Aki Winners and Losers

Winner: Harumafuji. Obviously. What a comeback!

Winner: Goeido. Cleared his kadoban status and ended up in the yusho playoff.

Winner: Kotoshogiku. Dipped into the maegashira ranks for one basho, picked up a kinboshi on his way back up to San’yaku.

Winner: Mitakeumi. Sure, hopes were much higher, but I consider staying at sekiwake a win.

Winner: Yoshikaze. Much blood and no Ozeki run after another late fade, but the berserker also stays at sekiwake and picks up his 4th Gino-sho to boot. He had a pretty unusual basho: LLLLWWWWWWWWLLL.

Winner: Onosho. Third straight basho with double-digit wins, another Kanto-sho, and an express trip to San’yaku.

Winner: Chiyotairyu. He faded badly with 5 straight losses after a red-hot 8-2 start, but a kachi-koshi at M3 and a stay in the joi is a win.

Winner: Takakeisho. Shukun-sho, kinboshi, and a strong bounce-back after his 5-10 performance in Nagoya.

Winner: Shohozan. Kachi-koshi against a tough slate.

Winner: Chiyonokuni. He continues to work his way back up the banzuke after his disastrous Natsu basho, was responsible for many of the best matches at Aki, and should be in or near the joi in Kyushu.

Winner: Ichinojo. 8-7 despite being pulled up from M6 to fight the “big boys.” Hope to see more from him in Kyushu, as he is a force to be reckoned with when he is focused on his sumo.

Winner: Takarafuji. 9-6 and a nice jump up the banzuke.

Winner: Arawashi. 9-6, right in the thick of things, lots of exciting sumo.

Winner: Daishomaru. Double-digit wins.

Winner: Endo. Looks like the ankle is healing well. Double-digit wins even after being pulled up to fight opponents way up the banzuke. Should be solidly in the mid-maegashira ranks in Kyushu, without taking too big a jump too soon.

Winner: Kaisei. Looks like he’s back for real after his Juryo sojourn in Nagoya.

Winner: Asanoyama. One of the biggest winners, actually. Improbably in the yusho race until day 14, double-digit wins in his Makuuchi debut, Kanto-sho, 1-1 against the M3 bruiser boys. Hopefully a sign of things to come; would be great to see him work his way up the banzuke and join the likes of relative newcomers Mitakeumi, Onosho, and Takakeisho in the upper ranks.

Loser: Goeido. Losing the yusho after leading by 2 wins with 3 days to go has to hurt, not to mention letting a golden chance to start a Yokozuna promotion run amid depleted Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks slip through his fingers.

Loser: Takayasu. An injury and kadoban status in only his second basho as Ozeki. Wishing him speedy healing and a strong bounce-back in Kyushu.

Loser: Terunofuji. Injured again, loses Ozeki rank, needs 10 wins in Kyushu to earn it back. Hopefully he’s either healthy enough to do it or wise enough to sit it out and let his knees heal properly.

Loser: Tamawashi. It looked like he may have to pull out after injuring his ankle in the same day 2 bout that claimed Takayasu. He stayed in, and fought his way to a 7-8 record against tough opposition. Kudos. Still, he drops out of San’yaku for the first time in a year.

Loser: Tochiozan. Unable to follow up his strong Nagoya basho, and drops out of San’yaku after one tournament at komusubi.

Loser: Tochinoshin. Obviously injured again after a strong Nagoya basho, and will take a big tumble down the banzuke.

Loser: Shodai. Another disappointing performance. He needs to fix his technique, his focus, or both. We were hoping for him to become a mainstay in the upper ranks with the other rising young guns; instead he tumbles into the mid-maegashira territory.

Loser: Ikioi. What’s up with Ikioi? How does someone with his size and talent go 6-9 at M7?

Loser: Aoiyama. The talk of Nagoya was injured between tournaments, came back mid-basho to successfully defend a place in Makuuchi, but will take a huge drop in rank.

Loser: Kagayaki. He seems spirited enough, but his sumo has been…not good. At this rate, he may find himself in Juryo in a basho or two.

Loser: Ura. Came in injured, aggravated it, on the verge of dropping out of Makuuchi but that may be the least of his problems. Given how unique his style is, and what a joy he is to watch, may the sumo gods save his career.

Loser: Ishiura. He did not look like he belonged in Makuuchi in most of his bouts, and will have a chance to work out the kinks in Juryo.

Loser: Tokushoryu. Should have been in Juryo for Aki; will be in Juryo for Kyushu.

Loser: Yutakayama. Matches his 4-11 record from his first trip to Makuuchi at Natsu and goes back to Juryo to figure things out.

Loser: Sadanoumi. Came back from injury to try to stay in Makuuchi, but unable to do much on the dohyo.

26 thoughts on “Aki Winners and Losers

  1. I would add Hokutofuji to the loser roster. His hand injury is likely to be an ongoing impediment to his sumo. With these rikishi and the crazy jungyo schedule, even a minor injury could end up curtailing their careers.

