The biggest story coming out of Kokugikan on Day 12 is Kotoshogiku’s demotion. Today’s bout with Tamawashi was particularly heart-breaking as it was so straight forward. Kotoshogiku’s tank has run out of gas. I know I’ve been one of his biggest critics with the yo-yo nature of his performance, especially last year. But in the way Switch pleaded with Cipher in the Matrix (the good one), “Not like this, not like this.” Tamawashi met him at the tachiai with a solid shoulder and sent him straight back over the tawara and off the dohyo.
If he competes in March, he will be Sekiwake. And, as often repeated, he will be given his ozeki status if he can get 10 wins. At this point, though, I’m not thinking he can get a winning record…much less 10 wins, meaning he’d tumble farther down the banzuke. I’ll keep my eyes and ears peeled for articles that may indicate whether he decides to retire before March. As Bruce pointed out, the sekiwake rank will be full if he does compete. Giku gets a guaranteed spot and his opponent from today will likely be his opposite number at the rank.
The last ozeki demotion was Kotoshogiku’s former Sadogatake stablemate, Kotooshu. Coincidentally, this also happened following the hatsubasho in 2014. When March came along the Sekiwake rank wasn’t so crowded (just Goeido & Kotooshu) but since Kotooshu couldn’t garner 10 wins, he remained Sekiwake when sumo returned to Tokyo in May. At that tournament, there were three Sekiwake because Goeido & Kotooshu had 8 wins but Tochiozan had 11 at the Komusubi rank.
Interestingly, Tochiozan was Sekiwake #2 in the West despite having that 11 win record and no special prizes (even after defeating both ozeki-ranked Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku). Kotooshu decided to call it a career after his 10 straight losses ensured further demotion well down into the maegashira ranks. I’d found that interesting, but this is where the Twilight Zone music comes in. The rikishi picking up the fusen win, thus the immediate benefactor of Kotooshu’s retirement, was Tamawashi*.
* As always, hat tip to Sumodb.Sumogames.De for the fantastic site with amazing historical data. I just wish it collected data on sponsors and kenshokin. Dude…the analyses I’d do with that data…