Haru 2023 Winners & Losers

In the past, I’ve chanced my arm at a rundown of all of the 42 rikishi in the top division and their performance in the preceding tournament. The problem with doing these kinds of posts is that there are an awful of lot of guys whose performance doesn’t really bear writing about. If you’re a rikishi that was swirling around the Darwin Funnel™ going into the final weekend, then there are good chances I’m talking about you.

So instead, this time, I’m going to give my thoughts on who won and didn’t win in this basho. It will be controversial and some people will be angry! I can’t wait. We’ll save the best for last, and start with the…


Sumo – But for some final day drama, this was a forgettable makuuchi tournament. It will not be referenced among the all time greats. Sumo is the loser when its top rankers do not challenge. The way the sport is set up requires big performances from big names or other guys dethroning big names. The title race changed hands twice in 15 days. Yikes.

Takakeisho – As Andy remarked, he went from rope run to kadoban in a matter of days. There’s no way to spin that positively.

Daieisho – He will move up to Sekiwake and posted a very strong basho, but he lost the yusho in horrific fashion: two virtually identical losses on the final day to the same opponent, having only needed to win one. Then, in the second defeat, he was given the hope of redemption by a monoii, only for that hope to be cruelly dashed upon confirmation of the final result. Woof.

Takayasu – His confident, assured, 6-0 start raised the idea that this might finally be his basho, but an awful fade took the dream away. Again. A couple of extremely convincing wins towards the end signalled what could have been. 10-5 is in no way a bad result, but finishing 4-5 in yet another basho that was his for the taking was extremely disappointing. When people reference Takayasu being the bridesmaid, they often reference his mighty collection of Jun-Yusho scorelines – but there are just as many of these tournaments that don’t show up in any Sumo Reference box score and where Takayasu had it all to lose and then did just that. As fans, we cannot alter fate, so the best we can do is just cheer him on whole-heartedly and hope that one day it will change.

Hoshoryu – You might think I’m crazy putting a couple ten-win guys and a twelve-win guy in the loser category. To be fair, you could put 41 guys in the loser category and you’d have a case for all of them. That’s how sports works. This is another case of “what could have been?” I firmly agreed with Herouth’s tweet early in the basho that Hoshoryu needs to shelve his niramiai until he’s got a couple Emperor’s Cups in the bag. Staring down a former Ozeki in Takayasu as if he’s the top dog, only to get embarrassingly dropped on the chief shimpan – and a cocky approach to a Nishikigi match that ended in defeat – showed a rikishi who’s simply not ready for the top two ranks.

He could have won this yusho outright with a more professional approach to his sumo. It may seem like we’re being hard on a rikishi who once again displayed some fabulous sumo, but whatever, if anything, is between his ears continues to let him down. The best thing he can take from this basho is that he’ll probably be S1E and he’s potentially just put down the first basho of an ozeki run. But I’ll come right out and say it: he’s frittered away losses in the last two tournaments which would have had him at the rank already. While he’s still young, more top prospects are coming and he will not want to look back on this period as the golden opportunity that he missed.

Hokutofuji – He’s been the master of come-from-behind kachikoshi in the past, and looked to be well on his way with 7 straight wins after digging himself an 0-4 hole. Alas, he couldn’t find the one win in his last four days to get the job done, and continues a slide that will leave him outside the joi for an entire calendar year.

Wakatakakage – I left a stat in the comments here this week that since his sekiwake promotion, he’s been 15-20 over days 1-5 of tournaments, and 31-11 over days 6-11 (before the final, most difficult matches for a sekiwake). If he could start better when his schedule was lightest, he’d have already been an Ozeki. When you consistently start so poorly, the issue is either preparation or mental or both. This tournament proved to be one escape act too far, with an 0-5 hole proving too much to overcome. His 7-1 rescue attempt over days 6 to 13 looked to have him on solid ground until the injury that led to a late kyujo. One early win and this all would have been a non issue with kachikoshi in hand, but instead he’ll have to completely rebuild from komusubi next basho – if indeed he’s able to return (reports are that he may not).

Mitakeumi – His body hasn’t looked right since the injuries that zapped his chance at an Ozeki career upon his promotion to the rank. This tournament was ghastly to watch, a 4-11 that left me wondering at the end where the 4 wins could ever have come from.

