How Will the Aki Banzuke Shake Out? Part 2

In the first post in this series, I considered the question of what might be done with the 15 rikishi who missed at least one bout as a consequence of positive COVID tests in their heya. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the named ranks.

Yokozuna and Ozeki

The top rank is simple: Terunofuji (11-4) will continue to occupy his position as the East Yokozuna. At Ozeki, Takakeisho (11-4) put up the best performance and will remain at O1e. Shodai (10-5) will move up to O1w. As discussed in my previous post, I expect Mitakeumi (kadoban, 2-4 on the dohyo) to be ranked O2w and get a do-over at Aki.


S1e Wakatakakage (8-7) will be back at the same rank, though any Ozeki talk will have to wait. I expect that S1w Daieisho (6-6 on the dohyo) will have his rank preserved. Were he to get demoted, and assuming that Mitakeumi isn’t dropped to Sekiwake, his spot would presumably be taken over by Hoshoryu (see below); I doubt Ichinojo would leapfrog the Komusubi.


This is where it gets interesting. At least the situation with the incumbents is fairly clear. Assuming Sekiwake goes as above, K1e Hoshoryu (9-6) and K1w Abi (8-7) made it to the end of the tournament with kachi-koshi, ensuring a stay, but did not put up enough wins to force promotion to Sekiwake. There is also no case for switching them.

Now usually, I am the first one to argue that the NSK will not create extra Komusubi slots. However, this time there is not one but two compelling cases. The top maegashira, M1e Kiribayama, got his kachi-koshi with four straight victories after a 4-7 start. There is nowhere else to promote him to, and the last time an M1e with a winning record got stuck there was 1967. Since then, we’ve had 3 instances of an 8-7 M1e getting an extra Komusubi slot, though none are more recent than 1995. We also have our yusho winner, M2w Ichinojo (12-3). No M2 with 11 or more wins has ever been denied san’yaku promotion.

The situation seems most analogous to that after Aki 2019, when there were no open san’yaku slots, Hokutofuji went 9-6 at M1e, and Asanoyama went 10-5 at M2w. Hokutofuji needed to get promoted, and Asanoyama had a better rank-record combination, so extra Komusubi slots were created for both, with Hokutofuji taking K2e and Asanoyama K2w. I expect something similar to happen here, except with Ichinojo occupying K2e ahead of Kiribayama based on the former’s much stronger record.

I think that this is the most likely and the most fair san’yaku solution. It would give us 10 men in the named ranks, leaving 32 for the maegashira, which means that M17 would not appear on the banzuke for the first time since March 2021. Filling these ranks will be tricky, especially near the top, as we’ll see in Part 3.

22 thoughts on “How Will the Aki Banzuke Shake Out? Part 2

  1. It seems like this is the most sensible approach and honors the records of Ichinojo and Kiribayama from this basho. With no demotions from the sanyaku ranks, the only alternative is to hold both back, but that would be nearly unthinkable. But as you say, it makes a very interesting hash of the rank and file promotions. I suspect we may see a large number of under-demotions.

    What say you about the juryo promotions? Could they promote Ryuden only and demote Chiyomaru, Daiamami, and Tsurugisho/Shimanoumi? Promoting Mitoryu to the first division seems a stretch from J4 being that he only got 9 wins.

    • The top division is currently fixed at 42, and juryo at 28, so promotions and demotions must balance. I think Tsurugisho gets the benefit of the doubt; but the other 3 must go down, which means 3 must come up, even if Mitoryu and either Chiyonokuni or Hiradoumi get over-promoted. Anyway, I’ll go into more detail in part 3.

      • Yes, of course they do. I was thinking only of the fact that M16 is now lowest but of course that’s not because the top division numbers changed. Silly me.

        Then we’re definitely getting some weird promotion/demotion action if the NSK do more than just swap out Ryuden for Chiyomaru. If as you say they need to take the three we’ve discussed down, then, yeah, we’re looking at Mitoryu going up and one of the other two as well.

        And after Aki… won’t be too surprised to see Hokuseiho in the top division come Kyushu – he pretty much ripped through almost everyone. Could be the time for Atamifuji as well.

        Looking forward to your part 3. :)

  2. With Hoshoryu’s 9-6 at K1E, is there any chance they’ll create an extra sekiwake spot for him and then have just one extra komusubi spot to accommodate Kiribayama and Ichinojo? So three Sekiwake (Wakatakakage, Daiesho, Hoshoryu) and three komusubi (Abi, Ichinojo, Kiribayama).

