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Aki 2022 Rikishi Preview

We are under a week until the Aki basho starts! You can go ahead and sign up on Fantasizr. After that, if you need something to ponder while you pick your team, here are the rikishi previews for Aki 2022.


There have been some positive COVID tests recently, although the Sumo Association is not making any pronouncements just yet. This does not reflect that, because the positive cases (notably Abi) are still in with a chance of participating. So keep track to the news. We will be monitoring things and seeing what will happen.


Enjoy!

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01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji

Terunofuji Haruo | 照ノ富士 春雄

Isegahama | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 11-4 (Jun-Yusho)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Yokozuna East

If you want an individual favorite, Terunofuji is still your rikishi. But an 11-4 Jun-Yusho is a step down from his dominance in 2021 and a step up from his shaky first two basho of 2022. The man does have a Yusho and a Jun-Yusho in his last two outings, despite his knees looking like he's never quite secure in any match (watch his deeply weird near-loss against Wakamotoharu on Day 8 for proof).






02 Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho

Takakeisho Mitsunobu | 貴景勝 光信

Tokiwayama | Hyogo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 11-4 (Jun-Yusho)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Ozeki #1 East

Takakeisho looked to be about 90% of the way back to future-Yokozuna form. Of course, he had an 11-4 Jun-Yusho with a win over Terunofuji rather than a yusho that put him one more away from the rope. But he was more Murder Hamster again instead of flabby, short-armed struggler in Nagoya, and that's who any sumo fan should want to see.








03 Ozeki #1 West Shodai

Shodai Naoya | 正代 直也

Tokitsukaze | Kumamoto

Nagoya 2022 Record: 10-5

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Ozeki #2 West

Shodai gave an Ozeki-worthy 10 win performance, his first double-digit win total since January 2021. His highly defensive sumo, to put it nicely, is not a way to get consistent success. Fortunately for him, it is a way to contend in any match against anyone no matter what his form has been.









04 Ozeki #2 West Mitakeumi

Mitakeumi Hisashi | 御嶽海 久司

Dewanoumi | Nagano

Nagoya 2022 Record: 2-5-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Ozeki #1 West

Mitakeumi was the highest-ranked rikishi to leave the Nagoya basho due to a stablemate's COVID diagnosis, but he also may have been relieved despite being kadoban and possibly losing his Ozeki status. He was 2-4 before bowing out and looked completely lost, and the COVID rules for rikishi on this banzuke now mean he avoids demotion. If he can get the jump at the tachiai that he has with his best brand of sumo, then watch out. If he's still wobbly, he's not staying at Ozeki.




05 Sekiwake #1 East Wakatakakage

Wakatakakage Atsushi | 若隆景 渥

Arashio | Fukushima

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-7

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Sekiwake East

Wakatakakage will remain the highest ranked non-Ozeki or Yokozuna. That is one heck of an achievement, even if he wasn't able to create an Ozeki run after his 12-3 Yusho in March. Although undersized against every other top ranked man, his fundamentals, relentlessness, and guts put him in every match he fights. That also means he could contend for a yusho again.






06 Sekiwake #1 West Hoshoryu

Hoshoryu Tomokatsu | 豊昇龍 智勝

Tatsunami | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 9-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Komusubi East

Nine wins from Komusubi is impressive, even if one of Hoshoryu's was a freebie against Mitakeumi. The thing for Hoshoryu is that he is almost an Ozeki, but has not had anything like a signature basho or actual Ozeki performance (11 wins as a Sanyaku wrestler). Of course, he is just 23 and literally any improvement would mean an Ozeki run.







07 Sekiwake #2 East Daieisho

Daieisho Hayato | 大栄翔 勇人

Oitekaze | Saitama

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-7-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Sekiwake West

Daieisho's basho was cut short with three matches remaining and a chance at kachi-koshi from the Sekiwake slot. He wasn't storming into an Ozeki challenge, but he could have held on to a Sanyaku slot by win total. He did anyway because COVID absences were given a break from demotion. The real issue moving forward is what it's always been for Daieisho, whether he can consistently hit ten wins against the very best.






