The 2023 Grand Tournament of Sumo wraps up in Kyushu this month. And there are a number of compelling stories that could get neatly wrapped up as the 2023 season closes. Chief among those is the saga of Takakeisho, who in January looked to be the most likely contender for next yokozuna. However, after injuries hit it was only in September that he was able to regain his stride and put himself back on track for that promotion. If he wins this tournament he’ll be a shoe-in for sumo’s most hallowed promotion.
There’s a lot of fascination around the other two ozeki who will be competing at the tournament, too; Kirishima and Hoshoryu. Both were promoted this year after winning Emperor Cups. And both have been underwhelming since then. However, both showed signs of getting back to their usual crafty and exciting selves at the tail end of the aki basho.
For more storylines at play heading into the Kyushu basho check out my full preview here.
The Kyushu basho starts on Sunday, November 12 and runs until Sunday, November 26. All the results for the makuuchi (top division) will be recorded here, as well as highlights and analysis.
Introduce yourself in the comments, ask questions about sumo, and weigh-in on what happens this tournament. And if you want more sumo content, including in-depth analysis, please sign up for my Substack Sumo Stomp!
|9-6||Takakeisho 🇯🇵||Ozeki||Kirishima 🇲🇳||13-2|
|9-6||Daieisho 🇯🇵||Sekiwake||Wakamotoharu 🇯🇵||6-9|
|6-9||Abi 🇯🇵||Komusubi||Hokutofuji 🇯🇵||5-10|
|4-4-7||Asanoyama 🇯🇵||M1||Ura 🇯🇵||8-7|
|6-9||Shodai 🇯🇵||M2||Meisei 🇯🇵||4-11|
|10-5||Takayasu 🇯🇵||M3||Tobizaru 🇯🇵||7-8|
|8-7||Gonoyama 🇯🇵||M4||Nishikigi 🇯🇵||7-8|
|3-12||Onosho 🇯🇵||M5||Midorifuji 🇯🇵||9-4|
|7-8||Shonannoumi 🇯🇵||M6||Takanosho 🇯🇵||5-6-4|
|7-8||Hokuseiho 🇯🇵||M7||Kinbozan 🇰🇿||8-7|
|5-10||Endo 🇯🇵||M8||Atamifuji 🇯🇵||11-4|
|6-9||Myogiryu 🇯🇵||M9||Mitakeumi 🇯🇵||8-7|
|10-5||Ryuden 🇯🇵||M10||Kotoeko 🇯🇵||2-8-5|
|8-7||Sadanoumi 🇯🇵||M11||Hiradoumi 🇯🇵||9-6|
|8-7||Oho 🇯🇵||M12||Tamawashi 🇲🇳||9-6|
|6-9||Takarafuji 🇯🇵||M13||Tsurugisho 🇯🇵||9-6|
|7-8||Tomokaze 🇯🇵||M14||Ichiyamamoto 🇯🇵||11-4|
|5-10||Tohakuryu 🇯🇵||M15||Churanoumi 🇯🇵||9-6|
|5-10||Roga 🇷🇺||M16||Nishikifuji 🇯🇵||6-9|
Results, Highlights and Analysis
- Kitanowaka def. Nishikifuji via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)
- Churanoumi def. Roga via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Tohakryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tsurugisho def. Tomokaze via uwatenage (overarm throw)
- Tamawashi def. Takarafuji via oshidashi*
- Oho def. Hiradoumi via tsukidashi (thrust down)*
- Sadanoumi def. Kotoeko via yoritaoshi*
- Ryuden def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri
- Atamifuji def. Myogiryu via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Kinbozan def. Endo via oshidashi
- Hokuseiho def. Takanosho via yorikiri
- Shonannoumi def. Midorifuji via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Onosho def. Nishikigi via oshidashi
- Abi def. Gonoyama via oshidashi*
- Kotonowaka def. Tobizaru via oshidashi
- Takayasu def. Wakamotoharu via uwatenage*
- Daieisho def. Meisei via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Hoshoryu def. Shodai via tsukidashi
- Kirishima def. Ura via yoritaoshi*
- Takakeisho def. Hokutofuji via oshidashi
*Must see bouts!
All three ozeki looked like men on a mission on Day 1. Hoshoryu, Kirishima and Takakeisho all notched impressive, no fuss, wins to start their Kyushu campaigns.
Takakeisho took it to Hokutofuji with a ruthless charge off the tachiai, which prevented the new komusubi (who has beaten him in the past two encounters) from getting set or being able to fight back with any intensity before being pushed out.
Both Hoshoryu and Kirishima also came off the blocks quickly and went for shoving attacks to get quick wins (over Shodai and Ura respectively). Clearly they wanted to get that first win of the basho out the way as soon as possible and show they weren’t feeling nervy in their second and third tournaments as ozeki.
Match of the day for me was the long duel between Midorifuji and Shonannoumi. Midorifuji caught Shonannoumi with his patented under shoulder swing down move the first time they met (at the last basho). And this was a fascinating battle with Midorifuji looking for the grip and angle to pull of the move again. Shonannoumi showed great patience and strength to keep his hands in the right place and grind down Midorifuji before he was able to secure the win.
