Congratulations to Komusubi Takakeisho on adding a top-division yusho to his previous victories in Jonokuchi, Jonidan, Makushita, and Juryo! He also picked up his third Shukun-sho and his second Kanto-sho. This is only the 9th yusho by a Komusubi, and the first since Kaio’s in 2000. Takakeisho will take over the East Sekiwake rank in January, and 11 victories there, give or take, should see him ascend to Ozeki.
Ozeki Takayasu picked up his 4th jun-yusho, and Ozeki Tochinoshin, despite a disappointing tournament, collected the most victories in 2018. M13 Onosho (11-4) was awarded his third Kanto-sho.
With the results of final-day bouts, all the complicated promotion/demotion scenarios worked themselves out. Mitakeumi’s last-ditch victory over Takayasu not only handed Takakeisho the championship, but will keep the Sekiwake in sanyaku for the 12th consecutive tournament (no mean feat!), albeit at the lower rank of Komusubi. The last man with such a long string of consecutive lower sanyaku appearances? None other than current Ozeki Goeido. Mitakeumi was the only rikishi to defeat both Takakeisho and Takayasu. The other Sekiwake, Ichinojo, showed zero interest in defending his rank today, and his sanyaku streak will come to an end after 5 basho.
The impending demotions of Ichinojo and Kaisei create two openings in sanyaku, and there are two clear candidates to fill them: M2w Tamawashi (9-6) and M1e Myogiryu (8-7). I expect Tamawashi to occupy the West Sekiwake slot, and his three-tournament line is one that’s never been seen before: K 4-11, M2 9-6, S. Myogiryu will be returning to sanyaku for the first time since 2015, and should hold down the West Komusubi slot. Just missing out is M2 Tochiozan (8-7), who started the tournament with five straight victories over both Sekiwake, two Ozeki, and a Yokozuna, but followed that with a 3-7 fade against easier opposition. He will occupy the M1 rank, alongside Ichinojo.
The other top ten maegashira slots will be filled out by a combination of holdovers from these ranks and strong performers from lower down the banzuke. Staying should be M1 Hokutofuji (7-8), M3 Nishikigi (8-7), M4 Shodai (8-7), and M4 Yoshikaze (7-8). Joining them will be M7 Shohozan (10-5), M9 Kotoshogiku (10-5), M11 Okinoumi (11-5), and M12 Aoiyama (11-5). This is a formidable and battle-tested joi for the top-rankers to contend with at Hatsu.
In general, this time around there should be no huge banzuke moves. Okinoumi, Aoiyama, and Onosho will rise the furthest, while the biggest fall will belong to Kaisei, apart from those dropping out of the top division altogether.
Speaking of which, the Makuuchi/Juryo line also sorted itself out neatly on the final day. The senshuraku loss by Daishomaru should send him to Juryo along with Arawashi, Chiyomaru, and Takanosho, while Daishoho’s loss removed him from promotion consideration. So it should be four down and four up: Yago, Kotoyuki, Kotoeko, and Terutsuyoshi. Breathing a sigh of relief are Chiyonokuni and Daiamami, one of whom might have gone down with a Daishoho win—either that, or Terutsuyoshi would have stayed in Juryo.
For completeness, there should be two demotions from Juryo to Makushita, Chiyonoo and Gokushindo, whose vacated slots will go to former sekitori Gagamaru and Sokokurai. We’ll find out in a couple of days, when new Juryo rikishi are announced.
As usual, I will have a full banzuke prediction post up in the coming days, and there will be other great content between the basho, so please don’t forget to keep reading Tachiai, and thank you!