Aki Wrap-Up and Predictions

The Yokozuna and Ozeki

Hakuho (15-0) bested Kakuryu (10-5) to claim his 14th zensho yusho. As a result, the two will switch spots atop the banzuke, with Hakuho regaining the East Yokozuna rank for the first time since January.

Goeido (12-3) continued his run of impressive performances at the Fall basho by defeating Kisenosato (10-5) to claim the jun-yusho. He is in sole possession of that title after Takayasu (11-4) lost to Tochinoshin (9-6). The three Ozeki will be ranked in the same order on the Kyushu banzuke.

Full participation by the Yokozuna/Ozeki corps made Aki 2018 an exciting and memorable tournament, with daily high-stakes bouts between highly ranked rikishi. Tachiai hopes that everyone gets as healthy as possible and is ready to fight in Fukuoka in six weeks.

The San’yaku

The Sekiwake and Komusubi quartet finished the basho on a positive note with four victories in four bouts against maegashira opponents. As a result, Mitakeumi (9-6) will remain East Sekiwake, and faint embers of his Ozeki run are still glowing. Ichinojo (8-7) saved his West Sekiwake rank with his 5th consecutive win after Hakuho woke him up on Day 10. And Takakeisho (9-6) made sure that his second trip to the named ranks would last longer than his first. He gets a slight promotion to East Komusubi, the rank being vacated by Tamawashi (4-11). The open West Komusubi slot will go to Kaisei, the only rank-and-filer to serve a full tour of duty against the upper ranks and live to talk about it. Kaisei accumulated his promotion-clinching 8 wins by defeating all five of his maegashira opponents and upsetting Goeido, Mitakeumi, and Tamawashi.

The Maegashira Debacle

With the rikishi atop the banzuke mostly racking up wins, someone had to absorb all the losses. Here’s the complete list of kachi-koshi (winning record) rikishi in the top 10 maegashira slots: Kaisei (8-7), Myogiryu (8-7). Seriously. Only two rikishi out of ten could reach even the bare-minimum eight wins. One gets to be Komusubi; the other will occupy the top M1e rank.

Let’s extend this to the next ten: Tochiozan (8-7), Hokutofuji (9-6), Daieisho (8-7). Not much better. It’s not until we get down to the M12-M15 ranks that we find our double-digit winners: Nishikigi (10-5), Ryuden (10-5), Takanoiwa (10-5), and Yoshikaze (11-4). No wonder no special prizes were awarded this basho for the first time since their introduction 47 years ago in 1947!

The dismal performance of the maegashira corps will make it a challenge to fill out the joi ranks for Kyushu, and to attempt to come up with a sane and fair banzuke more generally. There will be many disproportionately large promotions and overly mild demotions. Myogiryu (M5e) is a lock to move up to M1e. The most likely candidates for the next two slots are Tochiozan (M7w) and Hokutofuji (M9e). Tamawashi, despite his abysmal 4-11 performance, may only drop to M2w for lack of better candidates. Does Nishikigi move all the way up from M12w to M3e with only a 10-5 record, to be joined by M13e Ryuden (10-5) at M3w? Just how small a demotion is in store for M3e Shodai (6-9) and M2w Chiyotairyu (5-10)? The whole thing is a total mess.

The Makuuchi-Juryo Exchange

Today’s action guaranteed a minimum of three exchanges. Arawashi (8-7) won, ensuring his return to the top division, along with Daiamami (11-4) and Meisei (9-6). Conveniently, Kotoyuki (6-9) lost, so he is the obvious choice to join Kyokutaisei (1-6-8) and Ishiura (4-11) on a trip to the second division. The tricky call is Chiyomaru (M14w; 6-9) vs. Yago (J2w; 8-7) for the final M16w rung of the Makuuchi ladder. With his fusen loss today, Chiyomaru fell one victory short of safety. Yago failed to take advantage and lost his third bout in a row since attaining kachi-koshi, leaving him one win short of a clear promotion. He also lost to Chiyomaru head-to-head on Day 13. My guess is that Yago will go up and Chiyomaru will go down, but the banzuke committee could easily go the other way.

That’s it for Aki 2018. As usual, I’ll have a full Kyushu banzuke prediction post up sometime in the next couple of weeks, so please keep coming to Tachiai for that and other coverage we have in store between the basho.

16 thoughts on “Aki Wrap-Up and Predictions

  1. I’ve got Myogiryu, Tochiozan, Hokutofuji and Tamawashi in the top four M slots, and I don’t think we’ll be too far out there. Then the madness begins when you have to compare Daieisho’s 8-7 at M10 to Nishikigi’s 10-5 at M12, neither of which exactly look like naturals for a jo’i spot. I imagine both of those lads will be thinking, “no seriously, M6 would suit me just fine”. Endless fun and speculation ensues. Here’s to 29 October.

    • I tend to agree on the top 4, though that would be one of the mildest demotions for a 4-11 komusubi in history. And yes, it’s a total mess from there, likely guaranteeing more joi carnage at Kyushu and turnover thereafter, as all sorts of guys will be extremely over-ranked.

    • Agreed on the top4. It’s so messy that I think both shodai and Abi could remain in position despite a 6-9 record. Maybe switch to M3w resp. M5e. Kyushu will probably be a similar carnage

      • It’s so messy that I think both shodai and Abi could remain in position despite a 6-9 record.

        That actually depresses me a little bit. If anyone deserves to be out if the san’yaku path for a while, it’s Abi, kinboshi notwithstanding. That the “middle ground should be not 7-8 but 6-9 has me shaking my head.

        • I Abi’s defense, I don’t know if they will take it into account or not, Abi did face tougher opponents than his slot “normally” would since he took Endo’s last three (I think 3) upper level opponents.

    • The arrows are awarded to the winner of third last match on Senshuraku, while the winner of the second last match receives a bowstring. The winner of the Musubi no Ichiban or final match of the Basho receives a bow (which like any other day of the competition is used in the yumitori-shiki bow twirling ceremony). These prizes date back to the early days of sumo when there only two Komusubi, two Sekiwake, and two Ozeki on the banzuke (and before Yokozuna became its own distinct rank and not just an Ozeki permitted a special entrance). The Komosubi competed in the third last bout for the arrows, the Sekiwake followed and the winner received the bowstring, and the bow itself went to the winner of the final bought between the two Ozeki.

      These three additional rewards are not the same as the Sansho special prizes, which are awarded to rikishi ranked Sekiwake and below for fighting spirit, Outstanding performance, and technique. Sansho are only given to rikishi who are deemed to be worthy of them by a committee made up of private citizens and members of the press.

  2. “…no special prizes were awarded this basho for the first time since their introduction 47 years ago!” Its a mistake. Introduction was in November 1947, so its almost 71 years. But you`re right – no one really deserved…

    • I think either Yoshikaze or Takanoiwa would have deserved a fighting spirit prize. Usually 11 wins are enough. There are a lot handed out for just 10. Takanoiwa just freshly moved up from Juryo after a lengthy absence.

      • I wouldn’t have argued with that, but I guess these records were deemed insufficient for fairly recent M2 and Sekiwake fighting at M13 and M15, respectively.

  3. No special prizes because the entire sanyaku except for Tamawashi made kachikoshi appropriate for their rank. The three Yokozuna had at least 10 wins each, the ozeki had 9 wins at least, the sekiwake and one komosubi had 8 wins at least. Impressive work by Kaisei to sneak in 8 victories. This has been the most enjoyable basho in a long time.


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