March 2021: Days 7-9

Image Rights: NHK
Takayasu marches ahead, Terunofuji and Chiyonokuni aim for Yusho contention!

Surging ahead of his fellow rikishi at the 2021 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, is Komusubi Takayasu. Despite suffering an initial setback against Maegashira #3 Meisei on Day 1, Takayasu managed to take victory in all of his subsequent bouts, leaving the rikishi with eight victories to one defeat after 9 days of Sumo. With wins over the prestige of Ozeki Asanoyama, as well as dismantling one of the current title contenders – Terunofuj – Takayasu appears to be in optimum form heading into the latter stages of the event. However, day 10 presents one of Takayasu’s hardest challenge since the beginning of the Basho: he will face the two-time Makuuchi division champion, Takakeisho, in an all-or nothing bout.

Although Takakeisho’s 2021 Spring campaign has highlighted some weaknesses in his Sumo of late – losing to lower-ranked competitors, such as Wakatakakage, Hotutofuji and Meisei – the Ozeki’s previous achievements in the Makuuchi division, not to mention his respectable 6:3 win record, hold him in good stead ahead of his fight against the current Basho leader, Takayasu. A victory for Takakeisho would give the Kadoban Ozeki (at risk of demotion from the rank of Ozeki, unless he gets more wins than losses in this tournament) a much needed confidence boost going into the next Basho in May.

Closing in to Takayasu with a formidable 7:2 win record, Terunofuji is looking to add yet another Makuuchi division title to his collection at this year’s Spring event. Having performed impeccably in the last two Sumo competitions – winning Gino-Sho (technique prizes) in both – as well as claiming victory at the 2020 July Basho, Terunofuji is increasingly becoming the ‘King of Consistency’ in the world of professional Sumo. However, with losses to both Takayasu and Onosho thus far in the event, in addition to his lack of yet facing an Ozeki competitor, it’s fair to say that Terunofuji’s toughest bouts are still yet to come in the 2021 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament. 

A further threat to Yūshō leader, Takayasu, is Chiyonokuni. The Maegashira #9 wrestler has fought spectacularly to take the only 7:2 record other than Terunofuji after the ninth day of proceedings. Overcoming Tobizaru on day 1, as well as Tamawashi on day 9, Chiyonokuni has already exceeded fans’ expectations by defying the odds and defeating two higher ranked opponents. Chiyonokuni will face a struggling Okinoumi on day 10, where he will have a chance to add another upset to his Spring campaign in addition to adding further pressure on Takayasu for the title race.

With just 6 days left in the second Basho of the year, the race for the Yūshō is becoming increasingly tense. Despite Takayasu’s winning advantage heading into the 10th day of Sumo fights, the Komusubi cannot afford to take his foot off the accelerator; Sekiwake Terunofuji and Maegashira #9 Chiyonokuni lack just one victory – and one loss – to level with the current Basho leader. So, get your popcorn at the ready, because the real fun is only just about to begin!

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