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Hatsu 2022 Rikishi Preview

The Hatsu basho is almost here! You can still sign up to play on Fantasizr. Use this preview to make your final decision before sumo starts. (Or change on Day Two because Day One didn't go so well.)

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01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji

Terunofuji Haruo | 照ノ富士 春雄

Yokozuna East

Isegahama | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 15-0 Yusho

Terunofuji capped his banner year with a zensho yusho in November. Now he is the sole Yokozuna with an undefeated championship under his belt. He is not just the favorite coming into Hatsu, but maybe should be picked over the field. That is how dominant he is right now.







02 Ozeki East Takakeisho

Takakeisho Mitsunobu | 貴景勝 光信

Ozeki East

Tokiwayama | Hyogo

Kyushu 2021: 12-3 Jun-Yusho

"A Yokozuna, if he can stay healthy." 2021 proved that axiom was even more true for Takakeisho, as he crashed out of his chance at a rope run in January and had another injury absence in July. But he also had two Jun-Yusho, and he is the most likely candidate to topple Terunofuji in any single basho.





03 Ozeki West Shodai

Shodai Naoya | 正代 直也

Ozeki West

Tokitsukaze | Kumamoto

Kyushu 2021: 9-6

Shodai has maintained his Ozeki rank for eight basho, which isn't nothing. He also had an 11 win Jun-Yusho in January, then had no more double-digit win bashos for 2021. Shodai can win more than he loses against the current crop of the top rikishi, but he's not been fighting like he can challenge for a yusho.







04 Sekiwake East MItakeumi

Mitakeumi Hisashi | 御嶽海 久司

Sekiwake East

Dewanoumi | Nagano

Kyushu 2021: 11-4

Hatsu 2022 will be Mitakeumi's 28th basho ranked in the lower Sanyaku. That isn't the record (Kotonishiki had 34 basho at Sekiwake or Komusubi in the 1990s), but he's on the leaderboard. He has two yusho, and staying at this level means he is better than most other rikishi. It seems like a guarantee he'll be solid for Hatsu, with a small potential for more.






05 Sekiwake West Takanosho

Takanosho Nobuaki | 隆の勝 伸明

Sekiwake West

Tokiwayama | Chiba

Kyushu 2021: 11-4 Fighting Spirit Prize

The question for Takanosho is "What is the ceiling for his career?" He seems to have slowly upped that throughout his career, but now he is on the door of Ozeki. To make that jump, Takanosho must perform the best sumo of his life yet again.






06 Komusubi East Meisei

Meisei Chikara | 明生 力

Komusubi East

Tatsunami | Kagashima

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Going 7-8 is usually not ideal for a sumo wrestler, but Meisei proved he could hang around the kachi-koshi line in the Sanyaku ranks in November. But hanging around .500 is a way to bounce between lower Sanyaku and Maegashira 1 and 2. He next needs to find a way to collect ten wins or more to make the next push.






07 Komusubi West Daieisho

Daieisho Hayato | 大栄翔 勇人

Komusubi West

Oitekaze | Saitama

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

Daieisho has had some spectacular bashos in his career, most notably his 13-2 yusho a year ago now. Yet after January, he once again had up and down performances and he is in the last Sanyaku spot. He can deliver in a big way, but it's no guarantee from basho to basho.







08 Maegashira #1 East Wakatakakage

Wakatakakage Atsushi | 若隆景 渥

Maegashira #1 East

Arashio | Fukushima

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

Wakatakakage is a former university standout who has made steady progress up the rankings. Now he is at the point where steady won't do it, and he needs to find that next gear. While a technician and never outdone strategically, Wakatakakage might not have the athleticism to dominate his competitors at an Ozeki level.



09 Maegashira #1 West Kiribayama

Kiribayama Tetsuo | 霧馬山 鐵雄

Maegashira #1 West

Michinoku | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 6-9

Kiribayama had a very rude awakening to his first Sanyaku appearance, losing his first five matches as a Komusubi. After that, he went 6-4, although that also coincided with facing the Maegashira ranks. The Misty Horse Morning is 25, already successful, and immensely talented. He has the potential to put it all together and make a leap.






10 Maegashira #2 East Ura

Ura Kazuki | 宇良 和輝

Maegashira #2 East

Kise | Osaka

Kyushu 2021: 10-5 Technique Prize

Remarkably, this is Ura's career high rank, meaning he has surpassed his pre-injury heights from 2017. Ura is still a bundle of techniques and more athletic than most, but his current style has a notable restraint like he's waiting to set a trap. It got him 10 wins and the technique prize in November, but also means he'll face stiffer competition.






