Aki Basho Wrap-up

We’ve come to the end of the exciting Aki basho. Warmest congratulations to Shodai on his first Emperor’s cup and upcoming Ozeki promotion. Personally, I’ve been a huge fan of this good-natured, humble young man since I started following sumo, and I could not be more delighted with the outcome of the yusho race. Shodai always had the size and the skills, and it’s great to see him raise both his physical and mental game and have it all come together. While his final-day victory was close and understandably showed some nerves, his defeats of the two current Ozeki on days 13 and 14 were emphatic. Tachiai wishes him a long, healthy and successful career in sumo’s highest ranks.

Now that all the results are in, let’s take a look at what they’re likely to mean for the November banzuke. We’ll know more on Wednesday, when sekitori promotions are announced, as are any retirement decisions that are made in time to affect the next rankings.

The Named Ranks

Both Ozeki posted double-digit wins, but Takakeisho (12-3; jun-yusho) unquestionably had the better tournament, and will be switching sides with Asanoyama (10-5). Shodai, despite putting up the best performance of the three, will make his Ozeki debut at O2e, as is customary for the newly promoted.

West Sekiwake Mitakeumi (8-7) is the only member the Sekiwake/Komusubi quintet who will maintain his rank, even getting a nominal promotion to the East side. His Ozeki run is still technically alive at 19 wins over the past two basho at Sekiwake, but it’s hard to see him putting up the 14 wins he’d need to get to 33 in November.

Shodai’s promotion, along with demotions of Daieisho (5-10), Okinoumi (4-11), and Endo (3-9-3), will open up three san’yaku slots. I expect them to be filled as follows: M1w Takanosho (10-5) at West Sekiwake, M1e Terunofuji (8-5-2) at East Komusubi, and M6e Takayasu (10-5) at West Komusubi. Only the last of these is in any doubt, as M8w Wakatakakage (11-4) and M5e Kiribayama (9-6) have plausible claims, but I think that Takayasu’s case is superior based on both the rank/record combination and his past résumé. Assuming everyone shows up healthy in November, this would be a formidable san’yaku indeed.

Upper Maegashira

The top maegashira rank should be occupied by the aforementioned Wakatakakage and Kiribayama. After that, it’s a mess of a few winning records from lower down the banzuke (Onosho, Kagayaki, Tobizaru) and losing records by current san’yaku and upper maegashira (Daieisho, Hokutofuji, Myogiryu, Takarafuji, Okinoumi). Plenty of opportunities for the banzuke committee to make some head-scratching decisions.

Makuuch-Juryo Exchanges

The final-day results brought a lot of clarity to a messy exchange situation. Recall that the absent Abi and Kyokutaisei were already certain to drop to Juryo. His final-day loss ensured that Kotoshogiku would join them, unless he decides to jump before he is pushed and calls it a career. I also think that given the results in Juryo, final-day victories by Shohozan and Ishiura were too little, too late, and they will also be heading down to second division (I’ve heard talk of Shohozan retiring, but he seems a lot less likely to do so than Kotoshogiku).

On the other hand, final-day victories by Ichinojo and Hoshoryu, the two lowest-ranked men in Makuuchi, gave each a last-minute kachi-koshi and complete safety from demotion. That leaves one top-division rikishi on the bubble: M15e Shimanoumi (6-9). While this record at his rank would usually mean demotion, I think he’ll just hang on, given the 5 demotion candidates ahead of him and a dearth of promotion cases in Juryo.

Speaking of Juryo, only two rikishi posted records that definitely merit promotion: J2w Kotonowaka (9-6) and the Juryo yusho winner, J11w Chiyonokuni (14-1). However, given the strong case for 5 demotions, I think that J2e Kotoyuki (8-7), J4e Chiyoshoma (9-6), and J6w Akua (10-5) will be deemed to have done enough. This would mark a top-division debut for Akua and a return to the top division of “sumo villain” Chiyoshoma after an unmourned 7-basho absence.

Juryo-Makushita Exchanges

For the moment, let’s leave aside possible sekitori retirements, as well as the uncertain banzuke fates of J7 Azumaryu and J14 Fujiazuma, whose whole heya went kyujo as a coronavirus precaution.

There should be four “normal” openings in Juryo, created by Kizakiumi’s retirement, Oki’s disastrous 0-15 sekitori debut, Kitaharima’s near-record 8th demotion, and Daishoho’s two straight losses in “exchange bouts” with Makushita opponents.

