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Haru 2023 Day Nine




Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Yusho Arasoi

9 wins 19 Maegashira #5 West Midorifuji


8 wins 08 Komusubi #2 East Daieisho


7 wins 07 Komusubi #1 West Kotonowaka 20 Maegashira #6 East Endo 23 Maegashira #7 West Takayasu


Notable Maneuvers

Henka. Day Nine was an illustration both that a sidestep can embarass the man facing the henka (Kotoeko over Oho) and can embarass the man doing the henka (Hoshoryu over Tobizaru.) Moving sideways at the jump is frowned upon AND not a guaranteed win.


Match of the Day

11 Maegashira #1 West Shodai versus 07 Komusubi #1 West Kotonowaka

This was an interesting strategic battle, as Shodai got the initial advantage by pushing Kotonowaka back after an even tachiai. Yet Kotonowaka focused on not letting Shodai get any kind of grip. That allowed the Scion of Sadogatake to push back from the tawara and send Shodai reeling. Back in the middle of the dohyo, the two reengaged, but it was all Kotonowaka because he got a grip first well into the match and pushed him out.


Recap

The very top of the leaderboard remained the same, as Midorifuji and Daieisho both won to stay undefeated and at 1 loss respectively. The chase group was thinned by two, because Kinbozan was blown up Nishikifuji and Shodai lost his matchup with fellow 6-2 wrestler Kotonowaka. Now the three men with an outside shot at the yusho behind leaders Midorifuji and Daieisho are Kotonowaka, Endo, and Takayasu.

The way that quintet has matched up already is interesting when gaming out the last six days. Daieisho has already beaten Kotonowaka. Midorifuji has already beaten both Endo and Takayasu. Endo's two losses are to Midorifuji and Takayasu. The fun matchups that could happen between these five are actually quite limited. Midorifuji is seeing a jump in strength of schedule on Day Ten by facing his first wrestler ranked above Maegashira #4. That will be Komusubi Tobizaru, who is 4-5. Apparently, the schedulers think Midorifuji must face that test before seeing Daieisho or Kotonowaka.

In theory, anyone three losses back with six days left has a shot. There are nine wrestlers, including the Sekiwake combo of Hoshoryu and Kiribayama and Komusubi Wakamotoharu. The problem is all nine need both Midorifuji and Daieisho to fall apart as well as win out themselves. The Sanyaku men do still largely need to face each other at this point, making Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, and Wakamotoharu able to control their fates a little more. Hoshoryu gets the first chance when he squares off with Daieisho on Day Ten.

The issue for everyone who is not Midorifuji is that he will control the leaderboard just by continuing to win. He is looking like he should keep winning. He handled Ura with power on Day Nine, showing he can beat fellow tricksters with straight ahead sumo when needed. He will see an increase in opponent difficulty, but he is demonstrating he has the talent to hang with the best. Daieisho will see him at some point, presumably on the final day if they both keep winning.

What seems likely is that we will have yet another surprise winner. Daieisho is the only contender mentioned above who has already won a yusho. Takayasu does have seven jun-yusho, while Kiribayama was the runner-up in January. Something new will happen, even if it's not related to the yusho. Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, and Kotonowaka are younger rikishi who could be building Ozeki runs if they get double-digit wins as Sanyaku wrestlers. There are six matches left for everyone (except Onosho, who just went kyujo), and lots of them are fighting for many things including the yusho.
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