08 Komusubi #1 East Abi

Abi Masatora | 阿炎 政虎

Shikoroyama | Saitama

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-7

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Komusubi West

Abi's 8 wins in July means he'll keep his Sanyaku spot. When he came back from his suspension last November, he looked like he would be a regular title contender with a newfound focus and he's taken a step back. His signature sumo, throw hands at the other guy's neck and then dance if that doesn't work, is now apparently just right to keep a Sanyaku rank.







09 Komusubi #1 West Ichinojo

Ichinojo Takashi | 逸ノ城 駿

Minato | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 12-3 (Yusho, Outstanding Performance Prize)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #2 West

Ichinojo got his first yusho with 12 wins, which was actually his third best win total ever. That did also come after missing a basho because of stable-wide COVID kyujo. A repeat yusho or even contending again might be too much for the mammoth Mongolian, but he stands a fair chance at 8 wins from Komusubi.








10 Komusubi #2 West Kiribayama

Kiribayama Tetsuo | 霧馬山 鐵雄

Michinoku | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-7

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #1 East

Kiribayama has fought like a Sanyaku man for a few basho, but it took a solid 8-7 at Maegashira #1 East to get him officially in the named ranks. (And he's one of three Komusubi...) He still occasionally pretzels up an opponent and is a dangerous thrower, but he has refined his sumo over the last year or so. The Misty Horse Mountain takes his opponents straight on more now, and he has the size and skills to make it work.







11 Maegashira #1 East Tobizaru

Tobizaru Masaya | 翔猿 正也

Oitekaze | Tokyo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-5-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #6 West

Tobizaru dropped out of the basho with three matches left, but still got a huge promotion since he went 8-4 before leaving. The Flying Monkey's sumo alternates between effectively athletic and way too wild. Either way, a Tobizaru match is must-see and for Aki they will all be against the top men.









12 Maegashira #1 West Midorifuji

Midorifuji Kazunari | 翠富士 一成

Shizuoka | Isegahama

Nagoya 2022 Record: 10-5

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #11 West

Midorifuji gets to his highest ever rank with a 10 rank promotion after getting 10 wins in Nagoya. That is an unusually large jump, but the many absences meant few rikishi achieved double-digit victories. This spot in the Banzuke will be tough for the Green Fuji, but his range of skills should mean he isn't totally overwhelmed.







13 Maegashira #2 East Kotonowaka

Kotonowaka Masahiro | 琴ノ若 傑太

Sadogatake | Chiba

Nagoya 2022 Record: 7-4-4

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #2 East

On the edge of yusho contention when all of Sadogatake-beya was ruled out, Kotonowaka was one of the rikishi most impacted by the waves of kyujo. He is not yet 25, right on the verge of Sanyaku, and has 48 wins in his 4 2022 basho despite missing 4 matches last time. He is an outside favorite.









14 Maegashira #2 West Meisei

Meisei Chikara | 明生 力

Tatsunami | Kagashima

Nagoya 2022 Record: 9-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #10 West

Meisei is another rikishi getting a huge bump in the rankings, Maegashira #10 to Maegashira #2, due to a good but not overwhelming record. His 9-6 in Nagoya was a bit of a return to form after clearly dealing with some injuries and resultingly bad sumo. He has the ability to hang in Sanyaku/upper Maegashira if he actually is back to his best brand of sumo.








15 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi

Tamawashi Ichiro | 玉鷲 一朗

Kataonami | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 5-8-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #3 East

Tamawashi gets to stay at Maegashira #3 East after his early exit. That means that we will continue to see the very best rikishi in all of sumo face a strong nodowa in one of their matches. It just wouldn't feel right if Tamawashi fell out of the joi.










16 Maegashira #3 West Ura

Ura Kazuki | 宇良 和輝

Kise | Osaka

Nagoya 2022 Record: 7-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #3 West

Ura went 7-8 at the edge of the joi, facing one of the toughest slates anyone can. 11 of his 15 matches came against men who outranked him during the Nagoya basho. With the same rank, he will likely have a similar situation at Aki.










