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Nagoya 2019 Rikishi Preview

The Nagoya basho is almost here. Let's consider everyone in Sumo's top division as we head into July's tournament. (All photos from the Japan Sumo Association.)

鶴竜 力三郎 | Kakuryu Rikisaburo

Yokozuna East

Stable: Izutsu

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 11-4, 10-5, 2-4-9

Previous Rank: Yokozuna West

Kakuryu is atop the banzuke after two straight disappointing basho, especially for a Yokozuna. While double digit wins are always great, a Grand Champion should get more. The most disappointing part of both basho was that Kakuryu was in yusho contention until falling off the final few days.

白鵬 翔 | Hakuho Sho

Yokozuna West

Stable: Miyagino

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 0-0-15, 15-0, 10-4-1

Previous Rank: Yokozuna East

How is Hakuho's bicep? No question in sumo is more important right now. Fully healthy, Hakuho is still a force of nature and the most intelligent, crafty rikishi around. It's just hard to know how to think about someone as likely to go 15-0 as 0-0-15.

豪栄道 豪太郎 | Goeido Gotaro

Ozeki 1 East

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Osaka

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 12-3, 9-6

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 East

Goeido’s lack of day-to-day consistency never seems to fully catch up to him in the final results, except as he is rarely in Yusho contention. Goeido is such an overwhelming force at his best that he can knock anyone away. He is almost guaranteed 3-5 matches where will not be at his best per basho, though.

高安 晃 | Takayasu Akira

Ozeki 1 West

Stable: Taganoura

From: Ibaraki

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 10-5, 9-6

Previous Rank: Ozeki 1 West

Takayasu is not yet 30 and has been an Ozeki for two years. Weirdly, that might be an indicator he has stalled out, although stalling out at Ozeki is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, he seems more and more unlikely to put together a dominating performance with each passing basho.

貴景勝 光信 | Takakeisho Mitsunobu

Ozeki 2 East

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 3-4-8, 10-5, 11-4 J

Previous Rank: Ozeki 2 East

That was certainly not the debut basho at Ozeki Takakeisho wanted. He injured himself in his Day Four victory over Mitakeumi, then attempted to come back unsuccessfully. He is kadoban, so he must get 8 wins to stay an Ozeki. Takakeisho is still one of sumo’s young stars, and he’ll be a favorite if fully healthy.

栃ノ心 剛史 | Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi

Ozeki 2 West

Stable: Kasugano

From: Georgia

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 7-8, 0-5-10

Previous Rank: Sekiwake West

Tochinoshin got his 10 wins to return to Ozeki after one basho down at Sekiwake. It wasn’t without controversy, nor was it always full of Tochinoshin’s best sumo. None of that really matters now that he has made his way back to sumo’s second rank and more importantly seems healthy.

御嶽海 久司 | Mitakeumi Hisashi

Sekiwake East

Stable: Dewanoumi

From: Nagano

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-4-3, 7-8

Previous Rank: Komusubi West

Mitakeumi has once again returned to Sekiwake, although interestingly he wouldn’t hit the standard Ozeki promotion qualification even with a perfect basho. He looked good, if not great, in May, and he is returning to the site of his yusho last year. His efficient sumo is a great asset in a chaotic basho like Nagoya.

玉鷲 一朗 | Tamawashi Ichiro

Sekiwake West

Stable: Kataonami

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 5-10, 13-2 Y

Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 West

Is it maybe too predictable that Tamawashi tumbled out of the Sanyaku ranks and put up double digit wins? He should hope he doesn’t fall on his face once again in this position on the Banzuke. He is what he is, a strong pusher-thruster who is difficult to beat on his day. But that got a yusho in January.

阿炎 政虎 | Abi Masatora

Komusubi East

Stable: Shikoroyama

From: Saitama

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 8-7, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 West

Welcome to Sanyaku, Abi! He didn’t get here by adopting a different brand of sumo. He totaled ten wins, and three straight winning records, by putting both hands in his opponents’ throats match after match. Abi’s predictable sumo has had a renewed intensity of late, so perhaps he can hold his own at this level.

竜電 剛至 | Ryuden Goshi

Komusubi West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Yamanashi

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 6-9, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 West

Ryuden slides into the last Sanyaku slot. He is probably outmatched athletically by everyone ranked above him, and even most below him. He will almost never be outmatched technically and fundamentally by any rikishi, as he is always strategically on-point on the dohyo. It will be interesting to see how that works.

