Fantasy Basho Haru 2021 Round 1
- 4:53AM March 14, 2021
- William Floyd
There were two henkas on the day in Makuuchi, but only one worked. Chiyoshoma's sidestep was read immediately by Kotoeko for a comical loss. Midorifuji, meanwhile, knew exactly where Hoshoryu was headed and got out of his way for the easiest tsukiotoshi win you will ever see. Some mention should also be made to the isamiashi, inadvertent step out, that granted Okinoumi a win over Tamawashi. That ending was so confusing at the edge that the gyoji literally pointed to both sides of the ring.
Match of The Day
Komusubi 1 East Takayasu versus Maegashira 3 East Meisei
Takayasu was doing his thing against Meisei, withstanding every attack and deflecting what he could to extend the match. Although it took awhile, the match appeared to be all Takayasu's. Then, at the edge, Meisei turned the tables. He wrapped his left leg around Takayasu's right, pivoted, and threw the Komusubi over for a kakenage, or hooking inner thigh throw.
There was a tournament in January, but Day One of Haru served as a reminder that it was distinctly odd. A full slate of 21 matches in Makuuchi was nice to see again. So was the presence of Hakuho, as well as anyone whose shikona begins with Chiyo-. This tournament might be in the Kokugikan rather than Osaka, but it feels more like a real basho.
There is a surprising amount to fight for at Haru. It seems like everyone below Maegashira 10 is at a key point in their career and needs a good record. There are rising stars like Kotonowaka, Hoshoryu, Midorifuji, and Kotoshoho trying to get further up the Banzuke. The Sanyaku is as strong as it's been in a long time. On Day One, every match seemed to have meaning.
Also, the sumo itself was pretty good. As mentioned before, there were two henkas with two different outcomes. There were also a number of well executed and interesting throws. Okinoumi and Tamawashi had an interesting ending to their match, while Takayasu and Meisei kicked off the Sanyaku slate with a barnburner. Then it just built. Takanosho and Wakatakakage required a torinaoshi. Hokutofuji gave Terunofuji his all, and Terunofuji absorbed it and redirected it as he is wont to do.
The three Ozeki and one remaining Yokozuna will naturally have all eyes on them. They all had intriguing starts. Takakeisho wasn't his overwhelming force of nature self, but he definitely had more power against Onosho than he did last basho. That's one of eight wins he'll need to keep his rank. Asanoyama rather easily and simply dispatched Takarafuji. Shodai, though, struggled to hold off a resurgent Mitakeumi and notched the one loss among the Ozeki.
Then there is Hakuho. He is the best to ever do it, and an imposing presence on the dohyo still at 36. Still, he hasn't been seen on the dohyo since July, and his opening day opponent was the guy who most recently won the Emperor's Cup. Daieisho came at Hakuho with his usual thrusting attack, so Hakuho decided to just tackle him over the edge. It wasn't ideal sumo or the easiest win, but if Hakuho fights like this for fifteen days we're in for a treat.