Looking Ahead to the Haru Banzuke: Wither Asanoyama?

Yokozuna and Ozeki

Absent Terunofuji will continue as the sole Yokozuna. It is unclear what the odds are that we’ll see him mount the dohyo in Osaka. Takakeisho will remain the lone Ozeki, with a shot at promotion with another yusho.


S1e Wakatakakage (9-6) and S1w Hoshoryu (8-7) have successfully defended their ranks, by a hair in the case of the latter (pun intended).

S2e Takayasu (1-5-8) and S2w Shodai (6-9) will fall into the maegashira ranks.

K1e Kiribayama (11-4) has met the standard that has traditionally forced an extra Sekiwake slot, and I expect him to debut at that rank in March. With 19 wins in his past two tournaments, he could be on a low-key Ozeki run, although it would take a very strong Haru basho to seal the deal.

K1w Kotonowaka (8-7) and K2w Wakamotoharu (9-6) should remain komusubi. I’ve heard talk that the latter could be bumped to Sekiwake, but I see no case to do so. K2e Meisei (5-10) will drop out of san’yaku.

So that’s 5 san’yaku slots accounted for by Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, Kotonowaka, and Wakamotoharu. Will there be any extra ones? I think we will have at least two additional Komusubi: M1w Daieisho (10-5), who probably did enough to force open a slot, and M1e Tobizaru (8-7), who earned a kachi-koshi at the top maegashira slot. The banzuke committee has given every indication that this guarantees promotion, and even if Daieisho could potentially slide over to M1e, it would be tough to leave him out with a better score at the same rank as Tobizaru. The one question mark is whether M2w Tamawashi (9-6) will join them, either as the 5th Komusubi, which has never happened, or if they keep the current 4S/4K by bumping up Wakamotoharu. I think Iron Man may have to settle for M1e.

Upper Maegashira

We don’t seem to have the type of historic crunch in this part of the banzuke that we did last time. In addition to Tamawashi, the rikishi who deserve to be ranked M4 or higher are the aforementioned san’yaku dropouts Shodai and Meisei, M2e Mitakeumi (7-8), M3e Abi (8-7), the M5 duo Ryuden and Nishikigi (both 9-6), and M8e Onosho (10-5). That’s 8 rikishi and 8 slots, for those keeping score.

Makuuchi <-> Juryo

This did not work out as neatly. Three spots in the top division are being vacated by the absences of Ichinojo, Tochinoshin, and Okinoumi due to suspension, injury, and retirement, respectively. A 4th slot is open by dropping M16w Chiyomaru (4-11), who’ll be taking a trip on the Juryo barge for the 7th time, the most among active rikishi.

Both other endangered incumbents won. M8w Oho (4-11) should now be completely safe, and M15w Mitoryu (7-8) has the numerical case to stay.

This would leave only four open slots, but we have 5 promotion cases: J1w Bushozan (9-6), J2e Hokuseiho (9-6), J5e Kinbozan (11-4), J6w Daishoho (12-3), and the Juryo yusho winner, former Ozeki Asanoyama, who went 14-1 at J12w. By conventional promotion criteria, Asanoyama is last in line, and should get stuck at J1e. Given his profile and the strength of his performance, will those criteria be bent to accommodate him somehow? The options seem to come down to promoting him over Hokuseiho, whom he defeated on the final day, or pushing down incumbent Mitoryu, which the banzuke committee has been unwilling to do in recent times. This is probably the most consequential decision on the entire banzuke, and while it seems unthinkable that they would make Asanoyama spend another basho in Juryo, the results shook out in a way that makes this difficult to avoid.

Juryo <-> Makushita:

Three Juryo spots were open before Day 15: one as a result of Okinoumi’s retirement plus two due to the performances of J13w Kaisho (5-10) and J11e Chiyosakae (5-10). J10w Terutsuyoshi (5-10) lost to Ms1e Tamashoho (4-3) in one exchange bout, while J12e Takakento (7-8) beat Ms5e Tsukahara (5-2) in the other. Takakento gets to stay, Tamashoho (whose main claim to fame is that he is Tamawashi’s stablemate and brother-in-law) will make his sekitori debut, while Terutsuyoshi and Tsukahara will almost certainly be ranked high in the Makushita promotion zone in March.

As for the other 3 open spots, two should be filled by former maegashira Ms2e Tomokaze and Ms2w Tokushoryu, both 4-3. I expect the third to go to the makushita champion, Ms15TD Ochiai (7-0). If he doesn’t get it, we’ll know that there’s a hard-and-fast rule against promotion for Ms15 tsukedashi, as the alternatives are Terutsuyoshi and Tsukahara, who lost their exchange bouts. For completeness, Ms5w Fujiseiun (5-2) is the only other rikishi with a potentially promotable record who is out of luck due to lack of space.

We’ll find out the Juryo promotions in a couple of days; for the rest, including Asanoyama’s fate, we’ll have to wait until February 27. I’ll post a full banzuke prediction closer to that time. In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments.

25 thoughts on “Looking Ahead to the Haru Banzuke: Wither Asanoyama?

  1. Terunofuji went 13-2 with a win from Juryo 13w (so slightly behind Asanoyama but not massively so), and he needed another tournament to make it back. Given the reason Asanoyama was down there in the first place, I can’t imagine him getting special treatment. But we shall see.

