May 2023 Banzuke Released

The Japanese Sumo Association released the ranking sheet for the upcoming May tournament (English/Japanese). We already knew the lone Yokozuna would be Terunofuji and the lone Ozeki is Takakeisho. Banzuke-makers have likely been sweating bullets over the past few months over this situation — but with Takakeisho kadoban and Terunofuji nearing retirement, both men returning from injury, this could be a make-or-break tournament for the next crop of Ozeki. As such, there will be four wrestlers at the rank of Sekiwake, in various stages of Ozeki runs.

Kiribayama will lead this class of Sekiwake as Sekiwake 1 East. He’s also on the strongest Ozeki run after his 12-win title in March and runner-up, 11-win tournament in January. A solid, 10-win tournament will probably be enough for promotion. Joining Kiribayama from the West side will be Hoshoryu. Hoshoryu’s good performance in Osaka is undercut by his 8-wins in the prior tournament, so he’s starting from scratch. Therefore, next in line for the promotion runs would probably be Daieisho, from Sekiwake 2 East. Ten wins from Maegashira 1 might be sufficient if he can mount a strong case this month. If he wins this tournament, there’s a strong case that he will be promoted. Lastly, Wakamotoharu has earned his highest rank, rounding things out at Sekiwake 2 West. Even he might have a case for promotion, depending on his performance here in May…but it would be a long-shot.

We have three Komusubi as Kotonowaka moves over to Komusubi 1 East, injured Wakatakakage shuffles down to Komusubi 1 West, and Shodai makes his return to sanyaku at Komusubi 2 East. Tobizaru glides down the banzuke a bit, from his perch at Komusubi in March, but remains in the joi at Maegashira 3 East. Abi shifts up one rank to head the Maegashira, opposite Midorifuji. Takayasu follows at Maegashira 2 East, opposing Endo on the West. Tobizaru’s opposite number at Maegashira 3 West will be Nishikifuji. Ura and Nishikigi fill in final joi ranks at Maegashira 4. Kinbozan leaps up to Maegashira 5 East, opposite Kotoshoho on the West. Both men will likely see considerable sanyaku action due to Wakatakakage’s injury and prohibited match-ups between the various Isegahama, Oitekaze, and Sadogatake heya-mates.

Further down the banzuke, Asanoyama makes his return to the top division after his long climb back. Ichinojo also rejoins the top division after his yusho. Bushozan and Azumaryu drop into Juryo. Down in Makushita, Shiden and Kawazoe occupy the prime real estate at the top of Makushita. They’ll be hoping for at least four wins and their right to join the salaried ranks.

Post your thoughts on the banzuke in the comments below. I’m eager to read your thoughts on who lucked out and who got the shaft.

79 thoughts on “May 2023 Banzuke Released

  1. 11 past Yusho winners in the top division – surely a record

  2. I thought Onosato (Daiki Nakamura) was joining pro sumo for this upcoming basho, but he’s not on the banzuke that I saw. He’s not on the sumo site under Nishonoseki heya either. He could get a cushy makushita start to his career; don’t tell me he’s gonna do maezumo and enter at the bottom.

      • So they can bring in rikishi with no professional experience at Ms10 or Ms15, not on the banzuke, but “magically” appearing on the torikumi. But proven sekitori, in the named ranks, get demoted all the way down into the lower divisions, if they can’t compete when recovering from injury! That’s a huge inconsistency.

        • To be fair, Ms10TD has only been used 3 times in the past (Endo, Mitakeumi, and a guy who was forced to retire in the 2011 scandal), and Ms15TD about once a year since 2000. And it’s not easy to get—you have to win a top national amateur tournament to get to Ms15TD, and multiple such tournaments to get to Ms10TD.

        • Tsukedashi wrestlers have substantial success at the amateur level, which is far better quality than Jonokuchi or Jonidan. It is a privilege, and that’s why guys like Asanoyama “show up” in Sandanme. Endo and Mitakeumi were in Makushita. Makushita 10 is very high. They usually don’t get that, even title winners. Nakamura is “super special.” As for falling down the banzuke when injured, I find this entirely logical. After his extended absence, I would not be comfortable putting Ishiura right back in Makuuchi. To me, it makes sense that they warm up at lower rank…even in lower divisions with less onerous schedules. Terutsuyoshi, for example…if he can’t handle a 7-bout schedule against Makushita-quality opponents, he definitely should not be in Makuuchi.

