Natsu Winners and Losers

Let’s look at the rikishi who put up the best and the worst performances in Makuuchi in the May basho.

Winner: Asanoyama

Well, obviously. First yusho? Check. Set to make a San’yaku debut? Check. Two special prizes? Check. Lowest-ranked rikishi to win the yusho since 2000, and the first without previous San’yaku experience to do so since 1961? Check. Tachiai is looking forward to seeing how Komusubi Asanoyama fares in Nagoya.

Winner: Tochinoshin

Amid disappointment, controversy, and likely injury, the Georgian still accomplished the one thing that mattered: recording 10 wins and regaining his Ozeki rank.

Winners: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Abi, Ryuden, Shodai, Meisei

Aside from Asanoyama, these were the standout performers in the top half of the banzuke. All but Mitakeumi recorded double-digit victories, but Mitakeumi collected his 9 at Komusubi, securing a promotion to Sekiwake and extending his streak of consecutive appearances in lower San’yaku to 15 basho, a modern-day record. [Edit: I thought that Goeido held the record with 14, but those were all at Sekiwake. When he appears at Sekiwake on the Nagoya banzuke, Mitakeumi will assume sole possession of second place for consecutive appearances at Sekiwake or Komusubi; Wakanosato holds the all-time record with 19]. Tamawashi is also set to return to Sekiwake, while Abi will make his San’yaku debut at Komusubi. Ryuden, Shodai and Meisei will take their places right at the top of the maegashira ranks. Abi and Ryuden pick up a special prize apiece to boot.

Winners: Shimanoumi, Tomokaze, Dishoho

These are my top performers in the lower half of the maegashira ranks. Shimanoumi overcame a shaky start to record double-digit wins in his top-division debut, collect a special prize, and set himself up for much tougher opposition in Nagoya (I project him to jump from M12 to M6 on the next banzuke). Tomokaze struggled to get his kachi-koshi in his second tournament in Makuuchi, but he did so with 3 straight victories to close the basho and extended his amazing run of 13 professional tournaments without ever suffering a losing record. And Daishoho, who was lucky to survive his first top-division tournament in March after a 7-8 performance at M16, improved to 9-6 in his second, and looked good doing so. He should be squarely in the mid-maegashira ranks in July. Honorable mention goes to Kotoeko, who looked set to make this list before he lost his final five bouts, and Enho, who fought skillfully and valiantly despite an injury, fell just short of a winning record, but lives to fight in the top division in Nagoya.

Loser: Kakuryu

Sure, he picked up his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” and the jun-yusho, but for the sole Yokozuna in a tournament with heavily depleted upper ranks, nothing short of the championship would do, especially when he hasn’t won a yusho in a year. Oh, and he handed out a pair of kinboshi.

Losers: The Ozeki

Yes, all three of them. Like Kakuryu, Goeido and “Next Yokozuna” Takayasu yet again failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity to win their second and first championship, respectively. And Takakeisho got hurt in his Ozeki debut, made an ill-advised and futile one-bout return, and will be kadoban in Nagoya. Tachiai hopes that his injury heals well and quickly so that he can defend his rank and resume his upward career trajectory.

Losers: Ichinojo and Aoiyama

Both followed up their outstanding performances in Osaka with losing records at Natsu, and will be dropping out of San’yaku after one tournament. On the bright side, they should land among the top eight maegashira, and Ichinojo looked much better after sitting out four days.

Loser: Kaisei

The big Brazilian, one of our favorite men in sumo, was able to record only 3 victories for the second-straight basho, this time as a result of a Day 8 withdrawal due to injury. Just like that, he will go from M1 to perilously close to the bottom of Makuuchi, and will likely need a winning record in Nagoya to avoid a visit to Juryo.

Losers: Chiyoshoma, Tokushoryu, Ishiura

All recorded double-digit losses, and will be fighting in the second division in July. Chiyoshoma and Ishiura needed a lot of banzuke luck to survive in Makuuchi last time around (and the time before that for Chiyoshoma), and Tokushoryu was very fortunate to be promoted, so this isn’t a surprise. At least the sad state of Juryo means that they’ll land near the top of the division and can fight their way back up with strong performances. Dishonorable mention goes to Terutsuyoshi, who should take Chiyoshoma’s place as a very lucky two-time survivor, Kagayaki, who was in danger of demotion for much of the tournament despite being ranked at M10, and who only collected 5 wins, and to Yoshikaze, who only managed 4.

13 thoughts on “Natsu Winners and Losers

  1. Meisei should be renamed “and, err, Meisei” or “that other guy” or “Mei-who?”… he just keeps grinding his way up the ranks and is under the radar like a micro stealth drone.

    • Well, I’ve been following him since he went from a borderline Ms-Sd rikishi to getting two straight 6-1s and then another KK, right at the time I started following Sumo. It’s been a bit slower going since those middle of 2014 tournaments, but he’s slowly made progress and is on a 5 KK streak. He should get to face all the top rikishi competing next basho. Probably not going to get the full 5 rank promotion due to crowding (though he might – it’s tough to tell), but that’s banzuke luck.

      • He will fill the gap in my team created by the demotion on Chiyoshoma. At the bottom of jo’i he will probably get a 6-9 in Nagoya but recoup his losses with kk’s in the next two basho. That’s the Meisei way: two steps forward, one step back, repeat. “That’s how you’re gonna beat ’em, Butch. They keep underestimating you”.

    • I don’t believe so, unless they attach stronger weight than usual to his yusho. He would have needed a 13-2 record to have a strong case.

      • I initially thought that Asanoyama would go straight up to sekiwake, but on reflection a K looks much more likely. It also looks like we might be seeing Kotoyuki paying another fleeting visit to the big league. Oh well… at least he’s better than Tokushoryu.

      • I don’t think they attach any weight to a yusho for banzuke purposes, other than possibly ordering the Yokozuna (or Ozeki) who compete in a playoff.

    • Asanoyama is going to compete with Abi for the East Komusubi spot, since they have the same rank/record net numbers. Arguments are possible both ways why each should get it. Tamawashi, however, is clearly above them in precedence by the numbers.

      I also don’t think that a 13-2 that would have put him above Tamawashi by the numbers would have helped his case; there is a heavy bias against new promotions to any rank when other options are available.

  2. It’s deja-vue all over again with Kakuryu and the Ozeki. Some days they look great, other days not.
    When they don’t look great, it’s supposed they are carrying injuries, but at this point, who knows?
    That’s why the injury to Takakeisho was so disappointing: we were hoping he was the infusion of new blood the upper ranks need. Let’s hope he still will be.

  3. And guess whose fault (other than himself) it was that Big K didn’t get the Yusho, or at the very least a playoff. Many rotten fruits came from that one bad day13 seed.

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