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  • Fantasy Basho

Hatsu 2024 Day Fifteen




Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Yusho Arasoi

13 Wins+Playoff Win YUSHO

01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji


13 Wins+Playoff Loss JUN-YUSHO

05 Sekiwake East Kotonowaka


Notable Maneuvers

They credited Terunofuji with a Yorikiri win over Kirishima, which somewhat obscures the fact he picked up the Ozeki (and Yokozuna candidate) at tachiai and lifted him halfway across the ring. It was a remarkable show of strength from the Yokozuna.


Match of the Day

01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus 05 Sekiwake East Kotonowaka

As the playoff match began, Terunofuji had made certain he would be the sole Yokozuna in March, and Kotonowaka had assured an Ozeki promotion (and a name change to his Yokozuna grandfather's shikona, Kotozakura.) But this was for the Emperor's Cup.


The two banged hard at the tachiai, but Terunofuji couldn't push back Kotonowaka. The Scion of Sadogatake appeared to get the slightly better grip, although both men were holding on to the other's mawashi. They began to move around the dohyo, seeming to give an opening to the Sekiwake. Yet it was the Yokozuna from Isegahama-beya that found a way to change the match. He switched from an outside to an inside grip, which allowed him to propel Kotonowaka backwards. At the edge, Kotonowaka still put up a fight, and he even looked like he might have tried a spin or sideways throw for a desperate victory. Instead, the Yokozuna powered him out.


Recap

The only Yokozuna takes the Emperor's Cup. That is how sumo should be, but it also obscures how intriguing and engaging this basho was. Terunofuji hadn't competed in long enough his health was a question mark even as he got on the dohyo for Day One. He even had some moments of questionable health while competing, including seeming to be rocked off balance in his two losses to Maegashira. The two kinboshi seemed to refocus him and make him deliver power as quickly as possible. The result was a playoff Yusho.


Terunofuji also faced an interesting group of main contenders in the second week before prevailing. The two competing Ozeki, Kirishima and Hoshoryu, were keeping pace. Debutant Onosato, the most heralded amateur competitor in sumo history, was winning at a similar rate against lower Maegashira. Onosho and Oho were providing Maegashira contender challenges as well. Yet the one who was atop the leaderboard the most throughout the basho was Kotonowaka.


This could have been the basho where Kotonowaka well and truly imprinted himself on sumo's other top men. In the end, he lost three times. The most important two losses were to Terunofuji, once in regulation on Day Thirteen and one in a playoff on Day Fifteen. He still has yet to beat the Yokozuna, but he took him as far as he could in both matches. Along the way, he beat every other Sanyaku opponent he saw and collected a Jun-Yusho. That's his second Jun-Yusho in as many basho, and his 33 wins in 3 basho should assure an Ozeki promotion. He will also change his ring name to that of his Yokozuna grandfather, Kotozakura.


The soon to be Kotozakura II also won a Technique Prize in his last chance to earn a special prize. The Outstanding Performance prize belongs to Wakamotoharu, who earned 10 wins including victories over both playoff participants. He'll return to Sanyaku in March. The Fighting Spirit Prize went to the aforementioned Onosato. Onosato landed on 11 wins and with no real yusho shot on the final weekend. But he spent the first week bulldozing lower Maegashira, gave the Sanyaku wrestlers a real test in the middle, and then showed he also has techniques in the last few matches. He'll be a star sooner rather than later.


In the end, though, it was Terunofuji's basho. This is his 9th yusho, and he may really want the double-digit championship total. He seemed to get stronger as he competed in this tournament, so he can maybe do it. He did show that he is no match for anyone when he is locked in and healthy. That may not last too long, but if he makes it to the Day One Torikumi he will be a favorite in any basho.

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