            • Recent video of him at the heya shows that he’s lost a lot of weight and is acting as a coach, so he’s likely just waiting for something to officially retire.

              • Gathering coaching experience to follow his father but I fear he may be hanging around to have medical treatment. I guess the kyokai have good insurance.

              • The Kyokai has a clinic in Kokugikan. So yes, I think you are right.

          • As for falling down, I think some “wildcard” solution like in tennis would be an option. Similar to the Tsukedashi, putting you at Ms15 for up to 2 tournaments for Makuuchi guys and maybe Ms60 for Juryo or so. Softening the fall and speeding up the return without blocking slots in the salaried ranks. The mechanic is already there thanks to the Tsukedashi and it’s not like dozens of rikishi are injured all at the same time.

        • I don’t think its an inconsistency or even unfair. Any TD whether Ms10 or Ms15 usually within 2 tournaments go straight to Juryo and after another 2 tournaments to Makuuchi and usually stay there. TD are proven champions in very competitive amateur competitions and well deserve their place higher up in the banzuke. Additionally, giving them a TD at the top of Makushita also gives these champions an incentive to actually stay in the sport. I am sure NSK don’t want these talents to start on the bottom and take 18 months to muddle their way up the banzuke fighting against inferior opponents. Quite a number of current Makuuchi wrestlers entered the competition as a TD.

          • That part of the equation is fair.
            But I totally agree with redfearn4, that a proven rikishi like Terunofuji should have at least the same rights as an amateur champion and restart at MS10 (or higher).

            • The thing is, I don’t consider it being about rights as I do consider it being about safety. I don’t want to see Ishiura taking a Makuuchi tachiai, for example.

              • I watched Terunofuji’s early comeback bouts in Sandamne and Makushita; believe me, he would not have wanted to fight any higher!

              • @Iksumo
                But of course he wouldn’t have been forced to fight when U saw him, if he had been allowed to fully recover and only then restart at MS10…

              • “Fully recover?” I still don’t think that would have been possible unless he had done it much earlier, like when he was still Ozeki. But all of that is speculation.

              • I’m not sure that would have been better. He spent 4 tournaments slowly working his way back into shape and getting his ring sense back before rising to Ms10, where he went to 7-0, got promoted to juryo, took the yusho, and the rest is history. Maybe he would have been able to do the same after sitting out those 4 tournaments, training at the heya, and then jumping straight into upper makushita, but it wouldn’t have accelerated his return overall, and I’m guessing that getting some official tournament reps against initially lower-level and gradually improving competition was actually beneficial.

  3. Like Andy said, Onosato is not on the physical banzuke or on the online version now; he’ll show up on the online banzuke at Ms10TD (between the usual Ms10 and Ms11 ranks) once the tournament starts. It was the same with Ochiai (but at Ms15TD).

  4. By conventional criteria, Kiribayama needs 10 wins to make Ozeki, Daieisho 11-12, Wakamotoharu 13, and Hoshoryu 15. The last two could be relaxed a bit, especially with a yusho. But if Takakeisho can’t get 8 (or Teru unexpectedly retires mid-tournament), all bets are off.

    • Kiribayama and Daieisho are realistic but it’s highly unlikely that they would promote Hoshoryu or Wakamotoharu after this tournament, even if they meet the criteria. They will 99% require an additional 10+ record next tournament.

      But anyway, for me the ideal outcome would be a dominant yusho by Terunofuji with Kiribayama as runner up (resulting in his promotion to ozeki) and a solid ozeki performance by Takakeisho.

      • I agree in principle but circumstances during the course of the basho could alter the math. Kiribayama and Daieisho will have to garner double-digit wins, and that’s not a certainty. Meanwhile, Takakeisho will need 8 and Terunofuji has both knees already in retirement. If he can’t get 8, I’m not certain he can spend the summer kyujo. The YDC has been very understanding of his lengthy time off. We might need two new Ozeki by the end of the month. If that’s the case, I imagine those with longer odds might just work out.

