All the hardware has been handed out, but that’s really secondary—the primary purpose of a honbasho is to set the banzuke for the following tournament. How will the Aki results reshuffle the rankings?
Yokozuna and Ozeki
The only change I expect here is a move by the Aki champion, shin-Yokozuna Terunofuji, over to the East side. I am assuming that the rank protection that has generally been given to those forced to sit out due to pandemic precautions will not extend to Hakuho keeping the Y1e rank. Our Ozeki duo did not exactly distinguish themselves, doing just enough to avoid kadoban or demotion, and their matching 8-7 scores mean that we will once again have Shodai on the East side and Takakeisho on the West.
Hakuho Retirement Update
Assuming the GOAT’s intai is made official before Wednesday’s banzuke meeting, a few things below will change. The rare M18e rank will make only its second appearance since the 1950s (Kotonowaka held it in March 2020), and will be occupied by Tsurugisho, who would get a lucky reprieve, as I don’t see J3 Wakamotoharu (8-7) pushing him down. Jokoryu will definitely be in Juryo, and either Kyukushuho will be too or his slot will go to Ms4 Kotoyusho (4-3) for his first sekitori appearance.
Sekiwake and Komusubi
Little change here too. East Sekiwake Mitakeumi (9-6) and West Sekiwake Meisei (8-7) will stay where they are. West Sekiwake Ichinojo (8-7) will move over to the East side, into the slot being vacated by Takayasu (4-8-3). M2w Kiribayama (9-6) and M4w Daieisho (10-5) finished in a virtual tie in the race for the one open Komusubi slot, and I assume that the former will make his san’yaku debut by virtue of his higher rank, unless the banzuke committee opts to weigh Daieisho’s previous san’yaku experience more heavily.
At Aki, rank-and-filers down to M4w faced the Yokozuna and a full san’yaku slate of opponents. I expect these ranks at Kyushu to be occupied by Daieisho (or Kiribayama), Wakatakakage, Onosho, Takanosho, Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Takarafuji, and Endo. Other than Takanosho, who just missed out on a winning record with a 7-8 score, this group all had winning records and contains all the outstanding maegashira performances at Aki. This should translate into exciting bouts near the top of the torikumi in November.
We had three clear demotions going into Day 15—Tokushoryu, Chiyonoo, and Ichiyamamoto—and two men on the bubble—Kaisei and Tsurugisho. We also had three clear promotions—Juryo champion Abi, who matched Terunofuji’s 13-2 score, Akua, and Sadanoumi—as well as two other possible candidates for promotion—Shohozan and Daiamami. And of course the schedulers paired up the bubble rikishi across the divisions in what were arguably the real “Darwin bouts.” M14e Kaisei (6-9) prevailed in his matchup against J2 Daiamami (7-8), saving his spot in the top division and eliminating the Juryo man. M13w Tsurugisho (5-10) fought like his life depended on it, but could not overcome J4 Shohozan (10-5), so we should see the veteran brawler and oldest sekitori make an unexpected late-career return to Makuuchi after a full year toiling in the second division.
Dropping out of the salaried ranks are the two M13s, Takakento and Asashiyu. Making their sekitori debuts are Ms1 Terasawa and Ms2 Hiradoumi, both 5-2. Returning to Juryo (thanks to the slot vacated by Takagenji, who is mentioned here for the last time) is Ms2 Kotokuzan (4-3). The only question mark is whether his head-to-head victory yesterday will be enough for Ms4 Jokoryu (4-3) to trade places with J12 Kyokushuho (6-9). We’ll find out on Wednesday, when promotions to sekitori are announced.
Kyushu Banzuke Questions
- Just how high up will Abi be ranked? His sterling performance at Aki and his career-high rank of Komusubi weigh in his favor, while a general Makuuchi bias and perhaps the lingering shadow of his suspension could count against him. Anything from M10 to M15 seems possible.
- Conversely, how far will suspended Asanoyama drop? His Sekiwake rank would normally cushion the fall, but the circumstances of his demotion may more than balance that out. I see him ending up in the M13-M15 range; will he be ranked above or below Abi?
- In a similar vein, how much leniency will be shown to the injured upper-rankers Takayasu (4 wins, 2 of them by fusen), M3 Kotonowaka (3 wins), and M2 Hokutofuji (2 wins)?
- How many of the whopping 8 rikishi who finished with a minimal 7-8 make-koshi will get to keep their ranks?
- Will Hakuho’s stablemates—M12e Ishiura, J11e Enho, and J12w Hokuseiho—have their ranks frozen?
Do you have other questions? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for following Tachiai’s coverage of the Aki basho!