Ryuden – I think this was just a basho too far on the meteoric comeback trail for one of sumo’s latest bad boys. It’s a credit to him that he mostly looked very genki en route to his 13 loss campaign. Every rikishi fights hurt, some more than others, but Ryuden’s performances were vastly superior to the results that he got (the eye test would credit him with a 6-9 or 5-10 at worst). But nevertheless, he will take a massive demotion after this basho. You have to call that what it is.


Sumo – Sumo can be the loser and also be the winner. You can have grey areas in life, deal with it! With makuuchi being the equivalent of pulling a green turban out of your fishing net when you were expecting a sea urchin, Juryo emerged as a thrilling division. We also can’t overlook the top division’s final day drama, a new yusho winner whose rank and profile is good for sumo, and the fact that much of lower san’yaku managed to hang around the title race in its final days.

Kiribayama – He’s now one of the most technically proficient top rankers. Some could be forgiven for looking at an 8-11-12 Ozeki promotion after this basho as reasonable given the current state of the sport (and some Tachiai commenters have already posed it as an idea), but with two fusen-sho in there he’s always going to need another strong tournament. You’d think 9 next time could be enough to make things interesting, but 10 should bank it.

Small guys doing crazy stuff – Ura, Midorifuji, and Enho all had highly entertaining tournaments, even if it did fizzle a bit from Midorifuji after his first loss. Credit to these guys and their weird sumo for giving us box office entertainment.

Juryo – it was always going to be a good tournament with 4 former makuuchi yusho winners in the division plus a catalogue of top prospects, but strong performances from big names made this one of the marquee collections of second division talent in ages.

Ichinojo – Everyone expected another Asanoyama yusho, but the big man blasted his way to a 14-1, making his Juryo return brief.

Ura – He was king of the dohyo in his native Osaka, and highly entertaining and mostly successful in the ring. He received rapturous applause and a thunderous reception in the EDION arena. His comeback has firmly sealed his place as successor to Ikioi as Osaka’s hometown hero.

Nishonoseki-beya/Kisenosato – The mid-basho announcement of the recruitment of generational talent Nakamura stole all the headlines (more on that later), but his squad also grabbed the makushita yusho through journeyman Ryuo, had a handful of other good prospect results (Kayo, Takahashi, Miyagi) and a successful return to sekitori level for Tomokaze.

Kakuryu-oyakata – Much has been made of the close attentions the former Yokozuna has paid Kiribayama since his retirement, having taken his compatriot under his wing after moving from Izutsu to Michinoku beya. Kiribayama’s rise has corresponded with this tutelage, and it bodes well for Kakuryu’s future as shisho – be that in his own heya someday or a Michinoku-beya (including Kiribayama) that he could yet inherit upon the incumbent’s retirement.

Miyagino-beya/Hakuho – the top 8 rankers in the stable all scored winning records, with Enho starting to close in on a comeback to the top division and Ochiai putting out a very solid and entertaining sekitori debut. Hokuseiho’s 9 wins on his top flight debut were overshadowed by Kinbozan’s debut, and it’s clear that his ponderous sumo may lead him to struggle for consistency as he approaches the joi for the first time. I’d probably revise his ceiling to be a more technical version of Ichinojo. But for now, all good.

Isegahama-beya – Midorifuji took the headlines, but Nishikifuji put up another very solid basho. Meanwhile, an initially hopeless looking Takarafuji found his patented defend-and-extend technique late on to clinch a kachi-koshi when the conversation on nakabi was about whether he could really be demoted to Juryo. Plus, the heya boasted winning records for top prospects Hayatefuji and Takerufuji. As for the Yokozuna? Even he’s a bit of a winner in absentia, as Takakeisho’s rope-run collapsing amid the removal of Wakatakakage from the Ozeki conversation (for the time being) means that Terunofuji’s seat isn’t especially hot in spite of his lengthy absence.

Wakamotoharu – His 11 win basho will see him overtake his brother as heyagashira. He has grown gradually into the top division and looked at points to have an outside shot at the Haru yusho. It will be curious to now see whether he or Wakatakakage can mount an ozeki run soonest – if he’s able to get the yusho in May, one would think Wakamotoharu could even grab it in his next basho.

