Nagoya Wrap-up and Predictions for Aki

The battle for Komusubi

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).

Upper Maegashira

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.

Juryo-Makushita Exchanges

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.

26 thoughts on “Nagoya Wrap-up and Predictions for Aki

    • Should be right around Makushita 28. A minimum of two more basho in Makushita before he can get to Juryo.

  1. C’mon Koto! you got “henked” again, against terenofuji (to loose his ozeki rank), kakuryu and now abi. Sadly you don’t expect thisll from a more higher up rikishi.
    Overall, this was the most exciting basho in a while. Imagine if we had a few ozeki in the final race.
    Nice coverage Tachiai team!

  2. Hokutofuji doesn’t have much luck. Back in November 2017 he got 11 wins at M3 but only landed at M1 in January.

  3. All these ozeki demotions is really making me appreciate Goeido’s ability to hang onto the rank for 5 years.

    • Goeido has 30 basho at Ozeki, with 8 kadoban, but has always manages to hang on.

      Kisenosato did 31, with only one losing record (7-8). Remarkable.

      Kaio did 66 straight at ozeki, with something like 15 losing records (including sitting out with injuries). Helps me to put it in perspective, Goeido is roughly on par with Kaio’s kadoban rate.

  4. Where did you get that Hokutofuji v Endo was a battle for Komusubi? It doesn’t seem fair to that Endo gets bumped 4 ranks for his 10-5 while Hokutofuji gets bumped only 1 rank for his 9-6. I think Hokutofuji will be Komusubi and Endo will land at M1E.

    • Endo is exactly one rank behind Hokutofuji (M1w vs M2w). DUnno how you come up with 4. Although the commentators agree with your opinion, most people here think that one additional win makes up for the difference and having that against the direct competition will give Endo the edge.
      I don’t think it will be unfair in any case, but it seems very likely that Endo will leapfrog Hokutofuji here.

      • Yes, after looking at the Banzuke again, I would have to say that Endo is more likely to ascend to Komusubi. Here is my Banzuke prediction:
        Y: Kakuryu, Hakuho
        O: Takayasu: Goeido, Tochinoshin
        S: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho
        K: Abi, Endo
        1: Hokutofuji, Aoiyama
        2: Asanoyama, Ichinojo
        3: Daieisho, Tomokaze
        4: Shodai, Tamawashi
        5: Chiyotairyu, Shimanoumi
        6: Kotoshogiku, Myogiryu
        7: Ryuden, Takarafuji
        8: Okinoumi, Kotoeko
        9: Terutsuyoshi, Onosho
        10: Kotoyuki, Meisei
        11: Shohozan, Sadanoumi
        12: Daishoho, Enho
        13: Tsurugisho, Kagayaki
        14: Nishikigi, Ishiura
        15: Toyonoshima, Azumaryu
        16: Yutakayama, Tochiozan

        • I agree with most of those rankings, with a few differences among the mid to lower maegashira. Remember the M17e rank will return with one fewer san’yaku rikishi.

        • I have a feeling the Asanoyama will be a victim of bad banzuke luck and fall behind both Tomokaze and Ichinojo. Any other torunament Tomokaze could move up to M1 or even Komusubi, so I think he will get the M2e spot.
          Your prediction is perfectly possible of course, the M1-3 are just a little overloaded this time.

    • An extra win counts for a lot. Ranking Endo at Komusubi seems straightforward given his rank and record, while Hokutofuji also has a (slightly less) strong case, but bad banzuke luck. In any case, we’ll find out in 5 weeks.

  5. Looking at it half-full. If Hokutofuji does remain at M1, he gets the opportunity to add another gold star to his collection. (Though he does have a complete set of four Yokozuna already).

    Besides Yoshikaze, I’m not sure who else has collected gold stars from the four most recent Yokozuna.

    Endo and Tamawashi have not completed the set. Maybe try to dig that out of the DB.

  6. Holy Smokes, Hokutofuji also holds a full set of “silver stars” versus recent Ozeki: Takakeisho (1), Goeido (3), Takayasu (3), Tochinoshin (2) plus Terunofuji (2),

    Never faced Kise or Giku while they were ranked ozeki,

    That record might say “too much time in the meat grinder”. Or “when will I finally catch a banzuke break?”

      • True. The rare silver star from the recent Ozeki is the Takakeisho, and that’s only because there have been so few chances to earn one (thus far).

        A Hakuho silver star, is also rare, but for different reasons. Only four in existence that I see. Uncle Sumo owns one, Kise also.

        That sumo DB is a fun place to explore between basho.

  7. I was just rewatching the Kakuryu-Hakuho match and it struck me that it looked a lot like a yokozuna jungyo match:
    – no tsuppari (even though both had employed hand strikes in other matches)
    – conspicuous fighting for advantage on the belt
    – thrilling back and forth drives

    Am I saying this was a work? No. I’m saying that both of these consummate gladiators were fully aware that a full-on fight stood an undesirably high chance of leaving one or the other of them (most likely Hakuho) with a career-ending injury. A sumo match can’t start without mutual consent communicated wordlessly; I think that in similar fashion wordless mutual consent kept this match limited to the safest techniques.

    • It could be a “Yokozuna thing”. Hakuho also went on the belt against seemingly unbeatable Tochinoshin atg his peak and lost. So on Hakuhos part it could be a pride thing to show he still got it or lose in dignity, after showing some not very Yokozuna-like Sumo this basho. Kakuryu probably very well knew that he has an advantage on the belt against the injured Hakuho.

      • I mean, it was definitely a yokozuna thing, just like trading wins during jungyo is a yokozuna thing. But the situation was nothing like Hakuho’s loss to Tochinoshin — unlike against Kakuryu, Hakuho in that match was far from the underdog. At that point, Hakuho was 10-1 and in contention for the yusho, so “seemingly unbeatable” wouldn’t have daunted him. Look at the two matches between Hakuho and Tochinoshin prior to Tochinoshin’s win: Hakuho had always been satisfied to engage Tochinoshin on the belt and test his lifting strength and technique even though that plays to Tochinoshin’s best sumo.

  8. So Chiyotairyu will be the only Kokonoe man left in the top division? Not so long ago they had 4. Must be a long time since Kokonoe-beya were in this situation.

  9. And it’s actually Kaisho that gets the last spot in Juryo. It must be winning Day 14 against Arawashi along with Wakamotoharu losing on Day 15 to Kotonowaka that made then completely disregard that Wakamotoharu had one more win prior to that. Well, they’re the ones in charge; they can make any decision they want and don’t need to justify it or even be consistent.

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