Aki 2020 Rikishi-by-Rikishi Preview
We are less than a week from the start of the Aki 2020 basho. To get in the spirit, here is the rikishi-by-rikishi preview.
(All pictures from the Japan Sumo Association.)
白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho
Last 3 Basho: 10-3-2, 1-3-11, 14-1 Y
Previous Rank: Yokozuna East
Hakuho will probably not be participating at Aki after undergoing knee surgeries. They were arthroscopic procedures to fix whatever happened on Day 10 in July. Of course, this being Hakuho, he could still show up and win it all with two bandaged knees and minimal training.
鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo
Last 3 Basho: 0-2-13, 12-3 J, 1-4-10
Previous Rank: Yokozuna West
If he's the sole Yokozuna, Kakuryu should be the favorite at Aki. The problem is that his recent performance has not been great, only completing one of his last four basho. Just keep in mind that was a 12 win jun-yusho.
朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki
Last 3 Basho: 12-3 J, 11-4, 10-5
Previous Rank: Ozeki West
Asanoyama didn't storm the Ozeki ranks, but he did very well in his first basho at sumo's second highest rank. The problem is that he let the yusho slip away, and how dominant the Morning Mountain can be is still an open question. Yet he's also on a 5 basho double-digit win streak.
貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu
Last 3 Basho: 8-4-3, 7-8, 11-4
Previous Rank: Ozeki East
Takakeisho got his 8 wins to stay an Ozeki and then left the July basho. The Chiganoura man was obviously less than 100%, as he did not show his usual power. If he got himself healthy and rested, he's a threat to any other rikishi.
正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya
Sekiwake 1 East
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 8-7, 13-2 J
Previous Rank: Sekiwake East
Shodai is on his third straight basho of maybe being able to get to Ozeki if he won the whole thing. It's 2020, so don't rule anything out. What he has become is a consistently top rikishi by throwing out his wilder efforts without sacrificing his special ability to react to anything.
御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi
Sekiwake 1 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 10-5. 7-8
Previous Rank: Sekiwake West
The Sanyaku mainstay version of Mitakeumi is back, which is great to see. The question again becomes whether he can become a consistently dominant top rikishi. He did seem to avoid his final week slide in July, which is a good sign.
大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato
Sekiwake 2 East
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Komusubi East
After a series of 8-7s and 7-8s, Daieisho notched 11 wins in July to force a third Sekiwake slot. He didn't add any new tricks, as he is still a pusher-thruster. It's hard to know how consistent he can stay for Aki.
隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Komusubi West
Have fundamentals, will stay at the upper part of the Banzuke. Okinoumi is 35 years old and will be at an athletic disadvantage against most opponents. He's also a 10 year Makuuchi veteran who rarely beats himself, which is immensely helpful.
遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East
The early promise of Endo's career never fully translated into Ozeki or Yokozuna promotions. Yet Endo has quietly become one of the stronger rikishi and a constant presence in the upper part of the rankings. Weirdly, Endo is also one of the few rikishi with seemingly no preference between grappling and pushing.
照ノ富士 春雄 | Terunofuji Haruo
Maegashira 1 East
Last 3 Basho: 13-2 Y, 10-5 (Juryo), 13-2 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 17 East
Can Terunofuji do it again? That's the biggest question heading into Aki. He certainly showed the skill and strength of a former Ozeki while suprisingly winning July's yusho. No rikishi has ever had a repeat title who wasn't a Yokozuna or Ozeki, who then immediately became a Yokozuna. (But what would happen if he did is an interesting question.)
隆の勝 伸明 | Takanosho Nobuaki
Maegashira 1 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 12-3 J, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East
Takanosho held his own after a significant jump to Maegashira 2. That's a really good sign he might be turning a corner at age 25. Like many rikishi, it's more a case of becoming more consistent than any new trick or style change.
北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki
Maegashira 2 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 4-11, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West
For awhile, Hokutofuji was right on the cusp of a long Sanyaku stay. Instead, inconsistency has dogged the Hakkaku man. When he is on, the pusher-thruster can beat anyone, as his 7 career kiboshi can attest.
玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro
Maegashira 2 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 6-9, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East
Tamawashi was in a year long slide down the Banzuke until his 10 wins in July. Perhaps the longer rest helped the 36 year old, or perhaps he's just still better than everyone he'd faced at Maegashira 9. Either way, those factors both go out the window for Aki.
妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari
Maegashira 3 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 4-11, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West
Myogiryu is back in the upper Maegashira ranks after 10 wins at Maegashira 10. Usually, this kind of leap winds up in him falling right back down again. He could prevent that, but it would seem highly unlikely.