Kinbozan – In a tournament that boasted three fairly high(ish) profile debutants in the top division, some props should be due to Kinbozan for his excellent performance. While it’s not unusual to see talents who have blown through Juryo come up and grab double digits in their first top division tournament, Kinbozan did it with a minimum of fuss and some excellent sumo. He (and Juryo’s Gonoyama) still looks like a rikishi that has a lot of physical development until he finds his final competitive physique, and it will be interesting to see how he takes on higher challenges in the division. With Hokuseiho impressing but also lumbering at times to victory, and Bushozan being mostly overmatched, we should put some credit on Kise-beya’s Kazakhstani special prize winner.

Who are we forgetting? Who are you angry about me calling a loser? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Haru Day 15 Highlights

We conclude a fine tournament in great style, with a playoff and a yusho for Sekiwake Kiribayama. He was able to beat Daieisho twice today to take him the cup, and score his second consecutive double digit tournament score. His finish in January was 11-4, and earned him the jun-yusho for Hatsu, along with the gino-sho special prize.

Naturally talk will begin to swirl about him being one good tournament away from a possible Ozeki promotion, already have 23 wins over two tournaments. One win each in the last two tournaments have been fusensho, so I am going guess that guidance from the kyokai will be for a strong performance in May.

Congratulations to Kiribayama on a fantastic tournament.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki lost this match when he allowed Tsurugisho to capture him. Yes, Kagayaki did have a double inside grip, but he could not muster enough power to do much against Tsurugisho’s ponderous bulk. Tsurugisho ends Osaka with a kachi-koshi at 8-7.

Kinbozan defeats Takanosho – Kinbozan had the inside hand position from the second step, and never really allowed Takanosho an opening to attack. There was a brief moment where Takanosho almost landed a good thrust, but it left him off balance, and Kinbozan finshed him with a sukuinage to finish Osaka 11-4 with a Kanto-sho special prize.

Azumaryu defeats Daishoho – A final win for Azumaryu, they went chest to chest at the tachiai, settling into a mutual right hand inside position. As they struggled for position, you could see Azumaryu working to set up the throw. He never quite completed rotation, but it was enough to get Daishoho stumbling, and he stepped out of the ring. Azumaryu finishes 4-11.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji able to finish in double digits at 10-5. He was able to set up a right hand inside grip on the second step, and quickly drove forward to send Kotoeko out.

Bushozan defeats Myogiryu – Bushozan had his hands inside and in contact with center mass by the second step. He immediately dialed up the forward pressure, and rammed Myogiryu out of the ring and into Oho’s lap. Both finish Osaka 5-10.

Hiradoumi defeats Oho – Oho is denied his kachi-koshi after Hiradoumi attacks well on the first step, and never lets up the pressure for a moment. Oho has no escape plan, and finds himself escorted from the ring in short order. Both finish the basho 7-8.

Mitoryu defeats Aoiyama – Mitoryu is able to end the tournament with a kachi-koshi thanks to his quick ring sense and reaction time. Both are pushing forward with all they can deliver, but Aoiyama momentarily loses traction. Mitoryu reacts with an immediate slap down to pick up his 8th win, and finishes Osaka 8-7.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura continues his unquestioned dominance of Chiyoshoma, extending his career record to 8-0. That could have been a matta as Chiyoshoma launched a tad early, but the fight was on. They battled for hand placement until Ura was able to duck inside and attack. He put power forward, and launched himself and Chiyoshoma out of the ring, taking out at least 3 cameramen. Both end the tournament 9-6.

Hokuseiho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had a brief window at the start of this match where he could have won, but Hokuseiho was able to capture Ichiyamamoto with his right hand, and shut down any further offense. They enter a battle hug, and that’s where things stay for a while, with just a few struggle sessions as Ichiyamamoto tries to improve his grip. But lets be honest, there is no way he’s moving Hokuseiho, he’s only making himself tired. After a long time, Hokuseiho decides he’s done. He powers forward and runs Ichiyamamoto out of the ring to finish 9-6.

Takarafuji defeats Hokutofuji – Our only Darwin match, and I am both surprised and delighted to announce that Takarafuji managed to squeeze out a kachi-koshi with an 8-7 finish. There were times last week where I worried he would be back in Juryo in May, but he’s going to stick around the top division for a while longer. Sadly the winning move may have injured Hokutofuji’s already injured right knee. Not what I was hoping he would take him from Osaka, to go with his 7-8 make-koshi.

Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Excellent work by Nishikigi to methodically work his hands to Kotoshoho’s mawashi. Once he had both hands attached, he was in charge and he attack with power, eventually brining Kotoshoho down with an uwatenage. Both end Osaka 6-9.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden finds only his second win of the tournament on the final day. Mitakeumi had a solid defense running until a missed move caused him to turn his back on Ryuden for just a moment, and Mitakeumi only recovered with his feet on the bales, but soon had to step out. Ryuden finishes 2-13.

Abi defeats Endo – Endo continues to struggle with Abi-zumo, again we saw him leave Abi to attack at will, and suffered a potent oshitaoshi as a result. Both end Osaka with 9-6.

Shodai defeats Midorifuji – One time yusho race leader Midorifuji suffers his 5th consecutive loss. He had a double inside grip against Shodai by the second step – it was both a blessing and a curse. Once Shodai had his heels on the bales, out came the “Wall of Daikon”, and Shodai bodily rammed forward. With his arms now locked around Shodai, Midorifuji had no escape. The resulting kimedashi pushed him into the front row, and both end the tournament 10-5.

Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Meisei snaps a 6 match losing streak with solid, aggressive sumo. Tamawashi really can’t generate or tolerate any forward pressure this month, and has been a fairly easy mark. Meisei pushes him out into a shimpan, and its a 5-10 finish for him.

Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – An even tachiai evolved into Tobizaru’s superior foot work setting up an uwatenage that sent Sadanoumi tumbling to the clay. Fast and effective, both end the tournament 6-9.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kotonowaka – An impressive 11-4 final score for Wakamotoharu, and it’s his third double digit finish in the past year. Consistency – check. A quick tachiai saw them lock up yotsu-zumo style to fight it out. The finishing move was a tumbling rescue utchari at the edge that saw Wakamotoharu land on his neck. A monoii was called, but the judge’s decision was affirmed, Wakamotoharu had won.

Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Ah, Hoshoryu. Never change you numb skull. Takayasu has stared down plates of food at his mother’s restaurant more potent than you. Delighted to see Takayasu in good form today. He took his time and dismantled Hoshoryu a piece at a time. He seldom fights like this any more, but this is the form that took him to Ozeki, coupled with almost inhuman endurance. Hoshoryu gives him a good fight, but by about 20 seconds in, it’s clear Takayasu has been building an uwatenage. The throw has to overcome Hoshoryu’s excellent mobility, but Takayasu has ample strength to make it stick. Both end the tournament 10-5.

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – The decider, and Kiribayama does what he needs to and takes out the yusho race leader to end the tournament with a 12-3 tie. Kiribayama played Daieisho perfectly, letting him get his mega-thrust train running, then stepping out of the way. Both win the technique prize, and we have a playoff for the yusho.

Yusho Playoff

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Kiribayama takes his first Emperor’s Cup, of what I hope will be several. Oddly enough it’s quite similar to their prior match, Daieisho is all power forward, Kiribayama absorbs two volleys then steps to the side. Kōnosuke calls it for Kiribayama, but they want a monoii to make sure. Clearly they are not up against a news break on NHK, so they have plenty of time. But of course Kōnosuke was right, and it’s time for Kiribayama to hoist a big fish.

Thank you, dear readers for sharing the 15 days of Haru with Team Tachiai. We hope you have enjoyed our daily coverage as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. We hope to see you all again during the Natsu basho in May, and please check back for commentary, and sumo news as it happens.

Haru Day 15 Preview

We have come to it, the final day of the Haru basho. It’s been a wild and crazy ride to this point, and there has been a lot of fantastic sumo to enjoy. My heart goes out to all the rikishi who suffered through injuries to keep fighting this March: Ryuden, Azumaryu, and Tamawashi. I suspect Bushozan and Ichiyamamoto too, with a dash of Meisei, and Mitakeumi. I don’t pretend to understand sumo culture, but I have to wonder about how the sport manages its talent.

We have an exciting end to this tournament, the last match on the last day will be the decider. Either Daieisho wins and takes home the cup, or Kiribayama wins, and forces a playoff. Given that Wakamotoharu lost his day 14 match, as did Midorifuji, there is no chance for a multi-way “brawl to end it all” that was a tantalizing hope 24 hours ago.

