Hatsu 2021: A Peek at Juryo

We find ourselves halfway through the first tournament of 2021, and I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated what we have seen so far. The top division alone has provided plenty of twists and turns, but be careful not to overlook Juryo over the next week. Some veterans will need a big turnaround over the next eight days to get back to Makuuchi, while a few notable rikishi look to be well on the way to a long-awaited Makuuchi return or debut. Come with me, dear reader, as I walk you through the magnificent landscape that is the Juryo division.

There are nine Juryo rikishi inactive this month, chiefly as a result of coronavirus protocols. This has opened the field up significantly as several maegashira mainstays have been eliminated from Juryo yusho contention from the jump in Enho, Ishiura, and Chiyomaru. Chiyonoo is also out, meaning he will have to wait for another chance to make his first makuuchi appearance since 2017.

As for the rikishi who are healthy, the remaining top third of juryo has had a basho to forget. Ex-komusubi Shohozan (currently perched at J4E) is showing his age at 36, managing only three wins from his first seven bouts this month. He is without a winning record since 2019, and such a result is not looking likely this January, either. It will be interesting to see if we’ve seen the last of Shohozan amongst the top flight’s rank-and-filers. Daiamami has been unable to build on the form he showed back in November when he accrued a respectable 9-6 record, so this month’s J1W will need a big second week to find himself in the first division for the eighth time come March’s basho. Churanoumi’s 4-3 record at J3W (a career high for the 27 year old from Okinawa Prefecture) might not seem incredibly impressive, but he  is riding three straight winning records, all of them 8-7. His consistency is noteworthy, and he has been slowly but steadily climbing the banzuke. He looked good on Day 7 against M17E Sadanoumi, so who knows? Perhaps another eight win effort is on the cards for Churanoumi.

The leader to this point in the basho in Juryo is J8E Tsurugisho, which is nice to see from a guy who had a cup of coffee in makuuchi from late 2019 to early 2020. Gunning for his second career Juryo yusho, Tsurugisho is undefeated so far. He hasn’t exactly been facing total scrubs either, with quality wins over the likes of Churanoumi, Nishikigi, Shohozan, and a rejuvenated Jokoryu. He has not faced the 5-2 fan-favorite Ura yet, whose return to makuuchi has been widely anticipated. Ura presents perhaps the biggest threat to Tsurugisho’s yusho hopes, as the widely publicized sekitori debut of J11W Oho has been disappointing (a mere 2-5 record so far). There is a significant portion of the division at 4-3 or 3-4, so it will be interesting to see who can separate from the pack and chase down Tsurugisho.

One last story to follow is the continuation of the Jokoryu Revenge Tour. Could he rip off a big second week and inch ever closer to his first makuuchi appearance in five years? It’s been a slow comeback for the 32 year old, but he is without a losing record since 2019. He’s got a good opportunity to build on his 4-3 start against J14E Ryuko on Day 8. Jokoryu is back, you heard it here first.

That’s all for now, catch me back here again next week with some fire post-basho Juryo analysis.

13 thoughts on “Hatsu 2021: A Peek at Juryo

  1. Thank you for your analysis. I am always happy to read something about the second division.

    Even if I can’t approve of the fact that the GOAT Nishikigi wasn’t mentioned often enough. After all, he lulls his competition into safety before he wins all the remaining fights.

    Looking forward to your next piece.

    Greetings

  2. Welcome to the blog! With the 9 absences, the promotion/demotion picture is going to be … interesting.

    • At the moment, Sadanoumi and Akua run the greatest risk of demotion, with Hoshoryu in only slightly better shape, while no one in Juryo has yet made a strong promotion case. Tsurugisho is obviously the best of the bunch. Normally, he’d be a little too low at J8 to be considered for promotion without a really dominant showing, but with all the absences above him, he’s really more like J4. I wonder how the banzuke committee will treat this.

      • The promotion scenarios after this tournament will be wild with all of those absences. He may be in with much less than double-digits. Fujiazuma got in from J8 with 9 wins because of the raft of intai in 2011 after the match-fixing scandal. Okinoumi got in with 10 from J8 because 5 wrestlers got demoted. I’m pulling for him because I always pull for guys who get injured. I’m kinda predictable. http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Query.aspx?show_form=0&rowcount=5&form1_rank=J8&form2_rank=M

          • Yes, I think given the top juryo rikishi’s absence, a minimal Kashi koshi from further down the banzuke would give serious chances of a makuuchi promotion.

        • It looks like they may get lucky in that most of the lower ranked makuuchi are either frozen or fighting pretty well, so there may be only one or two obvious demotion candidates. Tsurugisho should get the nod with 12 wins and Churanoumi, Daiamami and Hidenoumi are still very much in the hunt. I’m actually starting to warm to Daishomaru, despite his having the most punchable face in the sport… maybe his physiognomy just settles naturally into that insufferable smirk. There will probably be some very odd rank movements relative to records, given that immovable frozen logjam in upper juryo.

          • Right, the big difference from the post-scandal 2010/2011 tournaments is that nobody is being forced to retire or facing a guaranteed demotion from the top division.

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