朝乃山 英樹 | Asanoyama Hideki

Maegashira 1 East

Stable: Takasago

From: Toyama

Last 3 Basho: 12-3 Y, 7-8, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 West

The man of the moment. Asanoyama got 12 wins, two special prizes, and the yusho in May. For July, he did not get a Sanyaku debut and now is in the Maegashira 1 East slot. This isn’t great for him, as he finally will face the top ranked rikishi in a basho, while also not getting Sanyaku benefits and bonuses.

北勝富士 大輝 | Hokutofuji Daiki

Maegashira 1 West

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Saitama

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 East

Seven wins at Maegashira 1 feels like it’s Hokutofuji’s level. Does that mean he should be booked for 7 wins in Nagoya? Maybe not. His margin for error is basically nonexistent. Or he could find a new level of sumo and make his way into a Sanyaku regular.

碧山 亘右 | Aoiyama Kosuke

Maegashira 2 East

Stable: Kasugano

From: Bulgaria

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 12-3, 7-8

Previous Rank: Komusubi East

Aoiyama got highly promoted after 12 wins, so he rather predictably did much less well. Although he didn’t win as often, he still proved formidable enough thanks to his size, strength, and smarts. But he’s likely closer to his 6 wins from May than his 12 wins from March for Nagoya.

遠藤 聖大 | Endo Shota

Maegashira 2 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Ishikawa

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 East

Endo is an upper Maegashira, and that seems to be that. He is a remarkably adaptable sekitori, equally happy to push as he is to grapple, all with good athleticism. That has rarely made him rack up the big win totals at this level, but he also won’t be embarrassed.

正代 直也 | Shodai Naoya

Maegashira 3 East

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kumamoto

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 5-10, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 East

Endo is an upper Maegashira, and that seems to be that. He is a remarkably adaptable sekitori, equally happy to push as he is to grapple, all with good athleticism. That has rarely made him rack up the big win totals at this level, but he also won’t be embarrassed.

大栄翔 勇人 | Daieisho Hayato

Maegashira 3 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Saitama

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 7-8, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 2 West

After January, Daieisho looked like he might be flying up into Sanyaku. Two 7-8 records stalled that a little bit, but he hasn’t shot back down the rankings. He is gifted at putting his weight underneath his opponent to give himself the better position, and he’s just a few adjustments from some good win totals.

明生 力 | Meisei Chikara

Maegashira 4 East

Stable: Tatsunami

From: Kagoshima

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 9-6, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 7 West

Meisei is the most recent rikishi to put together a few good basho in a row to fly up the rankings. He’ll be 24 just after the Nagoya basho, and he has plenty of skills. He also might have gotten lucky, as he is just past the line where he must face all the Yokozuna and Ozeki.

逸ノ城 駿 | Ichinojo Takashi

Maegashira 4 West

Stable: Minato

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 5-7-3, 14-1 JS, 6-9

Previous Rank: Sekiwake East

That was definitely not how Ichinojo wanted to follow up his 14-1 Jun-Yusho. Not only is 5 wins a paltry total, but he was injured as well. He did come back after going kyujo in the middle of the tournament and actually won again, but the damage was done.

琴奨菊 和弘 | Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro

Maegashira 5 East

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Fukuoka

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 11-4, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 1 West

So Kotoshogiku wasn’t ready for the upper Maegashira ranks and its attendant stronger strength of schedule. He is a talented veteran, with an absolutely killer signature move in his hug and chug yori-kiri. His ability to land that regularly is much better in this part of the Banzuke.

宝富士 大輔 | Takarafuji Daisuke

Maegashira 5 West

Stable: Isegahama

From: Aomori

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 8-7, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 East

Solid, redoubtable Takarafuji appeared once again in the Natsu basho. Takarafuji seems like the wrestler least likely to be in a day’s most exciting match, but that doesn’t lead to losses, necessarily. It also doesn’t lead to huge win totals, either.

千代大龍 秀政 | Chiyotairyu Hidemasa

Maegashira 6 East

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Tokyo

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 8-7, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 3 East

Chiyotairyu is big, round, and strong. He is not very adaptable nor mobile, which is why he seems to have found his place as the gatekeeper to upper Maegashira. This spot on the Banzuke does seem to be a space where he is likely to get a bare kachi-koshi.

志摩ノ海 航洋 | Shimanoumi Koyo

Maegashira 6 West

Stable: Kise

From: Mie

Last 3 Basho: 10-5, 13-2 (Juryo), 13-2 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 East

Shimanoumi’s rapid ascent continues into Nagoya. His 2019 has seen him go from a lower Juryo veteran to back to back Juryo champion to double digit debutant to Maegashira 6. This is not just a whole new level of competition, but a completely unexpected slate of opponents from this time last year.

