Looking Ahead To The Next Banzuke

With the results of the Haru basho in the books, we can start to forecast how the rankings will get reshuffled for the next tournament. As usual, I will write a full banzuke prediction post once I’ve digested the results, but we can look at the general outlines now.

Yokozuna and Ozeki

The senshuraku clash between Hakuho and Kakuryu was not only for the yusho, but also for banzuke position. With his victory, Hakuho will once again be ranked on the more prestigious East side for the 53rd time in his superlative career.

Word on the street is that Asanoyama will officially get the nod to ascend to sumo’s second-highest rank on Wednesday. He’ll join the incumbent (now kadoban) Takakeisho, and as a newcomer to the rank, will be placed on the West side. Oh, and the presence of two bona fide Ozeki on the banzuke means that Kakuryu won’t have to fill in as a Yokozuna/Ozeki again next time.

Sekiwake and Komusubi

West Sekiwake Shodai (8-7) successfully defended his rank, and should slide over to the East side to fill the opening created by Asanoyama’s impending promotion. Both incumbent Komusubi will fall out of the named ranks—Hokutofuji after a disastrous 4-11 tournament and Endo as a result of a surprisingly lackluster final-day loss that dropped his record to 7-8. This means that we need one new Sekiwake and two new Komusubi.

Two candidates are clear: M3w Mitakeumi (10-4), who I believe will be the West Sekiwake despite fading to a 1-3 finish. Mitakeumi returns to san’yaku after a two-basho absence that ended a streak of 17 consecutive tournaments in the named ranks. His 19th appearance in lower san’yaku will tie him with Goeido for 7th most this century. M1e Daieisho (8-7) will make his second appearance at Komusubi after a one-basho absence.

Who will be West Komusubi? This comes down to the breakout man of the tournament, M9e Takanosho (12-3), and an old steady hand, M2e Okinoumi (8-7). Takanosho has a slightly stronger case “by the numbers”, but I believe that the large disparity in rank, Okinoumi’s tougher schedule, and his track record of six past san’yaku appearances (he was last Sekiwake at Kyushu 2016) will see the veteran get the nod.

Upper Maegashira

Which rank-and-filers will get to battle the named ranks in the next tournament? The term “joi-jin” (or just “joi”) is often used to describe the upper rankers and the maegashira who serve as their opponents. Typically, this group contains the top 16 men on the banzuke, although the line is blurred by withdrawals, avoidance of same-heya matchups, etc. In any case, with the san’yaku ranks set to grow to eight, rikishi ranked M1-M4 will be firmly in this group.

I’ll try to work out the most likely order later, but the top four maegashira should be Endo, Takanosho, Yutakayama, and Onosho. M3 should be filled by Takarafuji and Kagayaki (or possibly Kiribayama). There are four contenders for M4: Kiribayama (or Kagayaki), Abi, who could hang on to the current M4w with his minimal 7-8 make-koshi, Hokutofuji, and Aoiyama, who could rise all the way from M13 with his 11-4 final tally (not surprisingly, he and Takanosho will be making the biggest leaps up the rankings).

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

While the final-day results greatly clarified the picture toward the top of the banzuke, they left the exchange situation a bit muddy. Three demotions are certain: Tsurugisho, Daiamami, and Azumaryu. Tochiozan also appears set to drop to Juryo, with his final-day victory being too little, too late. And the Juryo results (and the disappearance of the M18 rank) will likely force down Meisei after he was unable to secure his kachi-koshi on the final day.

That’s 5 likely open slots in the top division, but there are 6 strong promotion cases in Juryo. J1e Kotoyuki (8-7) has the weakest case numerically, but the strongest historically: the top man in Juryo has failed to get promoted with an 8-7 record only twice in roughly the past 50 years. J2w Wakatakakage (10-5) and the Juryo champion J6e Kotoshoho (12-2) should be locks for promotion, the former returning after his promising debut was interrupted by injury and the latter making a much-anticipated debut of his own. It’s not completely clear whether J3e Terunofuji (10-5) is head of J5e Kotoeko (11-4), who has one more win from two ranks below, but both should have strong enough cases to force down Meisei.