- Kitanowaka def. Roga via sukuinage (beltless armthrow)*
- Tohakuryu def. Nishikifuji via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Churanoumi via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Tomokaze def. Takarafuji via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tamawashi def. Tsurugisho via oshidashi
- Sadanoumi def. Oho via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Kotoeko def. Hiradoumi via oshidashi*
- Ryuden def. Myogiryu via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Atamifuji def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri
- Hokuseiho def. Endo via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Takanosho def. Kinbozan via oshidashi
- Shonannoumi def. Onosho via yorikiri*
- Midorifuji def. Nishikigi via yorikiri*
- Tobizaru def. Hokutofuji via okuridashi*
- Daieisho def. Gonoyama via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Kotonowaka def. Takayasu via oshidashi
- Wakamotoharu def. Meisei via yorikiri
- Takakeisho def. Shodai via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Hoshoryu def. Ura via oshidashi
- Kirishima def. Abi via oshidashi
*Must see bouts!
Takakeisho is looking really good. After pushing out Hokutofuji on Day 1 (which some are grumbling about over an alleged early/false start for ‘Keisho), the most senior ozeki got a big win over Shodai.
In the win he showed off his awesome pushing power, but also his reaction speed and deft footwork. That combination was enough to back down Shodai, make a wall and then side-step at just the right moment.
Both Hoshoryu and Kirishima got wins on Day 2, both against men who embarrassed them in the last tournament. I think the ozeki jitters are well and truly over for these two now.
Hoshoryu pushed Ura off the entire dohyo with relative ease. And Kirishima plowed through Abi, avoiding his opponent’s signature thrust to the throat.
Bout of the day for me was Daieisho vs. Gonoyama.
The first time these two ever met was in September. In that bout Daieisho steamrolled his mini-me, as if determined to prove that no young pusher-thruster was going to supplant him as one of the best to utilize that style.
In their second bout, Gonoyama gave a better account of himself. He engaged in a furious back and forth with the sekiwake with both men hitting the dirt at the exact same time.
In the rematch, Gonoyama got a little too ahead of himself. After some good thrusts and blocks, he dove from too far away on Daieisho, who elected to evade instead of meet head-on (and improvement for him).
- Nishikifuji def. Roga via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Churanoumi def. Kitanowaka via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)
- Tomokaze def. Tohakuryu via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Tsurugisho via yoritaoshi*
- Takarafuji def. Oho via tsukiotoshi
- Tamawashi def. Hiradoumi via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Ryuden def. Sadanoumi via uwatenage (over arm throw)
- Mitakeumi def. Kotoeko via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Myogiryu def. Endo via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Atamifuji def. Kinbozan via yorikiri
- Shonannoumi def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri
- Midorifuji def. Takanosho via hikiotoshi
- Gonoyama def. Onosho via oshidashi
- Nishikigi def. Abi via yorikiri
- Wakamotoharu def. Tobizaru via yorikiri*
- Daieisho def. Takayasu via oshidashi
- Kotonowaka def. Meisei via osakate (backward twisting over arm throw)*
- Kirishima def. Shodai via yorikiri
- Takakeisho def. Ura via oshidashi*
- Hoshoryu def. Hokutofuji via hatakikomi (slapdown)
*Must see bouts!
Another great day for the ozeki as they tore through their opponents with ease. Kirishima powerfully took out Shodai. Hoshoryu, deftly foiled Hokutofuji and Takakeisho dominated Ura.
Daieisho looks like a man possessed this tournament. He pushed out Takayasu on Day 3.
Tamawashi, who had a brutal run in the last tournament, looks superb so far in Kyushu. This day he schooled the over eager Hiradoumi.
Atamifuji is showing us all that his performance last time out was no fluke. The aki basho runner-up is yet to break a sweat in Kyushu. He beat Kinbozan on Day 3, showing textbook technique. Watch how he gets his head in the middle of Kinbozan’s chest and drives him back like a freight train.
Bout of the day for me was this wild, and long, back and forth between Kotonowaka and Meisei.
- Kitanowaka def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Churanoumi def. Nishikifuji via oshidashi
- Ichiyamamoto def. Tomokaze via oshidashi*
- Roga def. Tsurugisho via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Tamawashi def. Sadanoumi via oshidashi*
- Hiradoumi def. Takarafuji via oshidashi
- Kotoeko def. Oho via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Myogiryu def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri
- Atamifuji def. Ryuden via hatakikomi (slapdown)*
- Kinbozan def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri
- Takanosho def. Endo via yorikiri
- Midorifuji def. Onosho via tsukiotoshi*
- Nishikigi def. Shonannoumi via shitatenage (underarm throw)*
- Shodai def. Gonoyama via tsukiotoshi*
- Kotonowaka def. Abi via oshidashi
- Hokutofuji def. Wakamotoharu via oshidashi
- Daieisho def. Ura via oshidashi
- Hoshoryu def. Tobizaru via yorikiri
- Takayasu def. Kirishima via tsukiotoshi
- Meisei def. Takakeisho via yorikiri*
*Must see bouts!
Atamifuji is a star. His bout with Ryuden today is my bout of the day. In this match Atamifuji showed off his incredible combination of strength and mobility as Ryuden took him to the brink a couple of times, only for the youngster to fight back and claim the win. The performance was impressive, but just listen to the crowd. This kid is already one of the most popular rikishi on the scene, and you can see why.
Runner-up for bout of the day for me was the wild slapping exchange between Kotoeko and Oho, which ended with both men rolling on the dirt.