The first two slots will go to Ms1e Takagenji (4-3) and Ms1w Jokoryu (4-3). I believe that the next two should be claimed by Ms4w Naya (5-2) and Ms5w Ura (6-1), the men who handed Daishoho the key defeats. I am sure I am far from the only one who would be very excited to see these two in the sekitori ranks. I think Ms2e Chiyonoumi (4-3) is 5th in line, and Ms5e Kotodaigo (4-3) is definitely 6th. When the sekitori promotions are announced on Wednesday, their fate will tell us a lot about how lenient the banzuke committee decided to be with Azumaryu and Fujiazuma.

And that’s a wrap for this series of posts for September. I’ll write a follow-up when the Juryo promotions are released, and a full banzuke prediction post once I’ve more fully digested the results. Thanks for following along, and let me know what you think in the comments!

50 thoughts on “Aki Basho Wrap-up

        • It’s not about the occasional henka of a little guy (Even Ishiura doesn’t do it too often lately, Enho and Terutsuyoshi almost never).

          Last basho, Chiyoshoma had pretty much not a single win without a henka. This basho was the first time, I’ve seen him having at least some fair wins.

          That guy is insanely annoying

      • I actually like him. Yes, his sumo has detoriated, probably due to some accumulated injuries, but how many Nage specialists do we actually have nowadays? He has more uwatenage than Yorikiri. He has on average 17.4 different kimarite in 50 wins. Takakeisho e.g. manage a total of 17 different kimarite according to sumodb … life time.
        I get the point about henkas, but a lot of rikishi resort to it, if they aren’t in best shape. I’m not watching Juryo too much lately, but he hasn’t been placed below J4 since Nagoya last year. If he really managed to hang their just by virtue of his henkas, the stupidity of his Juryo opponents has to be unmatched.
        I will rather watch Chiyoshoma than a monotonous Abi.

    • He targets injuries very blatanly. All rikishi do that, to an extent, but I remember once Takakeisho had a fat lip and the guy did nothing but slaps to his face. Or hanging onto Kaisei’s bad elbow with both arms and yanking on it.

    • His henka’s would be my guess. He does more than any other rikishi I believe. Not too cool. People get frustrated. I don’t blame them though!
      Personally, I don’t mind. It stirs things up! Lol!

  1. The best thing about Chiyoshoma is when he loses to a henka and then pulls that face that says “I can’t believe you just pulled that cheap henka on me” whilst also pulling out his sagari.

    Nice work. I’m so interested to hear the Juryo announcements this time to find out what they do.

  2. I agree with the comment rich posted. Chiyoshoma has always been one of my favourite rikishi since I started watching and even though he has many people who don’t like him for his henkas i see him getting just as many cheers as boos in the Karla_Sumoist streams. I think controversial is a more accurate way of describing him rather than outright hated by most people. I was shouting with joy when he beat Nishikifuji even; I had been waiting for him to be promoted back to Makuuchi for over a year!

  3. Even for people who don’t mind the henkas, I don’t see much to be liked. What exactly does he bring to the dohyo that is good?

  4. IMHO, Chiyoshoma wrestles as if it is Mongolian traditional wrestling which is far more rough and ready than grand sumo. You see that a bit in Tamawashi whose match with Tochinoshin looked exactly like a drunken barroom brawl to me this basho, and that leg hooking move that Hoshoryu showed off this basho is exactly like Mongolian wrestling. Ha ha ha ha (Vilainous laughter!)

    • You do know that Mongolian wrestling has no tsuki-oshi because there is no “out”. Tamawashi’s style is definitely non-Mongolian, and in fact he never had any Mongolian sumo experience. Chiyoshoma’s arsenal is a different thing.

      • Arguably neither of them are really Mongolian style wrestlers. Mongolian style is heavier on the throws because the goal is just to make someone touchdown. Slaps and pushes really don’t get that done.

        • Yes. But Chiyoshoma is very good at throwing. I think he would hold his own in a Mongolian wrestling contest, whereas Tamawashi would not. Of course, that doesn’t mean that throws are his go-to move. His go-to move seems to be henka. Or Mutilation.

          • LOL! Great comments Herouth. Particularly clarifying the BS thrown above about mongolian wrestling…
            Toda raba

  5. Wow! 20 comments on the Aki basho wrap-up and every single one of them about Chiyoshoma.
    Bad guys get more ink!
    Changing the subject, the ozeki group is looking stronger than it has in a while. A yusho for a soon-to-be ozeki, a jun-yusho for one ozeki and double digits for the other. Who needs yokozuna?

  6. I’m changing the subject. I thought Wakatakakage earned a special prize – did I miss something?

    Also – Thanks Herouth for posting lower division bouts and your commentary – enjoyed both!

