Looking Toward the Aki Banzuke

Congratulations to Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho on his unprecedented 45th yusho and 16th zensho-yusho, and to Yokozuna-in-waiting Terunofuji on another dominant tournament. Each man completed an improbable comeback to stand atop the sport. They should occupy the East and West Yokozuna positions, respectively, on the September rankings chart.

Ozeki Shodai (8-7) got a much-needed final-day win to avoid going kadoban. He will be the East Ozeki at Aki, with kadoban Takakeisho (1-2-12) on the West side.

Two Sekiwake slots are spoken for: one by the incumbent Mitakeumi (8-7) and the other by suspended and about to be demoted Ozeki Asanoyama. There is talk of a third Sekiwake position being created (presumably for Meisei), but I consider this unlikely. Instead, I expect shin-Komusubi Meisei (8-7) to move over to the East Komusubi rank, with the West slot occupied by demoted Sekiwake Takayasu (7-6-2). This would leave no san’yaku slots open for the well-performing upper maegashira.

If this scenario plays out, M2w Ichinojo (10-5) will have the most reason to complain, although we’ve seen two equally unlucky non-promotions in the past year: Daieisho in November and Wakatakakage in March. Like the latter, Ichinojo will probably have to settle for the top maegashira rank, where he’ll be joined on the West side by M2e Takanosho (8-7). The final-day bout between M5w Hoshoryu (10-5) and M3e Hokutofuji (8-7) will end up deciding only which side of the M2 rank the two will occupy.

With san’yaku shrinking by one slot, the joi would extend at least down to M4, though Asanoyama’s guaranteed absence would move it down to M5e, and it could extend further with other absences. These upper maegashira ranks will be filled out by M11w Kotonowaka (12-3), who’ll blow past his previous career high rank of M8, M6w Kiribayama (9-6), M10e Tamawashi (11-4), the falling Komusubi Wakatakakage (5-10), M1w Daieisho (5-10), and M7w Chiyoshoma (8-7).

Aside from Ichinojo, Takanosho, Hokutofuji, and Hoshoryu, the upper maegashira took a beating. Daieisho’s 5-10 record was matched by Okinoumi, and they were the best of the bunch, with Tobizaru and Chiyotairyu posting ugly 4-11 scores, Kotoeko recording an abysmal 2-13, and Endo pulling out for a final line of 1-4-10 (not coincidentally, Okinoumi, Tobizaru, Chiyotairyu and Kotoeko were the beneficiaries of extreme banzuke luck that saw them placed much higher on the July banzuke than their May performances warranted). Exactly how far these rikishi will drop—especially Endo and Kotoeko—is one of the major uncertainties in drawing up the Aki banzuke.

Then there’s the bottom of the banzuke. We have one guaranteed exchange between Makuuchi and Juryo, with M14e Daiamami (4-11) going down and J1e Yutakayama (10-5) taking his place. But what to do with the Juryo champion, J6w Mitoryu (12-3)? His record is clearly good enough for promotion, but whose place would he take? M17e Ichiyamamoto (8-7) removed himself from consideration by clinching his kachi-koshi on the final day. M15w Tokushoryu (7-8) should also be safe, albeit just barely, which leaves M16e Chiyonokuni (7-8), whose rank and record would normally ensure a stay, but Mitoryu’s case may be strong enough to force him down.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Any other banzuke matters you’d like to see me cover?

31 thoughts on “Looking Toward the Aki Banzuke

  1. I have Hoshoryu ahead of Takanosho and I’m hoping for 3 sekiwake but I agree with your general analysis.

    The real conundrum for me is Ishiura.who should be around M12 but thanks to a bunch of MKs by wrestlers in the same chunk of the banzuke ends up at M8w in my first draft.

    When Tokushoryu won today I was thinking that Mitoryu might miss out on promotion in a piece of shockingly bad banzuke luck. When Chiyonokuni lost, however, I felt that things were tilting in Mitoryu’s favour. Maybe the juryo rule is that when one enormous Mongolian comes it through the back door a specimen of the same type must exit by the front.

    • Ishiura slotted in fairly neatly in my draft, but I’ll take another look. I’m wondering if Mitoryu’s case would have been even strong enough to push down Tokushoryu had Chiyonokuni won.

      • I see were I went wrong. I got down to 8w and then just picked the next “blue” name (KK are in blue on my spread sheet). Not smart, but it was a first draft.

    • Why not Mitoryu AND Chiyonokuni? One could argue that Asanoyama simply doesn‘t count, as he‘ll disappear from the sekitori ranks anyway within a few tournaments.

      • There are precisely 42 slots in Makuuchi, and as long as he’s on the banzuke, he takes up one of them (as we’ve seen with Abi and Ryuden’s suspensions).

        • and we‘ve seen ist with Asanoyama himself this tournament…
          Therefore I agree that 43 Makuuchi sumotori will not happen, but I still think it would be the best solution.

          Anyway there have to be three Sekiwake for Aki and Ichinojo will be Komosubi!

  2. That situation at the bottom of Makuuchi and the top of Juryo is a really tricky one. I wonder what you think of the Juryo/Makushita promotion and demotion picture. There are three straight forward demotions but I wonder if there will be three or four promotions. This will be a wicked banzuke.

    • Yeah that’s another tricky spot. I think Daishoho will get to stay vs. promoting Chiyoarashi, but it’s not a certainty.

        • It knocked out Hiradoumi from consideration for sure; there’s a bit of uncertainty as to whether it saved Daishoho.

    • I wonder about Juryo too. How high will Oho and Abi jump. I mean there are only 3 KK down to J7. I think there will be some big jumps. I think the demotion picture is relatively clear. I don’t think Daishoho will go down. If there wasn’t this invisible wall between Ms5 and Ms6, Terasawa would have a stronger promotion case than Chiyoarashi.

  3. I’m curious to hear about Terunofuji’s elbow. From the post-match footage it looked like he injured it. Fingers crossed he actually gets to fight in his first tournament as yokozuna.

  4. Excepting the two men at the top, the next san’yaku will be an uninspiring bunch: an 8-7 ozeki, a kadoban ozeki, a sekiwake demoted from ozeki, an 8-7 sekiwake, an 8-7 komusubi, and a komusubi demoted from sekiwake. I suppose all we can do is hope that they perk up a bit over the next couple of months.

  5. Terunofuji will have earned the distinction of being the first yokozuna in the modern six-basho-per-year era to earn promotion only two basho after being promoted to ozeki (albeit it is also thirty-six basho after he was promoted to ozeki and he’s held the rank for sixteen basho total).

    • If you don’t count his earlier career in the Makuuchi, then he has the shortest promotion time from Juryo to Yokozuna.

  6. If Hakuho decides to go for his 900th win as Yokozuna, then we will get to see a mouth-watering Hoshoryu vs Hakuho match. That might be a legendary match like Takanohada vs Chiyonofuji in Natsu 1991.

  7. I have a question about the ‘luck of the banzuke’. Kotoeko was a key ‘beneficiary’ for this tournament. But he was at a decided disadvantage against most of his opponents. So my question: is there any material benefit of being, say, an M2E vs. an M10E? Do you get paid better? Or is it just the chance to try your sumo out against the Sanyaku? It just seems to me like an over-promotion is just setting up a wrestler for failure. It’s kind of like the opposite of luck.

    • I believe all maegashira are equal in pay, etc. so it’s purely a matter of being ranked higher. If you do well at M2 you have a good chance of reaching san’yaku, where the pay is better and there are other benefits. If you do badly at M10, you have a chance of falling to Juryo. But otherwise, yeah, it’s just a tougher schedule.

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