    Seems a little unfortunate if Hoshoryu cannot make sekiwake after a strong 9-6 record at K1E but I appreciate that there may be no precedent for this, and also I know that sometimes rikishi cannot be promoted if there’s no space for them further up the banzuke.

    • There is covid to be considered. Nobody knows whether Daieisho would have won two of his three remaining bouts to stay a sekiwaka. Therefore they simply have to promote Hoshoryu (and even put him in front of Daieisho). And I think Ichinojo should leapfrog Abi.

    • I don’t see Hoshoryu’s 9-6 as all that strong, tbh. He won 8 bouts on the dohyo, and lost to Takakeisho, Shodai, Wakatakakage, and Terunofuji; in other words he failed to win a single bout against anyone ranked above him. Because of covid issues he got the walkover vs Mitakeumi and never had to face Daieisho. In the end, he had a few good bouts, but I thought this outing was pretty average. I’d be hard pressed to call it “strong”.

      I would be pretty surprised they’d go with 3 ozeki, 3 sekiwake, and 3 komusubi, though there is an odd symmetry there. Seems more likely that they’re create 4 komusubi to accomodate Ichinojo and Kiribayama, and leave the sekiwake ranks alone. To recognize Ichinojo’s strong performance, with 4 komusubi, I’d put him at K1E, Hoshoryu at K1W, Abi at K2E, and Kiribayama at K2W.

      • They’re not going to be inclined to drop Hoshoryu to the west side after a 9-6, and remember that Daieisho won a yusho with a 13-2 record from M1 and only ended up at K2, behind both 9-6 komusubi.

    • It’s pretty well established that it takes 11 wins at komusubi to force an extra sekiwake slot, and it’s not at all unusual for a K1e to get stuck there for a while. Before his suspension, Abi spent 4 basho there, with an 8-7, 9-6, 9-6 before dropping with a 5-10.

      • But there was never such a shaky S2 as Daieisho now is.
        It would be unfair if he lost his rank because of covid, but it would be even more unfair to have him block Hoshoriu without a kachi koshi

          • Really? That‘s tough indeed.
            Even more so considering there seems not to be that much of a difference between the sekiwake and the komusubi ranks (or even the joi). They all fight against about the same wrestlers and there’s no security net against a fall as the ozeki have.
            Therefore why make it so difficult to rise from k1 to s2?

    • In recent years (say, since they tightened up on handing out K2 slots in the early 2000s) no K1e has been promoted to S2 with a 9-6 record, but Mitakeumi, Abi, and Takayasu have all repeated K1e after a 9-6 record (Abi twice in a row, in fact).

      • That means K1 needs double digit wins to be promoted?
        Or a make koshi by one of the sekiwake, of course, which seems to be the more usual way to a sekiwake promotion (and can work even with a 9:6 from M1).

        • 11 wins from K is the recent standard if the sekiwake slots are occupied. If they’re not, anything goes. The luckiest promotion I found is Okinoumi getting to sekiwake with a 9-6 from m6 in 2015. Both S and both K had losing records, and there was only one winning record among the M above him. On occasion, a 7-8 sekiwake will hold rank if there’s no decent replacement candidate.

  3. Excellent read!
    “O1e Wakatakakage” – Unfortunately you’re jumping the gun by quite a few bashos there. Also Daieisho went 5-6 on the dohyo if we’re counting the beans (since he received a fusen point from Kotonowaka).

    • Thanks, fixed. Re: Daieisho, fair point, but that should count as a regular win as far as the NSK is concerned.

  4. Ichi to S2e, Hoshoryu to S2w, Abi to K1e, Kiri to K1w. There’s no implicit logic other than I really like Ichinojo, I think a 12-3Y beating the Yokozuna, 2 of 3 Ozeki, both Sekiwake, both Komusubi, and the only available M1 justifies a move to Sekiwake. Horshoryu’s 9-6 wasn’t a very powerful 9-6 (only beating 1 san’yaku and other than by Fusen), but they either promote him or make it a 3S/3K scenario, as Kiri has to come up.

    It’s probably unlikely to happen, but this is what I’d like to see happen.

  5. I hope they do open a K-spot for Ichinojo. He had a 9-6 record at M2E, then the next basho he could compete in (after skipping one for covid) he was placed at M2W.. Banzuke luck is banzuke luck, but he was really a M1 masquerading as a M2 this basho..


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