January 2021: Roundup

With the 2021 January Sumo Tournament now concluded, sumo fans can reminisce
over the dramatic twists and turns of the year’s first Sumo event that left fans full of awe
and admiration for the participating competitors.

The Basho commences

After the heart-rendering news that the two Yokozuna competitors – Hakuho and Kakuryu –
had withdrawn from the Basho due to ill health, all eyes fell on November’s Makuuchi
Division Champion, Takakeisho, to take the place as favourite for the Yusho at the January
event. However, success did not favour the East Ozeki wrestler; after 9 days of bouts, 24-year-old Takakeisho had little to show for it with an unsatisfactory 2:7 win record. By the tenth day of the event, Takakeisho had been withdrawn from the tournament with a
purported ankle injury which he had apparently picked up during bout with the lower ranked Hokotufuji (Maegashira #1).

There are some who may question Takakeisho’s abrupt exit from the Basho; with his bid for promotion to the highly acclaimed Yokozuna rank now in tatters, there appeared little reason for Takakeisho to continue competing in the tournament.

Despite Takakeisho’s disappointing departure from the January Sumo competition, fans
were not left despondent for long; there arose a new favourite for the January Yūshō: the
Maegashira #1 ranked wrestler, Daieisho.

Following recent promotion to the highest echelon of the Maegashira rank, Daieisho was
overflowing with confidence as he began his conquest for the title. After three successful
bouts versus the top Ozeki competitors of the event – Takakeisho, Asanoyama and Shodai –
27 -year-old Daieisho was looking in top form. As the days progressed, Daieisho would go on to sport an undisturbed 9:0 record, creating a gap between himself and his rivals that would prove unsurpassable towards the latter stages of the Basho.

Much to our excitement, Daieisho was not the only competitor whose sights were set on the Yūshō; in fact, trailing just behind him were three other top fighters – the strongest looking of this trio was none other than the fearless Ozeki wrestler, Shodai. Although suffering from an early upset versus Daieisho on the third day of the January Basho, Shodai was quick to recover his cool and managed to secure a fierce 7:2 win-to-loss ratio, which in turn would undoubtedly make him one of the biggest threats to Daieisho going into the closing stages of the tournament.

Joining Shodai’s ambitious resurgence was Asanoyama and Yūshō underdog,
Akiseyama (Maegashira #16) – who, by this point, was displaying a level of Sumo few
expected to witness from the Basho’s lowest ranked competitor. The two wrestlers
entered the tenth day of the competition with a competent 6:3 record under their belt.
However, it was only Asanoyama who was able to continue the charge alongside Shodai and Daieisho for the Yusho: sadly, Akiseyama fell short to a bitterly long spell of poor results that would remove him from the title race. With just three competitors left to face off for the Yusho, we enter the most exciting stage of the tournament: the final two days!

Closing stages

By this point, Asanoyama’s winning record (9:4) was simply too meagre (in comparision to his two rivals) for him to be declared a serious threat in the pursuit for first place at the
competition. As a result, one thing became abundantly clear: the eventual champion of the
2021 January Sumo tournament could only be Daieisho or Shodai.

Entering the arena on the penultimate day of the Basho, Daieisho and Shodai both found
themselves levelled with equally spectacular 11:2 win records. It seemed that whoever was
to become the first Makuuchi division champion of the year must take extreme care to win
their remaining bouts – even one loss could prove pivotal!

Alas it was Shodai – not Daieisho – who succumbed to the wrath of both his final
two opponents, Terunofuji and Asanoyama. As a result, Daieisho made history by claiming his first ever Makuuchi division champion title and concluded his successful run in the Basho with an incredible 13:2 score line.

After an incredible Sumo event, we can hardly wait for more! Thankfully enough, the next
tournament will be staged in less than 2 months from now, so we won’t have to wait long
until we get the privilege of watching the world’s best Sumo Wrestlers take centre stage
once again!

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