Haru 2020 Rikishi Preview
The March Tournament begins in a matter of days. Here's a look at the status of every rikishi heading into Haru.
(All photos from the Japan Sumo Association website.)
白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho
Last 3 Basho: 1-3-11, 14-1 Y, 0-2-13
Previous Rank: Yokozuna East
The dai-Yokozuna went kyujo after going 1-2 to start the basho, with back problems, heel issues, and a fever all being cited as reasons. When healthy, he's still one of the best and his recent pattern has been to follow up a disappointing kyujo with a dominant performance.
鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo
Last 3 Basho: 1-4-10, 0-1-14, 4-4-7
Previous Rank: Yokozuna East
Kakuryu has now had to pull out of three straight tournaments due to injury, although he did get a 14-1 yusho the basho before that. There have been no whispers of retirement, but a Yokozuna needs to perform like a Yokozuna and he should step up.
貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 9-6, 12-3 J
Previous Rank: Ozeki East
For at least the foreseeable future, Takakeisho is the sole Ozeki. Even if he didn't manage to stay in the yusho race as the highest ranked wrestler left standing for Hatsu, he was delivering Ozeki caliber sumo. More intriguingly, he also grabbed a mawashi a few times.
朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 11-4 J, 10-5, 7-8
Previous Rank: Sekiwake East
Asanoyama was told he was not in an Ozeki run going into Hatsu, and his 10 wins confirmed he wasn't. Then again, if he went 13-2 and got a yusho in Haru, he would guarantee a promotion. That's where he is, one of the better rikishi in sumo who needs to prove he can be one of the best.
正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya
Last 3 Basho: 13-2 J, 11-4 J, 3-12
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West
The ascent of Shodai over the past two basho has been odd. In many ways, he hasn't changed his style. Instead, he's looked more focused and had a strong gameplan in every match to elevate him to the Sanyaku ranks.
北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 7-8, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East
At 27, Hokutofuji isn't a young rising star, but he might have enough growth left to make an Ozkei run. The problem is he hasn't put together back-to-back performances like his Hatsu effort yet. But when he's on, he's a dynamic pusher-thruster.
遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East
Endo had the kind of first week rikishi dream about, beating both Yokozuna on the first two days and standing at 6-1 after Day 7. Then he only went 3-5 the rest of the way. Endo's versatility is in a blessing and a curse territory as he can take on anyone, but also sometime seems caught between gameplans in some matches.
大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato
Maegashira 1 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Komusubi West
Daieisho couldn't keep going 8-7 once he was elevated to Komusubi. He went 7-8 instead. Daieisho might just be a guy who can hang around .500 in this general range of the banzuke.
高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira
Maegashira 1 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 3-5-7, 0-0-15
Previous Rank: Sekiwake West
Takayasu couldn't climb back to Ozeki at Hatsu, and he will be back in the Maegashira ranks for the first time in almost four years. The good news for him is he competed all 15 days at Hatsu, which he hadn't done for three tournaments.
隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi
Maegashira 2 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East
Ignore a strong, veteran rikishi at your own peril. Okinoumi is a tough out for anyone and he will be able to handle anyone who makes a mistake against him. Yushos are unlikely, but good performances are not.
徳勝龍 誠 | Tokushoryu Makoto
Maegashira 2 West
Last 3 Basho: 14-1 Y, 8-7 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 17 West
Did it really happen? Did the last man on the Banzuke, lowly Tokushoryu, who had no track record of success in Makuuchi ,really get 14 wins and a Cinderella yusho at the age of 33? Yes, it did happen. It seems hard to imagine a repeat, but look what happened in Hatsu.
豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota
Maegashira 3 East
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 8-7, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 West
Yutakayama has begun delivering on his promise over the last few basho. If his results have caught up to his size and athleticism, he will make noise in the Sanyaku before long. Of course, for Hatsu, he's at a much higher rank and needs to prove himself again.
御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi
Maegashira 3 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 12-3 Y
Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East
MItakeumi has not been missing from the dohyo, but he has been looking less than 100% healthy over the last two basho. There's no denying he has as much potential as anyone, but if injuries are beginning to accumulate, then a return to Sekiwake becomes even tougher.
