The first sumo tournament of 2013 has snuck up on me, and has come again! 2012 had some big events in sumo, and some impactful promotions and demotions. Let's hope 2013 gives us two strong Yokozuna, some interesting and surprising yusho victories, and overall great sumo! First, let's look at the first banzuke of 2013: Newcomers: The only newcomer to the top division this tournament is Kotoyuki, debuting at West Maegashira 15. As you can tell from the "Koto" in his name, he's from Sadogatake beya, home to Kotooshu, and Kotoshogiku, so he has a lot of good training partners. I wouldn't expect too much out of him, but this should be a good learning experience for him. Maegashira: Starting at the bottom, we see Miyabiyama at the second-lowest rank at East M16. I wouldn't say I'm a big fan of Miyabiyama, but it's too bad to see a former Ozeki so low, and struggling so much. He has said that if he drops to the Juryo division, he won't retire and he will continue to compete, but I would be surprised if he kept competing for a long time after dropping down to sumo's second-highest division. I think there's a fairly good chance of him picking up a losing record this time as well, and being dropped down. It's good to see Korean Tochinowaka back as well. He had been competing at the top of the Maegashira ranks for a while, before sliding way down and dropping back to Juryo for a couple tournaments. Asahisho is easy to root for with his smaller size, and huge salt-throwing display, and I think he should be able to get a winning record at M13. Okinoumi can do better than M10. He had a bittersweet tournament last time, as he got a win over a Yokozuna for the first time in his career, but also suffered an injury and had to withdraw with a terrible record. Mah boy Tokitenku should be able to get a winning record at M9, but it's hard to tell with him sometimes. I just hope for some sweet ketaguri leg kicks. Masunoyama didn't have a great tournament last time, but he'll do much better in this tournament. I'll be rooting for both of the competitors at M5. Homasho is one of my favorites, and I'm always hoping to see him back in the sanyaku. It seems like he doesn't belong there at the moment, but I guess he just has to keep banging his head against that wall and eventually he'll get two consecutive tournaments as a Komosubi (all of his previous tournaments at that rank have been 4-11 losing tournaments). Ikioi had a good tournament last time, and it was good to see him get a winning record in the top division after failing in his two previous attempts. I think M5 may be too high for him, but it will be good experience. At the top of the Maegashira division we have four pretty great guys. M2 has both Kyokutenho and Toyonoshima who are a couple of fan favorites. I really hope to see Kyokutenho in the sanyaku, and it would be great to see him getting a winning record in this, his 100th tournament in the top division. It will be tough though, and the last time he was ranked around here (M1) he got a dismal 2-13 record. His counterpart, Toyonoshima, is always one of the most entertaining rikishi out there. Myogiryu had a fantastic run up to his last tournament, where he slipped a bit and picked up his first losing record in the top division. He'll get back up to the sanyaku though, without a doubt. Finally, Aminishiki with his one leg, still constantly amazes me with the amount of power he can get with his leg mummified in bandages. Komosubi and Sekiwake: We've got Shohozan making his sanyaku debut, which is fantastic, as he's another of my favorites. I'd love to see him pick up a winning record this time, but it will be tough. Tochiozan will be attempting to work his way back up to Sekiwake, but that will depend a lot on the sekitori around him as well. At Sekiwake, we have Baruto returning to the rank after a long time as an Ozeki, due to his withdrawal from his last tournament and getting dropped down. Hopefully his injuries are healed, but I wouldn't be too sure. As long as he gets a winning record I believe he'll move back up to Ozeki, and I think he needs to make sure he gets that done, but without overexerting himself and worsening his injuries. His counterpart will be Goeido, who has been on quite a bit of a roll lately. He's been putting in good work in the practice sessions leading up to the basho, and he'll be hoping to build on his excellent 11-4 record last time to maybe start up an Ozeki run. Ozeki: The Ozeki didn't have a great tournament to finish 2012, with three of them posting records with under double-digit wins. Kotoshogiku only got an 8-7, and Kotooshu and Kakuryu had 9-6 records. Even Kisenosato only got a 10-5, and wasn't really in contention for the yusho race. 2012 finished up pretty poorly for the Ozeki, with Baruto being demoted, and their not-so-stellar records, so let's hope they start of 2013 on the right foot. Yokozuna: Newly promoted Yokozuna Harumafuji didn't have a great tournament in his debut at the sport's highest rank, but that's not particularly surprising. He has to do well this time though. He's under quite a bit of pressure to perform well, and has been criticized since his promotion for some of his actions in and out of the tournaments, and his sumo in general, and he needs to show that he deserves the rank. Hakuho just needs to do what he always does. He'll be looking to make 2013 a better year than 2012 was, with him only winning two tournaments last year, which was very uncharacteristic. He's the man to beat, as always, and we'll see if anyone can give him a good, consistent challenge. ------------------------------ So there we have it! Videos of the matches, and highlights will be posted here, as always, and I'll keep my eyes open for any videos of the English language broadcast, which I really miss watching. As always, feel free to ask if you have any questions and one (or more) of us will try to do our best to answer. And if you're new to sumo and would like some more information about the sport, check out my Introduction to SUMO thread.