    Thanks to all at Tachiai for the hard work and humor and missed sleep of course!

    • Thank you. I’m hoping to post the final one fashionably late today.

      Wakatakakage did not receive a special prize. Almost every sumo fan on the Internet thinks he should have, but the ones who make the actual decision didn’t.

        • I know the decision on no prize for Wakatakakage was made before Day 15 bouts. So those results had no impact. But “reputationally”, for lack of a better term, will it have any effect on him going forward that Takakeisho beating Asanoyama deprived Wakatakakge of a tie for jun-yusho? For example, is that something that would look better on his resume for ranking purposes down the road than a “third-place” finish, despite his record being the same?

          (Thank you for indulging me on what I’m pretty sure is a stupid question!)

          • A jun-yusho is definitely a nice thing to have on your resume, though what if any practical impact it has outside ozeki/yokozuna runs, I’m not sure.

        • I assume you are being sarcastic with the “usually calm Hiro Morita”, arent you Iksumo?
          Hiro is by far my favorite sumo comentator, particularly because he is the opposite of calm :) :) :)

  7. Any insight into why there were two Juryo visitors on day 14 and again on day 15? I don’t recall seeing that before.

    I suppose you could call them exchange bouts, but only one of the visitors has any hope of promotion.

    Ikioi appeared twice. Farewell to the best vocalist in sumo bouts?

  8. Everyone is talking about Chiyoshoma; my work here is done…

    …but as you asked. On the debit side of the ledger, he henkas, he pulls, he mattas on purpose, he uses techniques which cause injury, he exudes a general aura of pr*ckishness and has what the Germans call a Backpfeifengesicht. The other wrestlers don’t seem to like him either. Check out Shohozan’s “see how you like it pal” deliberate matta/ assault from March 2019.

    On the credit side he is fast, strong, clever and a master of throws (when he can be bothered).

    He appeals to me because I’m that kind of person, as a kid in England in the 1970s I watched pro-wresling and always secretly rooted for the villains like Mick McManus and Kendo Nagasaki because they seemed so much more interesting than the heroes.

    • I was in the audience for that Shohozan/Chiyoshoma incident on the last day of Osaka ‘19 – Shohozan seemed to revel in outwitting Chiyoshoma starting with a matta that pushed him off the dohyo, and even moreso as the outcome left Chiyoshoma at 7-8 and certain to be relegated to Juryo. However, fate has dictated that Chiyoshoma may finally get back to the top division just as Shohozan bombs out of it so maybe some sense of revenge for the Mongolian?

      Kendo Nagasaki, I remember him, despite the shikona he was really from Bradford, Yorkshire I recall.

      • WP has Kendo Nagasaki him being born in Wellington. Shropshire. I always thought he was from somewher near Stoke, but there you go.

        If Chiyoshoma does replace Shohozan, it would be one of those deliciously ironic “karma is a bitch” moments.

  9. “For the moment, let’s leave aside possible sekitori retirements, as well as the uncertain banzuke fates of J7 Azumaryu and J14 Fujiazuma, whose whole heya went kyujo as a coronavirus precaution.”

    Since the association “banned” their participation and they used the term “special consideration” which is not very forth coming; I would be worried if I were anyone from that stable. The right thing to do would be to “freeze” everyone in their positions and create the November banzuke around them. Will that happen? It should.

    • He’s out for 3 basho. So he’ll be ranked around J6 in November, around Ms7 in January, and around Ms40 in March when he can finally re-enter.

  10. Shodai did what everyone expected him to do. Not just win a Yusho, but to become an Ozeki.. and what a way to become one by winning his First Yusho. It’s really mind boggling seeing the Ozeki group now compared to just 1 year ago. Could 1 of these guys become the next Yokozuna? We’ll have to see. Right now to me at least None of them seem to be quite there yet.

    Sometimes I wish I could take up residence in Ichinojo’s brain for a Basho and see where his mind is each time he fights. What Wakes up Snorelax and what keeps him asleep. The former long term Sekiwake just scraping by at the bottom rung of the Banzuke? I don’t know, so often he just seems disinterested in fighting… He has so much potential, we’ve seen it.. but it’s like he just refuses to do much in a lot of his matches.

