With an incredibly exciting Haru basho in the books, let’s take our bimonthly look at how the results will shuffle the rankings for Natsu.
Yokozuna and Ozeki
Our sole Yokozuna Terunofuji will maintain his Y1e position at the top of the rankings, and I hope that we will see him in fighting trim. O2w Mitakeumi had an excellent debut at the rank, and his 11 wins will see him jump to O1e. Who would have thought that O1e Shodai, who started 1-5, would end up with a better record (9-6) than O1w Takakeisho (8-7), who started 8-3? Both cleared kadoban, with Takakeisho dropping his final four bouts after picking up that crucial 8th win and Shodai going 8-1 after his rough start and “making his presence felt” in the yusho race. As a consequence, Shodai will be ranked O1w, while Takakeisho will occupy O2w.
After his breakthrough performance, S1e Wakatakakage (12-3) will continue at his current rank (and aim higher). S1w Abi (8-7) defeated runner-up Takayasu on senshuraku to defend his rank.
K1e Takanosho (4-11) will be fighting in the maegashira ranks in May. K1w Hoshoryu (8-7) beat Kotonowaka on senshuraku to defend his rank, and he will move over to the East side. So we have one open slot at K1w. Who gets it?
The contenders are M7e Takayasu (12-3), M2e Ichinojo (9-6), M4e Kiribayama (10-5), M6w Kotonowaka (11-3), and M1e Daieisho (8-7). Although Daieisho has the worst case “by the numbers”, it’s close enough that he should take the slot by virtue of his status as the top maegashira. I don’t think any of the other performances are strong enough to force extra Komusubi slots, so the rest of this group will have to settle for occupying the M1-M2 ranks.
The ranks from Ms3e to M6e will be filled by a mix of rising and falling rikishi. Joining the group that can expect to see some san’yaku bouts are M9e Tobizaru and M9w Wakamotoharu, both 9-6. Staying in these ranks but moving up are M4w Endo (8-7) and M6e Hokutofuji (9-6). Dropping, but not too far, are K1e Takanosho (4-11), M2w Tamawashi (7-8) and M3e Onosho (6-9).
Biggest Banzuke Moves
Two rikishi finished Haru with fewer than 3 wins: M3w Meisei (1-14) and M5w Ishiura (2-7-6). Unsurprisingly, the pair should see the biggest falls; my first draft has them tumbling 9-10 ranks. The other banzuke movements should be a lot less extreme, with something like a 5-rank drop for Ura and similar rises by Takayasu and perhaps Tochinoshin being the most dramatic.
We ended up with a clear captain for the Juryo barge: M15e Akua (4-11). Three rikishi have final records that are just short of safety: M17e Kagayaki (7-8) and the M13 duo of Chiyonokuni (5-6-4) and Chiyomaru (5-10).
Meanwhile, down in Juryo, there are two very clear promotions—the J1 duo of Oho and Azumaryu, both 10-5. Runner-up Midorifuji (12-3) has a strong promotion case, while J2w Hidenoumi (8-7) and the champion, J13e Ryuden (13-2), finished a win short. I think that Chiyonokuni and Kagayaki will go down along with Akua to make room for Oho, Azumaryu and Midorifuji, while Chiyomaru will just survive by virtue of being half a rank above Chiyonokuni.
There are two clear demotions, and two clear promotions to the salaried ranks. J14w Kotoyusho (4-11) should have gone down last time, and will now do so for sure, as will J12e Hakuyozan (4-11) after two straight years in Juryo. Taking their place will be the last man to be demoted last time, Ms1e Chiyoarashi (4-3), and Ms1w Tochimaru (4-3), who was unfairly denied last time in favor of keeping Kotoyusho and will finally make his sekitori debut after missing out on promotion with winning records in the Ms1-Ms5 ranks on five occasions.
The other demotion candidates are J10w Churanoumi (5-10) and J14e Takakento (7-8). I think the former will be exchanged with last basho’s winner Ms3e Nishikawa (4-3), while the latter will probably get to stay over promotion candidates Ms4e Tsushimanada (4-3) and Ms5w Hokuseiho (5-2). I suppose Ms6e Chiyonoumi (6-1) deserves a mention, but as he is ranked just below Ms5, his only realistic promotion route was to take the yusho, which he lost to Ms34 Kinbozan (7-0), who himself will be vying for promotion in May.
And that’s a wrap. As usual, I’ll post a full banzuke prediction closer to its official release on April 25, and we’ll learn about promotions to Juryo in a couple of days. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.