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Haru 2021 Rikishi Preview

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

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白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho

Yokozuna East

Stable: Miyagino

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 0-0-15, 0-0-15

Previous Rank: Yokozuna East

Hakuho has not participated in three straight basho, the last one because of a positive COVID test. He is still the best ever, and he did win the basho a year ago. The White Peng is close to the end of his career, but he's probably still aiming for at least one more Emperor's Cup.

鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo

Yokozuna West

Stable: Michinoku

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 0-0-15, 0-0-15

Kakuryu last completed a basho a year ago, which is the Yokozuna's prerogative. The Crane Dragon has been pushing that prerogative to its limit and has looked like he's about to retire for a few months. He's been talking himself up of late, though.

正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya

Ozeki 1 East

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kumamoto

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 J, 3-2-10, 13-2 Y

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 West

Shodai easily could have won the yusho last time out, and proved he was worthy of his Ozeki promotion. That did come after being at 11 wins after Day 13, so he failed to take the chance he had for another yusho. Shodai has become one of the best sekitori over the past year, and he is among the favorites heading into Haru.

朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki

Ozeki 1 West

Stable: Takasago

From: Toyama

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 J, 1-2-12, 10-5

Previous Rank: Ozeki 2 East

The last time Asanoyama was healthy and didn't get double digit wins was July 2019. No one has been more consistent over the last two years than the Mountain of the Morning. Of course, he has no Yusho in there (but 3 Jun-Yusho), but 10 wins is always impressive.

貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu

Ozeki 2 East

Stable: Tokiwayama

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 2-8-5, 13-2 Y, 12-3 J

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 East

So the Yokozuna run did not go well at Hatsu. Takakeisho was clearly injured even before departing with an ankle injury on Day 10, lacking any power or thrust. He is kadoban for Haru and needs 8 wins to stay at Ozeki, but if he's recovered that should be more than doable.

照ノ富士 春雄 | Terunofuji Haruo

Sekiwake East

Stable: Mongolia

From: Isegahama

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 J, 13-2, 8-5-2

Previous Rank: Sekiwake East

The thing standing between Terunofuji and a return to Ozeki after 3 1/2 years is probably 10 wins. Maybe he needs one or two more to seal it, but that's within his reach. Well, barring the usual warning with Terunofuji, that his knees have to hold up.

隆の勝 伸明 | Takanosho Nobuaki

Sekiwake West

Stable: Tokiwayama

From: Chiba

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 10-5

Previous Rank: Sekiwake West

Takanosho has quietly become a solid Sanyaku wrestler. There are other intrigues in sumo right now, but Takanosho has taken a turn for the better by simplifying his sumo and not beating himself. Now the question is if he can take his pushing style to the next level.

高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira

Komusubi 1 East

Stable: Taganoura

From: Ibaraki

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 10-5

Previous Rank: Komusubi East

Takayasu has reestablished himself as a Sanyku wrestler, after injuries dropped him from his Ozeki rank. He hasn't quite returned to Ozeki form, but he is getting consistent kachi-koshi. The current Takayasu is more of a cagey veteran, but as always he can still outlast anyone.

御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi

Komusubi 1 West

Stable: Dewanoumi

From: Nagano

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-7

Previous Rank: Komusubi West

Is it good to be Mr. Lower Sanyaku? Mitakeumi has firmly established himself as one of the 10 best rikishi in sumo, but he hasn't really made a threat at becoming one of the 5 best. And that's Mitakeumi problem in a nutshell.

大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato

Komusubi 1 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Saitama

Last 3 Basho: 13-2 Y, 10-5, 5-10

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West

Daieisho managed to take his sumo to the next level in January, collecting 13 wins and the yusho. He is now a Komusubi, which could be seen as an insult after a Sekiwake quality performance. But lower Sanyaku is crowded and the Sumo Association are basically telling Daieisho to keep winning. He just might be able to.

宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke

Maegashira 1 East

Stable: Isegahama

From: Aomori

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 9-6, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East

Somehow, the solid, redoubtable veteran Takarafuji has creeped up the Banzuke to the top Maegashira slot. His back-to-back 9 win performances are nice, but he hasn't had 10 wins since 2016. At a minimum, he will be a tough out for any rikishi in the top portion of the rankings.

阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya

Maegashira 1 West

Stable: Onomatsu

From: Aomori

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 West

Onosho is once again almost at the Sanyaku ranks, which he hasn't seen since his injury in January 2018. He was 21 then, and a force of nature. Now, at 24, he is finding a veteran form that works for him, which is still based on pushing and thrusting but less wild.

北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki

Maegashira 2 East

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Saitama

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 11-4, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East

Hokutofuji seems to have settled in to the upper Maegashira ranks, a tough competitor who rarely challenges for the yusho. At 28, he might not move much higher on the Banzuke, but he's a barrier to anyone looking to go up at least.