    Ikioi, Shohozan and Kotoshogiku. I’m just going to talk about all 3 together. Let me start with the Bulldozer. You could see in the last 2 days of the Basho the incredible disappointment and sadness he had in his eyes. He knows he’s not just fading, but faded. Anytime he got a little bit of forward momentum going he would only be able to hold it for a very short moment then would either be gently turned to the clay, or gently walked out of the ring. I think less of the fact of his record and more of the fact how the other Rikishi were handling him, like they had kid gloves on is telling to him. I fully expect him to retire either before the coming basho or just after the next one as he gives himself 1 more shot. Shohozan – He’s been fading little by little, but with 5 wins I feel he’s still going to feel like he has something to offer. He’s likely going to try his luck and Juryo and see if he can bounce back. His choice to retire will be based on if he can or cannot. in 1 to 2 Basho. As for Ikioi? Something is keeping him going, and it’s not his body. There is something in his mind that is telling him keep pushing, I still can do this. Yet the fact he keeps pushing himself is the reason he can’t. Never giving his body a rest or to heal has compounded his problems and I don’t see any hope of him bouncing back…. unfortunately it’s likely to take dropping below Juryo or a really bad happening to wake him to that issue.

    Wakatakakage deserved a special prize, end of story. I feel he was robbed due to what was happening at the top of the Banzuke and it caused him to get overlooked.

    Ishiura didn’t do bad for having a bad Ankle. 4 and 4 out of the 8 matches he fought. However, I kind of feel he would of been better off taking the barge to Juryo and trying to bounce back next round. A lot of pride in sumo and it often causes Rikishi to make very questionable choices. This would be one of those times.

    Takayasu did fairly well obviously, 10 wins is very respectable and it’s not impossible this could set him on an OZeki run if he turns it up a notch. The question becomes can he? Is injury and age going to take to high a toll on him to regain his status? This basho I saw more of the former Ozeki then in previous since he lost his place, so I’m going to give him a pretty good shot at regaining his rank and hopefully in 2 more basho we’ll have 4 Ozeki.

    Enho… Well I don’t think it was Injury that has been plaguing him. I think it’s the fact many of the Rikishi that have come up against him have become Wise to his ticks. If you look at all his losses, many of them just stand up at the Tachiai, they don’t rush forward at all. Other’s just put their hands really low and don’t let him get close. Enho has quite the bag of tricks, but if he can’t get close and grab onto something he can’t use it, and many of these guys have caught on. He’s going to need to start learning how to get past defenses made for him.

    I wish I could say I was surprised at Mitakeumi and his lack of Consistency but I’m not, we have come to expect this and he has never let us down. He’s been passed by Takakeisho, Asanoyama and now Shodai. He must be very upset and disappointed in himself and I wonder if that can be half the issue… that he’s defeating himself every time. I don’t know, I just know even if he were to make 33 they might not promote him right away, and instead make him go one more Basho with 10 wins to prove he can.

    All in all, As much as people might like and love Hakuho… 1 for one and going to be looking forward to more Basho like this.. when 1 man doesn’t just dominate it through and through. Where anything can happen and anyone can win. We’ve already had twice now where someone from the bottom of the ranks has taken the Yusho.. tell me that would of happened 5 years ago with Hakuho. Yea, never. This is why I love Sumo… anything can happen at any given moment… It’ll be a sad day to see the Boss go when the time comes… but it’s going to 100% shake up the Sumo world into it being anyone’s game.

      • Let’s say he becomes komosubi for Kyushu and ends 11-4, and then In January as Sekiwake he ends with 12-3. With those 33 wins (2 of them with a named rank) wouldn’t that be enough?

        • No chance. Tochi had a 14-1 yusho at M3, facing san’yaku opponents, as opposed to a routine 10-5 at M6. No ozeki run has ever started below M4. And besides, standards are higher for former ozeki trying to regain the rank.

    • I think Ichinojo’s issue is his weight and the toll it’s taken on his frame. He probably puts up with a considerable amount of pain so he doesn’t really possess the ability to fight back as much as we’d hope due to those pains probably flaring up to the point where he wouldn’t be able to compete again. He could also be working with a torn or damaged muscle or tendon so he isn’t allowed to go full power? I’m unsure. I hate to see him in that state though.

  11. To return to the original point of lksumo’s post, I agree with almost everything about the likely banzuke.

    Everything down to M1 is easy-peasy but then it gets messy. I’ve got the rankings from M2 down to M7 as Daieisho, Onosho, Kagayaki, Hokutofuji, Myogiryu, Okinoumi, Tamawashi, Takarafuji, Kotoshoho, Tochinoshin, Tobizaru and Terutsuyoshi.

    I have 5 juryo promotions, namely Kotonowaka, Kotoyuki, Chiyonokuni, he who shall not be named and Akua.

      • yeah, I think so; not a big deal anyway, as predictions on twitter were posted as soon as the tournament ended (in Japanese tho); I checked a dozen of them to see if I was doing something completely wrong, and in fact I fixed two “errors”; your prediction would be too much visible imho.

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