        • Funnily enough, I immediately thought double-digits was pretty likely for Kiribayama, but my faith in his recent consistency turns out to be misplaced. Nevertheless, he does lead the way in consistency over the last 5 tournies (not that this is very relevant in terms of Ozeki promotion) with 48 wins, followed closely by Wakamotoharu and Hoshoryu with 46, and Daieisho trailling with 42.. Wakamotoharu is the only one who has ever put together three top-division tournies in a row with even 9 wins at least. So, the big question is whether any of the others have actually turned a corner.

        • It really seems to start with the banzuke. There’s always at least one Ozeki (or Yokozuna) on each side, east and west. They’re written in the largest script, on the top row, right side of each column. Always. For every hon-basho. They lead the 42-name Makuuchi division. For that matter, they lead the whole banzuke. Writing a banzuke without an Ozeki on one side seems to be like drawing up an NCAA tournament bracket without Number 1 seeds. It just can’t happen.

        • You need at least two ozeki on the banzuke at all times, just like you need two sekiwake and two komusubi. Yokozuna can fill in if needed.

      • Wakamotoharu is on a perfectly fine ozeki run right now, the only thing his 9-6 from January means is that he’s got more work left to do for this basho than if he’d gone 10+ there, too. If we had a bunch of steady ozeki they could afford to be picky and require three double-digit records as you imply, but we don’t.

    • Is it usually also required that Sekiwake has to get 10+ wins in the basho after which he is promoted?

      I am just wondering what happens if we get into all bets are off scenario, Takakeisho does not get 8 wins or Terunofuji retires. Like what if both Kiribayama and Daieisho get just 8 or 9 wins, but Hoshoryu or Wakamotoharu gets 10 wins or more. If Hoshoryu gets 10 wins, he will have 28 wins overall from January to May, Wakamotoharu would have 30. On the other hand Kiribayama would have 31 wins with just 8 wins in May, Daiesho can achieve 31 wins with 9 wins in May. What would happen in this case. Would they rather promote someone to Ozeki with less wins overall but 10+ wins in May, or go with who has most wins overall?

      • I think all of the “usual” assumptions are liable to get thrown out the window if the reality of 1 or 0 qualified Ozeki/Yokozuna becomes more likely. If both Terunofuji and Takakeisho have 11 or 12 wins and are in the yusho hunt on the final weekend, this whole conversation changes. There’s just a lot of weight on those two guy’s shoulders and both are coming off injury.

      • Historically, 10+ at Sekiwake in the last basho of a run has been an absolute requirement in the 15-day basho era. The scenario where they must promote someone to have two Y/O on the next banzuke is unprecedented. My guess is if no one is a conventional promotion candidate, they’d bump up the one (or two) Sekiwake with the most wins in May. I almost want to see this scenario materialize just to see what they do!

        • I think you were the first one I heard mention a “ranking tournament”. I kinda like that idea, even if the details are unclear. No banzuke because it’s not a hon-basho, just hold a tournament (or even more) to see if anyone distinguishes themselves and earns an Ozeki rank…rather than hold a hon-basho with “undeserving” Ozeki.

          • The only one I’m aware of is May 2011 after the match-fixing scandal. No TV coverage, no admission charged, no Emperor’s cup or prizes … seems like this is the last thing sumo needs right now in terms of its finances and popularity with the public. Also, if all Ozeki candidates were to have a bad May, it’s not at all clear that there would be “legit” promotion cases after this hypothetical ranking tournament in July.

            • I was actually there in 2011. It’s where I recaptured the sumo bug after “losing contact” for a decade. It was a great chance to see sumo when it was usually so hard to get tickets. It was a much better “show” than the old 30-min digests I used to watch.

              But, I would think they could totally make new rules…even have a an abbreviated, elimination-style tournament with the winner earning Ozeki rank, or something wild. They have that little tournament in February. They could do something similar with just the sanyaku. Anything to make the case that the Ozeki earned his rank so the hon-basho following would not have the feeling of an asterisk…or being something “lesser.”

