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).
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.
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.
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.