Kyushu 2021 Rikishi Preview
The Kyushu basho is here. If you haven't signed up for the game yet, you can do so here. Sumo is about to start, but as you begin to pick your teams you need to see how everyone comes in to the basho. This is an odd Banzuke, with Hakuho's slot left blank after his retirement.
Enjoy the previews, and get to picking.
照ノ富士 春雄 | Terunofuji Haruo
Last 3 Basho: 13-2 Y,14-1 J, 12-3 Y
Previous Rank: Yokozuna West
At Aki, Terunofuji didn't even really have a serious threat for the yusho, holding onto the lead for the whole tournament and having the Emperor's Cup secured before his final match. With Hakuho now in a suit and the Ozeki struggling, he could have a stretch of yusho coming up. Sumo isn't that easy and his knees still look beat up, but he's been overcoming both of those facts for a year now.
正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 9-6
Previous Rank: Ozeki East
In 2020, Shodai elevated his sumo and eventually made it to Ozeki after a Yusho at Aki 2020. In 2021, he's just been able to maintain his Ozeki status. It seems odd to call someone who has gone 32-28 over his last four basho the second best sekitori in sumo, but that's how the sport is shaking out right now.
貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 1-2-12, 12-3 J
Previous Rank: Ozeki West
It is still fair to say Takakeisho will make Yokozuna if he can stay healthy. The problem has become that the second part of the statement is getting more and more emphasis, with his 8 wins at Aki looking especially tough. He went toe-to-toe with Terunofuji in May, and a 100% healthy Takakeisho should be able to do that again.
御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 8-7, 10-5
Previous Rank: Sekiwake #1 East
Is it possible for someone to be Sekiwake East forever? Mitakeumi is comfortably a lower Sanyaku wrestler, but a zensho yusho would only give him 32 wins over three basho. That's one behind the typical Ozeki promotion win total of 33 in 3 and says plenty about where Mitakeumi stands in the pecking order.
明生 力| Meisei Chikara
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 10-5
Previous Rank: Sekiwake #1 West
Meisei is holding steady as a Sekiwake, and has not had a losing record in 8 basho. That was when he had an injury-assisted demotion to Juryo, and now he is close to an Ozeki. To get to Ozeki, though, Meisei is going to need to find a new level to his solid sumo.
逸ノ城 駿 | Ichinojo Takashi
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 10-5, 9-6
Previous Rank: Komusubi West
The giant Mongolian is firmly back in Sanyaku, although his ability to dominate seems to come and go inside of matches. He is, as always, a physics problem as the heaviest wrestler in Makuuchi. However, he is a physics problem for himself as much as opponents and is usually done as soon as he goes backwards.
霧馬山 鐵雄 | Kiribayama Tetsuo
Previous 3 Basho: 9-6, 9-6, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira #2 West
Kiribayama is making his Sanyaku debut for Kyushu, and how he will do for the basho is an interesting question. Usually, being a Sanyaku debutant is difficult and being a Komusubi sucks, but he might do okay. The Misty Horse Mountain is coming off two 9-6 records against largely the same competition he'll see in Fukuoka.
大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato
Maegashira #1 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 5-10, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira #4 West
Daieisho rebounded from a 5-10 to flip the record during Aki and get the shukun-sho. His sumo is what it always was, a powerful and determined thrusting attack that can knock any opponent backward. The trouble is when he doesn't get it working, because then he's largely toast. That explains the flip of records between two tournaments.
若隆景 渥| Wakatakakage Atsushi
Maegashira #1 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 5-10, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira #3 East
Wakatakakage has two blips in his 2021 record, an 0-0-15 when he had COVID in January and a 5-10 in July when he made his Sanyaku debut. He will turn 27 after the basho and should be right in his prime. There is a strong possibility he spends much of 2022 practicing his efficient brand of sumo in Sanyaku.
阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya
Maegashira #2 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 7-8, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #6 West
The good Onosho made an appearance at Aki, and he gathered 10 wins. If he can do it again, he'll make it to Sanyaku for the first time in four years for January. Unfortunately, back-to-back strong basho have been rare on the ground for Onosho of late.
隆の勝 伸明 | Takanosho Nobuaki
Maegashira #2 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 8-7, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira #1 West
Takanosho's suprise Sekiwake run ended ignominiously in May, but he's leveled himself off as an upper Maegashira. His main strength has become a strong ability to not beat himself, although he will rarely overwhelm any opponent he'll see at this rank. His ability to hang around a winning record means he could be back in Sanyaku with a little luck.
隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi
Maegashira #3 East
Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 5-10, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira #8 East
At 36, Okinoumi is getting old for a sekitori, and it shows a little bit. He would probably be most successful now if there were just three basho a year, as he has been alternating good and bad tournaments. That probably doesn't bode well for his chances at Kyushu, since he is coming off a 10-5.
妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari
Maegashira #3 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 5-10, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira #10 West
Myogiryu was surprisingly alive in the yusho race on the final day of Aki, although he lost to Meisei on Day Fifteen to seal Terunofuji's win. This is probably not replicable for the Many Skilled Dragon, although he's kept enough athleticism into his mid-30s to hold up against younger rikishi. At the very least, he'll be entertaining.
宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke
Maegashira #4 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #5 West
In his last three basho, the solid, redoubtable Takarafuji has gone 23-22. You probably can't just pencil him in to be 7-7 going into Day Fifteen, but he's likely to stay around .500. It's just hard to lose too often when you never beat yourself.
遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota
Maegashira #4 West
Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 1-4-10, 11-4
Previous Rank: Maegashira #11 East
Endo has alternated injury plagued basho with strong performances, including a jun-yusho for Aki. If he is both healthy and in-form, he was one of the better rikishi around due to his willingness to use a variety of techniques. Endo's issue is that he has rarely been healthy and in-form for consective tournaments.
高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira
Maegashira #5 East
Last 3 Basho: 4-8-3, 7-6-2, 10-5
Previous Rank: Komusubi East
Takayasu missed four days of Aki after falling off the dohyo and injuring his hip against Terunofuji. But he was struggling before that, looking like he hadn't shaken off the back injury that bothered him in July. Even a less than 100% Takayasu is a formidable rikishi who has the best stamina of anyone in the top division.
豊昇龍 智勝 | Hoshoryu Tomokatsu
Maegashira #5 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-8-2, 10-5, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #1 East
Hoshoryu had a fundamentally strange Aki basho. Positioned at Maegashira 1, he sat out two days due to tonislitis and had some strong showings in losses against top-ranked opponents. He is still just 22 and one of the trickiest rikishi in Makuuchi, capable of a range of throws and trips from any position. If he's better, he can make noise here.
志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo
Maegashira #6 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 4-11
Previous Rank: Maegashira #7 East
With a 15-15 record for Nagoya and Aki combined, Shimanoumi's true level may just be mid-Maegashira. His brand of sumo is somehow both contained and energetic, as he focuses his efforts on his opponents chest while bouncing around. That tends to keep him in line for a kachi-koshi most of the time.
玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro
Maegashira #6 West
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 11-4, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #4 East
Tamawashi is still a powerful and intimidating presence of the dohyo at age 36 (he'll turn 37 during this basho), but age is catching up to him. He'll still rock his opponent back with his trademark nodowa. Increasingly, though, that hard shove to the chin can be overcome with effort.
宇良 和輝| Ura Kazuki
Maegashira #7 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 10-5, 12-3 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira #6 East
Less dramatic than Terunofuji's journey, Ura's comeback from a series of knee injuries is a wonderful story in its own right. Undersized and remarkably flexibile, Ura is a guaranteed show every time he gets on the dohyo. The show isn't always guaranteed to lead to a win, but it's something to see.
千代翔馬 富士雄 | Chiyoshoma Fujio
Maegashira #7 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira #5 East
Chiyoshoma had a disastrous Aki basho, going 5-10 at Maegashira #5 East. He only fell two ranks for Kyushu, because sometimes the Banzuke just has to work out that way. The current master practitioner of the henka, Chiyoshoma is most worth watching to see if he will jump aside at the start once again.
琴恵光 充憲| Kotoeko Mitsunori
Maegashira #8 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 2-13, 9-6
Previous Rank: Maegashira #11 West
Kotoeko is not blessed with remarkable size or athleticism for a high-level rikishi. He is, however, able to hold his own in mid-Maegashira due to grit and determination. The problem with that is his short arms are just always a disadvantage in certain matches despite his dedication.
翔猿 正也| Tobizaru Masaya
Maegashira #8 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 4-11, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira #8 West
The Flying Monkey is definitely and exciting rikishi to watch, but that hasn't shown he can sustain success in Makuuchi. Although his matches are must-see, too often he flies off the dohyo to make it exciting. He has pulled an 11-4 and a 10-5 in the top division before, so he could maybe deliver for Kyushu.
碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke
Maegashira #9 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 4-3-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #9 East
Aoiyama went 7-8 for a second basho in a row and kept his rank. He's actually in a string of rikishi in the exact same boat, and this may be his actual level right now. The crazy thing is he's an overwhelming powerhouse who now mostly wins due to just knowing what to do against his opponents.
英乃海 拓也| Hidenoumi Takuya
Maegashira #9 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira #9 West
Hidenoumi was thoroughly a Juryo wrestler at this time last year, but has firmly established himself in mid-Maegashira now. He is overwhelmingly a grappler, and his matches are typical mawashi battles. Yet he's managed to make it so he is in most of these fights.
千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa
Maegashira #10 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 4-11, 10-5
Previous Rank: Maegashira #10 East
It's hard to watch Chiyotairyu and not see the guy who used to be able to blow anyone off the dohyo with a fearsome tachiai. His sumo is exactly the same as it has always been, except other rikishi are absorbing the blow better with each basho. He'll get a few knocked back, and that exact number will determine his record for Kyushu.
朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki
Maegashira #10 West
Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 0-0-15, 7-5-3
Previous Rank: Sekiwake #2 East
Still banned. Still not competing. Still in Makuuchi, but this is probably the last time.
琴ノ若 傑太 | Kotonowaka Masahiro
Maegashira #11 East
Last 3 Basho: 3-7-5, 12-3, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #11 West
At a career high rank for September, Kotonowaka struggled and then pulled out due to injury. His progress has been uneven, but he is making progress overall. He is a talented mawashi man who will turn 24 during the basho, and he still has future star in him.
照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki
Maegashira #11 West
Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #7 West
Terutsuyoshi is an undersized powerhouse, and his performances reflect that dichotomy. If he was facing off against only men about his height and weight, he would blast them off the dohyo every time. Unfortunately, he is small for a sekitori at 169 cm (5'7") and 114 kg (251 lbs), and he is often overpowered himself.
石浦 鹿介 | Ishiura Shikonosuke
Maegashira #12 East
Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 9-6, 7-8
Previous Rank: Maegashira #12 East
Ishiura returns to the dohyo after sitting out September because a stablemate had COVID. He had previously reestablished his Makuuchi bonafides by avoiding his previous overreliance on henkas. Instead, he's perfected some more subtle and less controversial forms of trickery.
北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki
Maegashira #12 West
Last 3 Basho: 2-3-10, 8-7, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira #2 East
Hokutofuji withdrew from Aki after four days with a knee injury, causing him to tumble down the rankings. If the knee is better, he is much better than Maegashira #12. Expect a steady diet of hands to the throat for everyone in this part of the Banzuke.
豊山 亮太 | Yutakayama Ryota
Maegashira #13 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 10-5 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Maegashira #14 West
Yutakayama is returning to Makuuchi after a trip to Juryo. He went 10-5 in September, which could be a sign he has found his brand of sumo once again. He could also just be too talented to stay in the second division too long.
栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi
Maegashira #13 West
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 5-10
Previous Rank: Maegashira #12 West
The Big Georgian is visibly struggling with his lower body in every match, and he no longer has his trademark power. That has seen him fall down the rankings, but he it's been a slow fall. He can't lift his opponents off the edge anymore, but he's developed some clever sidesteps and slapdowns to cope somewhat.
輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi
Maegashira #14 East
Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 6-9
Previous Rank: Maegashira #13 East
Despite having the body any Oyakata would build in a lab, Kagayaki has been riding a series of losing records. There is a good rikishi in here, and he has been succesful in the past. Quite often, he seems to have no Plan B he can execute when a match doesn't go his way.
千代の国 憲輝 | Chiyonokuni Toshiki
Maegashira #14 West
Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 0-4-11
Previous Rank: Maegashira #17 East
There's a fair question about what career Chiyonokuni would have had with better health. Although he has dealt with a litany of injuries, he is a formidable competitor with great athleticism. If he can survive the basho with no problems, he will rack up some wins.
千代丸 一樹 | Chiyomaru Kazuki
Maegashira #15 East
Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 6-9, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira #16 East
The Eternally Round One is still a great figure of fun, but now he's also made himself a consitent Makuuchi performer again. Chiyomaru has become even more comically lopsided to oshi-zumo, but with his, uh, top-heavy frame that means he can keep opponents off the mawashi. If they do grab on, though, he's usually hopeless.
阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora
Maegashira #15 West
Last 3 Basho: 13-2 (Juryo), 11-4 (Juryo), 7-0 (Makushita)
Previous Rank: Juryo #5 East
Abi is making if not a triumpohant return to the Top DIvision, then at least a forceful one. He was suspended three basho last July for lying about violating COVID protocols. SInce coming back in Makushita, all he's done is go 38-6, with two Makushita and one Juryo yusho. He's a better rikishi than his current rank.
天空海 翔馬| Akua Shoma
Maegashira #16 East
Last 3 Basho: 9-6 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo), 5-10
Previous Rank: Juryo #1 West
Akua is apparently entering serious yo-yo territory. He is good enough to get kachi-koshi in Juryo, but hasn't found the recipe to stick in Makuuchi. Of course, it's only a bit of luck and a small change in approach that can fix that.
佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi
Maegashira #16 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo #3 West
The solid veteran is back in the top division. Sadanoumi's recent track appeared to be the slow train to Makusita and/or retirement. Instead, he got okay enough again in Juryo to reappear in Makuuchi.
魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro
Maegashira #17 East
Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 9-6, 8-7
Previous Rank: Maegashira #14 East
Kaisei is old and fading, but still absolutely immense even for sumo. This makes him quite difficult to move, especially as he usually is able to plant his feet. Yet increasingly if he does get moving, he is likely to lose.
松鳳山 裕也| Shohozan Yuya
Maegashira #17 West
Last 3 Basho: 10-5 (Juryo), 5-10 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo)
Previous Rank: Juryo #4 East
After over a year in the second division, Shohozan has returned to Makuuchi. Remarkably, he is the oldest rikishi in the top division now, and his best days are well behind him. Still, he definitely has plenty of experience winning at this level.