17 Maegashira #4 East Nishikigi

Nishikigi Tetsuya | 錦木 徹也

Isenoumi | Iwate

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-5-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #8 West

Nishikigi is on the very edge of the joi, as the 17th ranked rikishi. In theory, he's got to face everyone above him so they can all see their fellow top competitors. Fortunately for him, that's never how it works out because of injuries and performance-based matchups later in the basho. He is probably the underdog for most matches at Aki.







18 Maegashira #4 West Takayasu

Takayasu Akira | 高安 晃

Tagonoura | Ibaraki

Nagoya 2022 Record: 0-0-15

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #4 West

Takayasu holds his rank after sitting out all of the Nagoya basho because of heya-wide COVID rules. There are two small positives here. Last time this happened to Takayasu, he came back and was in a playoff for the yusho. The other thing is he has more rikishi ahead of him, and he may avoid a full Sanyaku slate.







19 Maegashira #5 East Takarafuji

Takarafuji Daisuke | 宝富士 大輔

Isegahama | Aomori

Nagoya 2022 Record: 9-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #12 West

Takarafuji's 2022 had not been going so well until Nagoya, where he pulled off a 9 win performance. Nothing has changed about the long-time veteran's sumo, as he is still at his best taking the other guy's best shot and then forcing a mistake. With the right matchups, that can lead to a kachi-koshi for the 35 year old.








20 Maegashira #5 West Sadanoumi

Sadanoumi Takashi | 佐田の海 貴士

Sakaigawa | Kumamoto

Nagoya 2022 Record: 7-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #5 West

After a surprising 11-4 Jun-Yusho in May, Sadanoumi managed to hold his rank with a 7-8. For Aki, there's no reason to think the veteran can't flirt with a winning record. It is also worth remembering he has mostly been a lower-Maegashira in his career and was in Juryo just a year ago.









21 Maegashira #6 East Wakamotoharu

Wakamotoharu Minato | 若元春 港

Arashio | Fukushima

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-9

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #4 East

Wakamotoharu had his career-high rank in Nagoya and held his own. In fact, it could have been much better for him, as he lost a truly bizarre match against Terunofuji on Day Eight that went two minutes and had gyoji interference. He may not be threatening Sanyaku, but he's shown he can hang in with the very best.








22 Maegashira #6 West Endo

Endo Shota | 遠藤 聖大

Oitekaze | Ishikawa

Nagoya 2022 Record: 3-10-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #5 East

Count Endo among the rikishi who were forced out of Nagoya early, but could maybe be relieved about it. He was at 3-9 when Oitekaze-beya had to pull out, and the mercy for these kind of absences meant he wasn't dropped far down the Banzuke. As usual, if Endo is too in his head, his immense range of skills cause him more problems than his opponents.








23 Maegashira #7 East Aoiyama

Aoiyama Kosuke | 碧山 亘右

Kasugano | Bulgaria

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-9

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #6 East

Aoiyama is still around doing Aoiyama things, standing huge and pushing away with both arms. In his mid-30s, that has a ceiling and he won't be a yusho contender. But he's a solid mid-Maegashira still because he is so big and knows exactly what he's doing out there.









24 Maegashira #7 West Onosho

Onosho Fumiya | 阿武咲 奎也

Onomatsu | Aomori

Nagoya 2022 Record: 10-5

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #15 East

Onosho's drop to Maegashira #15 after a small injury in May saw him get double digits again. Although he looked pretty sharp, it is worth remembering that he has not had back-to-back winning records in more than 2 years. The warning sign with Onosho is always his balance, and he's at his best when he doesn't go too far forward.








25 Maegashira #8 East Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi | 栃ノ心 剛史

Kasugano | Georgia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 7-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #8 West

The Big Georgian keeps hanging around mid-Maegashira after a 7-8 during the Nagoya basho. The old Ozeki form is well in his past, but he's a huge man with immense strength that knows how to use both of those. The crane lift yorikiri isn't as prevalent, but he's a handful for other Maegashira still.









