Spring Grand Sumo Tournament winner Wakatakakage gradually grew in confidence throughout the 15-day competition in Osaka but was nevertheless surprised by his success, the newly crowned champion said Monday.

The 27-year-old sekiwake from Fukushima Prefecture won the first Emperor's Cup of his career Sunday by beating former ozeki and current No. 7 maegashira Takayasu in a one-bout championship playoff after the joint overnight leaders finished deadlocked at 12-3.

Following Takayasu's loss to sekiwake Abi, Wakatakakage had a chance to clinch the title by winning the day's final scheduled bout but could not overcome resurgent ozeki Shodai.