2021 January Basho – Days 6-9: Review

Daieisho suffers first shocking defeat – Shodai is hot on his heels!

With the 2021 January Basho drawing nearer to its latter stages, all attention is on the leader of the conquest for the Juryo, Daieisho. 

After having marched his way through the first eight days of the event without a single loss, the Maegashira #1 wrestler, Daieisho, was in seemingly unbreakable form. Day 9, however, brought new challenges for the yūshō hopeful marking his first defeat in the tournament, losing out to the lower-ranked Takarafuji (Maegashira #2). Despite the unfortunate upset, Daieisho’s 8-1 win record still appears tough for any of his fellow competitors to overcome. That being said, the loss will certainly add unwanted pressure on the Maegashira #1 wrestler, which will make life harder for him as he pursues the first championship of 2021.  

After suffering only one defeat as of the end of play on Day 9, Daieisho is coming under increasing pressure from rikishi who got off to a slow start in January but have since rekindled their strength: specifically, Ozeki Shodai.

After an early withdrawal from the November Basho due to a left ankle injury, questions were raised as to whether Shodai would recover in time to participate in the 2021 event. However, the newly promoted Ozeki wrestler looks to be back in good physical shape with no signs of pain, as he managed to secure a 7-2 win-to-loss record before heading into Day 10 of the January Sumo Tournament. On the other hand though, 29-year-old Shodai will have his work cut-out for him if he is to successfully challenge Daieisho for the yūshō; having suffered two surprising defeats to Mitakeumi and top-dog Daieisho respectively, it’s difficult to say whether Shodai’s form is consistent enough to compete for the January title.

Trailing just behind his fellow Ozeki competitor is none other than the yorikiri specialist from Toyama, Asanoyama, who currently boasts a formidable 6:3 win record. Despite his slow start to the tournament, 26-year-old Asanoyama picked up the pace with three consecutive strong wins – one of which was against the fearless Komusubi ranked wrestler, Takayasu – showing that he could just be capable of competing against Daieisho and Shodai for the title. We will have to wait and see how he performs over the course of the next few days! 

Asanoyama is not alone in playing catch-up to the two leaders of the January Basho; he is joined by 9 other fighters who all find themselves tied on a 6-3 record after nine days of play. Of particular note in the group, is the Mongolian competitor: Terunofuji.

With spectacular performances in the Sumo events that took place in 2020, Terunofuji has proved time and time again just how deserving he is of his Sekiwake title. However, tomorrow will be a major test for Terunofuji and his bid for the yūshō, as he is matched up against neighbouring Sekiwake ranked wrestler, Takanosho – a bout that avid Sumo fans will be watching with keen interest. If Terunofuji can defeat Takanosho, he will become yet another new threat for the title, so make sure to keep an eye out for the Mongolian born competitor!

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