The big story from this day is that Hoshoryu now stands alone as the only ozeki with a perfect record. He survived a tricky Tobizaru test and was able to get an oshidashi after the Ape Man blocked a number of trip/throw attempts.
Kirishima lost to Takayasu after a bit of a slip. And Meisei bested Takakeisho with a fine evasive manoeuvre on the edge of the ring.
Hoshoryu and Atamifuji are joined at the top of the standings by Daieisho, Kotonowaka, Tamawashi and Ichiymamoto.
Tamawashi looks reborn in Kyushu and is firing opponents off the ring. This day he yeeted Sadanoumi. He looks a completely different wrestler from the one who went 2-13 last time out.
Ichiyamamoto is coming off a second division championship and he’s looked good so far, against mostly wrestlers he faced down in the juryo.
- Tohakuryu def. Roga via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Kitanowaka via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Nishikifuji def. Tsurugisho via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Churanoumi def. Takarafuji via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Tomokaze def. Tamawashi via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Hiradoumi def. Ryuden via yorikiri (frontal force out)*
- Mitakeumi def. Sadanoumi via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Oho def. Myogiryu via hatakikomi
- Atamifuji def. Kotoeko via yorikiri*
- Shonannoumi def. Endo via yorikiri*
- Midorifuji def. Kinbozan via hikiotoshi
- Onosho def. Hokuseiho via oshidashi
- Nishikigi def. Takanosho via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Tobizaru def. Shodai via oshidashi*
- Hokutofuji def. Abi via oshidashi
- Kotonowaka def. Daieisho via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)*
- Wakamotoharu def. Ura via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Takakeisho def. Takayasu via oshidashi*
- Hoshoryu def. Gonoyama via oshidashi*
- Kirishima def. Meisei via hatakikomi
*Must see bouts!
Hoshoryu vs. Gonoyama has to be the bout of the day. The official video below doesn’t do it justice. Prior to this bout, which is not included here, the pair stared each other down for an uncomfortably long amount of time. Hoshoryu clearly wanted Gonoyama to get set first, but the youngster (who is making only his thrid top division appearance) didn’t want to yield to the ozeki. So Hoshoryu refused to get set. Eventually, Gonoyama obliged (after it sounded like the crowd was getting frustrated, the gyoji may have also muttered something to him, too).
Once the bout finally happened, Gonoyama channelled his frustration into a stiff thrust to Hoshoryu’s throat. Hoshoryu, who looked more angry than I’ve ever seen him, took the blow and fired back with thrusts of his own, eventually getting Gonoyama to fall off the dohyo. Afterwards, Hoshoryu stared down at his defeated opponent – long enough that it was reminiscent of his uncle’s antics.
If that had happened, Tobizaru vs. Shodai would have been bout of the day. Tobizaru brought his typical brand of chaos to that bout, forcing a torinaoshi which then lead to a rear push out on the former ozeki.
Some other notable results included Midorifuji (who is 4-1 now) pulling off a slick henka on the hard charging Kinbozan, Hiradoumi blasting through Ryuden and Kotonowaka getting a rare katasukashi to give Daieisho his first loss of the basho.
Takakeisho and Kirishima all got back to winning ways on Day 5, Takakeisho treated Takayasu to a salt shower after a diving shove out.
- Tomokaze def. Kitanowaka via uchigake (inside leg trip)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Nishikifuji via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Roga def. Takarafuji via shitatehineri (twisting under arm throw)*
- Tsurugisho def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Churanoumi def. Tamawashi via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Ryuden def. Oho via yorikiri*
- Myogiryu def. Kotoeko via yorikiri
- Hiradoumi def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri
- Sadanoumi def. Atamifuji via yorikiri*
- Kinbozan def. Shonannoumi via yorikiri
- Takanosho def. Onosho via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Midorifuji def. Endo via yorikiri*
- Nishikigi def. Hokuseiho via tsuridashi (frontal lift out)*
- Ura def. Meisei via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Abi def. Wakamotoharu via kotenage*
- Shodai def. Daieisho via hatakikomi
- Kotonowaka def. Hokutofuji via oshidashi*
- Gonoyama def. Kirishima via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Takakeisho def. Tobizaru via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Takayasu def. Hoshoryu via Komatasukui (over thigh scooping body drop)*
*Must see bouts!
There were a lot of fun matches on Day 6, with thrilling (and often rare) finishes. Here are some of my favourites.
Abi went off-script and threw down Wakamotoharu.
Ura survived a big push from Meisei to finally score a win.
Nishikigi channeled Tochinoshin to pull off a forklift move on Hokuseiho.
And Takayasu responded to the throw attempts of Hoshoryu with a crafty ankle pick.
My bout of the day was Midorifuji beating Endo. Midorifuji looks to have really figured out how he can get wins in makuuchi not only inspite of his stature, but because of it. Watch how he expertly turns himself into a tripping hazard for Endo and uses that to unsettle and finish his opponent.
With losses for Hoshoryu and Atamifuji, we’re left with just Kotonowaka and Ichiyamamoto at the top with 6-0 records. Kotonowaka beat Hokutofuji and is looking like a real threat to win this thing. Ichiyamamoto (who I should start calling Pseudoabi) pushed Nishikifuji out, but is yet to face a mid-tier wrestler this tournament.
