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Hatsu 2020 Rikishi Preview

The 42 men competing in Makuuchi for the first basho of 2020 have been announced. With that taken care of, we can get to the usual pre-basho Rikishi Preview.

(All photos from the Japan Sumo Association website.)

白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho

Yokozuna East

Stable: Miyagino

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 14-1 Y, 0-2-13, 12-3 J

Previous Rank: Yokozuna West

Hakuho went 14-1 for his record 43rd yusho, only succumbing to a Day Two upset from Daieisho. He doesn't quite look like vintage Hakuho, but he's probably still the best in the business. Also, for once there are few injury concerns.

鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo

Yokozuna West

Stable: Michinoku

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 0-1-14, 4-4-7, 14-1 Y

Previous Rank: Yokozuna East

Kakuryu was injured on the opening day of the Kyushu basho, but before he actually mounted the dohyo. One of the privileges of being a Yokozuna is that you can leave without demotion. He seems fine going into 2020, but he's always an injury worry at this point.

貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu

Ozeki East

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 12-3 J, 0-0-15

Previous Rank: Ozeki 2 East

Takakeisho had little training before Kyushu, and he was still dealing with a pectoral problem through the tournament. Despite that, he got 9 wins and is the most solid Ozeki at age 23. One of the better bets on the Banzuke.

豪栄道 豪太郎 | Goeido Gotaro

Ozeki West

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Osaka

Last 3 Basho: 0-2-13, 10-5, 3-5-7

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 East

Goeido's Kyushu was probably worse than even his worst case scenario for the tournament. In his opening day match versus Endo, Goeido rolled hard over his left ankle. He's kadoban for Hatsu, and is still hurting, but says he will compete.

朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki

Sekiwake East

Stable: Takasago

From: Toyama

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 J, 10-5, 7-8

Previous Rank: Komusubi 2 West

The ascent of Asanoyama continued at Kyushu, with 11 wins and a Jun-Yusho. How much farther he'll go is an open question, since he lost on the final day to Shodai and was told he is not on an Ozeki run. Still, he's one of the top men in sumo right now.

高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira

Sekiwake West

Stable: Taganoura

From: Ibaraki

Last 3 Basho: 3-5-7, 0-0-15, 8-3-4

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 West

The awful left elbow injury Takayasu suffered during Aki never healed and he eventually had to pull out of Kyushu too. That will see him down to Sekiwake for the first time in 2 1/2 years. With 10 wins, he can get back to Ozeki, but that's a tough ask.

阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora

Komusubi East

Stable: Shikoroyama

From: Saitama

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

Previous Rank: Komusubi 1 East

Abi has now gone 9-6 as the top Komusubi in two straight basho. That's good, but he'll want to improve. Arguably he did, looking better in Kyushu than Aki. If he reaches a new level, perhaps by doing anything on the Mawashi, watch out.

大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato

Komusubi West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Saitama

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East

3 straight 8-7 records has gotten Daieisho to Sanyaku. Being a Komusubi sucks, but he has beaten a Yokozuna in each of the last two tournaments. Double digit wins seems unlikely, but he'll probably stick around .500 for the basho. He usually does.

遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota

Maegashira 1 East

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Ishikawa

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

Previous Rank: Komusubi 1 West

Endo has been in essentially this spot the last two basho. He went 7-8 and 8-7. That steady, middle-of-the-road belies Endo being one of the more interesting rikishi match to match, who is as likely to grab a mawashi as push at an opponent.

妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari

Maegashira 1 West

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Hyogo

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East

Amid the chaos of Kyushu, Myogiryu kept healthy and kept chugging along. He is 33 and looked done for two years ago, but he's come back to be a better than average rikishi. Maegashira 1 might be the limit of his winning record level.

北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki

Maegashira 2 East

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Saitama

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

Previous Rank: Komusubi 2 East

Hokutofuji couldn't handle a Komusubi rank once again, but just barely. He is a fearsome pusher-thruster on his day, but is hugely prone to hot and cold streaks, even if it usually comes out even in the wash.

御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi

Maegashira 2 West

Stable: Dewanoumi

From: Nagano

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 12-3 Y, 9-6

Previous Rank: Sekiwake East

Mitakeumi has finally dropped out of Sanyaku for the first time since January 2017. Relatedly, November 2016 was the last time he went as bad as 9-6, which he followed with an 11-4. He will certainly be motivated to get back to Sanyaku and is very good when he's on.

玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro

Maegashira 3 East

Stable: Kataonami

From: Mongolia

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East

This tournament will be the one-year anniversary of Tamawashi's surprise yusho. Outside of that performance, Tamawashi is a tough, strong upper Maegashira wrestler. This is really his ideal spot on the Banzuke for an 8-7.