11 Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo

Ichinojo Takashi | 逸ノ城 駿

Maegashira #2 West

Minato | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 5-10

Ichinojo had an awful time in Fukuoka, notching a 5-10 record during the November tournament. That was his worst result in a while, and he will continue to be bigger than anyone else he faces. Of course, that isn't everything in sumo, and his size also creates problems for him when gets moved backwards.







12 Maegashira #3 East Tamawashi

Tamawashi Ichiro | 玉鷲 一朗

Maegashira #3 East

Kataonami | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 9-6

The Bullet Eagle is no longer a Sanyaku mainstay, and at 37 he now looks outmatched occasionally. But Tamawashi is still hanging around as a tough opponent for anyone with his trademark nodowa. He's almost like the gatekeeper for rikishi who want to make their way up to the top of the Banzuke. Wanna be in Sanyaku? Survive a Tamawashi palm to your throat.





13 Maegashira #3 West Endo

Endo Shota | 遠藤 聖大

Maegashira #3 West

Oitekaze | Ishikawa

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

Endo made his Makuuchi debut over eight years ago, and it's still hard to know what to make of him. He is strong at both grappling and pushing, and he often seems indecisive about whether he would prefer a yotsu or an oshi match. When he hasn't dealt with minor injuries over the past few years, he has been more likely than not to get a winning record.






14 Maegashira #4 East Okinoumi

Okinoumi Ayumi | 隠岐の海 歩

Maegashira #4 East

Hakkaku | Shimane

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Okinoumi is 36 and almost always at an athletic disadvantage nowadays. But he is so fundamentally sound and strategically on-point that he keeps hanging around. He is unlikely to get double-digit wins at this rank, but he will be difficult for anyone he faces.








15 Maegashira #4 West Hokutofuji

Hokutofuji Daiki | 北勝富士 大輝

Maegashira #4 West

Hakkaku | Saitama

Kyushu 2021: 11-4

Hokutofuji was at an injury-induced low rank of Maegashira 12 for Kyushu, and he got 11 wins in November as a result. He probably won't replicate that back in the upper Maegashira ranks, but this is his real level. While still a pusher-thruster first and foremost, Hokutofuji is now able to hold his own in a belt battle and can do a little more than he used to.






16 Maegashira #5 East Onosho

Onosho Fumiya | 阿武咲 奎也

Maegashira #5 East

Onomatsu | Aomori

Kyushu 2021: 5-10

Onosho's up-and-down career was down again for Kyushu 2021. He still feels immensely talented, but like he just can't put things together right. When Onosho gets into the chest of an opponent, few are better. The problem is often that he is equally likely to get to the side or go too far forward or hit too high.







17 Maegashira #5 West Chiyoshoma

Chiyoshoma Fujio | 千代翔馬 富士雄

Maegashira #5 West

Kokonoe | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

Chiyoshoma having the best run of his career as a 30 year old is certainly something. He is still a deeply strange rikishi, who is definitely the most likely Makuuchi wrestler to pull a henka. He also has an army of throws, and his most common winning kimarite is the uwatenage instead of the usual yorikiri or oshidashi.



18 Maegashira #6 East Hoshoryu

Hoshoryu Tomokatsu | 豊昇龍 智勝

Maegashira #6 East

Tatsunami | Mongolia

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Hoshoryu was a bit up and down over the last few basho, so it's worth remembering he is 61-57-2 in 9 Makuuchi basho and he won't be 23 until the final day of the May tournament. He is already a remarkably versatile rikishi, and he is always a handful even against the top ranked men. It's a matter of when, not if, he will make a leap.




19 Maegashira #6 West Abi

Abi Masatora | 阿炎 政虎

Maegashira #6 West

Shikoroyama | Saitama

Kyushu 2021: 12-3 Jun-Yusho; Fighting Spirit Prize

Abi is back, and literally better than ever, as he had his most wins in Makuuchi and a Jun-Yusho for November. He is the same Abi after his suspension and drop to Makuuchi, launching into a two handed tsuppari at his oponnent's neck from the beginning. Yet he also seems a little stronger, has more consistent footwork, and is more focused on the task at hand. We'll see how it plays at a higher rank now.





20 Maegashira #7 East Takayasu

Takayasu Akira | 高安 晃

Maegashira #7 East

Tagonoura | Ibaraki

Kyushu 2021: 6-9

Unfortunately, all of Takayasu's Tagonoura-beya will be missing from Hatsu after positive tests from lower-level rikishi, a hairdresser, and Tagonoura oyakata himself. Here's wishing everyone good health and that we'll see Takayasu in March.








21 Maegashira #7 West Takarafuji

Takarafuji Daisuke | 宝富士 大輔

Maegashira #7 West

Isegahama | Aomori

Kyushu 2021: 5-10

Takarafuji is a strong veteran who is solidly a mid-Maegashira, and when he strays into a rank where he may face the Sanyaku he struggles. That is a reason he had a 5-10 at Kyushu. He is usually in the 7-9 range when he gets a ranking outside the joi, as he does for Hatsu. (He is also a stablemate of Terunofuji, so he'll avoid the lone Yokozuna.)