- Tomokaze def. Roga via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Tsurugisho def. Churanoumi via uwatenage (over arm throw)
- Takarafuji def. Kitanowaka via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Oho def. Nishikifuji via hatakikomi
- Sadanoumi def. Ichiyamamoto via yorikiri*
- Ryuden def. Kotoeko via yoritoashi (frontal crush out)
- Mitakeumi def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tamawashi def. Myogiryu via oshidashi
- Hiradoumi def. Atamifuji via yorikiri*
- Shonannoumi def. Takanosho via hatakikomi
- Hokuseiho def. Midorifuji via uwatenage*
- Endo def. Onosho via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Nishikigi def. Kinbozan via yoritaoshi
- Takayasu def. Meisei via hatakikomi*
- Ura def. Kotonowaka via tottari (arm bar throw)*
- Shodai def. Wakamotoharu via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)
- Daieisho def. Hokutofuji via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)
- Hoshoryu def. Abi via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Kirishima def. Tobizaru via sukuinage
- Gonoyama def. Takakeisho via yorikiri*
Gonoyama is becoming one of the stories of the tournament, after his spirited loss to Hoshoryu (which resulted in Hoshoryu getting a dressing down for grandstanding by both officials and his head coach), he has beaten Kirishima and now Takakeisho. Takakeisho blasted through Gonoyama the first time they met, but the young rikishi seems to be really working hard to show the veterans he not only deserves to be in makuuchi but also deserves some respect. Him beating Takakeisho (at Takakeisho’s own game) is my bout of the day.
The other bout I have to discuss is Hokuseiho vs. Midorifuji which took almost seven minutes to complete! Hokuseiho has been embarrassed both times he’s fought Midorifuji in the past, with the smallest man in the division either throwing down or pushing out the tallest man in the division.
This time Hokuseiho looked intend on preventing such a spectacular defeat and he fell back on his crutch of stalling and leaning to try and tire an opponent. This lasted an eternity against Midorifuji. So long the referee broke the action so both men could take a water break.
When they resumed, Midorifuji was totally exhausted and when he went for a highlight reel throw he didn’t have the strength to pull it off. Instead Hokuseiho was able to squash the attempt and land on top.
After Day 7 we have no more undefeated wrestlers. Kotonowaka lost to Ura (who actually looked like Ura today). And Ichiyamamoto lost to hometown fave Sadanoumi.
- Kitanowaka def. Aoiyama via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Churanoumi def. Tomokaze via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Takarafuji via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Oho def. Roga via oshidashi
- Tamawashi def. Tohakuryu via kotenage (arm lock throw)*
- Sadanoumi def. Nishikifuji via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)
- Hiradoumi def. Tsurugisho via yorikiri*
- Endo def. Kotoeko via uwatehineri (twisting over arm throw)
- Ryuden def. Hokuseiho via shitatedashinage (pulling underarm throw)
- Mitakeumi def. Shonannoumi via yorikiri
- Atamifuji def. Takanosho via kotenage*
- Kinbozan def. Onosho via tsukiotoshi
- Midorifuji def. Myogiryu via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)*
- Tobizaru def. Meisei via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)*
- Takayasu def. Ura via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Abi def. Daieisho via hikiotoshi
- Shodai def. Kotonowaka via yorikiri*
- Gonoyama def. Wakamotoharu via oshidashi
- Asanoyama def. Takakeisho via shitatenage (underarm throw)*
- Nishikigi def. Hoshoryu via kotenage
- Kirishima def. Hokutofuji via okuridashi (rear push out)
*Must see bouts!
Takakeisho and Hoshoryu both dropped bouts on Day 8 to make this an extremely even playing field as we head to the second half of the tournament.
Takakeisho lost to Asanoyama, who had been sitting out nursing a plethora of injuries up until this point. Takakeisho has had Asanoyama’s number since the former ozeki climbed back to the top division. But in this bout, Takakeisho got too rash in his attack and tried to spear Asanoyama out of the ring. However, in doing so he didn’t notice that Asanoyama had locked on a strong grasp on his mawashi. Asanoyama was able to use that grip to turn Takakeisho and secure the win as they both went into the front row.
The loss pegs Takakeisho back into the chasing pack, but he could still very well win this basho and satisfy the basic qualification for a yokozuna promotion conversation. However, the natures of his losses this tournament may count against him. We’ve seen him rolled into the seats too more than once and that is usually not what the yokozuna council want to see from a potential candidate.
My bout of the day was Kotonowaka vs. Shodai. There’s a great narrative here of the ascendant talent (Kotonowaka) taking on the descendant talent (Shodai). Though, Shodai is fighting to show the best is yet to come from him. This is taking place in Shodai’s home prefecture, too.
Their bout was a back and forth with both men looking to secure grips needed for their favoured yorikiri. Kotonowaka tried to harry Shodai with high thrusts, but Shodai made sure he didn’t stay straight in front of his opponent and fought through those strikes to get his head in the centre of Kotonowaka’s chest and power him out.
I have to give Midorifuji another shout out here. He’s been a joy to watch this tournament and seems to have really refined his game over the past few tournaments. He’s making larger and more senior wrestlers look foolish. Myorgiryu was today’s victim.
Ichiyamamoto is now leading the way with a 7-1 record. However, that will likely go down as we start shifting to record based match-making. There’s a ton of guys at 6-2 behind him (Kirishima, Hoshoryu. Kotonowaka, Ryuden, Nishikigi, Midorifuji, Tamawashi, Churanoumi).