炎鵬 晃 | Enho Akira
Maegashira 4 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West
The little rikshi who could keeps slowly climbing up the rankings. Enho's unorthodox style, which is tied to his small stature for sumo, has brought him four straight winning records. How long he can keep it up is an open question, but it will be fun to watch no matter what.
阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora
Maegashira 4 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 9-6, 9-6
Previous Rank: Komusubi East
Coming into Hatsu, Abi had knee troubles and showed up with a big bandage. It was evident in his sumo. Wild even at his best, Abi repeatedly lost his balance after showing little power. If he's recovered, he could make noise at this spot.
竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi
Maegashira 5 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 6-9, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West
Ryuden had a rather under-the-radar 10 win performance at Hatsu, thanks to more incredible surprises. Ryuden's ability to make a match awkward for his opponent is unparalleled, but is also less effective as he climbs the banzuke and faces more athletic competition.
阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya
Maegashira 5 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West
Onosho lost his first four matches at Hatsu, then went 9-2 over the rest of the basho. Formerly a devastating wrecking ball, knee injuries have made Onosho need to take more time, and he might have just made the right adjustments finally.
妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari
Maegashira 6 East
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 8-5-2, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West
Maegashira 1 proved just a bit too much for Myogiryu, as he only managed 5 wins. Interestingly, two of those were against the Yokozuna (who then went out injured). He will probably do better in Haru after falling down the Banzuke.
輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi
Maegashira 6 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 10-5, 6-9, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West
Kagayaki now has won 10 matches two basho in a row. Interestingly, 4 of his losses were to Tokushoryu, Yutakayama, Shodai, and Hokutofuji, who all had better records than he did. Kagayaki could still be poised to do well in Haru.
宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke
Maegashira 7 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East
The solid dependability of Takrafuji isn't necessarily going away, but he has had two straight losing records. He will never be overwhelmed, but his veteran presence also isn't enough to make him a threat for double-digit wins.
玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro
Maegashira 7 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 7-8, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East
Tamawashi had a very disappointing basho at Hatsu, only getting 5 wins. As a 35 year old, this could be a sign he is nearing retirement. On the other hand, it's Tamawashi, who has never missed a match his entire career and doesn't really look like slowing down.
松鳳山 裕也 | Shohozan Yuya
Maegashira 8 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 9-6, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East
Shohozan's power isn't what it used to be, and he's been compensating by being more strategic. It's worked well enough to make him hang around the kachi-koshi/make-koshi line in the mid-Maegashira ranks. Better than retirement for a 35 year old.
霧馬山 鐵雄 | Kiribayama Tetsuo
Maegashira 8 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo), 10-5 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 17 East
Not only did Kiribayama get 11 wins in his Makuuchi debut, he won his last eight matches to do it. He has a weird tendency to spin himself or his opponent around and end plenty of matches with okuridashi, the rear push out. Hatsu will prove if that keeps working up the Banzuke.
隆の勝 伸明 | Takanosho Nobuaki
Maegashira 9 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 10-5, 10-5 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East
Takanosho picked up a losing record, but 7-8 means he will stay at the same spot. For a young rikishi, this is a solid performance and proves he belongs in mid-Maegashira. Now he has to prove he can do a little more.
栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi
Maegashira 9 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 2-3-10, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West
5-10 for a recent former Ozeki is less than ideal, especially considering Tochinoshin lost his last five straight. But he was on the dohyo all 15 days and had his moments. The big Georgian has to be hoping a slide down the Banzuke can help recover his old sumo in some form.
佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi
Maegashira 10 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East
The best bet on the entire banzuke to be right around .500, Sadanoumi is a solid veteran who always maintains an even balance on the dohyo. He'll get overpowered sometimes and win decisively othertimes, but it will probably come out in the wash.
栃煌山 雄一郎 | Tochiozan Yuichiro
Maegashira 10 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 10-5 (Juryo), 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 East
Maybe the one tournament in Juryo was what Tochiozan needed to get back on track. He certainly looked much better in Hatsu than he had over the whole of 2019. He's firmly in Makuuchi again, so he needs to prove he can stay even longer.
千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa
Maegashira 11 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 9-6, 2-13
Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 East
Although his general sumo approach is best described as "fling yourself forward as hard as possible," Chiyotairyu has been much less effective of late. In particular, he has lost a step, which makes a huge difference for someone like him. He is still able to hang on in mid-Maegashira, though.
