Yokozuna Hakuho and sekiwake Terunofuji will be in the spotlight when the 15-day Spring Grand Sumo Tournament starts Sunday at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The 36-year-old Hakuho is returning from injuries and a bout with the coronavirus that have prevented him from competing since July. The grand champion can extend his career record for championships to 45 at the 15-day meet, where Terunofuji will seek to reclaim the ozeki ranking he held from July 2015 and September 2017.
The 29-year-old Mongolian has been a force in the elite makuuchi division since his comeback from knee surgeries, winning last July's championship and losing a championship playoff in November. With 24 wins from his last two tournaments, 10 wins should see him regain his former status.
Ozeki Shodai and Asanoyama each has one championship and Takakeisho two, but none of those came when Hakuho competed. September's champion Shodai, who was in contention until the final day in January, may be in the best form of the three.
For Asanoyama, whose offensive options are somewhat limited, the key will be how well he can execute his bread-and-butter "migi yotsu" attack of seizing a right-handed underarm grip on his opponents' belt.
Takakeisho, who beat Terunofuji in November's championship playoff, has been grappling with right-ankle issues that forced him out of January's tournament after winning just two of his first nine bouts.
The failure to win eight matches in January makes him a "kadoban ozeki" in jeopardy of relegation to the sport's third-highest rank of sekiwake should he again fail to win eight bouts.
Meanwhile, komusubi Daieisho, winner of the January tournament with a 13-2 record as a top-ranked maegashira, has to be taken seriously as a future ozeki candidate.