照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki
Maegashira 3 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 9-6, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East
Terutsuyoshi's steady progress has earned him a career highest rank of Maegashira 3. He is still prone to hot and cold streaks inside of a basho, largely because his straight ahead power sumo is an all or nothing proposition. For Aki, he has to prove he can have more all at such a high rank and against tougher opponents.
豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota
Maegashira 4 East
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West
Yutakayama's ascent up the rankings was forcefully reversed with a terrible July basho. He is still a 26 (he'll turn 27 in this basho) year old with solid fundamentals, so Sanyaku isn't impossible in his future. Still, he'll need to regroup while on the edge of the joi-jin line and facing all the top wrestlers.
栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi
Maegashira 4 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 6-9, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West
Tochinoshin is at his highest rank since his injury plagued turn at Sekiwake in November. His 10 wins in July could be a return to form and fitness, although some of that could be because he had an extra bit of rest. The real key for the big Georgian is always his knees, and if his lower body power is back he can still make noise.
霧馬山 鐵雄 | Kiribayama Tetsuo
Maegashira 5 East
Previous 3 Basho: 6-9, 9-6, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 West
Sumo's spinning top was less effective at Maegashira 3 than he had been previously. Largely, opponents learned not to let Kiribayama get behind them by bottling him up early. Still, he managed a 6-9 after a huge jump in is third top-division basho, which is an excellent sign for the future.
宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke
Maegashira 5 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 9-6, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 East
Takarafuji's steady veteran bit blew up with a 5-10 during the July basho. Tellingly, he lost to almost every rikishi he faced ranked higher than him. He might see a small bounceback with his small fall in the rankings, although he was never a great bet for double-digit wins.
高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira
Maegashira 6 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 0-5-10, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 East
The former Ozeki managed a full basho and ten wins from a lowly Maegashira 13 position in July. It's really good news, as he looks like he can handle the rigors of a full Makuuchi basho again. His ascent back isn't guaranteed, or likely to be linear if it does happen, but it's a possibility again.
輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi
Maegashira 6 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East
Kagayaki's ride to the top of the Banzuke got a large speed bump in July. His fundamentals never betrayed him, but he seemed unable to bring his athleticism to go beyond it. He is still very skilled with impressive size, which can take a rikishi a long way.
竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi
Maegashira 7 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West
Ryuden's bizarre style, in which his goal seems to be to make his opponent get in the most awkward position imaginable, sets him apart. His performances have largely made him a mid-tier Makuuchi wrestler. For someone who came back from an injury that literally made him go back to the bottom that's a good career, even if he has a ceiling.
碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke
Maegashira 7 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 11-4, 4-11
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West
As Aoiyama gets further and further into his 30s, his sumo becomes more reliant on his sheer massiveness. This has led to a wild variance in his performance. The one certainty for the Bulgarian Blue Mountain is that he is still very, very big.
徳勝龍 誠 | Tokushoryu Makoto
Maegashira 8 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 4-11, 14-1 Y
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West
That yusho in January looks even more remarkable the further out it gets. Tokushoryu was better in July than March, but he still wasn't threatening 14 wins again. He might have found a new kind of sumo, but it's maybe just enough to get kachi-koshi in mid-Maegashira.
若隆景 渥| Wakatakakage Atsushi
Maegashira 8 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 10-5 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 West
Wakatakakage will be at his highest ever rank for Aki after a 10-5 in July. That was his second attempt at Makuuchi after an injury derailed his shin-Maegashira basho in November. He is on the small side and made steady progress through the lower ranks rather than shoot through them, but he's still one to watch for the future.
炎鵬 晃 | Enho Akira
Maegashira 9 East
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 6-9, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East
Enho's matches are still fun to watch, but his performances have been uninspiring of late. His bag of tricks allows him to be competitive despite his incredible size disadvantage against every other rikishi. He needs to find ways to be more than competitive with them once again.
阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya
Maegashira 9 West
Last 3 Basho: 2-13, 9-6, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 West
Onosho had the basho from hell in July, which was even worse because he had previously looked like he was regaining the promise he had before a knee injury. He didn't look good, but he also didn't seem like he was injured again. Of course, dysfunctional sumo could be a worse sign than any ailment.
佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi
Maegashira 10 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East
The calm, veteran presence of Sadanoumi remains in this area of the Banzuke. He'll never overwhelm anyone, but he'll also never beat himself. Sadanoumi's being near the kachi-koshi line might be the most reassuring thing in sumo.