  2. Fully agree on Ikioi – it was infuriating to watch and he is a real favourite of mine.

    Ikioi is so high energy and high intensity that sometimes he lacks the composure to see an opponent off, or he ends up slipping around the dohyo rather than getting firmly planted. He is better than his rank both in talent and skill, but his finishing needs work. I wonder if the issues are mental (though he did have that elbow problem).

    • Has Ikioi done much since Hakuho knocked him out-cold last year? (can’t remember basho but remember the tachiai)

      • Ikioi has done okay since Hakuho knocked him out, but he’s been inconsistent (and he injured his elbow).

    • He seemed like a new man at the beginning of the Basho, but quickly fell back into his habit of finding new ways to lose matches.

    • Add another one to the win column for Asanoyama! I’m sure when fans saw the Torikumi schedule for day 15, few would have predicted that burly the destructive Chiyotairyu would have been so easily dispatched by Mr. Sunshine himself! A well deserved Kanto-sho for the rookie, who has truly won me over as a fan. Here’s to future success and a long career! Banzai Asanoyama!!!

  3. Winner: Goeido

    Being promoted to Yokozuna would likely end his career prematurely. Goeido is neither mentally strong enough or skilled enough to earn 10 wins basho in and basho out. He’s better off remaining at Ozeki and repeating the kadoban/non-kadoban cycle, since at least he won’t be pressured to retire. Winning the title here would have put him one tournament away from a possible promotion to yokozuna, and given the health status of the 4 yokozunas, there was a chance that he would luck into a 2nd consecutive title in the next basho. By blowing his yusho opportunity, Goeido remains far, far away from any yokozuna discussions, and has probably prolonged his career.

    • A good point, but surely you want to win as many titles as possible?

      I don’t think it can be taken for granted after what happened to Kisenosato that the YDC would want to throw a very inconsistent (and win-with-dignity-challenged) rikishi into the mix prematurely. No point having 5 Yokozuna if only 1-2 of them can even make it through a tournament, and Goiedo isn’t that far removed from ankle problems himself.

      I have a feeling we will see at least 2 Yokozuna back in action in Kyushu and even if Takayasu is unfit, if Terunofuji is genki enough to go for his 10 wins, Goiedo would have a hell of a time navigating all of that en route to another title. Happy to eat my words!

      But Goiedo equally should be haunted by losing this title that was his for the taking before he even got to Harumafuji. He opened the door.

      • You seem to be overly optimistic about Terunofuji. Takayasu is in much better shape than he is right now. I’m a huge Terunofuji fan, and I’ve already given him up for a past love. There is no way in the world he can recover his sumo the way the sumo world works. In his Kakka interview yesterday Harumafuji mentioned the fact that sumo wrestlers basically cannot have any rest. Terunofuji keeps deluding himself into believing that knee is alright, when it isn’t. And it isn’t getting any better.

        With the weight he added, the muscles he lost, a leg that cannot bear his own weight, let alone his style of sumo that requires it to carry two rikishi, and a schedule and competition structure that doesn’t allow him to improve any of the above, I don’t see him ever being able to compete again.

        You might say that somebody may convince him to go kyujo for three consecutive basho and that there may be hope there. Maybe – though I am not sure his knee can be restored at this stage – but there is another issue here. I’m not sure if he can afford to drop to the non-salary ranks, as I heard that he supports his family in Mongolia, after his father had some business misfortune.

        • So if he was kyujo until the middle of next year he’d drop to Makushita? I’m still not sure how all that works. Sounds like quite the loss of money and a big hit to the ego.

          Makes me wish sumo worked a little bit more like (American) football, where the long term contracts and salaries let you take more time to get over injuries and come back at varied paces. If he could afford it, there’s some knee specialists over here who have done amazing work with awful sports injuries. I doubt Ozeki are allowed to have Gofundme for new knees though. :/

          Maybe his sempai need to sit him down and have a pragmatic talk with him – do you want to be a Baruto or carry on without glory until old age like Takekaze and Aminishiki?

          • I think Ikusumo is probably a better authority than I am on promotions and demotions. But take a look at Aminishiki after his Achilles tendon was torn. He had one win in that tournament and kyujo on the rest, dropping from maegashira #3 to maegashira #13. Then a full kyujo in the next saw him drop to Juryo #10. So three consecutive kyujo would drop anybody but a full Ozeki or Yokozuna out of the salaried ranks.

            Thing is, I don’t think he can do “the Aminishiki”. There are many fans in Twitter who are saying that Terunofuji should take the example of his sempai Harumafuji and Aminishiki who survive with various degrees of injury. But these two have a completely different sumo style than he does – one that relies a lot more on mobility and wits than on sheer physical strength. Terunofuji’s style requires carrying two rikishi on two knees. He doesn’t have the body to do half-henkas or hava a mawashi grip before his opponent completes his tachiai. While I’m sure both Harumafuji and Aminishiki are experiencing pain, they can still perform their moves. He can’t. So I’m not sure what he has to offer against sekitori. He may be able to beat most Makushta just with the use of experience and a bit of pushing. But sekitori?

