The Aftermath of Aki


After all the twists and turns of Wacky Aki, form held, and the lone participating Yokozuna took the yusho. Harumafuji looked positively rejuvenated in the last few days of the basho. This yusho was hard-won and must taste sweet. The Horse is a warrior and a total class act. Omedetōgozaimasu.

We did see only the third 11-4 yusho in history, and the first in 21 years. In addition to settling the yusho race, senshuraku answered a number of other open questions, though some uncertainty remains at the bottom of the banzuke.

The muddled San’yaku situation resolved cleanly. Mitakeumi narrowly defeated Yoshikaze to earn his kachi-koshi. These two will keep their sekiwake rank, and will be joined by “ozekiwake” Terunofuji.

Tamawashi lost to Takakeisho, thereby going make-koshi and dropping out of San’yaku. With Mitakeumi staying at sekiwake, both komusubi slots are open, and there are two obvious promotion candidates who separated themselves from the rest by earning double-digit wins in the joi-jin: the old veteran ex-Ozeki Kotoshogiku, and the youngest man in Makuuchi, rising star Onosho.

It’s hard to know how far down the banzuke the joi ranks will extend in Kyushu, depending on who in the San’yaku ranks is healthy enough to participate. At Aki, the rank-and-filers all the way down to M5 faced a full (well, depleted) San’yaku slate, with M6e Ichinojo making 3 appearances. In Kyushu, the top maegashira ranks should look something like this:

M1 Tamawashi Chiyotairyu
M2 Takakeisho Tochiozan
M3 Hokutofuji Shohozan
M4 Chiyonokuni Ichinojo
M5 Takarafuji Arawashi

At the other end of the banzuke, Nishikigi’s win should cement his place in the top division for Kyushu, while Ishiura’s loss drops him down to Juryo. He seemed to offer no resistance today, and could use some easier competition to regroup. Ishiura joins Sadanoumi, Yutakayama, and Tokushoryu in earning a trip to Juryo. At least Yutakayama doubled his win total from his last visit to Makuuchi. (Edit: my memory was faulty. He also went 4-11 at Natsu). Their slots in Makuuchi will be occupied by Aminishiki, Kotoyuki, Myogiryu, and Daiamami. Aminishiki takes over from Takekaze as the oldest man in Makuuchi. But unlike Takekaze, he looks every bit his age, and then some. He reminds me of that old guy in a pickup basketball game, every joint taped, dressed in ratty old gym clothes and reeking of Bengay, who keeps nailing funky shots from odd angles.

The Makuuchi-Juryo bubble consists of injured Ura and Juryo runner-up Homarefuji. Had Homarefuji won the Juryo yusho, I would have been really concerned for Ura, but I’m hoping that Homarefuji’s playoff loss will keep Ura in the top division. Whether or not he’s able to participate is a different matter.

10 thoughts on “The Aftermath of Aki

  1. What’s your assessment of Yago, with a minimal make-koshi? Drops back to Makushita or just one rank lower?

    Banzai to Ichinojo for managing a kachi-koshi despite being thrown into the joi.

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  2. I think what happens with Yago depends on how many strong promotion cases there are in Makushita. He did just well enough that they don’t have to demote him, but certainly can in favor of someone with a strong promotion case. I don’t have a good enough feel for Makushita promotion criteria to tell.

    Indeed, nice to see signs of life from Ichinojo this basho. Maybe one of these days he can post something better than his habitual 7-8 or 8-7.

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    • It’s really tough. I think they got a couple things wrong on the banzuke this time, but one of them will have been ranking Takagenji above Tobizaru. You’ve got both Mk1s at 4-3, but then Tobizaru at Mk2 with 5-2 and Masunosho at Mk3 with 6-1.

      The feeling I get is Takagenji goes up simply because there’s nowhere to put him, Tobizaru goes up on account of a strong record and two wins against Juryo rikishi and Masunosho goes up because he can’t not, with Kitataiki moving from Mk1w to Mk1e. It feels like there are 2 strong promotion places and one promotion that happens just because there’s nothing else you can do.

      Kizenryu and Kitaharima are clearly both down, but I’ll be interested to see whether they

      * demote Yago to Mk1w
      * make Osunaarashi take a hit for 9 losses
      * hold back someone who deserved a promotion (Tobizaru or Masunosho) in favor of promoting Takagenji as one of two promotions

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      • It’s impossible for the NSK to get things wrong on the banzuke (ok, well, not these borderline cases at least – they have misread someone’s lower division yusho playoff loss as a round 7 loss when making the banzuke, but I think they in essence corrected it with the pairings and subsequent banzuke). They can use whatever criteria they want, and it’s not for anyone else to decide they’re wrong.

        The most obvious thing is for the top three east Makushita rikishi to move up, and Yago to take a slightly bigger hit than normal from his rank and end up as Ms1w since Kitataiki has to move up a spot too. Osunaarashi for Kitataiki is plausible, but seems a bit too harsh on the Egyptian. We’ll see on Wednesday.

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        • The great thing about opinions is that anyone can have them – we all don’t have to agree with each other but it’s definitely possible to say “I don’t think that was right”

          At the end of the day it is their job to make the banzuke and it is our prerogative to be people commenting on a website so I think it’s clear who the authority is – the people who get paid to do the job! But nobody’s perfect, and when something doesn’t seem right you can say “well that doesn’t seem right” and it’s not the end of the world as we know it.

          Agree with you about the most obviously decision, though.

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      • I don’t agree at all that Tobizaru (and by extension Kitataiki) were treated harshly on the last banzuke. Quite the opposite, they got off extremely lightly. Takagenji was much closer to getting promoted to juryo than Kitataiki/Tobizaru were to NOT getting demoted out of it, so it’s perfectly normal that he would be given the better slot in makushita.

        In any case, Kitaharima and Kizenryu have scored exactly the same records this time (5-10 at J12e and 6-9 at J14w), and will probably find themselves down at Ms3e/Ms3w, rather than Kitataiki/Tobizaru’s Ms1w/Ms2e. And very likely in front of them again will be Shimanoumi, who had the same record as Takagenji did last basho.

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    • Well, 7-8 in general should only be a drop of one rank, and indeed there are no strong candidates to rise above him outside of Onosho, Chiyotairyu, and Takakeisho.

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    • Hokutofuji is being “cultivated”, you could say. If he is not injured too badly, they will keep him near the top. They are going to need more Ozeki soon, and the have a set of people who will earn the chance, but it will require careful tempering to make sure they are strong enough once the chance comes.

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