琴恵光 充憲| Kotoeko Mitsunori
Maegashira 10 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 11-4 (Juryo), 2-13
Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 West
Kotoeko came back from Juryo and was instantly impressive in a way he has never been before in Makuuchi. Kotoeko took the fight to his opponents in July, which allowed him to use his strength in grappling battles. The problem he has now is he is a known commodity who can be gameplanned against.
千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa
Maegashira 11 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West
Chiyotairyu has been in a slow side down the rankings over the past year or so, made just a little slower with the occasional 8-7. His straight ahead sumo is just not enough to overwhelm rikishi anymore. He is big and strong enough to get some wins from it.
琴奨菊 和弘 | Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro
Maegashira 11 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 East
The former Ozeki is still hanging around, which is something for a 36 year old. He does own the Hidenoyama kabu, and has since 2013, which means ge would likely retire to become a coach if he gets demoted to Juryo. So far, he's done enough to still be taking to the dohyo.
琴勝峰 吉成| Kotoshoho Yoshinari
Maegashira 12 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 12-3 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 15 East
Kotoshoho got just 8 wins after a 12 win Juryo yusho and winning his first 5 Makuuchi bouts. That can be seen as a disappointment, but it's also worth remembering he is a 21 year old who made short work of the lower levels and got a kachi-koshi in his first shot at Makuuchi. He is still a future star if health and luck don't betray him.
魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro
Maegashira 12 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East
Kaisei has been battling lower body injuries for quite awhile now, which can severely impact his sumo. Of course, he's still absolutely massive and knows what to do with that bulk. He'll be a formidable opponent as long as he can mount the dohyo.
明生 力| Meisei Chikara
Maegashira 13 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5 (Juryo), 7-8, 1-7-7
Previous Rank: Juryo 1 East
Meisei insured he would immediately rise back to Makkuchi with 10 wins at Juryo 1. His subsequent win of a 6-way playoff was simply the cherry on top. Meisei has had his moments in Makuuchi, and his performance in July indicates his health and sumo were on track again.
石浦 将勝 | Ishiura Masakatsu
Maegashira 13 West
Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 9-6, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 East
Ishiura's sumo is often a mess, and it was remarkably messy during the July basho. His relatively small stature occasionally makes him too fond of tricking his opponent, when he is really one of the strongest rikishi pound-for-pound and should take more matches head on.
翔猿 正也 | Tobizaru Masaya
Maegashira 14 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6 (Juryo), 10-5 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 2 East
After two-plus years as a Juryo mainstay, Tobizaru makes his debut as a Maegashira. Tobizaru is a small, fun rikishi, as his shikona means "Flying Monkey" and that is intentional. On the other hand, he got here with very slow progress in the second division and expectations should be made accordingly.
阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora
Maegashira 14 West
Last 3 Basho: 3-4-8, 7-8, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 East
Abi will not be seen this basho, as he violated the COVID protocols in July by going out to clubs during the basho. He actually submitted resignation papers, but the Sumo Association didn't accept them and instead suspended him for 3 basho.
志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo
Maegashira 15 East
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 9-6, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 East
Shimanoumi has been alternating good and bad performances. That could either be that he is figuring something out, which then gets figured out by his opponents, or that he is rather streaky. What's strange is that he always seems to favor a mawashi battle wherein he will employ a bouncy effort to move his opponent.
松鳳山 裕也 | Shohozan Yuya
Maegashira 15 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 4-11, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West
Well, he's still here. For a 36 year old with diminishing athleticism, that's not nothing. Shohozan will be trying to avoid a fall down to the Juryo ranks, where he hasn't been since 2015. He's got to have at least 8 wins to do it here.
旭大星 託也| Kyokutaisei Takuya
Maegashira 16 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 5 East
Kyokutaisei has been in Makuuchi before, briefly in 2018. A Juryo mainstay, he got elevated after a 10 win performance on the back of a 9 win performance. He will try his best to make his second go round in the top division last longer.
豊昇龍 智勝 | Hoshoryu Tomokatsu
Maegashira 16 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Juryo 6 East
Hoshoryu is a 21 year old who has needed a little more than two years to make it all the way through sumo's lower ranks. Oh, and he's the nephew of former Yokozuna Asashoryu. Obviously, expectations are high for the throwing specialist as he makes his Makuuchi debut.
逸ノ城 駿 | Ichinojo Takashi
Maegashira 17 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 5 West
The absolutely massive Mongolian has made his way back to Makuuchi. Injuries derailed Ichinojo about a year ago, just as he looked like he could be a regular in the joi-jin or better. Instead, he had an uneven and unsteady journey to come back to the top division, but at least he got back.