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Hatsu 2023 Day Seven




Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.



Yusho Arasoi

6 wins

02 Ozeki West Takakeisho

12 Maegashira #1 West Daieisho

25 Maegashira #8 East Onosho

29 Maegashira #10 East Aoiyama

35 Maegashira #13 East Kotoshoho


Notable Manuevers

Hikkake. An arm-grabbing force out is always fun, and Ura had a very good one against Nishikigi.


Match of the Day

16 Maegashira #3 West Midorifuji versus 02 Ozeki West Takakeisho

There are some rules in sumo: don't pull on the hair, don't grab someone's crotch, and don't get in a shoving match with Takakeisho. Somehow, Midorifuji violated that last one and held his own. In fact, the slaps got so fearsome and even they had a standing stare-down in the middle of the match. Then they re-engaged, and even seemed to be headed towards a grappling contest. That should have favored Midorifuji, but Takakeisho won by turning the Isegahama man around with a quite well executed kotenage. The Yokozuna chance is still alive.


Recap

Of the eight men who entered Day Seven with one loss, three fell off the pace. Takarafuji lost to Juryo man Bushozan, Azumaryu fell to Takanosho, and Abi was spun around and out by Hoshoryu. Those first two matches probably show Takarafuji and Azumaryu were paper tigers in the yusho race. That third one puts Abi behind the eight-ball compared to Takakeisho and Daieisho, who did stay at one loss. It also gave Hoshoryu a window into how he can lift the Emperor's Cup.

A five man tie in the yusho race after a week is clearer than an eight man tie, but Hatsu is still a wild basho with a range of possibilities. The one-loss men didn't face each other on Day Seven, and they won't again on Day Eight. In fact, only Onosho and Aoiyama will face rikishi with winning records. The four man group at 5-2 are also able to make hay in the yusho race, but almost everyone there is also avoiding another leader. The marquee matchup might be 6-1 Aoiyama versus 5-2 Azumaryu.

The on-dohyo performance for Day Seven could hold some clues to how everyone will perform over the second week. Takakeisho won a match he easily could have lost, something critical to any yusho challenge. Hoshoryu got back on his powerful form from the first few days in dispatching Abi. Daieisho steamrolled Sadanoumi to prove he's still on his best form. They all could be the last rikishi standing for Hatsu.

The dark-horse candidates also looked strong. Onosho has remained focused and steady, something that has not always been the case for him. Aoiyama's diminishing athleticism has still not caused him significant problems in 2023. Kotoshoho's form is as strong as it's been since his return to Makuuchi last year. They are unlikely candidates for a yusho, because they are lower Maegashira and don't have that kind of recent track record, but nothing about what they've done in Hatsu should discount them.

The holding pattern generated by contenders avoiding each other will probably last a few more days. Takakeisho and Hoshoryu are the likely final match of the whole tournament if they maintain their pace. Daieisho and Abi can also be kept apart for awhile, if the schedulers want to. We may even be a few more matches from the surprise lower Maegashira seeing Sanyaku opponents. Just don;t think that means we won't see a result that changes the yusho race.
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