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Kyushu 2023 Day Three




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Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Maneuvers

Osakate. After a lengthy match where each man tried to throw the other a few times and Kotonowaka nearly succumbed to Meisei's leg trip, Kotonowaka was backed to the edge and in trouble. So he pulled off the rare (as in performed four times in Makuuchi EVER and not seen since Baruto did it in 2010) osakate, or "backward twisting over arm throw." It also took exceptional footwork.


Match of the Day


20 Maegashira #6 East Shonannoumi versus 22 Maegashira #7 East Hokuseiho

These two rikishi are still trying to establish their long-term prospects, although Hokuseiho has the higher ceiling due to youth and unbelievable size. He seemed to be using that size here by looking extremely satisfied to hold Shonannoumi's arms and lean. In fact, this match went over two minutes and most of it featured the two in the middle of the dohyo with Shonannoumi's head buried awkwardly into Hokuseiho's chest. Hokuseiho (and the rest of Makuuchi) will need to remember that Shonannoumi can deal with a two minute lean-fest and still have the power to drive a giant straight out of the dohyo once he has his opening.


Recap

All three Ozeki and all three Sekiwake one on Day Three. The top of the Banzuke is holding firm. The Ozeki trio of Takakeisho, Kirishima, and Hoshoryu are all undefeated and passing the eye test. Among the Sekiwake, Daieisho and Kotonowaka are also 3-0 with some emphatic wins. Wakamotoharu's 2-1 stands out, but really isn't distressing. The top men competing this basho are dominating.


That does mean that the Komusubi and upper Maegashira are getting absolutely battered. From Komusubi East Abi to Maegashira #5 West Onosho, no one has a positive record after three days. While there are five Maegashira at 3-0, it's too early to anoint any of Shonannoumi, Atamifuji, Ryuden, Tamawashi, or Ichiyamamoto as the spoilers of Kyushu. Atamifuji stands the best chance because of youth, size, strength, performance through three days, and his Jun Yusho last time out. Yet all five undefeated Maegashira are far from their biggest tests of the basho.


What's more notable is the fact only seven rikishi in total have a 2-1 record. 23 of the 40 competing rikishi are underwater after three matches. In theory, that should balance out more over the course of a tournament. Sometimes the desperation of a losing streak makes a rikishi find some new trick or just an extra bit of desire in a risky situation. That is as likely to produce injuries as impressive wins, though, and multiple Maegashira being adrift could just set up their adversaries on winning streaks.


The Ozeki and Sekiwake are also locked in to their sumo. Any Maegashira facing them is seeing talented and experienced rikishi at their peak. We are yet to see the Sekiwake and Ozeki square off, and if they keep winning it will be a final five days round-robin. Maybe a strong performing Maegashira needs to butt his way in, but that would make the Ozeki and Sekiwake matches still take place in week two. Before then, we get a dance around each other.


That actually makes any slip up more costly. The margin for error for anyone on 3-0 looks a lot finer than it has in recent basho. The leaders don't look like falling back too often. The only inter-Sanyaku matches will be Wakamotoharu-Hokutofuji and Kotonowaka-Abi. The Sekiwake are favorites based on performance in Kyushu, but upsets wouldn't be terrible shocks. And shocks are always possible, even when Ozeki are cruising. But this basho will be better overall if they can keep cruising.

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