照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki
Maegashira 11 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 4-11
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 East
This is a kind of consistency, finally, but likely not the kind that Terutsuyoshi would want. His back-to-back 8-7 records mask that he can still be up and down. He managed both a five match winning streak to start the basho and four match losing streak to end it.
石浦 将勝 | Ishiura Masakatsu
Maegashira 12 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 9-6, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West
Ishiura was incredibly streaky at Hatsu, getting three losses then two wins then three losses then four wins then three losses. His sumo is generally wild in an attempt to overcome his frequent height disadvantage, but that also makes him sloppy and wild.
勢 翔太 | Ikioi Shota
Maegashira 12 West
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 11-4 (Juryo), 12-3 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 15 West
He looked healthier than he did in his last appearance in Makuuchi (it was a low bar), although Ikioi is still the beat up old man of sumo. The beat up old man took his veteran skills to a bare kachi-koshi, so he gets to stay in the top division.
琴奨菊 和弘 | Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro
Maegashira 13 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 East
Kotoshogiku keeps getting losing records, but the former Ozeki is losing at low enough levels that he isn't dropping to the second division just yet. A kachi-koshi would be exciting, even if it would be his last one.
碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke
Maegashira 13 West
Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 6-9, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 East
Aoiyama's style, stay big, keep your feet, and parry any opponent attack, might not be aging well. He has had three straight bad basho, which got worse at Hatsu. He's a good veteran with impressive size, so he could arrest his negative momentum, but it will take a hard slap down on his part.
魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro
Maegashira 14 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 11-4 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 West
Kaisei isn't as powerful as he used to be, but he is still absolutely massive and knows what to do with it. He got 8 wins that way, including Tokushoryu's only blemish. No reason to think he can't perform similarly for Haru.
錦木 徹也 | Nishikigi Tetsuya
Maegashira 14 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 4-11, 6-9
Previous Rank: Juryo 4 East
Nishikigi is yet another rikishi who seemed transformed after getting demoted to Juryo. He became overly reliant on a kimedashi, wrapping both his opponents' arms. Either he's refined that in Juryo, found another move, or was just beating up on lesser wrestlers in January.
剣翔 桃太郎 | Tsurugisho Momotaro
Maegashira 15 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East
Tsurugisho was holding his own, and then he got a knee injury that involved the wheelchair taking him off. Strangely, he didn't go kyujo, but he did have a 1-5 stretch from Day 8 to Day 13. Somehow, he got two wins on the last two days to avoid a Juryo demotion.
千代丸 一樹 | Chiyomaru Kazuki
Maegashira 15 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 9-6, 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West
A 6-9 was good enough to push Chiyomaru back down to the relegation zone, a position he has been in a lot recently. Unfortunately, for him, that has often led to a trip to Juryo.
東龍 強 | Azumaryu Tsuyoshi
Maegashira 16 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 11-4 (Juryo), 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira 15 East
Well, he did enough to stay in the top division, but that's the best you can say for Azumaryu's Hatsu performance. He didn't yo-yo again, but it would be a real feat if he could stay up for May.
志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo
Maegashira 16 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 West
When it comes to bad runs, Shimanoumi has had a real miserable one. In three basho, the best he's done is six wins. Despite winning 10 matches last May, he might just not be a really high quality Makuuchi rikishi.
明生 力 | Meisei Chikara
Maegashira 17 East
Last 3 Basho: 1-7-7, 6-9, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 East
Meisei had no offense whatsoever through the first week, and he finally wised up and went out with a leg problem. If he is fully fit, he's a young rikishi with some ability. If not, he could repeat his miserable Hatsu.
大奄美 元規 | Daiamami Genki
Maegashira 17 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo 6 East
Daiamami is back in the top division after a year down in Juryo. The question for him is whether he can stay in Makuuchi this time around. His track record suggests it is unlikely.
琴ノ若 傑太 | Kotonowaka Mashiro
Maegashira 18 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7 (Juryo), 10-5 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)
Sadogatake's newest Makuuchi wrestler is the stablemaster's son (and the previous stablemaster's grandson.) Kotonowaka has not been dominant in his rise through the lower levels, but he's been a consistent winner and he's only 22. Not surprisingly, he's a good technician who prefers the mawashi.