26 Maegashira #8 West Hokutofuji

Hokutofuji Daiki | 北勝富士 大輝

Hakkaku | Saitama

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-9

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #7 West

The main task for Hokutofuji during the Aki basho is stopping his slide down the Banzuke. A former Sanyaku man who was an upper Maegashira mainstay, Hokutofuji might have begun fading just after turning 30 this July. Or he's struggling with a small diminution and skills a finding a new twist on his brand of sumo.








27 Maegashira #9 East Myogiryu

Myogiryu Yasunari | 妙義龍 泰成

Sakaigawa | Hyogo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 9-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #14 East

Just when you think Myogiryu is nearly done for, he gets the kind of win total that puts him back in comfortable Maegashira range. 9 wins from Juryo demotion territory gives the almost 36 year old at least a few more basho before saying goodbye to Makuuchi. Interestingly, he only won with pushing/thrusting techniques in July.







28 Maegashira #9 West Kotoeko

Kotoeko Mitsunori | 琴恵光 充憲

Sadogatake | Miyazaki

Nagoya 2022 Record: 5-6-4

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #9 West

Sumo's current best scrapper was roughly even before Sadogatake-beya departed the Nagoya basho. That's usually where Kotoeko stays if he avoids the very top of the Banzuke, and Maegashira #9 should suit him. He'll put his all into every match and never give an inch, but that doesn't always lead to success due to his small stature for sumo.








29 Maegashira #10 East Nishikifuji

Nishikifuji Ryusei | 錦富士 隆聖

Isegahama | Aomori

Nagoya 2022 Record: 10-5 (Fighting Spirit Prize)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #17 East

Nishikifuji had a great Makuuchi debut in Nagoya, and he may have the chance to build on that in Aki. His 10 wins did include three fusen wins, because that's how the Nagoya basho went. Yet he went 7-5 in actual matches and won with both grappling and pushing techniques.









30 Maegashira #10 West Takanosho

Takanosho Nobuaki | 隆の勝 伸明

Tokiwayama | Chiba

Nagoya 2022 Record: 1-6-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #1 West

Takanosho was having a disastrous basho before pulling out on Day Eight with an injury. Those are, of course, related facts. When healthy and on form, Takanosho's pushing and thrusting can make him a yuhso contender. If he is either injured or not on form, he may have another disaster basho.









31 Maegashira #11 East Kotoshoho

Kotoshoho Yoshinari | 琴勝峰 吉成

Sadogatake | Chiba

Nagoya 2022 Record: 5-6-4

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #11 East

Since returning to Makuuchi in March, Kotoshoho has been fairly all over the place on the dohyo. That doesn't mean he hasn't been good at times, because he is quite young, extremely athletic, and very capable. If and when he focuses and consolidates his sumo, he'll be knocking on the door of Sanyaku.









32 Maegashira #11 West Chiyotairyu

Chiyotairyu Hidemasa | 千代大龍 秀政

Kokonoe | Tokyo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-9

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #10 East

At 33 (he turns 34 in November), Chiyotairyu can't quite blow people back from the tachiai like he used to. He also hasn't found the form of sumo that can lead to excellence again. He isn't completely lost out there, but a newfound love of the slapdown and cagier maneuvers has not led to renewed success.









33 Maegashira #12 East Okinoumi

Okinoumi Ayumi | 隠岐の海 歩

Hakkaku | Shimane

Nagoya 2022 Record: 4-11

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #7 East

Okinoumi had one of the worst basho in Nagoya for anyone who actually finished the basho. He is the second-oldest rikishi in Makuuchi right now, and he'll look aged at times but also has a veteran savvy. That savvy could easily produce an excellent basho out of him down at Maegashira #12.









34 Maegashira #12 West Ryuden

Ryuden Goshi | 竜電 剛至

Takadagawa | Yamanashi

Nagoya 2022 Record: 12-3 (Juryo Yusho)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Juryo #1 East

After his suspension for lying about violating COVID rules while having an extramarital affair, Ryuden has returned to the top division. He has gone 45-12 in Makushita and Juryo in the last five basho. Ryuden is too good for the lower divisions, but he was at an athletic disadvantage when he was last in Makuuchi over a year ago and he is only older.