    • Technically, Teru’s rank computed to J2, while’s Asa’s computes to M15-ish, but I think you’re probably right. One difference I think is that there wasn’t as much clamor for Teru’s return, since we didn’t know what to expect, and few if any foresaw what he actually did, while with Asa the expectations are sky-high.

  2. I don’t think Asanoyama will get promoted.
    High scores tend to give slightly less movement than mathematically predicted, and the promotion slots are already filled. I expect him at J1w, along with 9-6 Tohakuryu.

  3. Takarafuji’s 8-7 surprised me. I thought he would go make-koshi and possibly retire. That said, I do wonder if there will be another retirement announcement in the next few days.

  4. I think given history and the records of the rikishi, Asanoyama will be J1 for the next basho. If Mitoryu finished weakly, there might be more of a potential discussion, but that wasn’t the case. If someone else goes intai (which, as Andy wrote, is possible) I think that will shake Juryo up more than the top division.

    Interestingly, Kinbozan’s record may get him the highest placement out of anyone in the banzuke in Makuuchi. Maybe M11 or 12, perhaps? I’d guess M10, but he’s at J5. Hmmm. The next banzuke outside of the top 4 Megashira slots is definitely going to be messy. Probably the only thing that’s easily determined is that Tsurugisho and Mitoryu will be in the M16 slots. Oof. Good luck with your predictions!

  5. Another tournament won’t kill Asanoyama. If he’d gone 15-0 or looked utterly dominate in all his bouts you could make a case, but he looked iffy in a few victories, squeaked by the skin of his teeth against Kinbozan and was thoroughly beaten by Daishoho. There are guys who deserve to be promoted based on their placements on the banzuke ahead of Asanoyama. “He’ll get there anyway” isn’t a good enough excuse for it. Sure, he will, but he still has to earn it just like everyone else.

  6. A reason for not promoting Asanoyama to low Maegashira might be that early torikumi will give him an advantage in the Yusho race and derail the aspirations of the guys at the top of the Banzuke.
    Putting Asanoyama at top Juryo should put him mid-Maegashira in May. He can also give Oichiai a real test in March.

    • I know, but most were ranked considerably higher than him. He certainly has a record that’s worthy of promotion; the issue is that there are enough stronger cases ahead of him that there might not be room.

  7. Well things are certainly a lot easier than last time. No horrible overdemotions or injustice: most things fall into place quite naturally. I had two guys (Ura and Kotoeko) holding rank with mks but nothing else looks wrong on my first draft. I’m going to go through the bottom ranks with a finetooth comb as this is the thing I always get wrong. I think Mitoryu deserves another shot as he looked pretty good when winning, so I am keeping him and putting Asanoyama at J1e.

  8. I just hope Asanoyama comes back to Maccuchi. I agree with what Andy stated about Tarkarafuji and retirement possibility – it would open up one more slot. On the other hand, I agree Volovodadfast and Iksumo and would really like to see the bout between Ouchiai and Asanayama too!

    LOVED pterosr’s comment!

  9. I think they only save promotion to Makuuchi is Bushozan, They other 4 guys are very close to each otherand anyone could lose out. There is usually a positive bias towards yusho winners and a slightly negative one if you are outside the top 10, so it’s probably between Daishoho and Asanoyama.
    I agree with what other said that Asanoyama wasn’t dominating in all bouts, still kinda would like to see him back as soon as possible.To me Hokuseiho had the weakest tournament of all those candidates. There were some days when he looked really strong, but he also had is Shodai days, when he completely didn’t show up.
    The most recent coomparable scores are Chiyonokuni in September 2020, who went from J11W to M14E, Endo in Juli 2013 who went from J13W to M13E and Baruto in May 2007 who went from J11W to M14E. In Endos case the banzuke ended at M16W, the other two cases with M17E. in comparison the last 3 promotions with 11 wins from J5 went to M16W or M17E. Mitoryu as recently as July 2021 went to J1e with 12 wins from J6w. Last time 9 wins from J2e didn’t result in a promotion was in 2002.
    Looking at this I wouldn’t be surprised if Asanoyama gets promoted ahead of Daishoho and he could potentially end up ahead of both Kinbozan and Hokuseiho on the banzuke as well.

    Personally I’m very happy to see Tomokaze back in Juryo.

    As for the Sanyaku I agree. I don’t see a way that Wakamotoharu forces and extra Sekiwake slot with 9 wins. Ichinojo got promoted from J2E to M1W in March 2022, so I don’t see why they should treat Tamawashi differently either. Takarafuji and Hokutofuji had 9 wins at M2E in 2021 and didn’t get promoted either.

    It’s nice to have a loaded Sanyaku again. opens up potential Ozeki promotion cases. Hoshoryu is at 19wins from two basho as well, so him and Kiribayama could secure a promotion with 12 or 13 win because of need and 14wins for sure (I know 33 is not guaranteed, but withe the current shortage and both of them being healthy and consistent …).

    • Good points all around.

      One of reasons I think Asanoyama will park at J1 is Daishōhō was the one who beat him.

  10. Doesn’t Chiyoshoma have a case for demotion as well? Assuming 5 spots down because of a 5-10 record, that would put him in the same boat as nishikifuji, but with how crowded the bottom of the ladder is someone has to fall, right?

    • There are 3 incumbents who compute to M16, which is usually safe, and he would be third in the demotion line behind Mitoryu (west side) and Tsurugisho (lower rank). If they decide to open up a 5th spot, Mitoryu is the one who’d go down. And there’s no 6th candidate for promotion, so only one could fall.


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