Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji (15-0) on a well-deserved victory. With all the results now in the books, let’s take a look at how they’re likely to reshuffle the rankings for January.
Yokozuna and Ozeki
Terunofuji will remain the lone East Yokozuna. Takakeisho (12-3) will take over the more prestigious East Ozeki rank from Shodai (9-6), who will move to the West side.
Mitakeumi (11-4) will remain East Sekiwake. His 11 wins, and 20 over the last two tournaments, put him on an Ozeki run in January. Given his consistent performance in the named ranks, and the current dearth of Ozeki and Yokozuna, he may well have a lower target than the oft-cited 33 wins over 3 basho.
M2w Takanosho (11-4) will take over the West Sekiwake rank from Meisei (7-8), who managed to do enough to limit his fall to Komusubi. With both current Komusubi, Ichinojo (5-10) and Kiribayama (6-9), set to drop into the rank-and-file, there is another open slot, and it was claimed by M1e Daieisho (8-7) with a final-day win. Just missing out on a san’yaku return is M1w Wakatakakage (8-7). There have been 22 times in the 6-basho era that an M1w with a winning record merely slid over to M1e; the 3 most recent instances even involved rikishi with 9-6 records.
The Upper Maegashira
The joi-jin loosely comprises the named ranks and the maegashira who regularly face them. With only 7 san’yaku ranks, that line falls somewhere between M5e and M5w (Takayasu and Hoshoryu on the current banzuke). The ten ranks from M1-M5 ranks should be occupied by Wakatakakage, the two demoted Komusubi, M7e Ura (10-5), M4w Endo (8-7), M6w Tamawashi, M3e Okinoumi (7-8), M12w Hokutofuji (11-4), M7w Chiyoshoma (8-7), and M15w Abi (12-3), with M5w Hoshoryu (7-8) landing just outside the range. I’ve listed the maegashira in the rough order, with Kiribayama probably landing between Ura and Endo and Ichinojo between Tamawashi and Okinoumi.
At least three open slots in the top division: Hakuho’s, Asanoyama’s, and M17w Shohozan’s (4-11). And there are three clear promotion cases in Juryo: the yusho winner J4w Ichiyamamoto (13-2), Wakatakakage’s bro J1w Wakamotoharu (11-4), and J1e Tsurugisho (9-6).
Will we see any other exchanges? The possible demotion cases are M14e Kagayaki (5-10) and M17e Kaisei (7-8), with Kagayaki more likely to go down by usual criteria. The candidates to replace them are J7e Oho (11-4) and J3w Bushozan (8-7), with Oho having the better case by the numbers. I think we will see Oho make his long-awaited Makuuchi debut, with Kaisei just surviving and Kagayaki and Bushozan occupying the top rung in Juryo, but frankly all four cases are marginal enough that nothing will surprise me, although I’d rate Kagayaki getting the nod over Oho as more likely than Bushozan displacing Kaisei.
What could have been a messy promotion/demotion situation shook out very neatly in the end. Four spots are open in Juryo: Hakuho’s, Hokuseiho’s, J9w Kyokutaisei’s (2-13), and J14e Kyokushuho’s (6-9), whose uninterrupted run in the second division will end after 28 basho. And conveniently, there are precisely four rikishi in the Makushita promotion zone with winning records: Ms1w Kotoyusho (4-3), Ms2w Shiba (5-2), Ms3e Kitanowaka (5-2), and Ms4e Chiyoarashi (5-2). The first three will be making their sekitori debuts, with Kitanowaka’s the most eagerly anticipated, while Chiyoarashi will be returning to Juryo after an 8-year absence.
J10e Yago’s (5-10) final-day victory, combined with a lack of promotion candidates, earns him a lucky stay in the salaried ranks and makes him the biggest beneficiary of Hakuko’s retirement.