22 Maegashira #8 East Hidenoumi

Hidenoumi Takuya | 英乃海 拓也

Maegashira #8 East

Kise | Tokyo

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

Hidenoumi is at the center of a gambling investigation, and he has already been suspended for the Hatsu basho.










23 Maegashira #8 West Tobizaru

Tobizaru Masaya | 翔猿 正也

Maegashira #8 West

Oitekaze | Tokyo

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

The Flying Monkey is at Maegashira #8 West for the third straight basho. More amazingly, Tobizaru went 7-8 in both of the previous basho. Even if he may not go 7-8 one more time at this rank, he's guaranteed to be in one of the most interesting matches each day.








24 Maegashira #9 East Chiyonokuni

Chiyonokuni Toshiki | 千代の国 憲輝

Maegashira #9 East

Kokonoe | Mie

Kyushu 2021: 9-6

Chiyonokuni is 31 and has a terrible injury history, so who knows where he'd be if he could have stayed healthy. As it is, he is coming off two straight 9 win bashos and is lodged firmly in the middle of Makuuchi. There is a version of Chiyonokuni that can be extremely dangerous, but is that version capable of mounting the dohyo?



25 Maegashira #9 West Shimanoumi

Shimanoumi Koyo | 志摩ノ海 航洋

Maegashira #9 West

Kise | Mie

Kyushu 2021: 5-10

Shimanoumi's two double-digit win bashos in Makuuchi came when he was near the bottom of the Banzuke. So he might not dominate at Hatsu, but he should do better than the 5 wins he had at Kyushu. His unique style, where he favors pushing but at an extremely close range and high intensity, does give him a slight advantage.



26 Maegashira #10 East Myogiryu

Myogiryu Yasunari | 妙義龍 泰成

Maegashira #10 East

Sakaigawa | Hyogo

Kyushu 2021: 2-13

Myogiryu had a surprising 11-4 basho in September, and then followed it up with a 2-13 tournament in November. That's sort of an extreme version of what Myogiryu's career has been like of late. The Maegashira #10 rank could be beneficial for him at Hatsu.







27 Maegashira #10 West Akua

Akua Shoma | 天空海 翔馬

Maegashira #10 West

Tatsunami | Ibaraki

Kyushu 2021: 9-6

Akua is at his career high rank for Hatsu. Which is Maegashira #10. At the age of 31. It is certainly an unusual career Akua has had. He has become a solid veteran who rarely beats himself, and that has launched him into mid-Maegashira-dom for the first time ever.







28 Maegashira #11 East Sadanoumi

Sadanoumi Takashi | 佐田の海 貴士

Maegashira #11 East

Sakaigawa | Kumamoto

Kyushu 2021: 9-6

Sadanoumi looked like he would be permanently back in Juryo in mid-2020 for an end of career coda. Then he came back up to Makuuchi for Kyushu 2021 and notched 9 wins. He keeps adding little tricks as he gets older, adding to the fact his athleticism hasn't waned too much.





29 Maegashira #11 West Terutsuyoshi

Terutsuyoshi Shoki | 照強 翔輝

Maegashira #11 West

Isegahama | Hyogo

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Terutusyoshi seems physically incapable of alternating wins and losses in a basho. Despite the win and loss streaks, Terutsuyoshi has usually ended up around 7-8 or 8-7. Maybe that is just how it works for an undersized riksihi who still tries to overpower opponents.






30 Maegashira #12 East Ishiura

Ishiura Shikanosuke | 石浦 鹿介

Maegashira #12 East

Miyagino | Tottori

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Ishiura has reestablished himself as a Maegashira by performing more straightforward sumo. Although undersized, Ishiura is muscular for a rikishi and can use his strength to boss many opponents. Of course, a straightforward, power yorikiri from Ishiura still involves twists and turns around the ring.







31 Maegashira #12 West Chiyotairyu

Chiyotairyu Hidemasa | 千代大龍 秀政

Maegashira #12 West

Kokonoe | Tokyo

Kyushu 2021: 6-9

Chiyotairyu seems bound and determined to launch himself as hard as possible into his opponent until that approach sends him to the lower divisions. Well, he's still here. Chiyotairyu is 33 now, and can't change his sumo at this point, so let's see how it goes.





32 Maegashira #13 East Chiyomaru

Chiyomaru Kazuki | 千代丸 一樹

Maegashira #13 East

Kokonoe | Kagoshima

Kyushu 2021: 8-7

The Eternally Round One has now had back-to-back kachi-koshi in Makuuchi for the first time since 2017. Whether he can make it three is down to his ability to use his particular body type to keep opponents away from him. The good news is we get Chiyomaru's presence in Makuuchi some more, even if he can't win much more.