              • I can understand why they held a ranking tournament after the match fixing scandal. They had to figure out who belonged where on the banzuke, when they could not trust the results of the previous basho(s).

                Deciding who to promote to Ozeki a ranking tournament does not really make much sense. The usual criterion of 33+ wins from 45 matches over three consecutive basho compared to one tournament does not feel enough for Ozeki promotion. It would still have an asterisk. We just have to live with that asterisk and accept it as a necessity of the circumstances.

                The place for ranking tournament would be if they have to decide on which Sekiwake gets the promotion, but there are more Sekiwake with the same number of wins than there Ozeki positions to be filled, then have a tournament between those Sekiwake and promote the one(s) with the best result rather choose in committee who to promote.

              • They’ve promoted with as few as 28 wins over 3 basho in the six-basho era, if not recently (future yokozuna Kitanofuji, no less, was promoted with 8-10-10), so it wouldn’t be crazy or require an asterisk to, say, promote Hoshoryu with 10 wins if necessary.

              • @AskoJ: You’re overinterpreting what the May 2011 “technical examination” tournament was like. The differences to a normal honbasho were almost entirely confined to public-facing aspects, which were vastly scaled down and/or eliminated outright. It was primarily an exercise in showing contrition, and had very little to do with the fact that the rankings had been thrown into disarray by the various dismissals.

              • @Asashosakari: I understood from the term used “ranking tournament” that ranks were being decided based on it in 2011. If this is not the case, then it does not serve as a good example for deciding who to promote to Ozeki. Thank you for the information.

              • Well, it was relevant for the rankings, but no more and no less than any normal honbasho is.

              • And that’s exactly my point. If you have guys who are “close” to Ozeki but not quite there, and if having two Ozeki is truly a strict rule, a line in the sand, that’s clearly a solution. Hold a tournament (and possibly more) until you get the necessary complement of Ozeki. Therefore, worthy Ozeki are competing in hon-basho.

              • Given the 6-basho precedents of promotion with as few as 28 wins, the only way they’d need to do anything unconventional is if Takakeisho fails to get 8 and none of the four sekiwake get 10. There would be nothing unworthy with Hoshoryu getting promoted after 8-10-10, the way Kitanofuji was.

              • Yes. It will hopefully be a mere matter of conjecture because I hope we will have 3 deserving Ozeki in July, and one Yokozuna, on the banzuke.

              • In my naive view the idea of “worthy” or otherwise Ozeki isn’t the way to think about it. As lksumo said, there are normally 2 Ozeki (although they can have a special status called Yokozuna). All the idea of “worthiness” and performance criteria comes down to situations where they are creating additional Ozeki spots to the normal two – these are the criteria for forcing an additional spot. But, if its just an ordinary ranking (the hint is in the word), the top two guys get the top two spots irrespective of record.

                Otherwise, it would be a bit like saying we shouldn’t have an M1 or we need a special playoff because no one has achieved a good enough record for that rank. Which we don’t think – that is just banzuke luck. Or like saying we should leave the number one ranking in tennis vacant because no one is good enough. But we obviously don’t because it is a relative ranking.

                So, if TK fails to retain Ozeki, all sekiwake plus Kotonowaka crash-and burn and Shodai pulls a henka on day 15 to move to 8/7, then he’s the new Ozeki. The banzuke is just a ranking.

              • Very well-stated. Like you say, when someone goes from 9-6 at M6 to Sekiwake, because they’re next in line to fill that rank, while on another banzuke a few months later, a 10-5 Komusubi stays Komusubi because no slots are open, nobody gets too worked up about it.
                Okinoumi 2015.01 M6e 9-6 -> 2015.03 S1w
                Tochinoshin 2015.09 K1e 10-5 -> 2015.11 K1e

          • You would prefer to scrap the banzuke and make potentially multiple tournaments into unofficial affairs just because there’s no rikishi that has distinguished himself as ozeki, seriously? There are 600+ other rikishi who would be just thrilled to go along with that plan…

            Anyway, the obvious and straight-forward way to deal with an absence of deserving ozeki if you don’t want to promote anybody extemporaneously is to…just not do it. Outside of tradition-in-scare-quotes there’s absolutely no reason to require the banzuke to feature two Y/O. That’s all the out of the box thinking that’s needed to deal with this situation.