That’s 5 up and 5 down. Who else could be at risk? Recent demotions of absent M3 Tomokaze and Kotoyuki to J1e strongly suggest that M1 Takayasu (0-5-10) is safe, as does the fact that the last time an M1 was demoted was 1798! M15w Chiyomaru (7-6-2) should also be safe, especially given that his three-day absence was involuntary. That leaves one Makuuchi man on the bubble: M14w Nishikigi (6-9). Nishikigi has a history of escaping demotion with records that could easily send him down, and he may do so yet again: J4e Tobizaru (10-5) is likely one win short of making his own top-division debut after final-day victories by Nishikigi, Kotoyuki (by default!), Kotoshoho, and Kotoeko. That’s a lot of results to go against you.

Juryo/Makushita Exchanges

As I noted yesterday, the Juryo demotions seem to be set at three—YagoAsagyokusei and Tomokaze—while there are four promotable rikishi at the top of Makushita: Ms2w Kotodaigo (4-3), Ms3e Asabenkei (6-1), Ms3w Fujiazuma (5-2), and Ms4e Chiyonoo, who moved to 5-2 today after his defeat of J10 Takagenji. Asabenkei and Fujiazuma should join the sekitori ranks for sure, while Chiyonoo’s one extra win might also jump him over higher-ranked Kotodaigo. I don’t think the banzuke committee will over-demote Mitoryu or Chiyonoumi to free up a 4th slot for one of them. In any case, while we’ll have to wait for the rest of the banzuke to be released on April 27 (Japan time), we’ll find out about the Juryo promotions on Wednesday.

23 thoughts on “Looking Ahead To The Next Banzuke

  1. ma boule de cristal…
    Y1e Hakuho
    Y1w Kakuryu
    O1e Takakeisho
    S1e Asanoyama
    S1w Shodai
    K1e Mitakeumi
    K1w Daieisho
    M1e Takanosho
    M1w Okinoumi
    M2e Endo
    M2w Yutakayama
    M3e Onosho
    M3w Takarafuji
    M4e Kiribayama
    M4w Kagayaki
    M5e Abi
    M5w Aoiyama
    M6e Enho
    M6w Hokutofuji
    M7e Ryuden
    M7w Terutsuyoshi
    M8e Ishiura
    M8w Tokushoryu
    M9e Chiyotairyu
    M9w Tamawashi
    M10e Ikioi
    M10w Tochinoshin
    M11e Kaisei
    M11w Myogiryu
    M12e Sadanoumi
    M12w Shimanoumi
    M13e Kotoshogiku
    M13w Kotoshoho
    M14e Shohozan
    M14w Kotonowaka
    M15e Wakatakakage
    M15w Kotoeko
    M16e Terunofuji
    M16w Takayasu
    M17e Chiyomaru
    M17w Tobizaru
    M18e Kotoyuki
    J1e Nishikigi
    J1w Meisei
    J2e Chiyoshoma
    J2w Tochiozan
    J3e Azumaryu
    J3w Kyokushuho
    J4e Hidenoumi
    J4w Kyokutaisei
    J5e Daiamami
    J5w Ichinojo
    J6e Hoshoryu
    J6w Hakuyozan
    J7e Daishomaru
    J7w Wakamotoharu
    J8e Tsurugisho
    J8w Churanoumi
    J9e Daishoho
    J9w Chiyootori
    J10e Akiseyama
    J10w Kizakiumi
    J11e Asabenkei
    J11w Takagenji
    J12e Midorifuji
    J12w Akua
    J13e Mitoryu
    J13w Chiyonoumi
    J14e Fujiazuma
    J14w Kotodaigo

  2. A fact like this really makes me appreciate the longevity and tradition of sumo: “ the fact that the last time an M1 was demoted was 1798! ”

  3. Thank you for explaining that, it’s good to have some context around the moves. I’ve only been following for a couple of years so it’s always good to learn new stuff that others might take for granted. “You don’t know what you don’t know”.
    Great to to see the likes of Takanosho, Yutakayama, Onosho and Kiribayama rising up. Add in Kotonowaka and Kotoshoho and I can’t wait for the next few basho. Let’s hope they continue.

