Haru yusho winner Wakatakakage, the guy has been in the top division for a couple of years, and it was fairly clear he had potential since his first appearance at Maegashira 16 in November of 2019. He went kyujo on day 5 after starting with 4 consecutive wins, and dropped back to mid-Juryo. By July of 2020 he was back to stay, and proceeded to turn in a pair of double digit winning records in Nagoya and Aki. From there it was a fairly steady grind to the top, with his only make-koshi being his first posting to Komusubi last July with a 5-10.
His form in Osaka was excellent, he faced a variety of opponents that brought a catalog of sumo styles to the dohyo, and he bested most of them. His 12-3 yusho was a fairly low score to take the cup by a historical measure, likely due to a period of weakness in the Ozeki and an absent Yokozuna. His three losses were
- Kiribayama – Day 4 (He beat Mitakeumi the following day…)
- Mitakeumi – Day 13
- Shodai – Day 15
His day 15 loss to Shodai forced a playoff against Takayasu for the cup. He had previously faced Takayasu on day 11, which he won by yorikiri after overpowering the former Ozeki. In a barn burner of a match, it was Wakatakakagi that pulled out a last moment victory by hauling Takayasu out while they were both off balance and moments from stepping out. Hey, watch it with Jason
What an outstanding performance.
So the question we are all asking ourselves, was this Wakatakakage’s “Golden Basho”? Much like Goiedo in Aki 2017, where he tore the guts out of everyone including Harumafuji, he somehow managed to make his sumo align and won the cup. Or is this simply his new normal?
He has turned in double digit records before, but this is his first in the san’yaku. I would also point out he did not get to face the Yokozuna (through no fault of his own). He has faced Terunofuji 8 times in the top division, and lost them all.
Clearly this guy is headed for dominance in the coming years. He is 27 as of today, in the prime of his sumo years, and he’s leap ahead of just about everyone else to be a favorite for higher rank – soon. Yes, with that 12-3 yusho from Sekiwake, he’s started an Ozeki bid in fine fashion, but the route from here is tough. The promotion criteria is not simply numbers, but the quality of the wins, and the quality of the opponents. No one can argue that he was up to Ozeki form in March, but consistency is key in being considered for promotion. He knows he needs a double digit score in May and July to even have an argument for promotion, and don’t be surprised if he can’t put his first attempt over the finish line. Many rikishi fail their first time.