若隆景 渥| Wakatakakage Atsushi

Maegashira 2 West

Stable: Arashio

From: Fukushima

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 7-8, 11-4

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 West

Wakatakage not only missed the last basho in the COVID wave, but he tested positive AND had symptoms. He's apparently recovered, and he keeps his rank. Before his diagnosis, he was poised to possibly break into Sanyaku after a strong 2020.

明生 力| Meisei Chikara

Maegashira 3 East

Stable: Tatsunami

From: Kagoshima

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 9-6, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East

Meisei has resumed his steady climb up the Banzuke that was interrupted with an injury in January 2020. Maegashira 3 is right when his competition will get much tougher.

志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo

Maegashira 3 West

Stable: Kise

From: Mie

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 11-4, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East

In November, Shimanoumi looked like he was on the fast track down to Juryo. He then got 11 wins, followed by 9 in January, to get himself to the joi-jin. He certainly has a distinctive style, looking like a constant motion machince forced to operate in limited space.

霧馬山 鐵雄 | Kiribayama Tetsuo

Maegashira 4 East

Stable: Michinoku

From: Mongolia

Previous 3 Basho: 8-7, 3-12, 9-4-2

Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West

Kiribayama is at an odd crossroads, as he is just off the joi-jin and could vault himself to the Sanyaku after a bad first shot in this range of the Banzuke. He is 24 and immensely talented, but he is also remarkably streaky on the dohyo.

妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari

Maegashira 4 West

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 4-11, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 West

Myogiryu's crafty veteran phase is interesting because he actually isn't really a crafty veteran. Despite being 34 and having made his Makuuchi debut nearly a decade ago, Myogiryu is reliant on athleticism and getting the better on his opponents from the jump. It still worked enough for a kachi-koshi last time.

遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota

Maegashira 5 East

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Ishikawa

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 8-7, 3-9-3

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 East

Endo seems to have not quite recovered from the knee issue that made him depart the September tournament early. The good news for Endo is he is skilled and unpredictable enough to hang around .500 even when he is less than 100%.

隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi

Maegashira 5 West

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Shimane

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 4-11

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West

Okinoumi isn't quite going from experienced veteran to just a little too old, but he is sliding down the banzuke a bit. He will stand his ground and make his opponent work in every match. The question is now whether her can do more.

玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro

Maegashira 6 East

Stable: Kataonami

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West

Tamawashi isn't quite as forceful as he used to be, but he's still a lot to handle on the dohyo. The Bullet Eagle is just unpleasant, shoving his hand into any and everyone's neck. Recently, that hasn't led to as many wins.

逸ノ城 駿 | Ichinojo Takashi

Maegashira 6 West

Stable: Minato

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East

Just two years ago, Ichinojo was a Sekiwake with a 14-1 Jun-Yusho. Then, he suffered a knee injury that led to a back injury. Now, the First of the Castle might just be on his way back to the top of the Banzuke, but it's going a little slow.

栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi

Maegashira 7 East

Stable: Kasugano

From: Georgia

Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 9-6, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East

The big Georgian had a basho to forget in January, after a very good one in November. Tochinoshin can no longer perform his signature power lift maneuver. Instead, he's often employing this odd had step lift so he can hit down his opponent from the side, producing such mixed results.

輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi

Maegashira 7 West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Ishikawa

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 5-10, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West

Kagayaki is blessed with prototypical size and a good base of skills, yet somehow the sum of it all doesn't quite work. Kagayaki is rarely overwhelmed in a match, but he never really overpowers anyone either. He need to find an extra something in order to get out of this rut.

翔猿 正也| Tobizaru Masaya

Maegashira 8 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 11-4

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West

The Flying Monkey joined Makuuchi with all guns blazing in September. Since that 11 win mark, Tobizaru has had back to back 6 win performances. He's extremely exciting and easily one of the most fun rikishi, but that doesn't always mean he's racking up wins.

千代の国 憲輝 | Chiyonokuni Toshiki

Maegashira 9 East

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Mie

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 10-5, 14-1 Y (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East

Of all the wrestlers who missed January because of COVID protocols, Chiyonokuni might have been the most intriguing. November saw Chiyonokuni make his comeback to Makuuchi after a two-year recovery from a leg injury that saw him go down to Makushita. Now, March is the time to see whether he can build on his 10 win re-debut.

豊昇龍 智勝 | Hoshoryu Tomokatsu

Maegashira 9 West

Stable: Tatsunami

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 East

In January, Hoshoryu lost his first 5 matches, won his next 9, and lost his final bout. That mid-basho turnaround was fueled by a level of trickery from Hoshoryu, who only won one match by yorikiri. He will have throws, sidesteps, and twists, and now it remains to be seen if it can keep working.

