- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2023 Day Eight
Public League Leaderboard
Scores from Fantasizr.
01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji
20 Maegashira #6 East Meisei
36 Maegashira #14 East Asanoyama
Watashikomi. A "thigh grabbing push down" sounds impressive, but essentially Onosho pushed on the part he could hit of an already going sideways and down Mitakeumi.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #11 East Hokuseiho versus Maegashira #14 East Asanoyama
This match began with a strong tachiai and Asanoyama latching on deep in the back of Hokuseiho's mawashi with his right hand. That should have allowed Asanoyama to get an easy yorikiri against most rikishi. But Hokuseiho is different from most rikishi. While the younger man did get vertical and moving backwards, he didn't let Asanoyama keep it up. He was able to turn Asanoyama around with his own deep grip thanks to his long arms. After a few tries, that turned into a devastating shitatenage and Asanoyama's first loss.
After eight days, we finally have a sole leader atop the yusho race with no losses. Terunofuji took care of business against Kotoshoho after both Asanoyama and Meisei took their first loss in earlier action. The lone Yokozuna looks strong and in-form. Couple that with his rank and his record this basho, and you've got a clear favorite for the yusho. The task for anyone else over the next week is to keep winning, while also hoping Terunofuji takes a surprise loss.
This is fitting and appropriate for a basho with one Yokozuna, but it was not certain before the tournament. Terunofuji had missed three straight tournaments, and looked hobbled doing dohyo-iri at retirement ceremonies. His knees have also been a ticking time bomb since rejoining Makuuchi a year ago. Even with his performance through the first 8 matches, injury risk will haunt the Kaiju as long as he's competing.
Still, he's here and dominating so far. He gets the 7-1 Meisei on Day Nine. More importantly, Meisei is a highly mobile rikishi. In theory, that's the kind of opponent who should cause Terunofuji trouble. In reality, Terunofuji often has the ability to reach his big arms around anyone who is smaller than he is. With Ichinojo retired, the group of rikishi smaller than Terunofuji may be everyone besides Hokuseiho. A wrestler might be able to slide sideways on Terunofuji, or he could hurt his legs on a throw attempt.
It just hasn't happened yet during Natsu. Now he's got the basho somewhat under his control. This does not mean a Zensho yusho is guaranteed by any reason. There's a reason that 15-0 records are rare. Terunofuji has seen the easy part of his schedule already. He's faced just one Sanyaku wrestler, Shodai on Day One. In his final six matches, he needs to have room for another Komusubi, four Sekiwake, and an Ozeki. Maybe if Kotonowaka picks up another few losses and Asanoyama wins more, the former Ozeki replaces the Komusubi on the dance card.
That means that the rikishi just behind Terunofuji absolutely still have a chance at the yusho. Individually, the odds are low. Not only does someone need to beat Terunofuji for a chance at the yusho, but most of them need help elsewhere. Even if Meisei or Asanoyama end up in a 14-1 tie after the final day, they need to beat Terunofuji in a playoff if he keeps winning otherwise. The eight rikishi 6-2 need Terunofuji to lose twice. But ten men are in a position to challenge the Yokozuna if everything goes right, and that makes Terunofuji's job a little more complicated.