            • No, that’s not quite what I propose. I would hold an event that is not a hon-basho, like they did in 2011…and like they did in February of this year. That’s it. It could even be done in June (over a weekend), to keep the July tournament on schedule. The Kyokai would determine what criteria result in a worthy Ozeki…and then there’s no need to break with tradition for the hon-basho.

              • You’re concerned about an ozeki getting asterisked as not deserving because he was promoted with less than the usual three-basho results, and yet you’re proposing an alternative approach that would absolutely result in the ultimate asterisk?

                Also, just like AskoJ who I just responded to in another comment, I’m not sure you really understand what the point of the May 2011 tournament was.

              • I fail to see how the approach I presented would leave an Ozeki with “an ultimate asterisk.” Fans, and presumably wrestlers alike, would like a deserving promotion. Yes, it’s an unusual situation but that doesn’t mean that the result of a ranking tournament would yield a “less than deserving” promotion. Promoting based on a truncated, two-tournament record does exactly that.

                As to the 2011 tournament, I believe you and AskoJ missed the point. The point is that they held an event which was not a hon-basho. That’s it. If we get to the end of this tournament with 1 Yokozuna and no Ozeki, and no promotion candidates, they have that precedent for going on, holding the tournament, but it’s not a hon-basho. Or they can do something different, as I mentioned with the possibility of an interim tournament.

                The bottom line is that the Kyokai is a little bit different than a standard sporting body as a public interest organization. The 大関力士碑 at Tomioka Hachimangu and the 力塚 at Ekoin Temple point to significance of tradition within sumo that are a bit deeper than March Madness or the Superbowl. If having two Ozeki are no big deal, well, okay.

              • “The point is that they held an event which was not a hon-basho. That’s it.”

                No, the point is that it was considered not-a-honbasho solely for reasons that had nothing to do with anything related to sumo as a competition. All the results counted the same as they always do. Hakuho got an official yusho and the usual 10 million yen for it, top division debutant Kaisei received a special prize and the usual 2 million yen, and rikishi were promoted and demoted after the tournament same as always (albeit requiring more banzuke gymnastics than usual, but that had nothing to do with how the basho was run). Heck, for Kotoshogiku the tournament even ended up forming part of his ozeki run four months later.

                The Kyokai could have staged May 2011 as a completely normal honbasho if they had wanted to. The reasons for not doing so were related to the organization’s public image, and in (small) part also to the after-effects of the March 2011 quake and tsunami disaster.

                The fact that you’re seeing that 2011 tournament as some sort of precedent for competitive extracurriculars or, even worse, for downgrading a perfectly fine honbasho in status just because it might not have enough yokozuna and ozeki that are to your liking (what fan myopia!), demonstrates that you’ve not spent any time understanding what was actually going on back then. Your attempted “both not honbasho” equivocations between that tournament and what you’re proposing are wholly invalid. Slapping the same label on two different things doesn’t make them alike.

                And all that before we even get into the financial implications of your ideas. I’m pretty sure NHK won’t have to pay for a tournament that does not have honbasho status, so that would be 500 million yen or so down the drain. I’m sure the Kyokai could easily afford that, they’ve only lost around 10 billion since 2020 due to Covid after all. Alternatively, an additional event just to determine a new ozeki – how much were you proposing to pay all the other rikishi to take it seriously, again? Face it, you’ve come up with an “idea”, but you’ve spent zero time trying to match it up with the real-world constraints that the Kyokai is operating under. Easy enough to do with no responsibilities and no threat of consequences, I suppose.

                Finally, quite frankly, I find it borderline insulting to the sport that you’re even attempting to draw inspiration from something that came about only because of an incident that (at the time) was seen as potentially finishing off Ozumo as a professional sport, just to address something as utterly trivial as the current lack of ozeki-ranked rikishi.

