Wrapping up May and looking toward July

Tachiai congratulates Ozeki Terunofuji (12-3) on a well-deserved victory. His playoff win over fellow Ozeki Takakeisho (12-3) should see him take over the top O1e rank in July, with Takakeisho moving over to the West side. Shodai (9-6) will occupy O2e, with kadoban Asanoyama (7-5-3) the bottom-ranked Ozeki, assuming he’s still on the banzuke.

Terunofuji is now clearly on a Yokozuna run, and a strong performance in July should seal the deal, though we don’t know whether that will require another yusho or merely a sufficiently good runner-up performance. There’s some discussion as to whether Takakeisho could also be in contention to get the rope in July, though he hasn’t shown the same consistency, and a 12-3 runner-up finish isn’t much of a foundation for a tsuna run in recent times.

The new san’yaku

East Sekiwake Takayasu (10-5) will retain his rank, and with 10 wins at Komusubi in March, he is on an Ozeki run. Chief judge Isegahama said that he would get re-promoted with a 13-win yusho in July, though we’ll have to see if they actually hold him to that high a standard should he fall just short of the target. On the West side, we will have Mitakeumi (10-5), who’ll be making his 15th appearance at the rank and his 25th in san’yaku, by far the most among active rikishi and high on the all-time list. It’s not completely out of the question that Mitakeumi himself could finally make Ozeki, but it would take a 14- or 15-win yusho.

We will have two debuts at Komusubi, both by rikishi who barely missed out last time due to terrible banzuke luck: M1e Wakatakakage (9-6) and M2e Meisei (8-7).

Upper maegashira

Continuing a recent trend, only 4 rikishi in the 21 ranks between M1e and M11e managed winning records, which is tied for the fewest in the modern era and is the worst performance by these ranks in over 20 years. With two of them moving up into the named ranks, there is a dearth of candidates to fill out the joi-jin. M8 Endo (11-4) should occupy the top M1e slot, followed by fallen Komusubi Daieisho (6-9), fallen Sekiwake Takanosho (5-10), and the other kachi-koshi upper maegashira, M6 Ichinojo (9-6). M1w Hokutofuji (6-9) should see a soft landing at M3e, but from there the choices get ugly. With the M5 duo of Hoshoryu and Onosho both finishing 7-8 and hence unable to move up, the hole in the banzuke from M3w-M4w must be filled through some combination of seriously under-demoting M2w Tobizaru (5-10) or the M4 duo of Kiribayama and Myogiryu, both 6-9, and way over-promoting the M12 duo of Kotoeko and Okinoumi, both 9-6, or M14w Chiyotairyu (10-5), the only maegashira aside from Endo to record double-digit wins.

Makuuchi-Juryo exchanges

Absentees Midorifuji, Ryuden, and Akiseyama will fall deep into the second division, and they’ll be joined by M17e Akua (5-10). The first three spots will be claimed by Juryo yusho winner J2 Ura (12-3) and the two runners-up, J1 Chiyonoo and J2 Tokushoryu, both 11-4. These returnees to the top division (Tokushoryu after 2 basho away, the other two for the first time since 2017) should be ranked higher than is typical for Juryo promotions. The final slot should go to J4e Yutakayama (8-7) for a very lucky return to Makuuchi, though there’s a slight chance they could go with J8e Ichiyamamoto (10-5) instead.

Juryo-Makushita exchanges

Four men should drop from Juryo: Chiyootori, Churanoumi, and Chiyonoumi, and Jokoryu. Their spots in the paid ranks will go to Ms7 Abi, the undefeated yusho winner, top-ranked Ms1e Kotokuzan (5-2), who inexplicably got passed over last time, Ms2e Kaisho (6-1), and Ms1w Yago (4-3), who won his final-day “exchange bout” against Jokoryu. Barring retirements before the banzuke committee meeting on Wednesday, Ms2e Tochimaru (4-3) will be left on the outside looking in.

Update: the Juryo promotions above are confirmed. The corresponding demotions are not announced, but it’s pretty clear it’ll be the predicted quartet.

17 thoughts on “Wrapping up May and looking toward July

  1. Chiyonofuji and Kisenosato were both promoted to Yokozuna after a jun-yusho followed by a yusho. I am willing to bet that if Takakeisho wins the yusho in July with the jun-yusho for Terenofuji, Takakeisho will be promoted and Terenofuji will stay at O1e. This is notwithstanding the fact that in the last 6 bashos, Terenofuji has 3 yushos and 1 jun-yusho. There is a strong anti-foreign rikishi sentiment in the Japan sumo association these days.

    • I’m not gonna defend racism or anything but Sumo needs a Japanese Yokozuna who can actually compete. That’s why they desperately clinged onto the hope Kisenosato could make a comeback at some point. The sport in Japan needs a strong Japanese face, they haven’t had one since 2000. Takakeisho is clearly #2, he’s young, he’s good, and more importantly he’s healhy.

      That’s not native just to Japan. Sports tend to decline in popularity in countries where they don’t have a strong presence or top stars. Japan might just be more enthusiastic about it.

