Thus ends the 2021 Aki basho, what a tournament! We hope that you have enjoyed the last 15 days as much as Team Tachiai has. Solid sumo, and some truly amazing scores. I can’t even begin to imagine just how much churn there will be on the banzuke for November.
Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji, who wins his debut tournament as a Yokozuna, an elite group that have been able to do that, the last one being Kisenosato, who did so at a hideous cost. We hope that Terunofuji serves long and happily, and that his knees are able to give him a few more years on the dohyo.
No fewer than six rikishi finished with double digit wins, none of which were in the lower third of the banzuke, which is a smoking radioactive crater of double digit losses. Ten men went home with double digit losses, including 3 men with 11 losses from the bottom margin of the banzuke. That sad fog horn you hear in the distance? It’s the Juryo barge of the damned, captained by Tokushoryu, setting sail down the Sumida.s
Kaisei defeats Daiamami – This was a good match for Kaisei, he did not have to compensate for a lot of lateral movement, as Daiamami is also very much an East-West kind of fighter. He was able to dig in and take his time, working to get enough leverage, and quality hand placement, to overcome Daiamami’s defenses and walk him out. Kaisei finishes Aki at 6-9.
Shohozan defeats Tsurugisho – I think the late called matta was the right move, it was clear that the two were not really ready to fight when Shohozan launched. I am surprised that the gyoji did not pick up on that. The second round was about the same as the first. I like the amount of effort Tsurugisho put into trying anything is body could support to stave off the loss. Shohozan could not find a way to push or force Tsurugisho out, and gave into the temptation to toss him to the clay. Shohozan finishes with double digits wins, 10-5, in Juryo, and maybe he will make a triumphant return to the top division in November.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Darwin match time! As expected, both of them had he sumo dialed up to 11 today. It was a mad thrusting battle, with Chiyotairyu moving his arms side to side, but Yutakayama focusing center-mass. No need to guess which one was more effective. Chiyotairyu realized this too, and moved to go chest to chest with a right hand inside. Yutakayama responded in kind, but pivoted into a throw that put Chiyotairyu down. Make-koshi for Chiyotairyu, kachi-koshi for Yutakayama
Kotoeko defeats Aoiyama – The second Darwin match, Kotoeko took a lot of punishmen from Aoiyama applied directly to his face. Kotoeko, to his credit, absorbed the pounding and focused center-mass. It was slow to take effect, but once Aoiyama took that first step back, it was all Kotoeko. I am so very pleased that Kotoeko was able to reverse his losing streak, rally and finish September with a winning record. Aoiyama finishes make-koshi at 7-8.
Tobizaru defeats Chiyonoo – Not sure where Chiyonoo was today, but it was Tobizaru time after a matta stopped the action on the first launch. Tobizaru finishes 7-8, Chiyonoo at 4-11, and needs to go pack his bags for the Juryo barge.
Endo defeats Okinoumi – It came down to who could get superior hand placement first, and it was Endo. He always puts a lot his fortunes into that frontal grab at the tachiai, and today he was able to convert it against Okinoumi. I did like the pulling variant of the uwatenage he used today. Nice touch as there was no way he was going to get that going forward against Okinoumi. Endo finishes Aki 11-4, Okinoumi ends with a respectable 10-5.
Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi looked like he was attempting to channel Ura, and it fell to bits in an inglorious fashion. Kagayaki was very much “What the hell” as it unfolded, but too his credit he stayed into his attack plan, and crushed Terutsuyoshi to the clay. Kagayaki improves to 7-8.
Ura defeats Ichiyamamoto – Given Ichiyamamoto’s condition, there was only ever one way this one was going to end. Ichiyamamoto put up a reasonable defense to start against Ura’s probing attacks. But once the man in pink settled on a plan, it was high power delivered to center mass, and Ichiyamamoto did not have the lower body power to stop him. Ura improves to 7-8, Ichiyamamoto takes his hurt lower body home with a dismal 4-11, and a first class cabin on the Juryo barge.
Takarafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Another Darwin match. Tochinoshin allowed Takarafuji to set his feet, and get his lower body in position. At that point, there were few options that the big Georgian had, short of a throw, to overcome Takarafuji. He worked to get his hands set up for such a move, but all the while Takarafuji was moving him back. Takarafuji kachi-koshi at 8-7, Tochinoshin make-koshi at 7-8.
Chiyoshoma defeats Tokushoryu – Holy crap, it’s not like Team Tachiai did not spell out that the henka was coming some 12 hours prior. We could see it all way way from the United States! Ah well, better luck in November, Tokushoryu. We will always have your charming yusho speech. Chiyoshoma improves to 5-10.
Tamawashi defeats Onosho – Onosho’s opening volley did not connect with enough power to put Tamawashi on defense, and Tamawashi responded with a rapid fire combo. Onosho never recovered and ends Aki with a loss, missing out on a chance at a special prize. Tamawashi improves to 6-9.
Wakatakakage defeats Chiyonokuni – Wakatakakage caught Chiyonokuni off balance moments after the tachiai, and a single blow on the upper back brought him down. Both end Aki with matching 9-6 scores. Great run for Wakatakakage, and I am looking forward to him near the top of the rank and file in November.
Kiribayama defeats Chiyomaru – The one fact to know here, Kiribayama lifted Chiyomaru out for the win. I think everyone, including Kiribayama, were a bit surprised. Check out the smile as he awaits the kensho for his win. Kiribayama improves to 9-6 to end Aki.
Shimanoumi defeats Takanosho – Final Darwin match, and it was great to see Shimanoumi finish out with a kachi-koshi on a 4 match winning run. He’s been struggling since his 11-4 last November, and we saw a bit of that old fire today. Shimanoumi finishes 8-7 and is kachi-koshi, Takanosho make-koshi at 7-8.
Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – I guess I would say – where the hell did that come from, Hidenoumi? That was a high quality move against a pretty tough opponent, ranked 8 slots above you on the banzuke. The twist down was a thing of beauty, and I wish he would be able to use this kind of sumo every day. Hidenoumi improves to 7-8, while Hoshoryu drops to 5-10 as a final score for Aki.
Daieisho defeats Ichinojo – Daieisho caps a 10-5 score at Aki with outstanding performance special prize. He found center-mass on Ichinojo (its about the same size as the broad side of a barn), and unloaded full force into the big man’s chest. I counted 4 steps to send him over the bales, and score his concluding win.
Meisei defeats Myogiryu – The yusho decider, Meisei gets his 8th win and knocks Myogiryu out of contention for the cup with a lightning fast katasukashi. Meisei finishes Aki at 8-7, and Myogiryu will have to settle for an awesome 11-4 and the gino-sho special prize. Nice work sir!
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho went for an immediate pull into Mitakeumi’s second step. A disastrous mistake and the Ozeki exited in a hurry. 8-7 is kind of a crummy score for an Ozeki, but given that I think Takakeisho is still hurt, I don’t fault him for not putting up too tough of a fight. Survive and improve for November. Mitakeumi finishes with 9-6.
Terunofuji defeats Shodai – Terunofuji stepped on the dohyo with the yusho secure, but he still had some sumo to share with Shodai. The Yokozuna exploited Shodai’s tachiai, and tucked in before the third step. Shodai looked like he wanted to change his plan, and you just can’t do that once Terunofuji has a hold of you. Shodai ends Aki with a 4 match losing streak, and looked like hell the whole way to the end. Terunofuji wins his 5th yusho with a solid 13-2.
This concludes Tachiai’s day-by-day coverage of the Aki Basho. Thank you dear readers for sharing the September tournament with us. We have had a lot of fun bringing you coverage of what has been a satisfying and thrilling basho.