翠富士 一成| Midorifuji Kazunari

Maegashira 10 East

Stable: Isegahama

From: Shizuoka

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 10-5 Y (Juryo), 11-4 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 West

Midorifuji won the technique prize in his Makuuchi debut during Hatsu, in part thanks to getting 6 of his 9 wins with the katasukashi, or underarm swing down. In other words, he's a lot of fun. He is also undersized and can be swallowed up, so he might need to adjust to the behemoths of the top division.

竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi

Maegashira 10 West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Yamanashi

Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 9-6, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East

Ryuden's odd pretzel sumo was not nearly as effective in January, which happens to him. Weirdly, it has been better for him the lower down the banzuke he gets. Ryuden below Maegashira 8 is just a different proposition.

千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa

Maegashira 11 East

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 9-6, 5-8-2

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 East

Chiyotairyu, like all of Kononoe-beya, missed January due to COVID restrictions. So it is still an open question if he can build on his 9 wins from November. He is 32, and his straight ahead, overpowering style should not age well. But the real test is on the dohyo.

琴勝峰 吉成| Kotoshoho Yoshinari

Maegashira 11 West

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Chiba

Last 3 Basho: 2-13, 8-7, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 East

Kotoshoho's first crack in the upper echelon of the Banzuke was a disaster. During Hatsu, Kotoshoho managed just two wins, one of which was on the final day against lowest-ranked Makuuchi rikishi Sadanoumi due to an accidental step out. He is hoping for an improvement, and his talent should allow it to happen.

明瀬山 光彦 | Akiseyama Mitsuhiko

Maegashira 12 East

Stable: Kise

From: Aichi

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 9-6 (Juryo), 11-4 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 West

Sumo fans like to point out that the popular image of sumo wrestlers as fat guys wearing next to nothing grabbing each others fat folds is wrong. Akiseyama seems to exist to fill the popular stereotype. His slow motion, steady grappling brand of sumo was good enough for 9 wins on his return to Makuuchi.

碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke

Maegashira 12 West

Stable: Kasugano

From: Bulgaria

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West

The Big Bulgarian Blue Mountain looks like he always has, massive, upright, and deflecting his opponent's best sumo with constant thrusts. That hasn't translated to winning records of late, which is a sign he might be slowing down. Aoiyama is 34 in a sport that is unkind to aging, but he also feels like the kind of sekitori who will fall very slowly down the rankings.

照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki

Maegashira 13 East

Stable: Isegahama

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 5-10, 5-10

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West

Terutsuyoshi's pre-match salt throw is still magnificent, but his sumo has been less so. He is an undersized rikishi who is at his best while overpowering his opponents, which is a finely tuned way to win. He is not always so finely tuned.

千代翔馬 富士雄 | Chiyoshoma Fujio

Maegashira 13 West

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 8-7, 9-6 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 East

Chiyoshoma is all tricks and deception, which usually means he doesn't stay in Makuuchi long. After missing January with the rest of his heya because of COVID, that could mean he will surprise once again rather than fall into a pattern of obvious trickery.

琴恵光 充憲| Kotoeko Mitsunori

Maegashira 14 East

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Miyazaki

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West

Kotoeko is on a trajectory to head back down to Juryo soon. That's not an inevitability, but two straight 6-9's is sticking him in demotion territory if he has a third straight 6-9 basho.

剣翔 桃太郎 | Tsurugisho Momotaro

Maegashira 14 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 12-3 Y (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 8 East

Tsurugisho has basically been a Juryo wrestler for the last 5 years, with a very brief sojourn in Makuuchi last year. So his 12 win yusho in Juryo during Hatus was a bit of a shock. Juryo was even more disrupted by COVID withdrawals than Makuuchi, so it is hard to say whether he found a new brand of sumo or not.

豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota

Maegashira 15 East

Stable: Tokitsukaze

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 6-9, 2-6-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East

There is a version of Yutakayama that should be nudging towards Sanyaku, but the last year has made that seem like a distant memory. Despite prototypical size and very good fundamentals, Yutakayama has not put things together right recently. He needs to figure that out if he wants to stay in the top division.

英乃海 拓也| Hidenoumi Takuya

Maegashira 15 West

Stable: Kise

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 6 West

Hidenoumi is back in Makuuchi for the first time since March 2018. Meanwhile, he has been a steady Juryo performer, and his younger brother, Tobizaru, has made it to the top division. 11 wins got him back to join his brother.

魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro

Maegashira 16 East

Stable: Tomozuna

From: Brazil

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 6-9, 7-8, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West

Kaisei was among the wrestlers forced to sit out the January Basho. This means his crossroads is due for March. Kaisei is a powerful veteran who has noticeably slowed down of late, and a series of make-koshi has placed him right against Juryo.

大奄美 元規 | Daiamami Genki

Maegashira 16 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Kagoshima

Last 3 Basho: 8-7 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 1 West

Daiamami just sneaked in to Makuuchi with a bare kachi-koshi from Juryo 1. His previous brief appearances in Makuuchi have not gone very well. Both of those are indicators that he might not succeed in March, but anything can happen.

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