              • You are making my point for me. We can even look at these results on the SumoDB.

                It looked like a hon-basho, walked like a hon-basho, talked like a hon-basho…but wasn’t a hon-basho. Yes, it counted and the results counted. That’s the point of holding one this way…so that you get an Ozeki promotion in the most worthy method possible. Yes, the circumstances for why they had it were different than these circumstances…but they had it. It’s a way to satisfy the “rule” of two Ozeki. That’s it. Regardless of the circumstances, they did it. If they do it again in Nagoya, it keeps everyone happy. It’s just called a technical examination tournament, or however they want to do it. This way it doesn’t “downgrade” anything AND you don’t get premature Ozeki runs. If you hold a regular hon-basho with a hastily promoted Sekiwake just because you need an Ozeki, that’s silly. In that case, it would be better to just do as you suggested and have the tournament with a Sekiwake at the top of the banzuke…which has never been done. If that’s okay with them, it’s definitely okay with me. I’m just a spectator. But if the two Ozeki thing is a hard-and-fast rule, the technical examination tournament is one way to swing it…but you might not get an Ozeki afterwards. Then you do it again until you do…or you do something different.

                As for the financial implications, FujiTV was willing to sponsor and broadcast the February tournament. I don’t think they will have to worry about that. The situation isn’t caused by scandal but by the competition. It adds a bit of drama and intrigue… otherwise we wouldn’t be going on about it.

              • I don’t see how your ranking tournament solves anything and removes that abnormously gigantic asterix any potential resulting Ozeki would bear.

                Leaving alone all the points by Asashosakari. How do you set up the tournament? Just a Sanyaku(Sekiwake) roundrobin? Some sort of elimination tournament with all Makuuchi? A “15day tournament”, but with multiple bouts a day?

                How is any of that better than promoting someone with 30 wins, but only 8 in his 3rd tournament or going historically low to 27.
                If it’s a format where anyone but a sekiwake can get a nod, how would that not leave the biggest asterix ever?

                Ozeki is about consistently showing strong performances over an extended period, kinda contradictive to the idea of rewarding it for a single tournament performance.

                If neither Takakeisho gets a kachikoshi nor any of your Sekiwake, than you are in deep shit obviously, but if not having two Ozeki is no option, you could aswell just not drop Takakeisho until someone earns his spot or directly reward the May Yusho with a promotion instead of creating an extra tournament.

                Or as someone else mentioned, simply put the two highest ranked rikishi on Ozeki and maybe grant them a permanent Kadoban, until they officially earned their Ozeki.

              • No, the tournament was a regular tournament. It was held just like any other. This, there would be no asterisk. As Asashosakari pointed out, Kotoshogiku hit his 33-wins in three tournaments because of that tournament. And that’s definitely better than summary promotion. I agree — why not hold Takakeisho from demotion? It is very odd to hold him to the strict rules but give someone else an easy path.

              • Well, the kadoban demotion system is explicitly codified, whereas the promotion “rules” are not. But if the promotion options were bad enough and he went 7-8, I could see them making an exception, just like Goeido got to stay Sekiwake twice after 7-8 records when no good replacement candidates were available.

              • “Goeido got to stay Sekiwake twice after 7-8 records”

                To me, that is further evidence of the importance of balance in the banzuke, in with the 2O/2S/2K discussion in Asashosakari’s post. The existence of the Yokozuna-Ozeki practice screams for this balance.

              • Personally, I’d be surprised if they gave up on 2O. As I’ve consistently argued, I don’t think “promote the next best guy” is nearly as problematic as you do, given the historical precedent. But the other possibility is not demoting Takakeisho even if he fails to get 8. This was common through the 1960s, and more recently exceptions were made under the kosho system and of course for Mitakeumi because of COVID, so this is another potential avenue for some flexibility.

          • If necessary, why not consider the Feb 23 tourney results in selecting an ’emergency Ozeki’?

            • Because it’s not an official tournament, the fights are not at 100% effort, it would be a retroactive thing, it would not be viewed as having any legitimacy, etc. etc. Same goes for the idea of holding any sort of one-off tournament to determine an Ozeki—that’s just not what the rank (or any sumo rank) is all about.

