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  • Fantasy Basho

Kyushu 2023 Day One




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Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Maneuvers

Uwatenage. Takayasu grabbed Wakamotoharu from the tachiai (and after an intense staredown), then almost immediately sent him down with the under arm throw. It looked like the former Ozeki was conducting a demonstration on how to uwatenage.


Match of the Day

20 Maegashira #6 East Shonannoumi versus 19 Maegashira #5 West Midorifuji

On a day of rather perfunctory matches, these two had a decidedly fun one. From the jump, the bigger Shonannoumi wanted to bear down, while the quicker Midorifuji wanted to shift around. That initially resulted in Midorifuji almost touching clay, but he reengaged to join an extremely awkward stalemate. Shonannoumi attempted to get his right arm around Midorifuji's left, while reaching for Midorifuji's mawashi with his left. The Green Fuji blocked that enough where little could happen for awhile. Eventually, their grip shifting created movement that sent Shonannoumi backwards. However, Midorifuji was out of control and hit the deck before Shonannoumi stepped out. There was a mono-ii, but it confirmed the gyoji's hatakikomi decision for Shonannoumi.


Recap

The leading men won. For sumo in 2023, that's actually a pretty big Day One story. Terunofuji is obviously out, but the three Ozeki all won. More importantly, they all won extremely efficiently. Takakeisho kept constant pressure on Hokutofuji. Kirishima and Hoshoryu won with relatively straightforward-for-them sumo against Ura and Shodai. Daieisho and Kotonowaka are Sekiwake who also fit that description with their wins.


Wakamotoharu is the lone Ozeki Sanyaku man with a Day One loss to a Maegashira. Even that match could be the exception that proves the rule. Takayasu sure looked like the former Ozeki who has a bevy of jun-yushos. Even Komusubi Abi, last year's Kyushu winner over Takayasu in a playoff, looked on-form in his bout against Gonoyama. The best sekitori competing showed up on Day One of Kyushu ready to show their mettle. It's not very much, but it's definitely a good thing.


There was also excitement from some up-and-coming rikishi. Just turned 23 Kitanowaka kicked things off with his first Makuuchi win. Young veteran Oho appeared locked in and at his best. Atamifuji came off his Jun-Yusho in September with an impressive throw to beat Myogiryu. Hokuseiho won a marathon against Takanosho. If those youngsters perform well in Maegashira while the in-prime Sanyaku men set a strong pace, this basho could turn out to be a really fun one.


Of course, reading too much into the Day One results of a basho will lead to absurd predictions. Beating Hokutofuji does not guarantee Takakeisho will remain healthy and in Battle Hamster mode. There may even be a quibble that he seemed to have taken Hokutofuji by surprise with a possible uncalled matta. Or he is ready to roll through all comers and steam to a Yokozuna promotion. Everyone has to keep it up for two more weeks, and the potential for injury is always there for everyone.


The possibility for Kyushu to firmly establish the current generation is huge. Kirishima is 27 and Hoshoryu is 24, both trying to make their Ozeki legacies. Kotonowaka is about to turn 26 as a Sekiwake. They could be the main contenders for yusho for the next few years, with Atamifuji and Hokuseiho close behind. Even Takakeisho is just 27 (and younger than Kirishima by three months), despite his long service and injuries. Before the next few years, or even next year, is Day Two of the Kyushu basho. And that will give us twice as much information on everyone's performance this tournament.

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