          • Tochinoshin may be the closest parallel. Over 2013/2014 he went from M2 to M11 to Juryo 1 with a couple of terrible basho, including going kyujo part-way through the second. He then sat out 3 tournaments to fix his knee, dropping to Makushita 55. Came back, won two consecutive Makushita yusho, then two consecutive Juryo yusho to return to Makuuchi and rise as high as sekiwake. Not that his knee is exactly healthy now, as we just saw at Aki…

    • I agree that Goeido absolutely doesn’t have the mental fortitude to be a Yokozuna. Pressure always gets to him and he doubts his strength instead of forcing his will on his opponents. He’s more than capable of doing that, as he showed in some bouts in this basho, but he continually shoots himself in the foot mentally and ends up screwing himself over repeatedly. Remember: The only reason we had a playoff is Goeido henkaed twice and then sidestepped two more opponents. That is not confident, Ozeki sumo.

  4. Hello everyone,

    Thank you for this great blog ! Really, it is so nice to read all your comments.

    I was wondering : is Goeido really out of any Yokozuna promotion race for Kyushu ?

    I mean, if Goeido wins Kyushu, which is not unlikely, he may be promoted just like Kakuryu was promoted, with one yusho and one playoff in a row.

    I understand why it would be like offering a poisoned apple to Goeido, but the board could actually think about it, given the fact that some of the current Yokozunas are likely to retire next year and that they are in need of japanese born, public loved, Yokozunas to ensure sumo’s popularity, (and leaving yet another ozeki spot free for all the very popular youngsters who will with no doubt improve their sumo skills to sanyaku level next year).

    I am not sure that they would take the risk to waste such a chance.

    Am I wrong ?


    • You make a good point but Kakuryu received his special consideration because his playoff loss was with a 14-1 record during Hakuho’s prime. He even beat Hakuho on senshuraku to force the playoff. Also, there still are 4 yokozuna and Goeido is the only non-kadoban ozeki. Absent 4 yokozuna retirements, I don’t think a November yusho would be enough, especially since it’s likely there will be no other ozeki.

    • So, in my crazed opinion, the NSK by this point knows they need to manage the wind-down of their older crew and bring the younger ones along. If they need another Yokozuna, I would guess that Takayasu would take the slot, provided he can recover from blowing out his thigh muscle. Goeido is inconsistent, and has been for some time. He also would not have a long tenure as a Yokozuna, and I would guess they want stability in the ranks. The real question is how long it will take for one of the under 25 crowd to post 33 wins and stage up to Ozeki. I think by this time next year we will see it. That will be a true mark that the torch is being passed.

  5. I agree with your answer, it’s the most logical move and I would bet on Takayasu too if I had to, it would make perfectly sense.
    Somehow, I wonder if Takayasu is able to grab a yusho, once he is fit again and how many time it would take.
    Even though the guy is a great rikishi, no question about that.
    On the other hand, Goeido already won one yusho last year and was on a playoff this year, so we know he has it in him (and more important maybe, Goeido knows he’s got it in him), so he could have another shot at Kyushu if the upper sanyaku ranks are still weak. But I understand the former answers and why, even then, the board would have very good reasons not to rush into a Yokozuna promotion. And to be honest, I’m somewhat relieved, I would not like him to become an inconsistent Yokozuna, like Wakanohana III in the late 90s, he’s better off being an unpredictable Ozeki than a disappointing Yokozuna.
    I hope too that one or two of the youngsters will start ozeki runs soon, the year to come will be very interesting.


  6. I feel unworthy of posting among such an erudite group. I’m a real rookie. But I want to ask, since I respect your opinions: Will Kisenosato ever compete again? If he does, can he compete at the highest level? Thank you.

    • Everyone is worthy posting here! No worries! :)

      To answer your question, it really depends on how his shoulder heals from his injury. In his most recent appearances, he was barely using his left arm at all. So, if that’s the case, then I don’t see how he can continue to compete. However, Kisenosato has persevered through a lot already, so he might be able to continue to compete even with a bum arm. No one will really know for sure how healthy he is or if he’ll be able to compete again until he tries, honestly.

    • I don’t believe he can compete with a bum arm, but the sumo world is very secretive. It’s really hard to tell what the nature of his injury really is, and if it’s treatable without surgery or not.

      During the break between the summer jungyo (promotional tour) and Kisenosato’s declaration of kyujo from Aki 2017, we speculated quite a lot about his health. At the time, we agreed between us that the the real test is when we see him start practicing with Takayasu again. Then came this basho and Takayasu cannot be used as a Kisenotester. We’ll keep a sharp eye on Kisenosato during the autumn jungyo. What I want to see is him doing proper, strong ottsuke, which is something that requires lateral power, not just pushing. I want to see him take san-ban with proper san-yaku members. Then I’ll believe he is capable of continuing to compete.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.