琴勇輝 一巖 | Kotoyuki Kazuyoshi

Maegashira 3 West

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Kagawa

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West

Kotyuki is slowly climbing the rankings, which it should be pointed out he did in 2016. After making it to Sanyaku then, he got knocked all the way back to Juryo and had to yo-yo between the top two divisions a few times. But Sanyaku ability is there.

隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi

Maegashira 4 East

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Shimane

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West

Okinoumi is in slightly better territory at Maegashira 4. He's a very good, veteran rikishi who will always be on-point strategically. At 34, Okinoumi can be outclassed physically. however.

正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya

Maegashira 4 West

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kumamoto

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 J, 3-12, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West

Shodai had by far his best basho in a long time in Kyushu after getting knocked down to Maegashira 10. Now he's back facing all the top-ranked wrestlers, he probably won't repeat that performance. But he did seem to find his sumo again somewhat in November.

明生 力 | Meisei Chikara

Maegashira 5 East

Stable: Tatsunami

From: Kagoshima

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 10-5, 4-11

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 West

Meisei has recently followed an odd pattern of doing really well and getting seriously promoted, then having a losing record. He has been lowered a few ranks once again, for what that's worth.

炎鵬 晃 | Enho Akira

Maegashira 5 West

Stable: Miyagino

From: Ishikawa

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West

Enho has steadily made his way towards the joi, and he's a few injuries above him away from facing Sanyaku wrestlers. It's impossible to say how his unique form, which is entirely due to his much smaller size than any opponent, will hold up in such a situation.

宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke

Maegashira 6 East

Stable: Isegahama

From: Aomori

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 East

Takarafuji has recently gone from going 7-8 or 8-7 to going 6-9 or 9-6. At Kyushu, he notched a 6-9 record, for what that's worth. He's not a powerhouse, but he's also not a pushover.

栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi

Maegashira 6 West

Stable: Kasugano

From: Georgia

Last 3 Basho: 2-3-10, 6-9, 0-6-9

Previous Rank: Sekiwake West

"Former Ozeki" is now probably permanently affixed to Tochinoshin. What the Georgian has to hope is that the injuries which have robbed him of so much power are not permanent. If he's back healthy, he will dominate here. If not, he's nearing retirement.

松鳳山 裕也 | Shohozan Yuya

Maegashira 7 East

Stable: Nishonoseki

From: Fukuoka

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 East

Shohozan, aged 35, is firmly in his crafty veteran phase, but it's starting to work really well. In particular, he's thrown in the occasional mawashi grab, after years of being a pusher/thruster. He'll stay around as long as he can keep surprising opponents.

阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya

Maegashira 7 West

Stable: Onomatsu

From: Aomori

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East

Onosho is firmly reestablishing himself as a mid-Maegashira wrestler. For a 23 year old, that's pretty good (he's younger than anyone in Makuuchi but Takakeisho). For someone who was a Komusubi two years ago, it shows that he is still not 100% over his leg injuries.

碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke

Maegashira 8 East

Stable: Kasugano

From: Bulgaria

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West

The Bulgarian Blue Mountain has had two rough basho in a row. Down in mid-Maegashira, he will no longer face Sanyaku. That makes him more likely to win with his trademark steady feet and parrying slaps.

竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi

Maegashira 8 West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Yamanashi

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West

Ryuden's awkward sumo has been unable to disrupt the best men in the sport with consistency. It's still annoying for anyone to face and something he has mastered. As usual, if the match goes on awhile and Ryuden has his opponent pretzeled, he will win.

隆の勝 伸明 | Takanosho Nobuaki

Maegashira 9 East

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Chiba

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West

This is the 25-year-old's second go at sticking in Makuuchi, and so far it's going a lot better. Traditionally a pusher, Takanosho had six of his 10 wins in Kyushu by yorikiri. That kind of balance bodes well for continued success.

豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota

Maegashira 9 West

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Niigata

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 West

University man Yutakayama always looks like he should be hurtling toward Sanyaku, blessed with prototypical size and good skills. However, that hasn't translated to overwhelming success just yet, but he is on a winning streak.

佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi

Maegashira 10 East

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Kumamoto

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West

Sadanoumi continues being the solid veteran of the mid-Maegashira. He will always approach a match with excellent fundamentals, which typically means he can hover right around even across a tournament.

石浦 将勝 | Ishiura Masakatsu

Maegashira 10 West

Stable: Miyagino

From: Tottori

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 East

Ishiura came back up from Juryo in September leaner and more muscular, while also featuring a sumo less reliant on tricks. Those changes have made Ishiura a more capable Makuuchi caliber wrestler.