If there’s a legit front runner in this tournament, he’s yet to reveal himself.
- Kotoshoho def. Nishikifuji via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Tsurugisho def. Kitanowaka via yorikiri
- Takarafuji def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Tamawashi via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)*
- Oho def. Tomokaze via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Hiradoumi def. Roga via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Churanoumi def. Endo via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)
- Kinbozan def. Sadanoumi via utchari (backward pivot throw)*
- Hokuseiho def. Kotoeko via yorikiri
- Takanosho def. Ryuden via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Shonannoumi def. Myogiryu via yorikiri
- Mitakeumi def. Midorifuji via yorikiri
- Atamifuji def. Onosho via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Takayasu def. Tobizaru via oshidashi*
- Meisei def. Gonoyama via tsukiotoshi
- Shodai def. Hokutofuji via oshidashi
- Ura def. Abi via hikiotoshi
- Wakamotoharu def. Daieisho via hatakikomi
- Kirishima def. Asanoyama via hatakikomi*
- Takakeisho def. Nishikigi via hikiotoshi*
- Kotonowaka def. Hoshoryu via yoritaoshi*
*Must see bouts!
My bout of the day on Day 9 is Takayasu vs. Tobizaru, but not because it was especially exciting. The reason I’ve singled it out is because it had a bizarre ending.
In their fight Tobizaru smartly decided to lead Takayasu on a chase around the inner edge of the dohyo (since he knew that if Takayasu got hands on him he would likely be thrown down). So Tobizaru flew around the ring and looked to have Takayasu in the high risk chase he wanted, but then… he bumped into the gyoji. After that collision halted Tobizaru, Takayasu was easily able to catch-up and land a bout winning push.
Tobizaru’s stare at the gyoji on the put out showed us exactly what he thought of the incident.
There were mixed results for the highest ranked rikishi this day with Hoshoryu losing to Kotonowaka (for the third time in a row). Kirishima survived a very tough test against the banged up Asanoyama and Takakeisho got back on track with a rather graceful win over Nishikigi.
Another slick finish came via Ura, who beat Abi with a level change.
- Roga def. Bushozan via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Oho def. Kitanowaka via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tohakuryu def. Sadanoumi via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Hiradoumi def. Ichiyamamoto via yorikiri*
- Ryuden def. Tamawashi via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Nishikifuji def. Kotoeko via fusen (default)
- Mitakeumi def. Churanoumi via yorikiri
- Tomokaze def. Endo via oshidashi
- Tsurugisho def. Hokuseiho via yorikiri*
- Kinbozan def. Takarafuji via oshidashi
- Atamifuji def. Shonannoumi via oshidashi*
- Takanosho def. Myogiryu via oshidashi
- Midorifuji def. Takayasu via kotenage (arm lock throw)*
- Tobizaru def. Onosho via yorikiri
- Meisei def. Shodai via uwatenage (overarm throw)*
- Ura def. Hokutofuji via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Kotonowaka def. Gonoyama via uwatenage*
- Daieisho def. Asanoyama via oshidashi
- Hoshoryu def. Wakamotoharu via yoritaoshi*
- Kirishima def. Nishikigi via okuridashi
- Takakeisho def. Abi via hatakikomi
*Must see bouts!
Lots of thrills and spill on this day. We had a number of bouts end up in the seats, one of them was my bout of the day.
Hoshoryu vs. Wakamotoharu didn’t last long, but it was hella chaotic and showed off Hoshoryu’s ability to defend pretty much anything and everything and then transition to offense of his own.
Wakamotoharu (who is having a bad basho) went straight in on Hoshoryu’s belt and tried to march him out the ring, but Hoshoryu twisted his hips and went for a throw. Wakamotoharu stepped out the way and then went for the utchari (backward twisting pivot throw). He’s pulled off this extremely dangerous manouevre before (against Shodai this year). It’s one which gaurantees a high fall and lots of pain for those involved and I wish he didn’t go to it as often as he does. The utchari failed in this bout and resulted in both men falling to the concrete below. Wakamotoharu landed first and seemed to take some of the impact on his head and face.
We gotta get some mats out there.
Takayasu vs. Midorifuji deserrves lots of praise, both men put on a show and Takayasu came close to getting Midorifuji down before the smallest man in the division pulled off a beautiful arm lock throw (while sliding backwards).
Give this man the Technique Prize already!
Elsewhere there were big wins for Kirishima, Kotonowaka and Atamifuji, which put them level on 8-2 with Ichiyamamoto (who lost to Hiradoumi today).
Takakeisho got casual win over Abi this day, too, slapping down a man who has given him trouble in the past.
Ura got a cute win on Day 10 over Hokutofuji (another top guy who is really struggling). Check out his powerful arm yanj forwards, followed up by a gentle little love pat for the okuridashi.
- Nishikifuji def. Tomokaze via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tsurugisho def. Takarafuji via yoritaoshi (frontal crush out)*
- Sadanoumi def. Kitanowaka via yoritaoshi*
- Mitakeumi def. Roga via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Atamifuji def. Churanoumi via oshidashi*
- Endo def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi
- Tamawashi def. Kinbozan via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Hokuseiho def. Oho via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Midorifuji def. Hiradoumi via oshidashi*
- Myogiryu def. Onosho via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Ryuden def. Nishikigi via yorikiri
- Gonoyama def. Takanosho via fusen (forfeit)
- Takayasu def. Shonannoumi via yorikiri
- Tobizaru def. Ura via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Hokutofuji def. Meisei via yorikiri
- Abi def. Shodai via oshidashi
- Daieisho def. Ichiyamamoto via hikiotoshi
- Kotonowaka def. Takakeisho via okuridashi*
- Hoshoryu def. Asanoyama via shitatenage (under arm throw)*
- Kirishima def. Wakamotoharu via yorikiri
*Must see bouts!