    • Chiyonofuji happened ages ago, so doesn’t really matter now, and he had a 13-2 Jun-Yusho followed by a 14-1 Yusho (and before that a 14-1 Yusho followed by a 11-4 Jun-Yusho). Pretty strong records and in 1981 …
      Kisenosato is more recent and he followed a 12-3 Jun-Yusho with a 14-1 Yusho. All the other tournaments that year have been double digit, 3 of them Jun-Yusho with 12+ wins. I think his record is compareable to Terunofuji, while Takakeisho has a much weaker record atm.
      Pretty sure we will hear a target for Yokozuna promotion before next basho, but I assume a Yusho or a strong Jun-Yusho will do. I’m a bit doubtful if a 12-3 Jun-Yusho would suffice.
      the other thing to keep in mind is, that Kisenosato spent a lot of time Kyujo (something you couldnt expect before … I think he didn’t miss a bout until his Yokozuna promotion), Kakuryu and Hakuho have been/are perpetually kyujo in the last 3 or 4 years. If you look at kakuryu since May 2017 he has 8 finished basho vs. 15 he either didn’t attend or went kyujo during basho. For Hakuho it’s 9 vs 14. However in the 9 basho attending Hakuho had 7 Yusho, 1 Jun-Yusho and one 11-4 finish. Kakuryu had 3 Yusho and 2 Yun-Yusho and 10 or 11 wins the other basho he fully attended.
      I don’t think the NSK wants this trend to continue, so independend of nationality, they might be relatively strict on injury prone rikishi here.
      I will definitely root for Teru to take 14 wins next basho, which should be enough weather it’s a Yusho or a Jun-Yusho.
      If we could combine that with an Ozeki promotion for Takaysu it would be perfect ;)

      • Exactly my thought. I very much would like to see Teru promoted just for sheer perseverance and dedication. What i would not like to see yet another ever absent yokozuna or a yokzuma with rank unworthy habit of unnecessary after win pushouts.

        Not sure if Takakeisho will produce consistent results his “body type” is very injury prone.

  2. I think Takakeisho is a candidate for a rope — his last six results include two crap records due to injury and four results that wouldn’t shame a yokozuna. Given the lack of active yokozuna I can’t see them refraining from promoting him if he gets the July yusho.

  3. The thing about Takakeisho is if that one tournament hadn’t happened, he probably would have been Yokozuna already. I don’t think it’s been said what exactly happened with him but he was clearly out of sorts and it cost him. He’d gone 12-3 the tournament before and then won the tournament at 13-2. Whatever happened to him caused his next tournament to be a disaster at 2-8-5 and it bled over into March where he “only” went 10-5. Now in May he’s back to 12-3 and the only thing keeping him from another title was Terunofuji who he beat in “Regular Play”.

    Terunofuji is obviously on a yokozuna run but if Takakeisho wins the next tournament and beats Terunofuji in doing so, I absolutely could see them giving him the belt. Whatever happened aside, he has the track record to support it and he’s getting better fundamentally every tournament which can’t be said for most of the top division where stagnation or even decline is the dominant force.

    If Hakuho ends up retiring after/during July I think the guidelines will be relaxed. They want there to be at least one Yokozuna and preferably one who can compete regularly. We could see both Terunofuji and Takakeisho at Yokozuna within a few tournaments.

    • Now I see Takakeisho sumo as gambling. If he hits with his push he wins, if he misses he flies out like with with Endo or like on the final bout with Teru. That’s not yokozuna style sumo .Top-rankers will be able to adapt and anticipate it. He can make to yokozuna only if no one lefts at the top – Hakuho retires, Teru reinjures, Asanoyama is excluded etc.

  4. It’s noteworthy that Isegahama specifically said that Terunofuji is on a rope run, but didn’t say a word about Takakeisho.

  5. I had much the same problems in compiling my banzuke prediction. The M3w, M4e and M4w slots are a nightmare and it’s hard to fill them with worthy contenders. One thing struck me as particularly unfair: Okinoumi and Chiyotairyu theoretically have identical claims but they look like landing three full ranks apart. I have Okinoumi receiving the banzuke luck purely on the quality of his sumo, but Chiyotairyu did win their match so it could easily go the other way. I fear that Kotoeko is heading for a heavy MK but he will certainly relish the opportunity to take on the top lads.

    Sadly, it looks as though we are heading at a third consecutive tournament with no new faces in the top division. I’m hoping that Ichiyamamoto or Tohakuryu will make the jump next time.

    • I really dislike Tohakuryu’s sumo. Takakento was pretty impressive, and he’ll also be close-ish to promotion range. But Ichiyamamoto is the best bet.

  6. Abi has now won three perfect 7-0 Makushita Yushos.
    I wonder if that is some kind of record?

    • A quick look shows he’s only the 7th rikishi with 3 Makushita yusho, and the 4th with all 3 zensho.

  7. We’re having an argument at Discord:

    Will Terunofuji really move to O1E? Usually Yusho playoff doesn’t count for banzuke purposes, and with equal marks, Takakeisho should be promoted to O1E.

    Tochiazuma has been promoted over Chiyotaikai in 2002, but the head-to-head in regulation was Tochiazuma’s win.

    In the three-way playoff in Nov 1996, the three retained their places, and Musashimaru wasn’t promoted to O1e despite the yusho. He lost to both Takanonami and Wakanohana in regulation.

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