July 2021 Grand Sumo Tournament: Days 10-12 Reflection.

Basho leaders get set for decisive battle, Maegashira double digit finishes inbound!

The July Basho is set to offer a dramatic ending, as the two tournament forerunners,
Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Terunofuji, get ready to battle it out for the Emperor’s Cup. The
illustrious duo enter Day 13 with perfect 12:0 winning records.

Reaching Day 13 without even so much as a blemish, Yokozuna Hakuho looks ready not only to smash his competition objective (completing a full basho, something he hasn’t done since March last year), but also passing yet another milestone in claiming his 45th Makuuchi division title. Over the last 12 days, fans have witnessed the overwhelming skill and prestige of Hakuho; from comfortable and quick victories, to slower, more patient bouts, Sumo’s most decorated wrestler has been in breath-taking form! Hakuho will face Sekiwake Takayasu on Day 13 in what looks set to be a tough bout, however, Hakuho has the historical advantage over Takayasu with a 18:2 head-to-head winning record (19:2 if including Hakuho’s fusen-sho victory by default over Takayasu in July 2019), so one can reasonably presume that the Yokozuna will come out of the bout with his perfect record intact!

Ozeki Terunofuji has also been exceedingly impressive throughout the basho. Although fans have rather acclimatised to seeing Terunofuji hit double digit scores and adding titles to his belt in recent tournaments, the now Ozeki hasn’t achieved such a spotless start to a professional Sumo competition since he was in Juryo division, when he became Juryo division champion in January 2020. Fellow Ozeki Shodai is Terunofuji’s opponent on Day 13, with the former desperately searching for his kachi-koshi, sitting on just a 6:5 score. Clearly Shodai can’t let his guard up against an Ozeki, but considering Shodai’s form, it seems that Terunofuji’s main concern lies in competing with Yokozuna Hakuho on the final day of proceedings.

While Hakuho and Terunofuji have rightfully been in the Sumo headlines of late, two
Maegashira fighters, Kotonowaka (Maegashira #11) and Tamawashi (Maegashira #10), also
deserve some spotlight; while the duo cannot challenge the favourites for the yūshō, they
currently sit in joint second position, after having successfully ended Day 12 with
spectacular 9:3 scores.

Kotonowaka seems to be having the Basho of his Makuuchi career; much like Terunofuji,
Kotonowaka hasn’t achieved such an incredible run since he was in the Juryo division.
Despite the rather frustrating loss to Maegashira #9 Shimanoumi on Day 11 (which would
have seen Kotonowaka just two bouts behind Hakuho and Terunofuji), the Chiba-born
wrestler has looked in strong form, surpassing kachi-koshi in just 10 days, after beating
Makuuchi newbie, Ichiyamamoto. After a victory on Day 12 over Maegashira #11 Kaisei,
Kotonowaka will face Chiyoshoma on Day 13; if the former manages to claim yet another
positive result, he will find his second double digit finish since the start of the year!

As for Tamawashi, the Maegashira #10 fighter has already succeeded in claiming his first kachi-koshi since 2020’s July event. Indeed, it seems that Tamawashi could even surpass his 10:5 result from last year’s basho, being currently placed on a formidable 9:3 record. Tamawashi faces Maegashira #8 Takarafuji on Day 13, which should be a pulsating bout, with the latter just trailing behind with an 8:4 score line.

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