妙義龍 泰成 | Myogiryu Yasunari

Maegashira 7 East

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 5-10

Previous Rank: Maegashira 5 East

Myogiryu’s tumble down the Banzuke from his surprise appearance back at Komusubi in January has continued. He’s a good veteran at this point, so he should be able to arrest his fall. It is extremely difficult to see him shooting back up once more.

友風 勇太 | Tomokaze Yuta

Maegashira 7 West

Stable: Oguruma

From: Kanagawa

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 9-6, 10-5 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 West

By getting a win on the final day, Tomokaze continued an absolutely astonishing streak. He has yet to garner a losing record in the two years he has been in professional sumo after entering from a University career. He will get a make-koshi at some point, but he also has an incredibly bright future.

阿武咲 奎也 | Onosho Fumiya

Maegashira 8 East

Stable: Onomatsu

From: Aomori

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 5-10, 8-7

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 West

Onosho’s predicted journey to Yokozuna has certainly seen a derailment in the last 18 months. His knee injury in January 2018 has more than healed, but it still affects his sumo. He is a forceful pusher-thruster at his best, but he seems to have found himself weirdly off balance occasionally. Here’s hoping he rights the ship.

隠岐の海 歩 | Okinoumi Ayumi

Maegashira 8 West

Stable: Hakkaku

From: Shimane

Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 8-7, 7-8,

Previous Rank: Maegashira 4 East

Okinoumi’s perfect adequacy was less than adequate in Natsu. 5-10 is rough on anyone, but Okinoumi is a veteran who wins with solid fundamentals. He is almost perfectly designed to have a bounce back basho after a fall in rank.

松鳳山 裕也 | Shohozan Yuya

Maegashira 9 East

Stable: Nishonoseki

From: Fukuoka

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 5-10

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 East

Shohozan scraped out a bare kachi-koshi during Natsu, which keeps him at roughly the same rank. Although he has much of his usual power, Shohozan seems to be one of the rikishi slowly aging his way down the banzuke. His goal now is more to stall falling into Juryo for a little longer.

大翔鵬 清洋 | Daishoho Kiyohiro

Maegashira 9 West

Stable: Oitekaze

From: Mongolia

Last 3 Basho: 9-6, 7-8, 8-7 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 16 East

Daishoho jumped 9 ranks after going 9-6, which is fairly unusual. He did have a nice showing at the bottom of the table in Natsu, but he is seeing a steep grade in rank. Fortunately for the Mongolian, he is young and talented and will almost assuredly stay in Makuuchi no matter how he does.

琴恵光 充憲 | Kotoeko Mitsunori

Maegashira 10 East

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Miyazaki

Last 3 Basho: 8-7, 7-8, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 15 West

If Daishoho’s jump up nine ranks is surprising, Kotoeko’s five rank jump after a simple 8-7 kachi-koshi is crazy. That’s how few promotion candidates were available at the foot of the table. Kotoeko officially solidified his Makuuchi place, which counts for something.

貴源治 賢 | Takagenji Satoshi

Maegashira 10 West

Stable: Chiganoura

From: Ibaraki

Last 3 Basho: 13-2 (Juryo), 8-7 (Juryo), 6-9 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 2 East

Takagenji will make his Makuuchi debut at a remarkably high rank. This a rather slow pace for what would have been expected a while ago. Takagenji was a 20 year old in Juryo in 2017, but then his twin brother beat a tsukebito, his stablemaster resigned from sumo among a host of scandals (Google “Takanohana”), and Takagenji went backward for a bit. He is a 22 year old of immense talent, so this could be the start of a great top division run.

嘉風 雅継 | Yoshikaze Masatsugu

Maegashira 11 East

Stable: Oguruma

From: Oita

Last 3 Basho: 4-11, 10-5, 3-12

Previous Rank: Maegashira 6 West

In recent basho, Yoshikaze has either won a huge number or lost a huge number. Perhaps the lower spot on the Banzuke will lead to big wins. Or maybe it’s just that tournament for him. Or maybe he’s finally unable to compete at this level.

錦木 徹也 | Nishikigi Tetsuya

Maegashira 11 West

Stable: Isenoumi

From: Iwate

Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 4-11, 7-8

Previous Rank: Maegashira 9 East

Nishikigi is coming off two rather rough basho after showing the ability to hang in upper Maegashira. His sumo is more straightforward than flashy, so he needs to always be dead on to be successful. The lower ranked Maegashira should be a good place for him to find his form again.

