- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2023 Day Three
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Scores from Fantasizr.
Hikiotoshi. Abi showed why he can be so dangerous by turning to the side and yanking down Kiribayama right when it looked like he was about to be pulled down. Note: The hand pull down is a kimarite that requires the winner to be going backward or sideways.
Match of the Day
11 Maegashira #1 West Midorifuji versus 02 Ozeki West Takakeisho
Takakeisho knew he couldn't get in a mawashi battle with Midorifuji, but he also wasn't able to get his steady tsuppari going. Midorifuji went inside, Takakeisho pushed him back, and then they moved to the side. Then they did that again and again. Takakeisho won by being relentless, which isn't Yusho levels of sumo, but he just needs 8 this basho.
Kiribayama and Hoshoryu losing were the consequential matches of Day Three. They are now at one loss with Takakeisho, looking up at the 3-0 group of Terunofuji, Daieisho, Wakamotoharu, and Kotonowaka. Sitting one loss back on Day Three doesn't ruin Yusho chances, but it's still the less preferable position. More importantly, Hoshoryu went down easily after a half-henka from Tobizaru, which Kiribayama followed by falling on his face to one of Abi's tawara dances.
On Day Four, the biggest match on paper will be Kotonowaka versus Wakamotoharu. Only one of them will be 4-0 after Day Four, which puts them in a strong position. Since Day Three showed that anyone can lose on any day, that will be huge. The Sanyaku wrestlers are otherwise still dancing around each other. The matches between the highest-ranked men will be the deciders of this basho, most likely.
The 3-0 wrestlers below Sanyaku are Meisei and Asanoyama. There are reasons to think neither one is going to keep going undefeated. Meisei has won with some active and exciting, but a little wild, sumo that makes his matches watchable. That does not make him seem like he will dominate. Asanoyama did look dominating on Days One and Two, but had a very lucky win over Kotoeko on Day Three. Asanoyama essentially fell just slow enough after getting pulled down that Kotoeko managed to step out first.
Otherwise, the Maegashira have been beating up on each other. Although someone usually stands out after the first week with a lopsided record from lower Maegashira, nothing is guaranteed. Additionally, the Sanyaku is dominating enough that the upper Maegashira are already behind the 8 ball. The favorites for the yusho are in Sanyaku because they are doing what they are supposed to, but which Sanyaku hasn't been doing enough recently.
The Yokozuna is looming for everyone in contention. Terunofuji does not look like he's in full Kaiju mode, but his undefeated record matters. And he is undefeated because he knows how to handle himself. Even in a sport of large men like sumo, Terunofuji stands out for his size. With his knees taped, he seems vulnerable until he wraps up his opponent. At that point, his strength leads to wins. But even the Yokozuna is vulnerable depending on matchup, and a kinboshi can make the basho more exciting.