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Kyushu 2022 Day Seven



Yusho Arasoi

6 Wins

05 Sekiwake #1 West Hoshoryu

10 Maegashira #1 East Takayasu

28 Maegashira #9 West Abi

36 Maegashira #13 West Oho


Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Manuevers

Sotogake. Typically, a leg trip is sort of a desperation move that happens in an awkward stalemate. Instead, Hoshoryu beat Wakamotoharu with an aggressive, forward-moving, and absolutely devastating version.


Match of the Day

Maegashira #5 East Hokutofuji versus Maegashira #6 West Ryuden

Ryuden got what he would have wanted against Hokutofuji by making this a grappling fight. Hokutofuji just kept blowing up every grip Ryuden tried, though. So the two kept going around and around the dohyo, until Ryuden got a strange sideways grip. Hokutofuji mirrored it. Then they moved around some more in sort of throw attempts. Finally, Hokutofuji got his power game on forcefully sent Ryuden over the dohyo.


Recap

The four men at the top of the leaderboard after Day Six are still on top after Day Seven, and no one even really had too tough a go of it. Wakamotoharu did make Hoshoryu work a bit, but Hoshoryu's power sotogake gave him the decisive win. Takayasu, Abi, and Oho maintained their positions atop the leaderboard with strong sumo.

That makes it worthwhile to consider the background story of the Kyushu basho. Right now, there are just two Ozeki, with one (Shodai) kadoban and in danger of not being an Ozeki in January if he gets less than 8 wins. Mitakeumi can return to Ozeki in January, if he gets 10 wins. Shodai and Mitakeumi are both sitting at 4-3, so neither man's rank is assured for Hatsu. That would leave just Takakeisho as an Ozeki. This is actually a problem, because the Banzuke technically needs two Ozeki, although for these purposes a Yokozuna can count as a special Ozeki. So as long as Terunofuji doesn't retire in the last six weeks of 2022, that will be theoretically fine.

The looming threat of insufficient Ozeki is still there. Shodai has shown a propensity for escaping kadoban, although that also means he gets kadoban status frequently. Mitakeumi has had a disappointing half a year at Ozeki. Takakeisho hasn't been a model Ozeki but keeps it closer to 10 wins more often than not. As for who may replace them, that is increasingly unclear. Wakatakakage maybe had a chance for an Ozeki promotion during this basho. His third loss on Day Seven doesn't guarantee he won't get enough wins, but he probably needs to go undefeated from here.

That leaves us with Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, and Takayasu as men who may make the immediate Ozeki jump. This is less a statement of talent than current win totals and rank. Hoshoryu is at Sekiwake, so three basho of 11+ wins on average should do it. Kiribayama and Takayasu are just lower in rank, but also in the range of needing the requisite wins. Takayasu even had 11 wins last time, so a big total and his first yusho may even get him back to Ozeki after three years. But this is a long shot for any of that group, because they haven't been doing that level of sumo in 2022 consistently.

The larger takeaway is that someone will step up. It might not by someone currently in Sanyaku or upper Maegashira. It may take more than a year. Just never forget that sumo is a zero-sum game. When someone loses, someone else must win, and each basho will have a rikishi take the Emperor's Cup. We might not be seeing an Ozeki run, right now. But we could be, and that's worth keeping an eye on.
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