Aki 2019 Rikishi Preview
鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo
Last 3 Basho: 14-1 Y, 11-4, 10-5
Previous Rank: Yokozuna East
It was one heck of a Nagoya basho for Kakuryu. Not only did he get the Emperor's Cup, but he compiled 14 wins with an emphatic victory over Hakuho on Day 15. Will he repeat the performance in Aki? Probably not, but he's definitely a yusho threat.
白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho
Last 3 Basho: 12-3 J, 0-0-15, 15-0
Previous Rank: Yokozuna East
After missing a basho with a torn biceps, Hakuho came back at less than 100% and got 12 wins and a jun-yusho. Hakuho is not the same as he was physically at his peak, but he still has his exceptional balance, skills, and smarts.
高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira
Ozeki 1 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 10-5, 9-6
Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 West
Takayasu was having a great tournament through the first week of Nagoya. Then on Day 8, Tamawashi brokeTakayasu's arm, even though the Ozeki got the win. Takayasu reappeared with a massive brace and gutted out his eighth win, then sat out everything after Day 10. He is uncertain for Aki.
豪栄道 豪太郎 | Goeido Gotaro
Ozeki 1 West
Last 3 Basho: 3-5-7, 9-6, 12-3
Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 East
Goeido was so injured at Nagoya, he would have been happy to have Takyasu's blighted basho. His real problem was with his legs, which made him unable to unleash his overwhelming style. He, too, is an Ozeki whose injury issues coming into Aki, but he needs 8 wins to maintain the rank he has held since 2014.
栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi
Ozeki 2 East
Last 3 Basho: 0-6-9, 10-5, 7-8
Previous Rank: Ozeki 2 West
Somehow, Tochinoshin is the most injured Ozeki going into Aki. At Nagoya, Tochinoshin had proudly reclaimed Ozeki status and couldn’t put together a win. In fact, he couldn’t put together a decent offense. His left knee was so problematic that he couldn’t get any push, much less his signature crane lift maneuver.
御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 9-6, 7-8
Previous Rank: Sekiwake East
Sekiwake East is apparently Mitakeumi’s level, which is a pretty solid place to be with a damaged Ozeki corps. Of course, he hasn’t been spectacular since his yusho at Nagoya 2018, and he would only hit the required Ozeki promotion criteria of 33 wins over 3 basho with a zensho yusho. Still, he is the best positioned sekitori to make the leap to Ozeki.
貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu
Previous Rank: Ozeki 2 East
In May, Takakeisho was riding high, a newly promoted Ozeki at age 22 with a yusho under his belt. After an injury plagued Natsu basho, he missed all of Nagoya and lost his Ozeki rank. He hasn’t been seen on the regional Jungyo tour in August. If and when he does recover, Takakeisho is a uniquely and supremely talented young sumo wrestler.
阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 10-5, 8-7
Previous Rank: Komusubi East
Abi made good in his Komusubi debut, despite sitting at 2-6 (with a fusen win) after 8 days. He has not developed some brand new style, as his only approach beyond his trademark double hands to the neck tachiai is a weird sort of henka where Abi flies behind his opponent for a slapdown. Abi isn’t refined in the least, but he is talented and eager.
遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 West
Endo has come back to Komusubi after putting together 10 wins. He’s at an interesting place, no longer young but not over the hill, and he seems to have developed his brand of sumo around being adaptable. Endo is able to grapple and push, but also seems to like odd moves like grabbing the front of the mawashi at the jump. It’s certainly something.
北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki
Maegashira 1 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West
The only reason that Hokutofuji is not a Komusubi is that Endo beat him on Day 15 in Nagoya. That should not detract from a really good basho, which included five wins against rikishi ranked above him. He is a favorite to slide back into the Sanyaku ranks should anyone fall above him.
碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke
Maegashira 1 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 12-3
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East
The big, immovable Bulgarian got a bare kachi-koshi, but at Maegashira 2, that is an achievement. Aoiyama is over 30, and wasn’t the spriteliest man to begin with, so he is reliant on absorbing blows and knocking his opponent back. That usually works pretty well for him.
逸ノ城 駿 | Ichinojo Takashi
Maegashira 2 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 5-7-3, 14-1 JS
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West
Ichinojo was not in future Yokozuna mode in Nagoya, but still got to 9 wins. That is an excellent sign for his future, because he will have basho where is not 100% and he needs to not give up. His combination of size, strength, and power is unique even in sumo’s top division, making Ichinojo a tough matchup for anyone.
朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki
Maegashira 2 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 12-3 Y, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East
So Asanoyama didn’t repeat his yusho performance, which wasn’t a surprise. He also didn’t get a winning record, but that wasn’t too bad. 7 wins at the first shot at Maegashira is a good sign for Asanoyama. He has a remarkably strong left hand grip which he combines with good fundamentals to always be a tough out.
大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato
Maegashira 3 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 West
Over the last three basho, Daieisho has been hovering around the kachi-koshi, make-koshi line, which means he is basically a Maegashira 2-3. In order to get further up the rankings, Daieisho will need to find a way to be less of a punching bag to the Sanyaku wrestlers. That might involve diversifying a bit just to throw something different at opponents.
友風 勇太 | Tomokaze Yuta
Maegashira 3 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4 S, 8-7, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West
Tomokaze was always one to watch, but Nagoya firmly announced him as a future star. He got the one victory against Kakuryu by any wrestler in July, which came by standing up and redirecting the Yokozuna’s offense. Tomokaze is huge, fundamentally sound, and seems to have a great ability to direct a match. Now he gets his first chance to face a Sanyaku slate.
玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro
Maegashira 4 East
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 10-5, 5-10
Previous Rank: Sekiwake West
Tamawashi is developing an odd pattern of doing terribly at Sekiwake, then dropping to Maegashira. He got 10 wins last time that happened in May, so who knows here. What is certain is that he will attack with a firm nodowa, making everyone’s neck and chin wildly uncomfortable.
正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya
Maegashira 4 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 10-5, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 East
Shodai is probably the rikishi wrestlers least want to face, but feel they can beat. He always looks a step slow at the tachiai, which makes him need to react to his opponent. The good news for Shodai is that some part of the time this weirdly works due to some bizarre reversal. Probably the hardest sekitori to predict match to match.
千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa
Maegashira 5 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East
How far can being big and round and willing to launch yourself from the word go in every match? Mid-Maegashira.
竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi
Maegashira 5 West
Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 10-5, 6-9
Previous Rank: Komusubi West
Ryuden did not do well in his Komusubi debut. He is only going to win consistently in Makuuchi by outworking and outsmarting his opponents. In Nagoya, he often seemed to be completely unprepared for what he was seeing. Odds are he will recalibrate each time he faces the same opponents and that his demotion will help him.
志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo
Maegashira 6 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 10-5, 13-2 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West
Shimanoumi keeps climbing the rankings, despite only seeming to find his groove when he was 29 and stalled out in Juryo. An older rikishi who is both wildly active and reactive shouldn’t really be this successful as he climbs up through Makuuchi. Maybe his luck is about to run out, or maybe he’ll keep up the hot streak.
妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari
Maegashira 6 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East
Myogiryu is in full veteran mode. After sinking down to Maegashira 7, he put up a solid 8-7. He seems like a poor bet to get double digit wins, but he also probably won’t fall on his face.
琴奨菊 和弘 | Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro
Maegashira 7 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 East
The former Ozeki can still deploy the patented hug ‘n’ chug and move his opponent back. Kotoshogiku is slowly losing athleticism, but the only reason he had a losing record was that he got beat by a wild flying henka by Abi on Day 15.
琴恵光 充憲 | Kotoeko Mitsunori
Maegashira 7 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East
Kotoeko has slowly found his footing in the top division, which has allowed him to reach a new career high rank. He isn’t too flashy, which makes him a bit under the radar, but he keeps winning enough to move up.
隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi
Maegashira 8 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 5-10, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West
Okinoumi is slowly turning into one of sumo’s wise old men. At 34, he gets by as much on smarts and guile as his athleticism, which is fading. Maegashira 8 might be the perfect rank for that to give him a winning record.
宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke
Maegashira 8 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West
Takarafuji got a record that didn’t involve the digits 8 or 7? How is that possible. He could maybe be worried about it being 6-9, but it’s still essentially the same kind of record.
照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki
Maegashira 9 East
Last 3 Basho: 12-3, 6-9, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 West
Terutsuyoshi gets the 7 point jump in rankings thanks to doubling his previous Makuuchi win total in one basho. He was easily the story of the Nagoya basho, and his undersized pushing approach made havoc all over the place. 12 wins again would be a huge ask, but he seems to have figured out some way to be successful.
琴勇輝 一巖 | Kotoyuki Kazuyoshi
Maegashira 9 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 11-4 (Juryo), 5-10 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 East
Kotoyuki has been a bit of a yo-yo performer between Makuuchi and Juryo, but then somehow got 11 wins after getting promoted last time. Can he hold on finally? It is wildly unclear, much like Kotoyuki’s brand of sumo.
佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi
Maegashira 10 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 West
Sadanoumi needed to maintain his Makuuchi place, and he gamely did it. He is a solid, dependable rikishi who is usually able to handle anyone. Best bet is somewhere around 7-8 or 8-7.
明生 力 | Meisei Chikara
Maegashira 10 West
Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 10-5, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East
Meisei’s serious promotion to Maegashira 4 in Nagoya did not go well. It might have been a bit above his level at this stage of his career, but he has come down back to Maegashira 10, so Aki could go well.
阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya
Maegashira 11 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 East
Onosho still has the world of potential that made him so exciting as a 21 year old two years ago. Right now, he is struggling with a balky ankle, which is slowing down his ability to find his form again after a major leg injury. If he gets right, he could flirt with double digit wins.
炎鵬 晃 | Enho Akira
Maegashira 11 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 West
The smallest man in sumo’s top two divisions got his first Makuuchi kachi-koshi, after failing to do so in May despite a hot start. He is completely unlike any other sekitori, which makes his opponents on their back foot. That can often work well, but he is always fighting uphill.
松鳳山 裕也 | Shohozan Yuya
Maegashira 12 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East
Shohozan is slowly fighting against age, but now he is starting to get nearer and nearer to a juryo drop. Making this fight harder is that he is a rikishi heavily reliant on his strength and power, which gets tougher for him to succeed.
大翔鵬 清洋 | Daishoho Kiyohiro
Maegashira 12 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 9-6, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 West
Daishoho gets put back down a touch after a serious overpromotion. He is big and young, which is better than the opposite, but also can have some problems against veterans who can outsmart him. Daishoho is still finding his footing, but he has held his head above water well enough.
輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi
Maegashira 13 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 5-10, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West
Kagayaki should be a more formidable opponent, considering his size and fundamentals. Somehow, he just cannot put everything together right consistently enough. Maybe he’ll fall far enough down the banzuke he can find his new form.
錦木 徹也 | Nishikigi Tetsuya
Maegashira 13 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 5-10, 4-11
Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West
Nishikigi was at Maegashira 2 in January. That feels like a very long time ago now. He starts his matches by trying to get this weird double arm grip that bottles his opponents up, but it has become apparent that most rikishi can easily block that.
剣翔 桃太郎 | Tsurugisho Momotaro
Maegashira 14 East
Last 3 Basho: 13-2 Y (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 6 East
Tsurugisho is apparently trying to follow the Sadanoumi path of staying in mid-Juryo for ever then all of a sudden finding a new level. He is 28 and is only making his Makuuchi debut after getting an extremely surprising 13 wins. Maybe he got lucky and maybe he found a new brand of sumo.
豊ノ島 大樹 | Toyonoshima Daiki
Maegashira 14 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 8-7 (Juryo), 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 East
Toyonoshima managed to just hold on to his top division spot in Nagoya. If he still wants that come November he’ll need to improve just a little bit more, which seems difficult at the age of 36.
石浦 将勝 | Ishiura Masakatsu
Maegashira 15 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6 (Juryo), 5-10, 6-9
Previous Rank: Juryo 2 East
The slight yet muscular Ishiura came right back up. He hasn’t had a good Makuuchi basho in quite a while, but he also has firmly established he isn’t a consistent Juryo participant. He needs to quit being a henka machine, which has become so predictable he becomes easy to beat.
東龍 強 | Azumaryu Tsuyoshi
Maegashira 15 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 1 West
This is not Azumaryu’s first trip to Makuuchi. It is, however, his first basho in the first division since 2014. He has actually been in Makushita more recently than Makuuchi. He also didn’t charge back in to the top, as he got here with three straight 8-7 records in Juryo.
豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota
Maegashira 16 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo), 3-12
Previous Rank: Juryo 3 West
Yutakayama looked like he was on the fast track until he suffered an elbow injury in September 2018. After sinking like a stone, he put together two winning records in Juryo. Whether he is on the path to threatening Sanyaku ranks is probably a few basho away at best.
栃煌山 雄一郎 | Tochiozan Yuichiro
Maegashira 16 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 6-9, 3-12
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East
Tochiozan had a demotion worthy performance. Fortunately for him, four others were much worse off at the end of the Nagoya basho. A losing record for Aki will absolutely see him demoted to Juryo. He hasn’t been outside Makuuchi since 2007, so if he is sent down, it would be the end of an era.
貴源治 賢 | Takagenji Satoshi
Maegashira 17 East
Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 13-2 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West
Takagenji had a great start to his debut Makuuchi basho, going 4-1 in his first 5 matches. He then lost his last 10, but in fairness he was also clearly dealing with an injury. Hopefully, he is healthy and able to put together 15 matches rather than 5.