Lone yokozuna Terunofuji claimed his ninth top-division title Sunday by defeating joint leader Kotonowaka in a thrilling championship playoff at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The pair had started the final day tied for first place at 12-2 after promotion-seeking sekiwake Kotonowaka knocked ozeki Kirishima from the top of the leaderboard in their highly anticipated Day 14 battle at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Kotonowaka was first to book his place in the playoff with a victory over No. 4 maegashira Tobizaru (7-8), who was picked to face the sekiwake following the injury withdrawal of ozeki Hoshoryu (10-4-1). The result eliminated Kirishima from title contention and halted his bid for yokozuna promotion.