The biggest news out of the banzuke is probably that rather than ozeki promotion watch, we’re on yokozuna promotion watch. With another yusho, Kotoshogiku – at Ozeki 1 East – will be a lock for yokozuna promotion. The last time he was top ozeki was November of 2014 and he finished with a dismal 6-9 record.
Also on the rise is Chiyonoumi. After starting in July 2015, he’s found his way into the Makushita at 13 East. Juryo is likely not in the cards for next tournament from that position, even with another title, but will be within reach for this year – hopefully – if he can rack up a string of strong tournaments at this level.
Harumafuji leading the East with Hakuho leading the West. Goeido is – once again – in danger of demotion. This time, though, he’s joined by Terunofuji who should be taking a break until May but is inexplicably expected to compete after breaking his collar bone half way through the January tournament. Yoshikaze stays at sekiwake, joined by Toyonoshima with Tochiozan falling to komusubi and Tochinoshin dropping out of sanyaku to M2W.
Kotoshogiku’s stablemate, Kotoyuki will be seriously tested in the top maegashira slot. At M4E, I’m looking for Ikioi to perform well. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ichinojo and Gagamaru also get 9 or 10 wins this tournament from M10-M11. There are several small guys like Satoyama that should be solid wins for these behemoths.
Oosunaarashi and Endo have fallen into Juryo. Here’s hoping for their healthy returns. Like Terunofuji, they should probably be waiting until May for an effective return but no one wants to drop to makushita.