The upper ranks
There will be no changes in the composition of the Yokozuna, Ozeki or Sekiwake ranks, and at Komusubi we will exchange 10-5 M3 Takakeisho for Shohozan, who took a 3-12 beating. I assume that Kakuryu’s 3-3-9 record will keep him on the East side ahead of 3-1-11 Hakuho. By winning their senshuraku bout, Goeido ensured that he will stay on the East side and keep Takayasu on the West side of the banzuke.
Will 8-7 East Sekiwake Ichinojo trade places with 13-2, yusho-winning West Sekiwake Mitakeumi? Prior to 2007, this would have been a no-brainer. The banzuke committee reshuffled the Sekiwake ranks after each basho based on performance, just like they do now with the Yokozuna and Ozeki. But starting in 2007, an 8-7 East Sekiwake has never been moved to the West side in favor of a better-performing West Sekiwake. Of course, in that time we haven’t seen a West Sekiwake performance quite like this one! The closest parallel was last March, when in the middle of his Ozeki run, Takayasu went 12-3 at S1w and was ranked at the same position the following tournament despite outperforming then-S1e Tamawashi (8-7) by four wins.
The new joi
Yutakayama, Ikioi and Kaisei will find themselves at the top of the maegashira ranks in September. It’s hard to know where to draw the joi boundary these days, given the frequent absences in the upper ranks. In Nagoya, M4e Kaisei faced all the key San’yaku rikishi who were still around, and while the bouts against top-ranked opponents thinned out from there, they extended all the way down to M6w Chiyotairyu. By the stricter definition, the new joi should also include Chiyotairyu, Shodai, Chiyonokuni and Endo, while the looser definition would add Abi, Myogiryu, Onosho, Asanoyama and Kagayaki. There’s more reshuffling than turnover in this group, with the only newcomers to the top 12 being Yutakayama, Myogiryu, Onosho and Asanoyama, who take the places of promoted Takakeisho and underperforming or injured Kotoshogiku, Daishomaru, and Yoshikaze.
The bottom of the banzuke
Speaking of Yoshikaze, his last-gasp victories on the final two days should be just enough to keep him in the top division! He should share the bottom rung of the banzuke with Ishiura, who pulled off a similar escape act. Victories by both men mean that Arawashi’s final-day victory was too little, too late, and he should occupy the top rung in Juryo at Aki. He’ll be sharing it with Aminishiki, whose chance to yet again beat his own record for the oldest age of return to Makuuchi evaporated with his senshuraku loss and victories by both Yoshikaze and Ishiura.
To recap, it should be 3 up, 3 down (and no epic churn, sorry Bruce ;) ). Takanoiwa and Kotoyuki return to the top division, along with newcomer Takanosho, while Arawashi will be joined in Juryo by Makuuchi debutants Meisei and Kotoeko, who need to regroup after a rough introduction to the top division.
As usual, I will have a full banzuke prediction post up sometime in the next couple of weeks, once I’ve had a chance to fully digest the results, so don’t forget to check the blog even between the basho :)