  4. Did anybody else feel like Hakuho was weirder than usual. I like Hakuho a lot, but he kind of turned me off, I was pulling for Kakuryu at the end. It looked like to me he tried to roll Aoiyama’s shoulder at the end of their match by doing that landing at the end of the match stuff.

    • 白鵬 翔 was in all kinds of pain from day one. Watch the post basho interview – ouch! If he had not been fighting to strengthen Japan at a time of crisis he would have gone kyujo. The fact that he won in such circumstances says it all about what an amazing fighter he is, but also how he sees the role of Yokozuna to be way beyond the strength of a man. Mythic stuff.

  5. I agree with pretty much everything in the post although I do have Nishikigi being demoted to make way for Tobizaru.

    • Same here, this time I think Nishikigi will be on the wrong side of the bubble, which would mark Tobizaru’s Makuuchi debut. The small men group is constantly growing with him and Wakatakakage.

  6. Just a thought. As we have more candidates for promotion to makuuchi than demotions to juryo, is it possible they compensate this by promoting someone else from makushita? And try to move everybody upwards to complete the Basho?

    • You mean have something other than 42 people in makuuchi and 28 in juryo? They don’t mess with the division sizes for banzuke purposes (although they have changed on occasion throughout history).

      • No. If there’s one more promotion from juryo to makuuchi than demotion from makuuchi to juryo (juryo deficit by 1), promoting one more rikishi from makushita to juryo (and trying to find a place for everyone).

        • But that would mean makuuchi excess by 1, no? (say if 5 demoted and 6 promoted, we’d be at 43) And they don’t do that.

  7. Seems like only the other day that Yago and Tomokaze were both looking like the new hot young things in Makuuchi division. 1 year ago Yago went 9-6 at M13m. And back in July Tomokaze went 11-4 at M7 (picking up his 1st kinboshi).
    Very sad – but that is just the brutal nature of sumo I guess…

  8. Have there been instances in recent times with only 1 ozeki competing with 1 or no yokozunas (assuming retired from sumo) competing in the same tournament? The yokozunas when fit are still beating most of the competition but are getting on in age. The ozekis are getting kadoban or demoted most of the time (only recently we had 4 ozeki) and no one from the sekiwake/komusubi and upper maegashira ranks can find the consistency to be promoted to the highest ranks.

    • Fewest in modern times is two ozeki, no yokozuna: January 1993. There have been a few occasions with 3 ozeki/yokozuna, including of course this past tournamnet.

  9. Here I go…

    Y Hakuho, Kakuryu
    O Takakeisho, Asanoyama
    S Shodai, Mitakeumi
    K Daieisho, Okinoumi
    M1 Takanosho, Endo
    M2 Yutakayama, Onosho
    M3 Takarafuji, Kagayaki
    M4 Kiribayama, Hokutofuji
    M5 Aoiyama, Abi
    M6 Enho, Ryuden
    M7 Terutsuyoshi, Tokushoryu
    M8 Ishiura, Chiyotairyu
    M9 Tamawashi, Ikioi
    M10 Myogiryu, Kaisei
    M11 Tochinoshin, Sadanoumi
    M12 Shimanoumi, Takayasu (???)
    M13 Shohizan, Kotoshogiku
    M14 Kotonowaka, Wakatakakage
    M15 Kotoshoho, Terunofuji
    M16 Kotoeko, Tobizaru
    M17 Chiyomaru, Kotoyuki

    • Yutakayama and Onosho at M2… Talk about a menacing pair. I really thought Takanosho had a great Haru, but I worry at M1 he would get hurt and that would rob us of some great sumo for a while. Hope he can stay healthy as he gets his head bashed in.

      • If the banzuke committee wanted to be conservative with him, i could easily see them jumping Yutakayama and Onosho over him, which would place him at M2, but that would leave him with pretty much the same schedule, and he can’t really be ranked any lower…

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