There is only a single Darwin match, which is kind of a let down, but hey, can’t have ice cream for supper every day, or you end up too much like Ichinojo. On to the bouts.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Kagayaki (5-9) vs Tsurugisho (7-7) – Tsurugisho needs to win to reach kachi-koshi. He will need to best already make-koshi Kagayaki, who holds a 4-2 career lead. There prior match was a year ago on Osaka day 6, and that went to Tsurugisho by yorikiri.

Kinbozan (10-4) vs Takanosho (8-6) – First time match between these two kachi-koshi rikishi. I am happy that Takanosho has his 8, but I would love to see him elevate his score. That’s going to be tough against Kinbozan, who could finish Haru with 11 wins.

Azumaryu (3-11) vs Daishoho (8-6) – I don’t see this one as a “donor” match at all. It’s just that Azumaryu has to fight someone, and Daishoho got the draw. He has a 7-4 career advantage, and he won their prior bout on day 7 of Nagoya 2022.

Kotoeko (8-6) vs Nishikifuji (9-5) – Nishikifuji suffered a mid-basho drought, where he went 1-5, before he resumed winning style, winning his last 3 in a row. He’s only fought Kotoeko once before, on day 1 of Aki 2022. He won by hatakikomi. Both are kachi-koshi.

Myogiryu (5-9) vs Bushozan (4-10) – Both are make-koshi in this first ever match between them. Both have deep make-koshi records, and I think Bushozan is likely to be on the Juryo barge tomorrow night.

Oho (7-7) vs Hiradoumi (6-8) – Well, well, well. Look who it is, our Oho the HoHo, dumpling supreme for March. He decides make-koshi or kachi-koshi with this final match against already make-koshi Hiradoumi. I imagine Hiradoumi may have some frustrations to work out, given he fought pretty well in Osaka, but still is going home with a losing record. He holds a 2-1 career lead over Oho.

Aoiyama (6-8) vs Mitoryu (7-7) – Repeating the pattern above, its Mitoryu with a make or break fight against already make-koshi Aoiyama. I think Aoiyama did pretty well given that his sumo has been hampered by what is probably an injury.

Chiyoshoma (9-5) vs Ura (8-6) – I am happy that both of these guys are kachi-koshi, and can just crank it up and brawl for their final match. Ura holds a 7-0 career record against Chiyoshoma, with a spread of oshidashi and yorikiri in the mix. But my eye catches on that tottari from November 2021.

Ichiyamamoto (4-10) vs Hokuseiho (8-6) – Last match for the Tokyo Skytree this March. He managed to get his kachi-koshi, but I think this was an eye opener for Hakuho’s giant prodigy. He can finish off with a fight against injured Ichyamamoto, and maybe end with 9 wins.

Hokutofuji (7-7) vs Takarafuji (7-7) – The only Darwin match on the final day, and it happens to fall on two well loved veterans of the dohyo. Hokutofuji dominates their career record at 9-4, and I can’t see him losing to an injured Takarafuji today. Frankly, I am amazed that Takarafuji was able to battle back to 7-7, given his condition. Winner gets a kachi-koshi.

Kotoshoho (6-8) vs Nishikigi (5-9) – Both are make-koshi, and this is really about who gets the bigger shove down the banzuke for May. Kotoshoho has a bit of an edge, with a 6-4 career record, but Nishikigi has won 2 of the last 3 matches.

Mitakeumi (4-10) vs Ryuden (1-13) – In the scratch and dent bin, it’s one last chance to see if Ryuden can finish with more than one win. Given that he suffers from chronic hip problems, and that seems to be bothering him now, I don’t thing chances are good for him today. He does have a 6-1 career record against Mitakeumi, including his most recent fight on day 11 of Hatsu which Ryuden won by oshidashi.

Abi (8-6) vs Endo (9-5) – Both are already kachi-koshi, and Endo for some reason struggles to shut down Abi-zumo and the double arm thrusting attack. Nearly everyone else on the top half of the banzuke solved this one in 2020 or before, but Endo still is trying to work it out. Endo did win against Abi on day 14 of Hatsu 2023.

