I came across an interesting tidbit on the Sumo Forum: this year, no Makuuchi rikishi managed to record a kachi-koshi in all six basho for the first time since 2003. The post also noted that one Juryo rikishi managed this feat: Daishoho. This observation made me do a double-take. On the one hand, good for Daishoho. On the other hand, how do you get six winning records in one year in the second division, which only has 28 slots, and not make it to Makuuchi? No wonder the last time this happened was 1975.
So I looked up Daishoho’s stats. He started the year at J13, went 9-6, rose to J9, where another 9-6 took him to J6, and then had 4 straight 8-7 tournaments. His rank progressed to J5, J3, and J2, and his latest minimal kachi-koshi almost certainly left him one victory short of promotion. Daishoho should be ranked J1 in January, and a 7th straight Juryo kachi-koshi should finally get him to the top division.
The slow progress through Juryo isn’t uncharacteristic of Daishoho’s career. He entered sumo in 2013 and made quick work of the lower divisions, arriving in Makushita after one year and rising to the Makushita joi a year later. There, he hit the proverbial Makushita wall. Daishoho spent 8 straight tournaments ranked between Ms9 and Ms1, advanced to Juryo for one tournament, was immediately demoted, and then spent another year ranked in Makushita single digits before embarking on his recent slow rise through Juryo. Contrast that with someone like Tomokaze, who made it through Makushita in 5 total basho, got promoted to Juryo in his first try from the Ms1-9 ranks, won the Juryo yusho in his inaugural appearance, and seems likely to arrive in Makuuchi in another tournament or two. Just goes to show that sumo careers can follow very different trajectories.