With matchmaking shifting from rankings to records, the leading pack is now starting to get thinned out. After Day 11 our leaders are Kirishima, Kotonowaka and Atamifuji, all with 9-2 records.
Kirishima defeated Wakamotoharu this day (someone he trains a lot with outside of tournaments). Wakamotoharu is having a dreadful tournament, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Kirishima swallow him up and force him out without too much trouble.
Kotonowaka scored a big win over Takakeisho this day, withstanding the ozeki off the tachiai and then artfully getting around him for the rear push out.
Atamifuji continues to show he’s the real deal. He dispatched of Churnaoumi without breaking a sweat.
Behind them are Hoshoryu, Ryuden, Midorifuji and Ichiyamamoto.
Hoshoryu put in my bout of the day with his picture perfect shitatenage over Asanoyama (someone who can’t seem to help getting thrown by Hoshoryu when they meet).
Ichiyamamoto (Psuedoabi) got his first serious test of the basho this day when he met Daieisho. Daieisho was able to bring him down rather quickly and I’ll be surprised if ‘Yama’ can hang with these better wrestlers as he move to the final days of the tournament.
- Tohakuryu def. Shimazuumi via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tamawashi def. Oho via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)*
- Tsurugisho def. Sadanoumi via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Hiradoumi def. Churanoumi via oshidashi
- Takarafuji def. Myogiryu via yorikiri
- Endo def. Kitanowaka via yorikiri
- Hokuseiho def. Roga via yorikiri
- Kinbozan def. Mitakeumi via oshidashi
- Shonannoumi def. Tomokaze via yorikiri
- Onosho def. Nishikifuji via yorikiri*
- Ichiyamamoto def. Nishikigi via yorikiri*
- Takayasu def. Ryuden via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)*
- Gonoyama def. Tobizaru via oshidashi
- Ura def. Shodai via tottari (arm bar throw)*
- Abi def. Meisei via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Hokutofuji def. Asanoyama via oshidashi
- Daieisho def. Midorifuji via tsukitaoshi (frontal thrust down)
- Kirishima def. Kotonowaka via yorikiri*
- Takakeisho def. Wakamotoharu via oshidashi
- Atamifuji def. Hoshoryu via tsukiotoshi*
*Must see bouts!
The future of sumo is in good hands. Even with Hakuoho (and Onosato) waiting in the wings, makuuchi has some young guns who will make sumo very fun to watch for the next decade. Atamifuji is the man to watch, in that regard, right now. And he continued to prove that on Day 12 with a win over ozeki Hoshoryu.
Atamifuji has plowed through the competition thus far this tournament, but against Hoshoryu he used some craft to get the job done. Hoshoryu tried to intimidate Atamifuji during the warm-up, but Atamifuji acted as if he was blissfully unaware.
Hoshoryu got a great jump off the tachiai and I was suprised at how quickly and how far he was able to move Atamifuji back in the first phase of the bout. However, Atamifuji stored all that forward momentum and used it against his opponent. Along the boundary, Atamofuji shifted his feet and ushered Hoshoryu into the clay. A stunning win for the 21-year-old who is now tied for the lead with Kirishima.
Kirishima also won on Day 12 in my Bout of the Day. He and Kotonowaka played out a chest match with both men locking up hands on the other’s belt. From there, Kirishima harried Kotonowaka with his leg, half-heartedly going for trips. Those were enough to make the larger Kotonowaka step evasively and once he was off balance, Kirishima surged forwards to get the yorikiri. Kirishima is so good at using his judo to score emphatetic wins, but he can also use those moves as distractions and feints to set up easier more mundance victories like this.
Takakeisho got a win today, too, to stay in the hunt (mathmatically). He side-stepped Wakamotoharu for an easier push out. Wakamotoharu doesn’t seem to be present during this basho and every bout feels like an uphill task right now.
As we head to the last three days of the tournament Kirishima and Atamifuji look like the best bets to win this, by quite some distances. Kotonowaka and Ichiyamamoto are just behind with 9-3, but right now it doesn’t feel like they can keep the pace.
Bust of the day was Nishikifuji’s performance against Onosho. He’s had a terrible year and this bout kind of summed that up.
He committed two false starts. This thoroughly poked the bear (and Onosho has a mean streak, by the way). When the bout finally went off, Onosho blasted him off the ring.