千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa

Maegashira 11 East

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 2-13, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West

Chiyotairyu fell well down the Banzuke after his poor Aki basho, and he did alright at Kyushu. The cannonball approach to the tachiai means he will win or lose a match in the first few seconds, but its usually pretty effective.

輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi

Maegashira 11 West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Ishikawa

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 West

Kagayaki was in danger of tumbling back to juryo at Kyushu, but instead delivered double-digit wins. Fundamentally, he looked stronger than he has in awhile. If he's re-found his sumo,he is still young enough to begin making some noise.

剣翔 桃太郎 | Tsurugisho Momotaro

Maegashira 12 East

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 10-5, 13-2 Y (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East

Tsurugisho made a good impression coming up from Juryo at Aki. He did less well at a higher rank in Kysuhu, when he notched a 9-6. A friendlier rank and a new year could see him rebound to some better sumo.

千代丸 一樹 | Chiyomaru Kazuki

Maegashira 12 West

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Kagoshima

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 East

Chiyomaru achieved his first winning record in Makuuchi since January 2018 in November. Whether he can repeat that feat is tough to say, but he is a very big and surprisingly agile rikishi.

琴奨菊 和弘 | Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro

Maegashira 13 East

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Fukuoka

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East

Kotoshogiku seems to be sliding down the rankings one basho at a time. He is edging closer to the Juryo relegation zone, although he'd need a disaster to actually drop. The 35 year old former Ozeki has not been in Juryo since 2005 and would likely retire if he did fall that far. (He already owns an elder stock.)

琴恵光 充憲 | Kotoeko Mitsunori

Maegashira 13 West

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Miyazaki

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West

Kotoeko had a rather unpleasant Kyushu basho, getting pushed around and out way too often. He is one of those rikishi who is equally likely to grapple or push, but maybe he's more lucky in Makuuchi grabbing a mawashi.

照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki

Maegashira 14 East

Stable: Isegahama

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 4-11, 12-3

Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 East

Terutsuyoshi rebounded slightly from his disastrous Aki basho. His style is very straightforward, get under and push up really hard, but works when he's faster at the tachiai. Refining that is key to him permanently moving up the banzuke.

志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo

Maegashira 14 West

Stable: Kise

From: Mie

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

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East

Shimanoumi had a brilliant start to his Makuuchi career in May, but has struggled of late. The basic facts about Shimanoumi are that he is 30 years old and has a bizarre, chaotic style.

東龍 強 | Azumaryu Tsuyoshi

Maegashira 15 East

Stable: Tamanoi

From: Mongolia

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

Previous Rank: Juryo 1 East

Azumaryu returns to Mauuchi after one basho in Juryo, where he won a four way playoff for the yusho. That was after a one basho trip to Makuuchi after a five year hiatus from the top division. Predicting what he'll do is extremely difficult.

勢 翔太 | Ikioi Shota

Maegashira 15 West

Stable: Isenoumi

From: Osaka

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 12-3 (Juryo), 5-10

Previous Rank: Juryo 3 East

Famous for never missing a single match, Ikioi was so beat up in early 2019 that he seemed destined for retirement. Instead, he fought from the bottom of Juryo, wroking his way into shape, and being in the four-way yusho playoff for Juryo at Kyushu. Now he's returned to Makuuchi.

栃煌山 雄一郎 | Tochiozan Yuichiro

Maegashira 16 East

Stable: Kasugano

From: Kochi

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

Previous Rank: Juryo 2 East

Tohciozan was in Juryo during Kyushu for the first time since 2007, when he was 20. He bounced right back up with 10 wins and is probably looking to have another extended stay in the top division.

魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro

Maegashira 16 West

Stable: Tomozuna

From: Brazil

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 3-5-7

Previous Rank: Juryo 5 East

Kaisei too was part of the Juryo yusho playoff at Kyushu and got himself a promotion to Makuuchi after two basho in the second division. The big Brazilian has found health and still has his power and strength.

霧馬山 鐵雄 | Kiribayama Tetsuo

Maegashira 17 East

Stable: Michinoku

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 7-8 (Juryo), 10-5 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 5 West

Kiribayama is the Hatsu basho's only Makuuchi debutante. The 23-year-old Mongolian has bounced back from two injuries in the lower divisions to make it to Makuuchi. He was also the fourth member of the Juryo yusho playoff in Kyushu.

徳勝龍 誠 | Tokushoryu Makoto

Maegashira 17 West

Stable: Kise

From: Nara

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

Previous Rank: Juryo 1 West

Tokushoryu has returned to the top division with simple kachi-koshi in two straight tournaments. That is not the best sign he is ready for Makuuchi. Neither is his 4-11 the last time he was here in May 2019.

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