Haru Wrap-up and Predictions for Natsu

The Haru basho is in the books, and while the final day was filled with exciting bouts, the results did not make it easy on your humble prognosticator. Both the Sanyaku picture and the Makuuchi/Juryo exchange scenarios are quite muddy.

The Sanyaku

In the upper ranks, Kakuryu has solidified his standing as Yokozuna 1e with his fourth yusho. We hope that he is even more recovered from his injuries for Natsu, and that he is joined by at least one if not both of the other Yokozuna. Reports say that Hakuho is participating in the spring jungyo and that his toes are much improved. No word on Kisenosato. Both Ozeki got their kachi-koshi and so don’t have to worry about their rank in Natsu. There’s some talk about Takayasu being on a Yokozuna run with consecutive 12-3 jun-yusho, but I don’t buy it.

The Sekiwake ranks are also clear. After today’s bout between the two, Tochinoshin will move over to the S1e slot vacated by Mitakeumi, while Ichinojo will take over Tochinoshin’s current slot. With his 10-5 record following his 14-1 yusho at Hatsu, Tochinoshin is now on a legitimate Ozeki run, and will need at least ten wins at Natsu to claim sumo’s second-highest rank.

Komusubi is where things get complicated. There are four rikishi who each deserve to hold one of the two slots: Sekiwake Mitakeumi (7-8), M1e Endo and M1w Tamawashi, both 9-6, and M6 Kaisei, 12-3. In recent years, a 7-8 record at Sekiwake has guaranteed a demotion to no lower than Komusubi. An M1e with a 9-6 record has never missed out on promotion, and neither has an M6 with a 12-3 record (although there are fewer instances of the latter). An M1w with a 9-6 record missed out once—none other than Tochinoshin after the 2015 Natsu basho, under similar circumstances. I think this will play out as Endo making his Sanyaku debut at K1e, Mitakeumi falling to K1w (although they could easily switch sides), Tamawashi getting a hard-luck minimal promotion to M1e, and Kaisei rising to M1w. Tamawashi can’t jump over Endo with the same record, and none of the records are strong enough to force the creation of an extra Komusubi slot. It’s possible, but seems highly unlikely, that Kaisei would get the Komusubi slot over Endo.

The New Joi

Apart from the two strong M1 performances, the upper maegashira ranks returned to being the meat grinder, with only Shohozan earning a winning record. This should elevate him to M2, where he will be joined by Abi, who more than held his own at M7 in his second ever top-division tournament. Beyond that, it’s hard to find worthy candidates for the M3-M5 ranks. Daieisho and Yutakayama will be making big moves up the banzuke into the joi-jin, with Daieisho likely equaling and Yutakayama far exceeding their previous highest ranks. Chiyoshoma and Ikioi are the other candidates to move up into this range, while Shodai, Kotoshogiku, Chiyotairyu, and Takarafuji have claims to having their demotions not drop them below M5.

The Bottom of the Banzuke

Hanging on to spots in the M13-M17 range, and fighting again for survival at Natsu: Ishiura, Tochiozan, Aoiyama. Definitely demoted to Juryo: Hidenoumi, Kotoyuki, Sokokurai, Nishikigi (whose luck has finally run out after 5 basho in Makuuchi, always ranked M13 or lower, and never performing better than 8-7). The spots vacated by this quartet will be taken by Sadanoumi, Takekaze, Kyokutaisei, and Aminishiki. Yes, Uncle Sumo is back, and joined by the other elder statesman, Takekaze, both returning after one-tournament visits to Juryo. Sadanoumi returns after 3 basho away, and does it in style as the Juryo champ, while Kyokutaisei makes his long-awaited Makuuchi debut after narrowly missing promotion last time.

There are two other rikishi whose records would normally get them demoted. One is Myogiryu, who struggled to a 6-9 record at M15w and lost to two Juryo rikishi, including Aminishiki on senshuraku. The other is Onosho, who was kyujo (0-0-15) at M5w, which has always resulted in demotion since the kosho seido system was abolished. However, there’s a dearth of additional promotion candidates in Juryo. With several contenders near the top of the Juryo banzuke dropping to 7-8 on the last day, you’d have to reach all the way down to J8 Kotoeko (10-5) or way over-promote J5 Gagamaru (8-7), so Myogiryu and Onosho might dodge the bullet.

29 thoughts on “Haru Wrap-up and Predictions for Natsu


  1. Nice explanation, answered all my questions on what is a potentially complicated san’yaku picture.

    I was quite surprised Abi did so well this tourney; I was higher on Ryuden even if the older rikishi has much less potential for development. But even given his excellent showing again I really fear for him amongst the big boys in the joi. He’s going to take the traditional pounding handed out to youngsters in the meat grinder I imagine!


  2. I am so thrilled that Kakuryu won. He showed remarkable spirit to even participate in this basho with his injuries. His performance in the first 10 days of Hatsu was fantastic, as he showed incredibly good technical sumo that was very good to watch. He was unfortunate to suffer yet another injury that seemed to hamper his performance in the last few days of Hatsu. To come back from that, after all the injury issues he had in 2017, makes for a great story. He also comes across as a really nice guy too, which is good to see.


  3. thrilled to welcome (either ‘back’ or ‘for the first time’) to M12-17 range – Sadanoumi, Takekaze, Kyokutaisei, and Aminishiki – awesome!
    with Yoshikaze finishing 7-8 does he hover where he currently is or does he drop further?


    • Takanoiwa went 8-7 at J12 and should move up to J11. Terunofuji went 6-9 at J5 and should drop to around J7. So both in mid-Juryo again…


  4. This is a great site, and I thank everyone who makes it happen. HOWEVER, as a US West Coast sumo fan, I am effectively shut out from reading it during a basho. Is there any chance at all of having a mirror site where all the postings are delayed some 24 hours? I like to sit down in the evening with a glass (or two) of ice-cold sake, and MISELT Plus (followed by Jason) on Youtube. Alas, because of spoilers, Tachiai.org has to remain unread. Just a suggestion….


