The Nagoya basho is in the books. The Emperor’s cup has been lifted, the giant macaron of victory has been presented, and the special prizes have been handed out. Let’s take a preliminary look at what the results will mean for the banzuke for September tournament; I’ll put up a more in-depth banzuke prediction post once I’ve done a proper analysis.
The Named Ranks
The Yokozuna rankings will remain unchanged. In the Ozeki ranks, Goeido and Takayasu will switch places, with the latter sliding over to the more prestigious East side. Despite picking up zero victories, Tochinoshin will also move to the East side into the slot vacated by Takakeisho. Goeido and Tochinoshin will both be kadoban at Aki, and will each need 8 wins to retain their rank, while Takakeisho will be Sekiwake with a one-time shot to immediately reascend to Ozeki with 10 wins.
In lower san’yaku, Mitakeumi (9-6) will remain East Sekiwake, while Takakeisho will take over from Tamawashi (5-10) as West Sekiwake. Abi (8-7) just barely defended his East Komusubi rank with 3 consecutive victories, capped by a flying henka which, while it drew a chorus of boos, should have been anticipated by the veteran Kotoshogiku given the stakes. And in an epic head-to-head battle for the West Komusubi rank vacated by Ryuden (4-11), Endo (10-5) prevailed over Hokutofuji (9-6).
This is where it gets really crowded. The upper maegashira, ranked in the part of the banzuke often called “the meat grinder,” took full advantage of the absences and poor performances in the named ranks, with five winning records among the top eight rank-and-filers. M1w Hokutofuji did more than enough to reach the san’yaku ranks on most banzuke, but will have to settle for the top M1e rank on the September chart. M2e Aoiyama (8-7), M4w Ichinojo (9-6), and M7w Tomokaze (11-4) all put up performances that warrant a rank of M1 or better, and should be ranked M1w, M2e, and M2w, respectively, with Tomokaze getting the short end of the stick by virtue of lower rank and his newness to the top division. In turn, M1e Asanoyama (7-8) and M3w Daieisho (8-7), who deserve to be ranked M2, should get pushed down to M3, unless Tomokaze is really short-changed. Rounding out the top 10 will be Tamawashi, M3e Shodai (7-8), M6e Chiyotairyu (8-7), and M6w Shimanoumi (8-7).
A few other placements of note. I have Ryuden falling down to M7. Breakout star M16w Terutsuyoshi (12-3) could rise as high as M8 after his jun-yusho, trailed by one rank by fellow M16 Kotoyuki (11-4). As far as I can tell, 23 wins from the last two banzuke positions is unprecedented. Finally, Meisei (4-11) should fall all the way from M4 to M10.
Top-Division Demotions and Promotions
There should be four straightforward demotions from Makuuchi to Juryo: M15w Kaisei with one win, M11e Yoshikaze with none, M15e Yago with four, and M13e Chiyomaru with five. Chiyomaru should be ranked near the top of Juryo, and can return with a winning performance at Aki, and Yago will be within striking distance, but the two injured veterans will likely fall into the lower half of Juryo.
Their places in the top division will be taken by yusho winner Tsurugisho, finally making his Makuuchi debut after a whopping 22 straight tournaments in Juryo, and by Ishiura, Azumaryu, and Yutakayama. While Ishiura and Yutakayama were in Makuuchi as recently as May and March, respectively, Azumaryu will be returning after a five-year absence!
The two top-division men on the bubble are Takagenji and Tochiozan. It seems like Takanosho is the only plausible candidate to take the place of one of them, as the next-best candidate, Daiamami, is probably ranked too low at J8. My guess at the moment is that the banzuke committee won’t make a borderline exchange, but I think it could go either way—and who would get displaced if Takanosho does get the nod is not entirely clear either.
Here, there are three clear demotions to and corresponding promotions from Makushita. Make that two demotions plus one retirement. Leaving Juryo are Aminishiki, Akiseyama, and Ryuko. Taking their places will be Seiro, Irodori, and Tamaki. There’s one Juryo man on the bubble, our old friend Arawashi (J10w, 5-10), and two additional promotion candidates in Makushita: Ms4w Kaisho (4-3) and Ms5w Wakamotoharu (5-2). I’m not an expert, but those who are think that Wakamotoharu is ahead of Kaisho, and that he’s likely to force down Arawashi, but it’s a close call. At least with this one, we’ll find out on Wednesday, when new Juryo rikishi are announced, while for the rest of the rankings, we’ll have to wait until August 26th, two weeks before the start of the Aki basho.