35 Maegashira #13 East Ichiyamamoto

Ichiyamamoto Daiki | 一山本 大生

Hanaregoma | Hokkaido

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-3-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #13 East

Ichiyamamoto was on his way to his best Makuuchi basho before he had to leave the Nagoya basho. On the other hand, he has also been extremely streaky in his short Makuuchi career and could have lost his last six matches. His high-intensity pushing attack makes for exciting matches, whether he's on a five-match winning or losing streak.








36 Maegashira #13 West Oho

Oho Konosuke | 王鵬 幸之介

Otake | Tokyo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-7

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #15 West

Oho just might be getting settled as a Makuuchi wrestler now. Despite an up-and-down start to his top-division career, his future is extremely bright. This is a 22 year old Maegashira with prototypical size and a variety of skills. When he gets it all together, the rest of Makuuchi should be on alert.









37 Maegashira #14 East Chiyoshoma

Chiyoshoma Fujio | 千代翔馬 富士雄

Kokonoe | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 7-8

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #13 West

The Master of Tricks (if not technical skills) is continuing to hang around lower Maegashira after a surprise run in mid-Maegashira. Chiyoshoma is still the most likely rikishi to pull a henka at the tachiai, or even just move wildly sideways at any moment. That is backed up enough by a set of throws and trips to make him truly dangerous.








38 Maegashira #14 West Yutakayama

Yutakayama Ryota | 豊山 亮太

Tokitsukaze | Niigata

Nagoya 2022 Record: 8-7

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #16 East

Yutakama's eight wins in Nagoya are some of the most important eight wins of his career. He has just avoided a Juryo demotion for the last few basho, and he needed a kachi-koshi to do it. The exciting young rikishi that had a chance at Sanyaku should still be in there, but he hasn't been seen for awhile.









39 Maegashira #15 East Terutsuyoshi

Terutsuyoshi Shoki | 照強 翔輝

Isegahama | Hyogo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 6-9

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #12 East

Terutsuyoshi was seemingly the lone member of Isegahama-beya to struggle at Nagoya (depending on your take on an 11-4 Jun-Yusho from a Yokozuna.) Terutsuyoshi has lost no amount of fun, from his pre-bout throw of a mountain of salt to his determination to overpower much bigger rikishi. Those just don't translate to wins as often as fans may like.








40 Maegashira #15 West Tsurugisho

Tsurugisho Momotaro | 剣翔 桃太郎

Oitekaze | Tokyo

Nagoya 2022 Record: 5-8-2

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Maegashira #14 West

Tsurugisho probably got lucky by leaving the basho because he was on a road to a demotion back down to Juryo. Instead, 5-8-2 will hold his place in Makuuchi. In truth, there weren't that many promotion candidates, and he may have stayed up anyway. But he is on alert as a possible drop candidate.









41 Maegashira #16 East Mitoryu

Mitoryu Takayuki | 水戸龍 聖之

Nishikido | Mongolia

Nagoya 2022 Record: 9-6

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Juryo #4 West

Mitoryu makes his Makuuchi debut four and a half years after quickly making it to Juryo from a Makushita Tsukedashi entry into sumo. Mongolian-born and university trained, he surprisingly has an overwhelming bias towards the simple yorikiri in his victories and losses. There's no reason to think he can't stick in Makuuchi, but he also is unlikely to set the sumo world on fire as a Maegashira.






42 Maegashira #16 West Hiradoumi

Hiradoumi Yuko | 平戸海 雄貴

Sakaigawa | Nagasaki

Nagoya 2022 Record: 10-5 (Juryo)

Nagoya 2022 Rank: Juryo #8 East

The biggest thing to recommend Hiradoumi for future excellence is that he will be making his Makuuchi debut as a 22 year old. He has never won a lower-level yusho and has good not great size, but he got himself here for a reason. He already knows how to get inside and low on an opponent, which should serve him quite well.

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