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Haru 2023 Day Four



Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Maneuver

Hatakikomi. Abi slapped down Takakeisho so easily after one pulling attempt that it seems notable enough he could pull it off.


Match of the Day

24 Maegashira #8 East Ichiyamamoto versus 29 Maegashira #10 West Nishikifuji

This match very quickly saw each man grab a grip, which by all rights should have been curtains for Ichiyamamoto. He has been struggling and is always at a disadvantage in a belt battle. Nishikifuji never let go and kept at it, but Ichiyamamoto reset the match again and again. Finally, Nishikifuji needed enough power to win by the frontal crush out.


Recap

If Takakeisho makes Yokozuna, it will be because he wins out or loses just one more. Apart from the general difficulty of winning eleven matches in a row, Takakeisho is clearly dealing with a lower body issue. He is walking gingerly and showed no ability to keep his balance when Abi moved sideways for a pulling attempt. He is probably best pulling out and working to keep his Ozeki rank in May. One or two more losses may seal that outcome. Takakeisho isn't the only top ranked rikishi to look like he may be fighting through an injury. Both Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu also seem to have less than ideal lower-body power, although Hoshoryu has found a way to win twice.

This problematic top-ranked trio gives space for a number of other rikishi to shine. Daieisho looks on his yusho-winning form at Komusubi at 4-0, and anyone who wants to get in his way will get a fearsome tsuppari attack. Kiribayama and Kotonowaka are two younger guys with Ozeki potential that could get closer to that promotion with a strong basho. Tobizaru was taking advantage of the wreckage until he got yanked around by previously winless Ryuden on Day Four. Shodai seems to have his real strength back and is doing his excellent defensive sumo again.

This group will start to beat each other up, and Shodai-Daieisho and Kotonowaka-Tobizaru are two of the more interesting Day Five matches. Some of the meat grinder nature of a basho reared its head on Day Four. Nine men came in unbeated, but only five stayed that way as Tobizaru, Ura, Daishoho, and Tsurugisho all picked up their first loss. Zensho yusho are rare for a reason, and the safe assumption is that someone will pick up a loss a few times during a tournament.

That is especially true for Maegashira. Midorifuji, Takayasu, Nishikifuji, and Hokuseiho are the undefeated Maegashira right now. Midorifuji and Nishikifuji are undersized but skillful rikishi who are still finding their ultimate level. They also can't face each other, as both beling to Isegahama stable. Takayasu is one of the best rikishi in sumo now, but injuries always leave a small cloud over his performances. Hokuseiho is big, impressive, and will be a sensational rikishi in the future. He's also 21 and in his debut Makuuchi basho, so betting on him to keep winning seems far-fetched.

But if the Yokozuna promotion is fading as a possibility, many other scenarios can rear their head. Takakeisho being able to hang around and grind out 10 wins keeps him at Ozeki but also impacts the Sanyaku men going for the yusho. The Mid-Maegashira will all have to face each other. At some point, someone in Makuuchi will figure out Hokuseiho. (Or it could be Juryo visitor Ichinojo on Day FIve, since that's one rikishi who isn't totally dwarfed by the Giant from Miyagino-beya.) All of those could impact the yusho race directly, and that's before we get to the second week.
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