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Kyushu 2023 Day Fifteen




Yusho Arasoi

13 Wins--Yusho

03 Ozeki #1 West Kirishima


11 Wins--Jun-Yusho

07 Sekiwake #2 East Kotonowaka

25 Maegashira #8 West Atamifuji

37 Maegashira #14 East Ichiyamamoto


Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Maneuvers

Kotenage. Roga is heading back to Juryo after going 5-10 in his Makuuchi debut, but he ended this basho with a very nice arm-lock throw against Endo.


Match of the Day

12 Maegashira #2 East Shodai versus 34 Maegashira #13 East Takarafuji

On a final day where the headline matches were slightly disappointing, these two veterans showed how enjoyable sumo can be. At first, Takarafuji shoved Shodai almost straight back from the tachiai. But Shodai pulled as he was heading out and did a nifty balancing act, which meant the gyoji's call for Takarafuji was analyzed in a mono-ii. It turned out to be too difficult to tell whether Shodai's heel or Takarafuji's hand went down outside the dohyo first. Torinaoshi.


In the second match, Takarafuji got a less decisive advantage. These two skilled and experienced Maegashira went around switching grips and outmaneuvering each other until Shodai could apply his strength for an awkward but fun win.


Recap

In the end, it was all rather anti-climactic. Kotonowaka stood up and slapped down Atamifuji in their first ever meeting. That win in itself gave Kirishima the yusho, as he would be sitting on twelve wins while no one else would be above 11. In his musubi no ichiban battle with Takakeisho, he was only fighting for a higher win total. He got his 13th win with a rather simple hit to the side of an overextended Takakeisho.


That finish to his second Yusho should not overshadow what Kirishima has done, because he was truly impressive during Kyushu. He won his last 9 matches, including victories over all three Sekiwake, a fellow Ozeki, and his closest competitor in this yusho race. He also won with 7 different kimarite in his 13 victories. Kirishima's 2023 includes two yusho, a jun-yusho, and a best-in-sumo 62 total victories on the year. He will kick off 2024 by going for a Yokozuna promotion.


Kirishima is about the same age as Takakeisho and Onosho. Those two were in Sanyaku before turning 22. Kirishima didn't make his Makuuchi debut until he was 23. He didn't rocket up the ranks once he hit Maegashira, either. But he also steadily improved as a rikishi, taking a style dependent on athleticism and getting to the side of an opponent into one based on being steadier than the other wrestler. In this he looks like former stablemate Yokozuna Kakuryu. He may join his countryman as a Yokozuna with this kind of sumo, while Onosho languishes with poor form in mid-Maegashira and Takakeisho can't put together two strong basho in a row as an Ozeki.


That may a word of warning for Atamifuji's future, although it seems like he has a bright one unless something catastrophic happens. His loss to Kotonowaka merely shows he needs to learn how to beat Sanyaku opponents. Kotonowaka, Atamifuji, and Ichiyamamoto will share the Jun-Yusho and the Fighting Spirit Prize. No one gets the Outstanding Performance or Technique Prize this basho, which seems fair enough. Kirishima had both the Outstanding Performance and best use of technique, but an Ozeki can't win a Special Prize.


Kyushu 2023 will go down as Kirishima's basho. He won with a two match gap and asserted himself as the best wrestler in sumo at the moment. 2023 may also be Kirishima's year, but he can top it in 2024. The only real question is who can step up to stop him.


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