Apart from the ongoing winter regional tour — which doesn’t count toward official standings — professional sumo for 2023 is in the books.

It was a year that started out with genuine concerns over a lackluster lineup of talent at the top of the rankings — and a seeming inability of any of the sport’s new hopes to separate themselves from the pack — but one that finished on a high and set up enticing possibilities for 2024.

As the new year tournament got underway in January, Takakeisho was the sole ozeki on the banzuke (ranking list) — a situation that forced authorities to designate Terunofuji yokozuna-ozeki in order to fulfill a long-standing requirement to always have at least two men at sumo’s second-highest rank.