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Hatsu 2023 Day Four




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Scores from Fantasizr.



Notable Manuevers

Sukuinage. It wasn't just that Kiribayama beat Kotonowaka with a beltless arm throw, but that he was seemingly thrown simultaneously and managed to win by keeping his balance just a little better.


Match of the Day

09 Komusubi #2 East Meisei versus 10 Komusubi #2 West Wakamotoharu

These two got locked fairly early into mirrored right-hand-outside, left-hand-outside grips. The stalemate was then more interesting than they usually are, because there was enough slight movement to get the sense both men wanted to do something. Meisei got the momentum eventuall but at the edge Wakamotoharu tried an utchari throw for the win. Meisei leaned into Wakamotoharu's body. Both Komusubi went down and out at basically the same time. Meisei got the gyoji's call, but a mono-ii was called and a torinaoshi given.


And the rematch was all Wakamotoharu for an easy shove out.


Recap

Hoshoryu and Abi remain the top men for Hatsu after their fourth straight wins. Hoshoryu had a small stumble at the tachiai thanks to Tamawashi's nodowa, but he kept his composure to reengage. Once that happened, the Sekiwake showed off his bull-rush yorikiri to get an easy win. Abi unleashed Abi-zumo on Shodai so well that the former Ozeki never really did anything about Abi's tsuppari. As the two men in the top 16 rikishi on the Banzuke competing that are undefeated, Hoshoryu and Abi are in the best position.

We should not immediately discount the other 4-0 rikishi, Onosho, Aoiyama, and Kotoshoho. These three are at Maegashira #8, Maegashira #10, and Maegashira #12, dominating the lower part of Makuuchi. They also all have had the ability to challenge for yusho in their careers, but were probably not anyone's yusho contender coming into Hatsu. Yet they've managed to win their first four matches.

Onosho has always been powerful and explosive at his best, but sometimes will lose his balance going too far forward. This January, he has been engaged and going right at each opponent's chest. Aoiyama is 36 and certainly not the same athlete he used to be. He is also still absolutely massive, and he knows how to use an alternating two hand thrust to keep opponents off guard. Kotoshoho is a wildly promising rikishi at just 23 years old, but he has also been disconcertingly wild since an injury two years ago. Through four matches, he has kept his feet and his composure. If any of them keep fighting like this, they may make hay.

The chance they all will keep it going is slim. As with any sumo basho, the winning rikishi will collide at some point. Onosho, Aoiyama, and Kotoshoho are grouped close enough in rank to naturally see each other anyway. That round-robin will certainly clear out who is dominating lower Maegashira, although other rikishi could easily tag one of the trio with their first loss. And if any of them keep up their winning streaks, they'll eventually face the best performing Sanyaku men.

Although Onosho, Aoiyama, and Kotoshoho may stay in the yusho race, this is also why Hoshoryu and Abi are in a better position right now. Hoshoryu knew that he would face all the top ranked men as the second Sekiwake in a basho with no competing Yokozuna and just one Ozeki. That hasn't changed. Abi was likely to see the best, but now he's guaranteed it. The story of the basho now is which of these five will keep the pace.
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