栃煌山 雄一郎 | Tochiozan Yuichiro

Maegashira 12 East

Stable: Kasugano

From: Kochi

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 3-12, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 11 West

Tochiozan is cratering toward the sad fate of a veteran Maegashira slipping back down into Juryo, a place he hasn’t been in 12 years. He was in this spot a year ago and got 10 wins at Nagoya 2018. But a year for a 32 year old sumotori can mean a massive amount of aging.

輝 大士 | Kagayaki Taishi

Maegashira 12 West

Stable: Takadagawa

From: Ishikawa

Last 3 Basho: 5-10, 9-6, 6-9

Previous Rank: Maegashira 10 East

Kagayaki is an extremely promising sumo wrestler, with surprising athleticism and good fundamentals. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always put things together well, and he was particularly lost at Natsu. He can do better, and he is in a position to need to.

千代丸 一樹 | Chiyomaru Kazuki

Maegashira 13 East

Stable: Kokonoe

From: Kagoshima

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 10-5 (Juryo), 10-5 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 East

Not only is Chiyomaru still a Maegashira but he is still the Maegashira 13 East after a 7-8 record. He is who he is, a big, bulbous mass that is difficult to move. Of course, he has difficulty moving himself, which is when he really gets himself into trouble.

佐田の海 貴士 | Sadanoumi Takashi

Maegashira 13 West

Stable: Sakaigawa

From: Kumamoto

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 5-10, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 13 West

Sadanoumi is also in the same rank after a losing record. He seems like a safe bet to be right on the kachi-koshi/make-koshi line, thanks to his solid and fundamental sumo.

豊ノ島 大樹 | Toyonoshima Daiki

Maegashira 14 East

Stable: Tokitsukaze

From: Kochi

Last 3 Basho: 8-7 (Juryo), 5-10, 10-5 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Juryo 1 East

Toyonoshima went 8-7 at the top Juryo spot, which is a sure guarantee of promotion back to Makuuchi. That doesn’t mean he is on fire, and he got a rude welcome on his last trip up in March. There’s not a lot of evidence he’s positioned to change that.

炎鵬 晃 | Enho Akira

Maegashira 14 West

Stable: Miyagino

From: Ishikawa

Last 3 Basho: 7-8, 8-7 (Juryo), 9-6 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 14 West

Enho was absolutely on fire at the start of his Makuuchi debut in Natsu. After sitting at 7-3, he finished the basho at 7-8. Obviously, he will need to find his first week form over the whole basho in Nagoya, but he clearly could do it.

矢後 太規 | Yago Takanori

Maegashira 15 East

Stable: Oguruma

From: Hokkaido

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 9-6

Previous Rank: Maegashira 12 West

Yago is lucky to be in Makuuchi still after a 6-9 at Maegashira 12 for Natsu. He is also lucky to be facing plenty of other underwhelming rikishi surrounding his rank. He is young and possessed with solid skills, so some improvement should be likely.

魁聖 一郎 | Kaisei Ichiro

Maegashira 15 West

Stable: Tomozuna

From: Brazil

Last 3 Basho: 3-5-7, 3-12, 10-5

Previous Rank: Maegashira 8 East

Kaisei is much better than this Maegashira 15 West slot, except he was injured during Natsu, to the point of missing 7 days. He wasn’t perfectly healthy before that. If he’s recovered, he should clean up the lower part of the Banzuke.

琴勇輝 一巖 | Kotoyuki Kazuyoshi

Maegashira 16 East

Stable: Sadogatake

From: Kagawa

Last 3 Basho: 11-4 (Juryo), 5-10 (Juryo), 4-7-4

Previous Rank: Juryo 6 East

Kotoyuki went from Juryo 6 all the way into Maegashira. That tells you more about the performance of everyone else than Kotoyuki. Still, he racked up 11 wins during Natsu, so maybe he’s got something going now.

照強 翔輝 | Terutsuyoshi Shoki

Maegashira 16 West

Stable: Isegahama

From: Hyogo

Last 3 Basho: 6-9, 6-9, 8-7 (Juryo)

Previous Rank: Maegashira 15 East

Well, he’s still here, even if he probably shouldn’t. Terutsuyoshi is smaller than everyone in Makuuchi except Enho, and mostly he’s looked overwhelmed by his bigger and stronger competitors. He certainly can out-trick his competitors, but he hasn’t done it consistently yet.

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