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Natsu 2023 Day Fourteen




Public League Leaderboard

Scores from Fantasizr.


Yusho Arasoi

13 Wins

01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji


11 Wins

03 Sekiwake #1 East Kiribayama

36 Maegashira #14 East Asanoyama


Notable Maneuvers

Sukuinage. Sometimes a throw is so beautiful, it makes it better. Hoshoryu gave a beltless arm throw to beat Tsurugisho that was absolutely textbook.


Match of the Day

01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus 03 Sekiwake #1 East Kiribayama

They came into the match knowing it was a yusho decider, and fought like it. Kiribayama got a good, deep inside-left grip, and then he stood way back to get the kind of pulling/throwing stance Kiribayama is really good at. Terunofuji, showing his astonishing mix of technique and athleticism, then reached his left arm down to get a grip on the front of Kiribayama's mawashi. They then had a small chess match blocking each other's grips, which stressed each man's position and loosened Kiribayama's mawashi. Terunofuji got the Michinoku man moving, though Kiribayama was putting up a fight. Even as Kiribayama was at the edge, Terunofuji needed an extra push to make sure he won. But win he did, the match and the yusho.


Recap

And so Terunofuji will win the yusho for Natsu 2023. There is one more day of action, but the race for the Emperor's Cup is over. Terunofuji's win over Kiribayama gives him 13 wins, while Kiribayama sit back at 11 wins. No one can catch him with one more day of matches. He could withdraw from the tournament, not fight on Day Fifteen, and he will still be the champion. (Yokozuna Wajima did this in November 1973, but it's worth referring to here because it is such an uncommon thing.)


Kiribayama has almost certainly earned an Ozeki promotion, and he will likely get a Jun-Yusho. That is a great achievement, and he was in the yusho race until Day Fourteen. He could still not earn a Jun-Yusho, because he is tied with Asanoyama on 11 wins right now. If Asanoyama loses early in the day against Tsurugisho, Kiribayama's bout with Hoshoryu won't matter for the Jun-Yusho. If they both lose, there is a trio of rikishi, Hoshoryu, Wakamotoharu, and Oho, who are on 10 wins and could create a five way tie for second place.


That might be the most intriguing possibility for Day Fifteen. Kiribayama will be elevated to Ozeki. Hoshoryu, Daieisho, and Wakamotoharu all have kachi-koshi already, which means they'll stay at Sekiwake. Shodai's 6-8 record means he's going out of Komosubi, but Kotonowaka has a 7-7 record going into Day Fifteen to see if he'll remain in Sanyaku. Even the demotion spots are probably locked, since Ichiyamamoto, Mitoryu, and Kagayaki are all well underwater at the bottom of the Banzuke. Abi and Ura will be in a 7-7 clash that likely determines who gets to be Komusubi West in Nagoya. That's the biggest piece of interest for the final day. (Juryo will be wild, however. Gonoyama and Ochiai have identical 13-1 records, making them destined for a playoff. If they both lose, Atamifuji is at 12-2 to possibly get a three-way playoff going.)


Terunofuji is still the best rikishi around, befitting his spot as the lone Yokozuna. That's the ultimate sign that sumo's normal state returned for Natsu 2023. Takakeisho was not competing for the yusho, but he got 8 wins to keep his Ozeki rank. Meanwhile, the Sekiwake corps all did quite well, leading to a Sanyaku domination overall. That made the upper Maegashira struggle. Even the lower Maegashira interlopers got knocked back by facing Sanyaku opponents. That's how a sumo tournament is supposed to work.


And it will keep working that way if Terunofuji can continue competing for the next few basho. He took on all comers, only losing to Meisei in a surprise upset, and proved he is still the remarkable combination of size, strength, power, technique, and strategic thinking that makes him so tough. A final day that would have multiple yusho possibilities would be more fun, but we shouldn't lose sight that Terunofuji put on a display of great sumo throughout the Natsu basho. It's another example of his unique sumo legacy.

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