What the Haru Results Mean for the Natsu Banzuke

Congratulations to Sekiwake Kiribayama on his first yusho! A double-digit winning record in May should see him rise to Ozeki. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the rankings might get reshuffled for the Natsu basho.

The Named Ranks

Y1e Terunofuji (0-0-15) will remain the sole Yokozuna; barring any setbacks, we hope to see him mount the dohyo in May. O1w Takakeisho (3-4-8) will be the only Ozeki; his losing record means that he’ll be kadoban and needs 8 wins to retain his rank.

We should have 4 Sekiwake: incumbents Kiribayama (12-3) and Hoshoryu (10-5) by virtue of their winning records, and Komusubi Daieisho (12-3) and Wakamotoharu (11-4) by virtue of reaching the requisite 11 wins. K1w Kotonowaka (9-6) will remain at Komusubi, where he will be joined by injured S1e Wakatakakage (7-7-1).

With no regular slots open, I think M1w Shodai (10-5) did enough to create an extra Komusubi position, but this is not a slam-dunk.

Upper Maegashira

This is where things get tricky. With the san’yaku piling up wins, the upper maegashira ranks were once again the zone of death, with only 3 winning records at M1-M5, and the seven rikishi with losing records all only managing 6 wins or fewer. If Shodai is promoted, M2 Abi (9-6) and M5w Midorifuji are the obvious candidates for M1, but then, it gets really thin. M7w Takayasu (10-5), M6e Endo (9-6), K2w Tobizaru (6-9), M8w Ura (9-6), and M10w Nishikifuji (10-5) all belong at M2-M5, but that fills only 5 of the 8 slots. M3w Nishikigi (6-9) is probably looking at a very mild demotion, and M14e Kinbozan (11-4) at a very generous promotion. But the next-best placed rikishi with a winning score is M11w Takanosho (8-7). Do they demote M5e Kotoshoho only half a rank after a 6-9 performance? Place Asanoyama or Ichinojo higher than any promotion from Juryo in history?

Overall, only 13 rikishi “deserve” to be ranked in the top half of the maegashira, and 20 in the bottom half; obviously, that math doesn’t work, creating many conundrums in addition to where to place the strongest Juryo promotion candidates in a long time and how far to drop members of the joi with terrible records (I’m looking at you, 3-12 M1e Tamawashi and 2-13 M2w Ryuden).

Makuuchi-Juryo Exchanges

J1e Asanoyama (13-2) and the Juryo yusho winner J3e Ichinojo (14-1) have definitely earned promotion. They will take the spots of M14w Bushozan (5-10) and M11e Azumaryu (4-11).

M17e Mitoryu (8-7) and M16w Tsurugisho (8-7) reached the safety of 8 wins on the final day. I don’t see M12e Kagayaki (5-10) or M15w Oho (7-8) being sent down in favor of J6e Gonoyama (11-4) or J3w Shonannoumi (9-6), so two exchanges should be all we get.

Juryo-Makushita Exchanges

The promotion queue looks like this:

  1. Ms2w Chiyosakae (5-2)
  2. Ms2e Fujiseiun (4-3)
  3. Ms3e Tokihayate (4-3)
  4. Ms3w Kawazoe (4-3)
  5. Ms5e Chiyonoumi (4-3) or Ms6e Shiden (6-1)

J14e Tokushoryu (4-11), J12e Tochimusashi (4-11), and J10e Kotokuzan (4-11) are toast without a doubt, making room for Chiyosakae, Fujiseiun, and Tokihayate. J11e Shimanoumi (5-10) and J9e Tsushimanada (4-11) have rank-record combinations that have nearly always meant demotion, so I think that Kawazoe and Shiden (or, less likely, Chiyonoumi) will be promoted to Juryo, but this is not absolutely certain. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait to find out until the May banzuke is released on May 1—Juryo promotions will be announced in a couple of days.

20 thoughts on “What the Haru Results Mean for the Natsu Banzuke

    • Strictly by the math, Gonoyama would be 16e, Oho 16w, Kagayaki 17e, Shonannoumi 17w. But generally, incumbents don’t get booted unless their computed rank would place them outside the division (in this instance, worse than 17e) unless the promotion case is much stronger. Oho and Kagayaki would certainly have been exchanged with Asanoyama and Ichinojo if it weren’t for Bushozan and Azumaryu, but Gonoyama’s case isn’t overwhelming.