Midorifuji (10-4) vs Shodai (9-5) – Hopefully Midorifuji will get a special prize, as he did quite well this basho, and for a time was leading the yusho race. He gets to fight Shodai, who managed to not only reach kachi-koshi, but may finish with double digits as well if he prevails.

Tamawashi (3-11) vs Meisei (4-10) – It’s painful to watch Tamawashi fight, I can’t imagine what it is like for him. But he’s just got to endure one more – against Meisei. Meisei is likely in bad condition as well, so maybe these two can go have a nice drink and try to relieve their pain once this match is over. Both are make-koshi.

Sadanoumi (6-8) vs Tobizaru (5-9) – Another make-koshi pair, they both suffered with being just shy of potent enough to win a handful of their matches, and that left them with losing records. I think we will see them regroup, and hopefully recover for May.

Wakamotoharu (10-4) vs Kotonowaka (9-5) – This is Wakamotoharu’s third double digit winning tournament in the last year. I find his sumo more consistent than his injured brothers, and he might in fact end up being the first of the two to become Ozeki. An 11th win today might help make that case too. I am sure Kotonowaka has something to say about that, wanting to hit 10 himself. Kotonowaka also has a 6-1 career advantage, winning every match since 2020.

Takayasu (9-5) vs Hoshoryu (10-4) – A chance for Takayasu to finish with double digits too, if he can take a final white star from Hoshoryu. He has a 5-1 record against the Sekiwake on the clay, so it’s possible.

Kiribayama (11-3) vs Daieisho (12-2) – The final match of the day, the final match of the tournament. It may decide the yusho, if Daieisho can get his mega-thrust sumo on target and full power before Kiribayama can grab a piece of him and toss him about. Both have performed exceptionally well this March, and either would be a fine champion.

Osaka Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the final weekend! This is where we finish sorting everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and crown the yusho winner who gets to take home the Emperor’s cup. The schedulers have not pushed to get a big crowd of rikishi into a 7-7 record this basho, so there was never really a funnel to drive a group into Darwin matches. But if everything turns out correctly, we could have a few for day 15. Right now there are 10 rikishi with 6-7 or 7-6 scores. Including some famous names.

Haru Leaderboard

With Daieisho in the lead, he controls the outcome right now. Chances are pretty good it will be him who lifts the big red fish on Sunday. He is the only one of the group who has prior yusho experience, and so I think that gives him a bit of an edge. He also seems to be healthy, and his sumo is working quite well at the moment.

Daieisho faces Midorifuji today, and a Midorifuji win would blow the race wide open. I am not sure what his chances are, but that would be quite the exciting turn of events.

Leader: Daieisho
Chasers: Kiribayama, Wakamotoharu, Midorifuji
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kotonowaka, Kinbozan

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Mitoryu (7-6) vs Shonannoumi (7-6) – Shonannoumi visits from Juryo for his first ever match against Mitoryu. The winner gets kachi-koshi and the loser is qualified for a Darwin match.

Myogiryu (5-8) vs Oho (6-7) – Myogiryu is already make-koshi, but if he can manage a win on day 14, he can send to make-koshi. Of course if Oho wins, it’s a Darwin match for him. If sumo had a “most likely to be mistaken for a shrubbery”, my vote would be for Oho right now. Get your sumo together sir!

Tsurugisho (7-6) vs Nishikifuji (8-5) – Tsurugisho is fighting for kachi-koshi today against Nishikifuji. If he loses, yes – Darwin! Tsurugisho has a nearly even career record against the Isegahama man, so it could be a big fight. Will we see another Tsurugisho henka today?

Aoiyama (5-8) vs Bushozan (4-9) – Both of them are already make-koshi, so this is probably to see if Aoiyama can bludgeon out another win, and maybe nominate Bushozan for a Juryo return trip. Someone’s got to take a hike if we are going to get Ichinojo and Asanoyama to the top division in May.

Hokuseiho (7-6) vs Hiradoumi (6-7) – Call this a mini-Darwin, if Hiradoumi loses he is make-koshi, and Hokuseiho kachi-koshi. If he is able to topple the Tokyo Skytree, it’s Darwin time for both of them.

Ichiyamamoto (4-9) vs Takarafuji (6-7) – The good news – I am pretty sure Takarafuji saved himself from making a trip to Juryo, so everything past that is an upgrade. He can still actually finish with a kachi-koshi, but the only way to do it is for him to have a 7-7 score at the end of today, and survive a possible Darwin match tomorrow. He has a 4-1 career record against already make-koshi Ichiyamamoto.