            • The winner was Daieisho, I think. But I think to be most fair, you would have to announce it before the tournament that the prize would be the rank.

    • Just watch Ichinojo and Asanoyama smash through whoever they are facing this tournament. They may give above named Ozeki hopefuls a real shock.

  5. Kagayaki gets a gift from the banzuke committee again at M17 thanks to Azumaryu and Wakatakagake’s injury. Based on his ranking, it also appears that the committee wants to slow down Ochiai a bit since he’s at J8. I doubt he’ll get promoted even with a yusho.

    This banzuke is going to be a mess with Ichinojo, Asanoyama, and Hokuseiho at the bottom and the duo of Mitakeumi and Tamawashi at M6 and M7 respectively.

    It says a lot that I don’t expect Terunofuji to last all 15 days and I’m not sure if Takakeisho can get his 8 based on the skill of his scheduled opponents. There’s zero “easy matches” at the top at this point. Even the “they’re good, but not great” rikishi can win more often than not. If anyone gets 10+ wins, they’re going to earn it. That’s for sure.

    • What does Wakatakakage’s injury have to do with Kagayaki’s rank? This time he deserved to be M17e, and that’s exactly where he ended up. Looking at how the Juryo banzuke played out, I don’t think they held down Ochiai—there were just a lot of guys who needed to be ranked ahead of him. He’d probably need 12-3 or better for promotion, although Hiradoumi lucked out pretty recently, getting promoted from J8 with 10 wins.

    • Would you be very surprised if I told you that the most common rank for rikishi to land on after they got 10 wins at J14 is…J8?

  6. I am not sure who Shimanoumi paid off, but after going 5-10 he only got a 2 rank demotion. In fact it looks like they were extraordinarily lenient in many cases.

    • Yeah, I noticed that. He’s had multiple poor tournaments with rather soft landings. I have my own theory but I would be wise to keep it a theory until I am either proven right or wrong.

  7. Ho boy! Looks like the NSK is potentially setting up for another round of horrible Mongolian optics if certain scenarios play out as follows:

    1) Terunofuji stays healthy at Yokozuna
    2) Takakeisho doesn’t get his 8 wins and loses his Ozeki rank and can’t attain 10 wins in July
    3) Kiribayama and/or Horshoryu get the necessary 33 wins
    4) Daieisho and Wakatakakage underperform

    If Takakeisho doesn’t get his 8 wins, Daieisho and Wakatakakage underperform, Kiribayama gets to 33 wins, and Horshoryu gets 10+ wins (no Ozeki promotion yet) we’d still potentially have a July banzuke with a Mongolian Yokozuna, Ozeki, and S1 East leading the way. And the S1 East would be on a solid Ozeki run as well with 2 basho in a row with 10 or more wins.

    For better or worse, ALL the pressure of Japanese pride and “saving face” rests squarely on Takakeisho’s shoulders. Both Daieisho and Wakatakakage have little to no pressure to hold up the Japanese end of things. It’s Takakeisho or bust right now.

      • jbipes – you are so correct. I got the brothers confused, bad proof reading on my part, thx!

  8. All the discussion about avoiding the “nozeki” problem is papering over the real issue, which is a lack of quality and consistency at the higher ranks of sumo. We can tell ourselves we are in a transition period, that the new talent is coming through. It’d better be right, because the recent history of promoted ozeki is pretty dismal. “Soft” promotions would hold the banzuke together but for how long? The need for a couple of consistent ozeki who can maintain their positions and push for promotion is getting desperate.

    • Lack of consistency in the higher ranks is not the same as lack of quality, it can be quite the opposite.

      • I agree. I would just want to point out the lack of staying power for recent Ozeki.

  9. Andy,
    Thanks for posting about how rikishi in the same heya are not allowed to fight each other – I just learned that recently!

    Great post!

    • What a pity! I was very much looking forward to his „duel“ with Asanoyama.
      Wouldn‘t have been surprised if he won the basho.
      But now it seems the pain in his back was too much. Or are there other reasons?


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