- Kitanowaka def. Oshoma via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Tohakuryu def. Oho via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Tomokaze def. Hiradoumi via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Churanoumi def. Sadanoumi via sukuinage (beltless arm throw)
- Mitakeumi def. Tamawashi via oshidashi
- Roga def. Myogiryu via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)
- Endo def. Nishikifuji via oshidashi
- Midorifuji def. Ichiyamamoto via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Tsurugisho def. Nishigi via utchari (bakwards pivot throw)*
- Tobizaru def. Hokuseiho via okuridashi (rear push out)*
- Atamifuji def. Takayasu via oshidashi*
- Takarafuji def. Meisei via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Kinbozan def. Shodai via oshidashi
- Ura def. Onosho via oshidashi*
- Gonoyama def. Hokutofuji via tsukiotoshi
- Abi def. Shonannoumi via hikiotoshi*
- Ryuden def. Kotonowaka via yorikiri*
- Asanoyama def. Wakamotoharu via yorikiri
- Kirishima def. Daieisho via hatakikomi
- Takakeisho def. Hoshoryu via hatakikomi*
How can you not love Atamifuji. On Day 13 he has secured, at worst, his second second place finish in a row (in only his third ever top division tournament). Of course, he could very much win this tournament (he’s one of two wrestlers with a shot of doing that now − but more on that later).
To earn this situation, Atamifuji needed to get past Takayasu. Atamifuji beat him in the last tournament (their first ever meeting) and I’m sure Takayasu remembers the bruising push down he suffered from the rising star.
In this match-up Takayasu looked fantastic and back his healthy (and highly aggressive) form. He got the drop on Atamifuji and was able to get a good grip and then push the pace with his thrusting attacks. Few wrestlers are harder to escape than Takayasu when he’s ahead of steam, his thrusts are like paint strokes, brushing you across the clay until he’s reader to send you all the way down.
But Atamifuji was able to absorb that punishment and resist being guided by some of the most powerful pushes in the game. He rode it all out and was able to find an angle to escape and secure the win. Phenomenal stuff from the 21-year-old. That’s my bout of the day.
Kirishima needed to win to keep pace with Atamifuji. And lucky for him he was drawn against Daieisho, who he owns. He’s 5-1 against Daieisho and has beat him the same way in each of those bouts. He stands up to Daieisho’s pressure, digs his heels in, pushes back, waits for the reaction and then makes space to push down the charging Daieisho.
Kirishima and Atamifuji out in front with 11-2 records. Face eachother tomorrow. That means one of them will move to a 12-2 record heading into the final day. This means no other wrestler can mathmateically win the cup now (since the closest wrestlers to them are all 9-4 and the worst the winner of Krisihima vs. Atamifuji can finish with is 12-3.
On the final day the Kirishima vs. Atamifuji winner will need to either win or see the loser lose to clinch the cup. If the loser of that bout wins and the winner loses, then we’ll have a Kirishima vs. Atamifuji play-off for the title. Fun!
A few other bouts had some pleasing finishes. Tobizaru saved his skin (for now) by out-foxing Hokuseiho.
Abi did Abi things to Shonannoumi.
Tsusugisho got an utchari over Nishikigi.
Takakeisho copied Kirishima’s homework to beat Hoshoryu.
And Ura put his head down and drove out Onosho.
- Daiamami def. Tohakuryu via okuridashi (rear push out)
- Oho def. Churanoumi via kimedashi (arm barring force out)
- Sadanoumi def. Roga via tsukiotoshi (thrust down)*
- Hiradoumi def. Nishikifuji via tsukiotoshi
- Ichiyamamoto def. Ryuden via hatakikomi (slap down)*
- Myogiryu def. Kitanowaka via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Tsurugisho def. Mitakeumi via yorikiri (frontal force out)*
- Takarafuji def. Endo via uwatedashinage (pulling over arm throw)
- Hokuseiho def. Tomokaze via yorikiri
- Takayasu def. Kinbozan via yorikiri
- Tamawashi def. Meisei via oshidashi
- Asanoyama def. Shodai yorikiri
- Ura def. Gonoyama via yorikiri*
- Tobizaru def. Abi via oshidashi*
- Hokutofuji def.Onosho via katasukashi (under shoulder swing down)
- Kotonowaka def. Shonannoumi via tsukiotoshi
- Wakamotoharu def. Nishikigi via yorikiri
- Daieisho def. Takakeisho via tsukidashi (frontal thrust out)
- Hoshoryu def. Midorifuji via uwatenage (over arm throw)*
- Kirishima def. Atamifuji via yorikiri
*Must see bouts!
Wow. We were treated to a drama filled final bout on Day 14. In the last match Kirishima defeated Atamifuji to put this basho well and truly in the palm of his hand. The bout was geat, but it’s what happened before the tachiai that was so fascinating.
As they warmed up, Atamifuji refused to meet Kirishima’s gaze. We saw this when he fought Hoshoryu, and he went ahead and won the bout. It was cute that time. But after this display, I think this process hints at something heavier.
Atamifuji looked incredibly nervous today when he refused to look at Kirishima. He looked scared; not of his opponent, but of the occasion.
After going through the opening riturals (with his eyes on the floor) Atamifuji then committed a false start. I was sure he would lose after that.
We’ve seen this before. In the last tournament Atamifuji looked nervous and false started against Takakeisho. All the while, Takakeisho stared deep into Atamifuji’s soul. Atamifuji would lose that bout and then lose again to Takakeisho when they met in the play-off.
Unfortunately, when the pressure cranks up Atamifuji wilts. And he’s 21-years-old and never competed at this level before, so it’s totally understandable. But he simply won’t win a championship if he can’t get over this. I really enjoy his sumo so I hope this is something Atamifuji can get over and grow from.
