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  • Fantasy Basho

Kyushu 2023 Day Fourteen

Yusho Arasoi

12 Wins

03 Ozeki #1 West Kirishima

11 Wins

25 Maegashira #8 West Atamifuji

10 Wins

07 Sekiwake #2 East Kotonowaka

37 Maegashira #14 East Ichiyamamoto

Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.

Notable Maneuvers

Uwatenage. Hoshoryu's throws are truly something else. His victory over Midorifuji looked like they found some new recruit to serve as a model for "how-to-take-an-underarm-throw." But MIdorifuji's had 9 wins in the top division this basho.

Match of the Day

25 Maegashira #8 West Atamifuji versus 03 Ozeki #1 West Kirishima

Not only was this the final bout, but it featured the two leaders, leading to a climax for the whole day of action. Atamifuji then upped the drama a tad by jumping early. Kirishima barely moved, Atamifuji stepped aside to not run into the Ozeki, and that gave a preview of the real match. Atamifuji gave it his all, which is considerable, and maybe had the advantage from a hard tachiai. He had his left arm wrapped around Kirishima's left, and neither man could grab the mawashi. From there, Kirishima calmly re-adjusted his position, got both of his arms under Atamaifuji's, and turned their positions around. At that point, the Ozeki took the match with an emphatic yorikiri.


Kirishima's victory makes the math on Day Fifteen extraordinarily simple. He beats Takakeisho, and he gets the yusho outright. It's a 13-2 Ozeki yusho, so we're also in Yokozuna discussions. Even if he loses, Atamifuji drops his match to Kotonowaka, and it's a 12-3 Ozeki yusho that still has the Yokozuna discussions. A Kirishima loss and an Atamifuji victory over Kotonowaka produces a playoff, where Kirishima still gets the shot at the Emperor's Cup.

An Atamifuji victory over Kotonowaka is certainly not guaranteed. The Isegahama man was in the better position coming into Day Fourteen, but both have shone during Kyushu. Kotonowaka was in contention for most of it, and he looks like he belongs with the Ozeki after beating Takakeisho and Hoshoryu. Kotonowaka won't get an Ozeki promotion now no matter what happens on the final day, as 31 wins is pushing it for a rise to Ozeki. He has the shot for January, though, and he just turned 26.

Compared to Atamifuji, that makes him a grizzled veteran. Atamifuji is barely 21, and he is rocketing up the Banzuke. A Sanyaku slot could be available for him in January, since Upper Maegashira has been getting blown up this basho. That would still be a bit of a reach, but it's not far in the offing. Against Kirishima, he didn't look out of place, and he has already beaten Hoshoryu. 2024 could see Atamifuji rise into the Ozeki conversation.

This kind of changing of the guard has been in the offing for awhile. Terunofuji is held together with tape and good wishes at this point. Takakeisho has yet to unleash the Battle Hamster twice in a row to take the Yokozuna mantle. Fomer Ozeki like Takayasu, Shodai, and Mitakeumi have fallen into the Maegashira morass. The next crop of Ozeki and Yokozuna have been wanted for awhile.

They might be here sooner rather than later. Even Kirishima is part of the newer crop. He is 27, and has been an Ozeki for less than a year. Compared to the 21 year old Atamifuji, or even 24 year old fellow Ozeki Hoshoryu, he feels like the old familiar rikishi. Yet he is in his prime and fighting as well as he ever has. If he gets a Yusho and makes it to Yokozuna, he could fight at the top of the Banzuke for a few years. Even if he doesn't, he's a talented and efficient rikishi who will be challenging whenever he is fit. Whatever happens on Day Fifteen, Kyushu has already shown sumo's immediate future looks good.

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