tokushoryu from closing in enough to make the match chest to chest for a good long while. But eventually Tokushoryu captures him, and the match ends shortly after that with Tokushoryu throwing Kagayaki out of the ring. Tokushoryu improves to 3-5.
Tsurugisho defeats Yutakayama – Tsurugisho absorbed Yutakayama’s thrusting attacks, unbalanced him, and thrust him to the claim. Yutakayama had a solid match plan, but got too far forward of his toes. Both end the day 4-4, and are good candidates for the funnel.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Tochinoshin – Ichiyamamoto kept the former Ozeki away from his belt, and that was the critical element of this match. Robbed of his primary offense and defensive weapon, Tochinoshin resorted to some improvised slapping attack that was really not effective. Ichiyamamoto improves to 3-5.
Chiyonokuni defeats Kotoeko – Chiyonokuni overpowered Kotoeko from the tachiai, and by the second thrusting wave, there was no recovery for Kotoeko. He went dashing back down the hanamichi with the yobidashi watching him leap past. Chiyonokuni improves to 6-2.
Myogiryu defeats Chiyonoo – Myogiryu had this won early until Chiyonoo rallied at the bales. Locked up chest to chest, Chiyonoo waited for Myogiryu to make his move. When it came, Myogiryu deftly lowered his hips, moved forward and picked up his 7th win. He remains the only rikishi within striking distance of Yokozuna Terunofuji with 7-1.
Okinoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is not effective in yotsu-zumo, so Okinoumi worked hard to bring them chest to chest. Once Chiyotairyu was in a secure hold, it was a matter of wearing him down, and them walking him across the ring. Okinoumi improves to 6-2.
Endo defeats Shimanoumi – I am happy to see Endo get into his sumo into the second act. He’s pretty far down the banzuke for a rikishi of his skill and power. He should be enjoying himself and taking white stars from everyone down here. Point to Shimanoumi for keeping Endo away from his mawashi, but Endo just converted to thrusting, got Shimanoumi turned to the side and ran Shimanoumi out from the rear. Endo improves to 6-2.
Aoiyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Aoiyama was wisely on guard against any attempt at ashitori from Terutsuyoshi, keeping the smaller man at arms length and hitting him repeatedly. This brought Aoiyama’s size difference into play, and really made Terutsuyoshi little more than ballast for Aoiyama to bat about. Aoiyama improves to 4-4.
Ura defeats Tobizaru – Given these two, there was zero chance it would be straight ahead sumo. The tachiai reminded me of two spiders warily approaching each other, with Tobizaru at least applying some cursory slaps to Ura’s shoulders. After continuing to probe, Ura attempted a pull, and switched to attack mode, quickly driving Tobizaru from the ring. But after he had Tobizaru out, he fell, and it look like he twisted his injured knee. He could walk after that, but it’s always a concern. Both end the day at 4-4.
Onosho defeats Hidenoumi – The match started with a matta-henka, but Konosuke called it back. Second attempt? Nope! The third attempt saw Hidenoumi’s match plans completely discarded, and Onosho applied maximum forward pressure. Hidenoumi was out 3 steps later, and Onosho improved to 6-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Takarafuji – Really crisp execution today by Wakatakakage, he did not give Takarafuji space or balance to take his important step back to plant his feet and set his defense. Instead, Wakatakakage kept him on his heels, and kept moving him back. A quick win for Wakatakakage, and both end the day 4-4.
Takanosho defeats Kiribayama – Takanosho put up a strong and solid defense against Kiribayama’s yotsu attack, and waited for his chance. It came a short time into the match when Kiribayama advanced, but broke contact. Suddenly open to thrust, Takanosho went to work. Three big hits later, Kiribayama was out. Takanosho improves to 4-4.
Chiyoshoma defeats Takayasu – There are days when a flying henka is just what is needed. And who better than Chiyoshoma to deliver the gymnastics. Smooth, fluid, he lept to the side and chucked Takayasu out and down by the mawashi knot. That’s how you do it! He even seems to have dropped gyoji Shotaro in the process somehow. A two-fer! That’s Chiyoshoma’s first win of Aki, though in my book it should count for at least 2.
Hoshoryu defeats Ichinojo – Hoshoryu took some solid head hits in the opening moments of the bout, as Ichinojo performed some sort of post-tonsillitis safety check. Satisfied that Hoshoryu’s was still firmly attached, he discovered that Hoshoryu had a solid right hand mawashi grip. Given Ichinojo’s size, it’s not really usable. The two end up throwing each other down at the same time. A monoii is convened, and a rematch is the verdict. The second match, Ichinojo comes out strong, and drives into offense immediately. He nearly has Hoshoryu beat, but Hoshoryu rallies and uses Ichinojo’s momentum to toss the giant out for a hard fought win. Hoshoryu improves to 2-6.
Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – Mitakeumi wins the Sekiwake derby for Aki 2021. The two trade volleys of combo thrusting attacks, and Mitakeumi peppered his with a pull at the end. It works a treat and Meisei hits the clay for his 5th loss. Mitakeumi improves to 6-2.
Kotonowaka defeats Shodai – In their first ever match, Kotonowaka surprises the Ozeki. Shodai tried his “wall of daikon” body attack that has worked well for him this September. But as Kotonowaka nears the tawara, he pivots and throws the Ozeki. Shodai seemed completely unprepared for such a last minute move, and took a trip down to visit tate gyoji Shikimori Inosuke. Kotonowaka improves to 3-5.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Solid opening attack from Takakeisho with an immediate transition to a pull down. Daieisho was in reactive mode the entire time, and had no offense to speak of today. Takakeisho improves to 4-4, and needs to win 4 of the last 7 matches to hold his rank.
Terunofuji defeats Tamawashi – Points to Tamawashi, who knew if he were to do anything, it would need to be at the tachiai, and would need to be quick. He got to the side, and applied a solid nodowa. He nearly had Terunofuji out, but the Yokozuna rallied at the bales, lowered his hips and took 3 steps to place Tamawashi gingerly across the tawara. That’s kachi-koshi for Terunofuji, and he remains undefeated at 8-0.