      • I see Kagayaki in front of the four, but that‘s not important because his and Oho‘s results both don‘t demand demotion unless their places are needed for juryo rikishi with clearly better results? Okay, understood. Thanks a lot.

  1. So you think there is really no chance that they promote Kiri to the big O straight away? Only 31 wins in the last 3, but a JY and now a Y…

    • I’d guess Tsushimanada, Shimanoumi, Kotokuzan, and Chiyonoumi. It’ll basically be a combo of Ms guys closest to promotion and J guys last to be demoted

  2. Team, shouldn’t KIRIBAYAMA be considered for Ozeki promotion now following Yusho and performance in past three tournaments? Considering thin upper Sanyaku ranks, this is a good opportunity if there ever was one. Just a thought.

  3. Who are the top candidates for retirement before the of 2023? I am thinking Tochinoshin and Tamawashi. Tochinoshin because he is likely to fall out of the paid Juryo level after a few more tournaments. Tamawashi – This is just a guess- it is doubtful that he suddenly lost his skill in March. He looked like he was competing with an injury to keep his consecutive performance record going. Competing while injured leaves no time for recovery. Which might lead to a worse injury and eventually force him to drop from a tournament. Once that happens will he continue to compete with the streak gone just to receive a salary? Who do you think will retire?

    • I guess Aioyama is getting a bit long in the tooth at 36 (37 in June). He got a Jun-Yusho (from M12) as recently as March 2021. But then the difference between 34 and 36/7 can be pretty brutal at the elite level of combat sports.

    • A surprising answer here might be Ryuden if he doesn’t have a way to treat his chronic hip issues. He’s no spring chicken and hips are stupendously important in sumo.

      Tochinoshin is almost a lock to retire either this year or next. Tamawashi is someone I suspect will still compete in Juryo even if he’s demoted. Takarafuji pulled a rabbit out of a hat this basho, so he might go intai soon depending on his health and how well he competes.

      I also agree with Abi Fan that the clock is ticking for Aoiyama. Although he’s still doing well enough that he might be around for another year or two at least.

      Tokushoryu might retire once he falls back to Makushita, although Akiseyama is still fighting there so who knows. Other potential retirees based on injuries are Chiyonokuni and, I hate to say it, Mitakeumi.

      Lastly, I think that both Terunofuji and Takakeisho have about two to three bashos left in them before their wheels completely fall off. And that’s being optimistic about the Yokozuna.

    • Tamawashi has competed many, many times with injuries, some of which have forced him into makekoshi which have seen him drop into the division’s lower ranks. Just two years ago he was M10 and we all thought he was fading out, only to see him come back and grab ANOTHER unlikely yusho and absolutely torment the Yokozuna. For him to be challenging at the top end of sumo at his age is unbelievable. He may well be on the way down but given the state of the division (as referenced here – with not even enough rikishi qualifying to fill the top spots of the rank and file), it’s just as likely that he’ll bounce back up with a period of rest. One would think it would be wise for him to be kyujo from the jungyo.

      I think Tochinoshin will compete until he’s turfed out of Juryo – he looked a sure bet for kyujo in this basho but he seems to have the desire to go down swinging. The bottom end of juryo is looking a little limp after a series of strong propect promotions (as detailed here by the myriad demotion candidates), so one has to think he’ll at least be competitive a bit longer. I could see him hanging around for another year. I don’t think he’ll compete in makushita again as a former ozeki though.

  4. The ability of Tsurugisho and Mitoryu to stay in the top division are impressive. Lots of tenacity there.

    Kagayaki and Oho (along with the aforementioned rikishi above) are definitely on the “Demotion Hot Seat” in May. Especially with no top division rookies to give them extra padding for demotable records.

    Wow, that is quite a crop of exchanges for the Line Between Heaven and Hell. My goodness! I suspect we’ll see a lot more results like this in the coming bashos based on how competitive Juryo and Makushita are these days. There are a lot of rikishi who want to knock on the door for promotion and quite a few will get stuck on the wrong end of some marginally losing records soon.

  5. Really clear and interesting, thanks! Let’s see if you’re right! I hope I remember to look back at this when the banzuke is released!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.