    • I personally am in the same position, and make a point of not reading the site (or writing my posts) until after I’ve had a chance to catch up on the video—as soon as I’ve watched, I head immediately over to Tachiai 🙂


      • Me too, except when I give in and peek. That’s on me though! I regret it after I’m done but sometimes the curiosity overcomes my good intentions.


    • Huh? I’m a west coast fan too…but I just catch up on the prior evening’s events early in the morning with Kintamayama’s digest on youtube, and then read Tachiai later in the day. No problem.


  5. The first 6 maegashira slots are fairly clear; I don’t see any way to reasonably put a demoted maegashira or Chiyotairyu above Yutakayama. After that it gets murky, and more reasonable for Kotoshogiku, Shodai, and Chiyotairyu to be slotted in before getting to Ikioi and Chiyoshoma, so my first draft has the latter two well below Yutakayama despite having not much of a worse rank/record combo. I don’t really think that’s something they’re going to let happen, so I can see Ikioi and Chiyoshoma pushing down all three demotees instead.


    • He is invited to my house for burgers, but I think Takakaze will be over first, then Yoshikaze. God bless them all.


    • As @buddycthulhu suggests, he’ll drop, but not very much, given the generally terrible records in that part of the banzuke. M5?


  6. Kaisei fought very well but I don’t see him as komusubi. M6 was a very comfortable slot, just outside jo’i and he was allowed to run up nine wins before he had to fight any of the top men. The highest-rated wrestlers he defeated were Shodai and Chiyomaru whereas Endo and Tamawashi were beating ozeki and sekiwake.

    There you go, given my track record, that should guarantee Kaisei’s promotion.


  7. Of course, Mitakeumi didn’t have to fight Kakuryu, so his record somewhat flattered him. The fact that the schedulers thought it necessary that he, of all Sanyaku, not fight the tournament leader (and eventual winner) says a lot. So his 7-8 is not as good as it looks.

    Meanwhile, Kaisei did fight Kakuryu and his record might well have been 13-2 had he not done so. His 12-3 is better than it looks.


  8. Kisenosato made Yokozuna with just one yusho win, but had a sparkling year leading up to it.
    Takayasu having just two great tournaments leading up to a yusho win isn’t enough to get him to Yokozuna. Unless it’s a perfect 15-0 with wins over two Yokozunas, then there will be talk. 39-6 is hard to ignore.


    • Kisenosato had been ozeki for five or six years and had at least ten yun-yusho. Takayasu has had about a year at the rank and 2 jun-yusho so I think he would have to keep that standard for a lot longer before they would bend the guidelines for him. However if we were down to one yokozuna it might be different.


      • Yes exactly, although some may have disagreed with the one-win promotion Kisinosato received, the fact is he spent 5 years (31 Basho) at the rank of Ozeki, only ever going katoban once (as opposed to guys like Goeido, Terunofuji and Kotoshogiku who felt like they were katoban every 3rd tourney) Kisinosato was only ever below 10 wins 6 times in his Ozeki career, he was runner up 11 times, (including 4 times in the year leading up to his win) and his average wins per tourney was a impressive 10.7 over his Ozeki career. There was every indication that he would (after promotion) be a consistent and reliable Yokozuna, fully capable of upholding the standard expected of that rank for a good while, it even appeared that in the next tournament the elders decision to promote Kisinosato was validated by him winning again. (if he wasn’t promoted after his win in January than he would have been after his win in March) No one could have foreseen that the injury he received at the end of the March tournament would be so serious and possibly end his sumo career. That said if Takayasu were to win next time and then at least come runner up in July I think the council would be willing to give him the promotion…


  9. How come Tochinoshin isn’t being considered for Ozeki now? I thought a wrestler at the rank of sekiwake was considered for promotion if he achieved a total of at least 33 wins over the three most recent tournaments, including ten or more wins in the tournament just completed.

    Tochinoshin was a sekiwake this last basho, he has 33 wins over his three most recent tournaments, and 10 wins in the tournament just completed.

    Thanks in advance for your answer.


    • Please note, I am not a member of the NSK or YDC groups, so my opinion carries no value in the world of sumo past what anyone wants to consider. Tochinoshin is not yet an Ozeki due to the quality of his schedule. His win during Hatsu was quite impressive, but he was outside the joi, and did not face the full suite of the top rikishi. This tournament, as a member of the san’yaku, he did. His win record was lower, and that was a tiny knock against him. But if he can go 11 or better at Natsu, especially if Hakuho and Kakuryu are both active, it should probably be a done deal.

      The key here is double digit wins in San’yaku is what they look for in order to ensure there is not a problem with revolving kadoban. The 33 over 3 is more of a guideline than a rule. If there was an important need to have another Ozeki right away, I am sure they would decide to create one no matter what.

      The YDC and NSK have (I think) commented on his excellent progress already, so I think if he can go double digits in May, it’s a done deal. My biggest worry is that the man is still delicate with regards to his right knee at times. He is one bad fall away from struggling to make kachi-koshi. So let’s hope he stays healthy.


      • Tochinoshin was in the joi when he won the Hatsu Basho (Maegashira #3w), and had wins over all the other Sanyaku sans Kakuryu.


          • Yes, January Basho he did face all top competitors, (at M3) but in the November Basho he did not (at M6) so the counting (to 33) should logically start with the January Basho. He is at 25 now for this tournament and last, so I think if he gets 10+ next time they would likely promote him (especially if he gets good quality wins (over Ozeki or Yokozuna).

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