Azumaryu (3-10) vs Ura (7-6) – Lets be clear, this is another “donor” match. Azumaryu will give up a white star to Ura to secure his kachi-koshi in all likelihood. Should Ura lose through some bizarre twist of events, it’s Darwin time for him as well.

Hokutofuji (7-6) vs Chiyoshoma (8-5) – Hokutofuji holds a 7-1 career record against Chiyoshoma, so chances are good he will pick up his 8th win and be kachi-koshi. If not… Darwin!

Kotoeko (8-5) vs Takayasu (8-5) – No Darwin match for either of these guys, they are both already kachi-koshi. But one of them will get a chance to try for double digits. Kotoeko won their only prior match, and may be able to surprise Takayasu today.

Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Kagayaki (5-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about who gets what rank. Kotoshoho seems to have recovered some of his fighting form in the last few days, he has won the last 4 in a row.

Mitakeumi (4-9) vs Takanosho (7-6) – A decider for Takanosho, he either can best Mitakeumi today or he faces a Darwin match tomorrow. Personally, I think that Mitakeumi is going to put him on the clay today.

Abi (8-5) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi in this first ever match up, it’s all about deciding rank for the May banzuke. I would love to see Kinbozan surprise Abi today with a rapid grab-and-chuck of his lanky hide out of the ring, just to keep matters interesting, and have Kinbozan finish his maiden basho with double digit wins.

Nishikigi (4-9) vs Ryuden (1-12) – Wow, these two are in dire need of rework. I am going to guess Ryuden is injured and he won’t be his normal level of fierce until he can get his lower back and hips in better condition. In the mean time, I am going to hope that Nishikigi does not attempt a kotenage today and add an elbow injury to Ryuden’s list of problems.

Tamawashi (3-10) vs Sadanoumi (5-8) – This pair is also make-koshi, but it would be good to see Tamawashi do no worse than 5-10 this March. Given how he is struggling day to day, he may be an easy mark for Sadanoumi’s high speed sumo.

Daishoho (8-5) vs Shodai (8-5) – Both start the day with 8-5 records, and Shodai won their only prior match, on day 9 of Kyushu 2019. It almost seems like a different world. Shodai was a Maegashira 10 headed for Ozeki, and there was no such things as COVID-19 causing problems around the world.

Meisei (4-9) vs Tobizaru (4-9) – Both have matching 4-9 records, and I wonder why Tobizaru has done so poorly this basho. He won opening day against Takakeisho, and then has been mostly down hill since then. He will be exiting the san’yaku with the May banzuke, but I am certain he will return.

Daieisho (11-2) vs Midorifuji (10-3) – With the preliminaries out of the way, it’s time for the main event. A Daieisho win will eliminate Midorifuji from the yusho race, a Midorifuji will will open up a tie to start the final day, possibly with multiple rikishi in the lead depending on how the matches that follow turn out. They have fought twice before, and both have won one. The first, day 11 Aki 2022, went o Midorifuji by hikiotoshi. Daieisho evened the score on Kyushu day 12 with a yorikiri win. We all know what must happen here. A glorious, lead busting katasukashi. Midorifuji, please make it so.

Endo (8-5) vs Kotonowaka (9-4) – Both of them have kachi-koshi, but I am certain that Kotonowaka wants to run up the score to double digits if at all possible. He is not quite to the point where he is ready to try for Ozeki the first time, but I think its going to happen this year. Endo loves to play spoiler, but his day 13 sumo was disorganized and sloppy, and he has lost thee in a row. Maybe he can bounce back.

Wakatakakage (7-6) vs Kiribayama (10-3) – Wakatakakage either overcomes a 5-8 career deficit, or it’s time for him to get a well deserved day 15 Darwin match. Frankly, Kiribayama’s sumo has been better over the last 14 days, and I hope he take the win today.

Wakamotoharu (10-3) vs Hoshoryu (9-4) – I guess the question is – can Wakamotoharu force himself into a Sekiwake slot by winning 11 or 12? I would love to see him make the case. He has only won twice in 7 fights against Hoshoryu, who has a strong chance to finish with double digits himself.