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Aki 2019 Rikishi Preview

鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo

Yokozuna East

Stable: Izutsu

From: Mongolia

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

Yokozuna West

Stable: Miyagino

From: Mongolia

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

Stable: Taganoura

From: Ibaraki

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

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Osaka

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

Stable: Kasugano

From: Georgia

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

Sekiwake East

Stable: Dewanoumi

From: Nagano

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

Sekiwake West

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 3-4-8, 10-5

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

Komusubi East

Stable: Shikoroyama

From: Saitama

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

Komusubi West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Ishikawa

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

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Saitama

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

Stable: Kasugano

From: Bulgaria

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

Stable: Minato

From: Mongolia

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

Stable: Takasago

From: Toyama

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

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Saitama

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

Stable: Oguruma

From: Kanagawa

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

Stable: Kataonami

From: Mongolia

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

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kumamoto

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

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Tokyo

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

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Yamanashi

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

Stable: Kise

From: Mie

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

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Hyogo

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

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Fukuoka

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

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Miyazaki

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

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Shimane

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

Stable: Isegahama

From: Aomori

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

Stable: Isegahama

From: Hyogo

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

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Kagawa

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

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Kumamoto

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

Stable: Tatsunami

From: Kagoshima

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

Stable: Onomatsu

From: Aomori

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

Stable: Miyagino

From: Ishikawa

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

Stable: Nishonoseki

From: Fukuoka

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

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Mongolia

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

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Ishikawa

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

Stable: Isenoumi

From: Iwate

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

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Tokyo

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

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kochi

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

Stable: Miyagino

From: Tottori

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

Stable: Tamanoi

From: Mongolia

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

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Niigata

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

Stable: Kasugano

From: Kochi

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

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Ibaraki

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.

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