If I could tell Atamifuji was nervous, Kirishima certainly could as well. As Atamifuji stalled and refused to look at him, you could see Kirishima’s confidence grow. He knew Atamifuji wasn’t going to be able to give his best effort and he could feel his hands on his second Emperor’s Cup of the year. He breathed deeply and even looked excited to get going, like he could smell blood.
When the bout went off Kirishima decided to go chest to chest with Atamifuji and he was stronger there. I don’t know how much Atamifuji’s nerves hampered his ability to push forwards, but Kirishima looked like he had super strength in being able to halt the usually powerful (and technically perfect) Atamifuji and then drive him back for a relatively routine yorikiri.
Kirishima, who feeds off pressure, will face Takakeisho (who might be checked out) tomorrow. If he wins, he’s our champ. If he loses, Atamifuji will need to beat Kotonowaka (who is working on an ozeki run and needs every win he can get) to force a play-off.
I don’t think Kirishima lets this opportunity slip. And I don’t know how much Atamifuji wants to force a big showdown.
Everything else that happened this day pales in significance compared to this bout. Plus, a few guys definitely seem to be phoning it in now they have either secured their winning or losing records.
Other exciting bouts on the day include Ura refusing to go down to Gonoyama and Hoshoryu’s gorgeous throw of Midorifuji.
- Nishikifuji def. Kagayaki via yorikiri (frontal force out)
- Hiradoumi def. Kitnaowaka via hikiotoshi (hand pull down)
- Ryuden def. Tsurugisho via yorikiri
- Oho def. Mitakeumi via oshidashi (frontal push out)
- Myogiryu def. Tomokaze via oshidashi
- Roga def. Endo via kotenage (arm lock throw)
- Ichiyamamoto def. Kinbozan via hatakikomi (slap down)
- Churanoumi def. Midorifuji via oshidashi*
- Gonoyama def. Shonannoumi via oshidashi
- Sadanoumi def. Tobizaru via yorikiri*
- Takayasu def. Tamawashi via tsukiotoshi (frontal thrust out)
- Meisei def. Tohakuryu via oshidashi
- Shodai def. Takarafuji via oshidashi
- Ura def. Hokuseiho via oshitaoshi (frontal push down)*
- Nishikigi def. Hokutofuji via hatakikomi
- Asanoyama def. Abi via tsukiotoshi
- Wakamotoharu def. Onosho via yorikiri
- Kotonowaka def. Atamifuji via hikiotoshi*
- Hoshoryu def. Daieisho via yorikiri
- Krishima def. Takaeisho via tsukiotoshi*
We have a winner. Kirishima is the 2023 Kyusuhu champion after a slightly anti-climactic final day.
Kirishima earned the win yesterday with his assured win over the young Atamifuji. This day, Atamifuji needed to rally and defeated Kotonowaka to force a play-off with Kirishima. That didn’t happen, though. His loss to the surging sekiwake Kotonowaka handed Kirishima the Emperor’s Cup before Kirishima stepped into the ring for his final bout of the year.
Atamifuji gifted Kirishima the cup after doing something similar to what cost him the title at the aki basho in September. On the heels of his yips-infested loss to Kirishima, Atamifuji put himself on auto-pilot to fight Kotonowaka. I think Atamifuji believes that, if he stops thinking, he won’t get overwhelmed with nerves. That might be true, but the lack of thought also completely sabotages his sumo.
In September this manifested in Atamifuji diving in, eyes down, and receiving a controversial henka from Takakeisho in the championship bout. This time around, he dove in with his eyes down again. Kotonowaka received him, stood him up and was able to pivot away to send Atamifuji to the ground. Usually Atamifuji is far too technically sound to fall for this, with his arms tight, his head in the centre of a chest and his feet skimming the ground perfectly.
Kirishima did his best to not crack a smile in the front row. When he got in there to face Takakeisho, he got it over quickly with a push and a side-step. Takakeisho looked pretty checked out for this one.
Kirishima wins his second Emperor’s Cup of the year and steals the lead in the race to become the next yokozuna. Fighting Spirit awards go to Ichiyamamoto (who beat Kinbozan on the last day to secure the best record of his career), Kotonowaka (who started an ozeki run with his 11th win) and Atamifuji (who fell short this time, but has all physical gifts needed to succeed in the future).
My bout of the day was the ‘Darwin bout’ between Hokuseiho and Ura, with Ura digging deep to rescue a winning-record.
That’s a wrap on this piece. Thank you so much to everyone who has checked this out (and the other posts in my first year covering sumo for Bloody Elbow).
Next up will be some premium pieces for my Sumo Stomp! Substack. Those will include report cards for every top division wrestler. I will also be doing a deep dive on how Takakeisho lost his chance to be yokozuna (he was picked by my subscribers to have an extra spotlight on him this tournament).
If you want to read those pieces, please subscribe to Sumo Stomp! I make the prices as low as Substack will let me.
How to watch
You can stream this tournament via the Abema TV app. Live sumo on Abema comes only with a paid subscription, which costs around $8 a month. The Abema app is entirely in Japanese with no English version. Matches can also be viewed on the official Grand Sumo app. This is also entirely in Japanese with no English version. The Grand Sumo app also features unavoidable spoilers.
Alternative methods to watch sumo, both live and on demand, can be found on Twitch and YouTube.
Update: NHK’s official English language service on YouTube, NHK World-Japan, has began airing all bouts from the tournament — with English commentary. These 30 minute videos air on a 24 hour delay.
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