Nagoya Predictions

Let’s look at what the Natsu results mean for the next banzuke. One fun fact: Asanoyama’s surprise victory means that the Makuuchi banzuke will contain a near-record 9 top-division yusho winners: Hakuho, Kakuryu, Goeido, Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi, Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi and Asanoyama (plus a 10th, Terunofuji, currently toiling in Sandanme).

Upper San’yaku

Kakuryu will regain the top East Yokozuna rank, displacing absent Hakuho. And there will be four Ozeki on the banzuke for the first time since January 2017. The last such quartet consisted of Kisenosato (promoted, retired), Goeido (still here!), Terunofuji (demoted, just went 6-1 in Sandanme, and should be fighting at the bottom of Makushita next time), and Kotoshogiku (demoted, strong maegashira). The order of the Ozeki should stay the same: Goeido, Takayasu, Takakeisho, with Tochinoshin rejoining at O2w. And with that, we wave goodbye to the M17e rank along with its current holder.

Lower San’yaku

Three of the four slots opened up with West Sekiwake Tochinoshin’s re-promotion and the impending demotions of East Sekiwake Ichinojo (5-7-3) and East Komusubi Aoiyama (6-9). As a result, the only returning member, West Komusubi Mitakeumi (9-6), will move up to East Sekiwake. He will be joined at sumo’s third-highest rank by the other “San’yaku regular” over the past couple of years, M3 Tamawashi (10-5).

The open Komusubi ranks will be filled by M4 Abi (10-5) and the yusho winner M8 Asanoyama (12-3). I am not sure which will get the nod for the more prestigious East side: Abi’s tougher schedule or Asanoyama’s championship.

The New Joi

With 10 rikishi in the named ranks, the joi-jin should include the top 6 maegashira, although the line frequently extends further due to absences and occasional scheduling conflicts. The identities of the top 8 maegashira are clear, although their exact order is anything but. We have newcomers M5 Ryuden (10-5), who fought a full San’yaku slate at Natsu and should record his highest career rank of M1e, and the M7 duo of Shodai and Meisei, both also 10-5. For Shodai, this marks a return to his customary upper maegashira rank, while fast-rising Meisei will reach a new career high for the 5th consecutive basho!

Joining them will be San’yaku dropouts Aoiyama and Ichinojo, as well as upper maegashira survivors M1 Hokutofuji and the M2 duo of Endo and Daiesho, all 7-8. With all 8 rikishi arguably deserving to be ranked M1-M3, someone will experience bad banzuke luck.

The Makuuchi-Juryo Exchange

M17e Chiyoshoma (5-10), M16w Ishiura (5-10), and M14e Tokushoryu (4-11) have all booked seats on the Juryo express. Going in the other direction are Juryo yusho winner J2e Takagenji (13-2), who should make his top-division debut in the mid-maegashira ranks, and returnees J6e Kotoyuki (11-4) and J1e Toyonoshima, who just managed to scrape together the necessary 8 wins. The only “edge case” is M15e Terutsuyoshi, whose 6-9 record at that rank is enough to warrant demotion, but the 4th-best promotion case in Juryo belongs to J4w Azumaryu (8-7), and I don’t think that’s good enough to force the exchange.

As was the case last time, the bottom of Makuuchi is a mess, and it will be hard to come up with a banzuke that satisfies all the constraints and doesn’t promote anyone with a losing record. After Kotoeko, who should vault all the way from M15w to M11e (or higher if they place Takagenji here) with only an 8-7 record, there are 3 rikishi with minimal 7-8 make-koshi (M13e Chiyomaru, M13w Sadanoumi, and M14w Enho), two rikishi with weak promotion records from Juryo, and such under-performers as Tochiozan, Nishikigi, Yago, Kagayaki, Kaisei, and Terutsuyoshi, all with between 3 and 6 victories. All deserve to be ranked M14 or lower, yet someone must occupy the M11-M13 ranks.

The Juryo-Makushita Exchange

Basho-long absences and corresponding demotions of J7w Chiyonokuni and J11e Hakuyozan effectively created two extra open slots in Juryo. These should be complemented by the certain demotion of J14e Churanoumi (5-10) and the likely demotions of J13 Irodori (6-9) and J14w Seiro (7-8). Seiro’s survival is made less likely by the fact that there is no luck of strong promotion candidates at the top of Makushita.

Making it across the heaven/hell boundary should be Ms2w Takanofuji (7-0), Takagenji’s twin and fellow yusho-winner, Ms3e Ichiyamamoto (5-2), Ms3w Kizakiumi (5-2), Ms2e Kotokamatani (4-3), and Ms4e Ryuko (6-1). With the exception of Takanofuji, who’ll be making his 3rd trip to Juryo, the others are all debuts, marking an influx of exciting new names into the sekitori ranks. Ms4w Hoshoryu (4-3) will just miss out, but he will be in a great position to earn promotion in July.

11 thoughts on “Nagoya Predictions

  1. I am totally delighted, of course, to see my beloved Abi win a kanto sho and secure his debut in the sanyaku. I am not totally convinced he is ready yet to stick around there. One the one hand: this tournament, at M4W he only fought 4 guys ranked below him and fought 11 ranked above him, including the Yokozuna and both remaining Ozeki. He got wins over Takayasu, Tochinoshin and Tamawashi to finish 10-5. (Plus, in my totally unbiased opinion, he was robbed in his match against Aoiyama!) So that all suggests he is ready to hang at this elevated level. On the other hand: if Hakuho and Takakeisho both return at close to full fitness then the top of the banzuke will be stacked with matches where Abi has to be counted as the underdog…

    It will be fascinating to see who, if any, of Abi, Asanoyma and Ryuden manages to thrive against the big boys. (Endo too, who I presume will still be in the joi for Nagoya.)

    I am already beginning to feel a horrible empty feeling at the thought of no sumo for the next 6 or 7 weeks.

    • Well, it’s hard to stick up there. During Mitakeumi’s amazing run of 15 san’yaku basho, only Tamawashi can also lay a claim to being a regular, with 11. Next we have Ichinojo with 6. After that, especially excluding those on the way up to or down from Ozeki, it’s Yoshikaze with 4, Shodai and Onosho with 2 apiece and no one else with more than a single appearance. Lower san’yaku is a tough neighborhood.

      • An awful lot of wrestlers in recent years have had sanyaku “careers” which lasted 2 basho or less. Don’t forget Shohozan who has made komusubi on five separate occasions but been busted back to the ranks after 1 basho every time.

        • I guess if you’re good enough to consistently KK at komusubi/sekiwake, you’re pretty likely to put together a successful Ozeki run.

  2. Whoa — now there’s something I hadn’t previously noticed: Take another look at the photo at the top of this post and see how much shorter Goiedo’s arms are than those of Takayasu and Tochinoshin!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.