Yokozuna absent; Ozeki take centre stage once again!
Following the withdrawal of Yokozuna Hakuho – due to more recovery time needed after surgery on a prolonged knee injury – all eyes fall on the Ozeki ranked wrestlers who, after winning all four of their day 1 bouts in the 2021 May basho, are once again proving their worth as some of the finest fighters in the world of sumo. Beginning his campaign in style was the 2021 March champion, Terunofuji. Recently promoted back to Ozeki after six long years of tough recovery bouts, Terunofuji lived up to fans’ expectations after defeating the aggressive Maegashira #2 fighter, Meisei, with kimedashi (arm-barring force out) and thus securing a strong start to the event. Due to his stellar run of results in the three previous competitions (winning gino-sho twice and shukun-sho once – prizes for technique and outstanding performance, respectively), Terunofuji supporters will be hopeful for yet another piece of silverware this month. The Ozeki will face the Maegashira #1 rikishi, Hokutofuji on day 2.
Shodai’s successful start to the basho will provide a source of comfort to his fans. After having suffered a poor run in the March tournament (Shodai’s campaign ended with just 7:8), the Ozeki clearly needed to up his game heading into the May basho and now with his first victory of May under the belt, Shodai may just be on his way to a much needed, successful tournament. Shodai is set to wrestle with Maegashira #1 Wakatakakage on day 2.
Taking another victory for the Ozeki rank on day 1, was Asanoyama. The Ozeki claimed his first win of the basho by defeating the January champion, Komusubi Daieisho, with an okuridashi (rear push out) technique. Asanoyama will compete against Meisei on day 2, the former will look to mirror Terunofuji’s successful performance from day 1 and overcome the Maegashira #2 rikishi. A win for Asanoyama will dispel his current ‘curse’ of failing to win two consecutive matches on the first two days of any previous basho, which has been the case since July 2020.
The final Ozeki to finish day 1 – also with a perfect record – was the determined Takakeisho. Takakeisho – two-time Makuuchi division champion – dismantled the formidable Wakatakakage with his trademark oshidashi (frontal push out) technique. While Takakeisho’s stint in the March competition ended with a reasonable 10:5 winning record, Takakeisho will certainly be looking to set his sights on improving his performance this time out, so as to remain in the top flight fight for the yusho. However, with all of the other Ozeki rikishi setting off to good starts in May, the yusho looks set to be in hot contention come the final stages of the basho!
Sekiwake Takayasu Renews His Conviction for May
Sekiwake Takayasu also looked in form on day 1. Although his bitter end to the March basho will still be fresh in the minds of his supporters, Takayasu might just be back at his best with an opening victory against the competitive Maegashira #2, Tobizaru – Takayasu won by tsukidashi (frontal thrust out). Whether Takayasu will be able to replicate his outstanding 9-win streak from the March competition remains to be seen, however, the Sekiwake fighter will face Maegashira #3 Chiyonokuni on day 2. Hopes are high, then for Takayasu and his fans, as he looks to extend his spotless win record (and remain within reach of the Ozeki rikishi) through to the the second day of the May basho and beyond.
We look forward to seeing how this exciting May basho pans out and will bring you updates every fifth of the way through. Until day 3, enjoy!