Tachiai congratulates former Ozeki Terunofuji (M17e, 13-2) on his incredible comeback and storybook victory. The “Kaiju” should be ranked much higher in September, and will likely face a regular slate of san’yaku opponents. If he can retain his current form, I wouldn’t bet against a repeat performance. Let’s take a look at what the results mean for other moves up and down the banzuke.
Yokozuna and Ozeki runs
A 12-3 jun-yusho was a strong performance by Asanoyama in his Ozeki debut, but should not put him on any sort of Yokozuna run. Neither Sekiwake will be promoted to Ozeki despite excellent 11-4 records. Shodai, whose previous result was 8-7 at Sekiwake, probably needs a 14-win yusho to be promoted in September; more likely, he’ll need double-digit wins in the next two basho. With 10 wins at M3 in March, including a 5-2 record against san’yaku opponents, 11 here, and his long record of consistent san’yaku performances, not to mention 2 yusho, Mitakeumi may be the more likely of the pair to get the nod at Aki, possibly with 11-12 wins.
The san’yaku ranks
Both Sekiwake will remain at the same ranks. After his breakout performance, Komusubi Daieisho (11-4), is, in my opinion, likely to get an extra Sekiwake slot, despite two of his wins being fusensho. This would also open up the West Komusubi slot for M1e Endo (8-7), and free the banzuke committee from having to either not promote him or create a precedent-setting extra Komusubi slot. M2 Takanosho (8-7) and M5 Hokutofuji (9-6), the only other upper maegashira with winning records, will have to settle for the two M1 slots.
The demotion picture
We have three clear demotions to Juryo: M15 Chiyomaru (4-11), M17 Kotoyuki (6-8-1), and M13 Kotonowaka (4-6-5). Two additional rikishi have demotable records: M16 Nishikigi (6-9) and M9 Ikioi (3-12). M12 Shohozan (5-10) secured a stay in the top division with three victories (one by default) in the final three days. My guess here is that Ikioi saved himself with his final-day victory, as there isn’t a strong enough promotion contender to take his place (see below). Nishikigi, on the other hand, should be returning to the second division, his reputation for Houdini-like escapes notwithstanding.
Promotions from Juryo
Three promotions are certain: Juryo yusho winner J1e Meisei (10-5), J2e Tobizaru (9-6), who just missed out last time, and the star of “A Normal Life”, J5e Kyokutaisei (10-5). I believe that they will be joined by J6e Hoshoryu (10-5), who will take Nishikigi’s spot. Narrowly missing out will be J5w Ichinojo (9-6), who lost his “exchange bout” against Shohozan.
The Juryo-Makushita exchange
Three rikishi will be dropping out of Juryo: J10 Asabenkei (3-12), J14 Chiyonoumi (6-9), and J13 Takagenji (6-9). With Tochiozan’s retirement, that’s four open slots. These will go to the Makushita yusho winner, former top-division mainstay Ms 12 Chiyonokuni (7-0), Ms2w Oki (5-2), Ms3e Nishikifuji (5-2), and Ms3w Kitaharima (5-2). Three members of the Makushita joi (Ms1-Ms5) will not move up to Juryo despite winning records, including former Komusubi Ms4w Jokoryu (5-2) and Ms5e “Prince” Naya (4-3).
The field for the new Makushita joi is crowded. The contenders include the 3 Juryo dropouts, although Asabenkei could fall below Ms5, Ms1 Kotodaigo (3-4), and the trio missing out on ptomotion: Ms4e Sakigake (4-3), Jokoryu, and Naya. That fills either 6 or 7 of the 10 slots. Two more will go to Ms6e Kaisho (5-2) and Ms10w Shiraishi (6-1). And a lack of strong winning records above him likely means that fan favorite Ms19 Ura (6-1) should continue his comeback from within the promotion zone!
I think that’s it, but if there’s anything I didn’t cover, please let me know in the comments. I will cover the Juryo promotions when they’re announced on Wednesday, and will have a full banzuke prediction post up in the coming weeks.