33 Maegashira #13 West Yutakayama

Yutakayama Ryota | 豊山 亮太

Maegashira #13 West

Tokitsukaze | Niigata

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

Yutakayama looks like if someone wanted to create the model sumo wrestler in a lab. Unfortunately, his career has been a model of inconsistency, partly because of injury issues. He also is inconsistent because of a seeming indecisiveness in which of his natural gifts to use he will use until he can't use any of them.





34 Maegashira #14 East Kotonowaka

Kotonowaka Masahiro | 琴ノ若 傑太

Maegashira #14 East

Sadogatake | Chiba

Kyushu 2021: 6-9

Kotonowaka just turned 24, comes from a great sumo family, and has a bright future. That can obscure his past accomplishments, which include two double-digit win bashos and a Fighting Spirit Prize in July. If he has finally recovered from his injury in September, he could make trouble.




35 Maegashira #14 West Ichiyamamoto

Ichiyamamoto Daiki | 一山本 大生

Maegashira #14 West

Hanaregoma | Hokkaido

Kyushu 2021: 13-2 (Juryo)

Ichiyamamoto is back after dominating Juryo for a basho. His brief, two tournament run in Makuuchi during July and September resulted in an 8-7 and 4-11. He is already 28 and needs to establish himself as a Makuuchi wrestler now if he ever will.







36 Maegashira #15 East Wakamotoharu

Wakamotoharu Minato | 若元春 港

Maegashira #15 East

Arashio | Fukushima

Kyushu 2021: 11-4 (Juryo)

Wakamotoharu is making his Makuuchi debut for January, following in the footsteps of his younger brother Wakaktakakage. He made a very slow climb through Juryo, until he notched 11 wins at Kyushu. He needs to keep that up to stick as a Maegashira.





37 Maegashira #15 West Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi | 栃ノ心 剛史

Maegashira #15 West

Kasugano | Georgia

Kyushu 2021: 6-6-3

The former Ozeki still looks like the best version of himself when he mounts the dohyo, and even when he grabs a mawashi. But his lower body is damaged enough that his raw power isn't the same as it was, so he can't just lift an opponent out anymore. He could arrest his slide down the Banzuke here, because he is hanging around the kachi-koshi line generally.



38 Maegashira #16 East Aoiyama

Aoiyama Kosuke | 碧山 亘右

Maegashira #16 East

Kasugano | Bulgaria

Kyushu 2021: 4-11

Like his stablemate Tochinoshin, Aoiyama is staring directly at a return to Juryo. Aoiyama has had more recent success, including a March Jun-Yusho with 11 wins. He has the ability to rack up wins if he is at his best, but with anyone his age it's a real question how fit he is.







39 Maegashira #16 West Tsurugisho

Tsurugisho Momotaro | 剣翔 桃太郎

Maegashira #16 West

Oitekaze | Tokyo

Kyushu 2021: 9-6 (Juryo)

Tsurugisho spent one basho at Juryo 1 and went 9-6, immediately elevating him back to Maegashira status. Overwhelmingly a mawashi-man, he has proven to be a little too good for Juryo and not quite good enough for Makuuchi. He'll be in a fight to get a winning record here.




40 Maegashira #17 East Kotoeko

Kotoeko Mitsunori | 琴恵光 充憲

Maegashira #17 East

Sadogatake | Miyazaki

Kyushu 2021: 3-12

Kotoeko had an awful 3-12 Kyushu basho, which is something that occasionally happens to him. Usually, when Kotoeko does that he follows it up with a stronger basho. The one thing that's guaranteed about Kotoeko is that he will scrap.








41 Maegashira #17 West Kaisei

Kaisei Ichiro | 魁聖 一郎

Maegashira #17 West

Tomozuna | Brazil

Kyushu 2021: 7-8

The big Brazilian is nearing the end, and his legs clearly betray him on the dohyo when he gets sideways or goes backwards. The good thing for Kaisei is that being very, very large and knowing what you're doing is a great tactic in sumo. He may be heading back to Juryo sometime this year, but he could survive for a little bit.






42 Maegashira #18 East Oho

Oho Konosuke | 王鵬 幸之介

Maegashira #18 East

Otake | Tokyo

Kyushu 2021: 11-4 (Juryo)

Oho has arrived. Oho is the son of a former Sekiwake and the grandson of the Yokozuna Taiho, so he's always had pressure on him. In 2021, Oho made it through Juryo after a small dip back to Makushita, and is now in the top division before his 22nd birthday. He is as talented as anyone in sumo, and he has a chance at true greatness.

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