All’s Well That Ends Well

Many of the storylines we’ve been following were resolved by the outcomes of today’s bouts, but for a number of rikishi, plenty is at stake on the final day. First off, congratulations to Asanoyama on a well-deserved victory! He becomes only the 19th maegashira to claim the yusho in the six-basho era, and the lowest-ranked winner in 19 years. Although he did not fight a full slate of San’yaku rikishi, Asanoyama’s fight card was by no means light and includes victories over many of the top performers of this tournament, punctuated by the clinching win against the strongest Ozeki, Goeido. Tachiai hopes that this is only the first of many big fish we see him lift.

Yesterday’s debacle prevented us from seeing the yusho come down to exciting final-day bouts, and I’m sad not to see Tochinoshin (or for that matter, Tamawashi, who improved to 10-4 under the radar) get a shot at his second top-division championship (I’m sure fans of Kakuryu feel the same way). But Tochinoshin did get his crucial 10th victory and will once again be Ozeki in Nagoya, and it’s hard to argue that any of the three jun-yusho leaders have been in championship form recently.

San’yaku Scenarios

Today’s matches really clarified the San’yaku picture for Nagoya. Tochinoshin’s victory guarantees that he will vacate his Sekiwake West slot via promotion. Ichinojo’s demotion to the rank-and-file got even more certain with his 10th loss/absence, which removed any chance of him only dropping to Komusubi. And Mitakeumi locked down his modern-record 15th consecutive tournament in lower San’yaku when he picked up his 8th win. That’s one slot claimed, and two guaranteed to open. The remaining questions revolve around the occupants of those slots, their order, and the final Komusubi slot.

These questions should be resolved tomorrow by the outcomes of three key bouts matching up all six rikishi still in the conversation: M4 Abi (9-5) vs. M3 Tamawashi (10-4), M8 Asanoyama (12-2) vs. K Mitakeumi (8-6), and K Aoiyama (6-8) vs. M5 Ryuden (9-5). Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, and Asanoyama should be ranked in San’yaku no matter what. The final slot is Abi’s with a win. Should he lose to Tamawashi, a Ryuden victory over Aoiyama would make Ryuden West Komusubi. If Abi and Ryuden both lose, then it’s not clear whether Abi’s 9-6 record at M4 would be sufficient to relegate a 7-8 Aoiyama to the rank-and-file, or if he’d get to merely slide over to the West side a la Mitakeumi last basho.

Mitakeumi will be ranked Sekiwake with a win, and possibly with a loss and a loss by Tamawashi; otherwise, he should stay East Komusubi. Likewise, Tamawashi will be Sekiwake with a win, and possibly with a loss if Mitakeumi loses. I’ll make my predictions for the exact order after tomorrow’s results are in.

Kachi-koshi and Make-koshi

Six rikishi have left their banzuke fate until the final day. And of course, the schedulers have paired them up in “Darwin bouts,” so that three of them will fall on each side of the line between winning and losing records. It’ll be Tomokaze vs. Sadanoumi, Onosho vs. Chiyomaru, and Shohozan vs. Enho. None are involved in the promotion/demotion scenarios discussed above and below, so the biggest things at stake are Tomokaze’s record of never recording a make koshi as a professional, and Enho’s health. Take care of yourself, pixie.

Juryo Demotions and Makuuchi Promotions

After today, this looks quite clear. Toyonoshima, visiting from Juryo, got his 8th win and will be back in the top division in July. He defeated Ishiura, who sealed a trip to Juryo with his 9th loss. He joins Chiyoshoma and Tokushoryu on the down elevator. (Tochinoshin’s re-promotion means that the M17e rank will be going away along with Chiyoshoma.) Coming up with Toyonoshima will be the Juryo yusho winner, Takagenji (13-1), and Kotoyuki (10-4). Kagayaki removed himself from demotion danger with his 4th win, and while Terutsuyoshi still needs one win, he will probably survive for the second straight time even with a 6-9 record near the bottom of the division, as the next-best candidates for promotion, the J4 duo of Takanosho and Azumaryu, both 7-7, won’t have a strong enough claim even with a final-day win.

Several of tomorrow’s matchups can only be described as “bouts of sadness”: slated-for-demotion Chiyoshoma vs. Juryo visitor Ikioi, both 4-10, just-barely-safe Kagayaki (4-10) vs. slated-for-demotion Ishiura (5-9), and slated-for-demotion Tokushoryu (3-11) vs. the ghost of Yoshikaze (4-10).

Come back tomorrow for a full wrap-up of the Natsu basho and predictions for Nagoya!

21 thoughts on “All’s Well That Ends Well

  1. Is Asanoyama certain to be in san-yaku even if he only has 12-3? Kyokutenho, at M7w, only got to M1e with a 12-3 yusho.

    • According to the SumoDB, the last 5 times someone was M8 with 12 wins, they were promoted to M1w, though 4 of 5 only achieved jun-yusho, not yusho. All of those faced all Maegashira, or a Sekiwake on senshuraku, last being Yoshikaze in 2015. Right now, I think Asanoyama’s quality win over Ozeki Goeido should be worth consideration for higher promotion.

      If he wins tomorrow, I think he’s a shoe-in for Komusubi. However, Aoiyama got 13 at M8 in 2017, but all wins were against Maegashira, except for a senshuraku win over Komusubi Yoshikaze. Most of his wins seemed to be toward the bottom of the makuuchi banzuke and he was only promoted to M2. So I could clearly be wrong.

      • The historical context is useful, but it really depends on the number of open slots and the qualifications of the other promotion candidates

        • Yeah, looking at what happens to people at certain ranks historically doesn’t tell you much unless there are a ton of examples, and even then, all you’re getting is averages. Every single sanyaku promotion is subject to there being room for them. There wasn’t for Kyokutenho; there definitely is for Asanoyama.

          • Actually, I see a lot of those with 13 or above wins were given a K2 or a S2 rank, meaning there was not a place for them and it was created especially.

            • Exceptional performances can indeed “force” an extra slot, but the bar is very high and they’ve been more reluctant to do it recently, like when Hokutofuji didn’t make it to K with an 11-4 from M3 (going by memory here).

      • I think though that they give a yusho more consideration than the identities of the rivals. If you notice, wrestlers who win a yusho are always promoted further than their doten jun-yusho opposites, despite the fact that the result of the playoff itself is never counted.

        That’s why I only brought Kyokutenho as an example, as he is the only one who won a yusho at a comparable rank with 12 wins.

        • I think it’s pretty clear that Asanoyama will be Komusubi after today’s results (along with Abi; not clear who’ll be East/West). The only other plausible claim belongs to Ryuden, but I don’t think 10-5 at M5 will be deemed superior to 12-3 at M8, even without taking the yusho into account, and given that it would be a san’yaku debut for each.

  2. The look on his face – priceless. I know some fan are grumbling on another thread about Asanoyama getting the yusho via math vs defeating the top men, but I am happy that it turned out this way. A new era, a new champion. I am keen to see if his contemporary, Yutakayama, can come back from Juryo and push for the cup himself.

    We have had a Tadpole yusho, a Freshman yusho, and now we can hope that maybe some day we might see a Pixie take the cup as well. Good times to be a sumo fan.

    • With Onomatsu oyakata bumbling mono-ii explanations? (isn’t this the guy that was demoted for gambling incidents before?) really not so good times.

    • You would be a great therapist. ;) I do see your point, and they are good ones. If it wasn’t for the unfortunate situation (everybody can at least agree upon that) I would feel a lot better about it. That being said, Asanoyama did nothing wrong and I hope he can enjoy it without negativity thrown at him.

  3. You seem to list only two candidates for Sekiwake and list ways they might not make it, while not stating that Asanoyama would be the other candidate. I personally believe that Asanoyama will not be promoted to Sekiwake for Nagoya regardless of what happens, though I admit that if he beats Mitakeumi it may happen – but not on my GTB entry. Similarly I’m somewhat sure Abi needs to win to become Komusubi – Aoiyama has a much better claim on it with a win in that scenario, even if Abi’s schedule for an M4 was a bit harder than normal. I’m leaning towards both of these because of their bias against sketchy first-time promotions to a rank when there’s another reasonable option – see Takayasu somehow getting the nod after his last hiramaku basho when Mitakeumi was clearly favored by the numbers but had never made sanyaku before.

  4. In what way did Onomatsu oyakata bungle the explanation of the Asanoyama/Tochinoshin monoii? I only got the announcer’s translation but it seemed straightforward: gyoji called it for Tochinoshin but his heel was out, gyoji decision reversed. (It didn’t seem to be like that previous monoii this basho that had the crowd groaning after he announced so-and-so was out first and won the match.)

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