The bouts are over, all the hardware has been handed out, so it’s time to take a preliminary look at what the May results mean for the future of sumo (and specifically, for the July banzuke).
Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-7) did not look great, but he got the 8 wins he needed to save his rank. Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-4) exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho; the procedures to elevate him to sumo’s second-highest rank have been set in motion and should reach their culmination on Wednesday. The NSK has also confirmed that the other three Sekiwake will be on Ozeki runs in July. Going by the guideline of 33 wins over 3 basho, S2e Daieisho (10-5) will need 11 wins, while S2w Wakamotoharu (10-5) and S1w Hoshoryu (11-4) will need 12 apiece.
The Sekiwake rank will be filled by the three incumbents, but there will be some turnover at Komusubi. K1e Kotonowaka (8-7) secured his rank with a final-day win, but absent K1w Wakatakakage is guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, and K2e Shodai (6-9) could not manage a winning record. This leaves the K1w slot empty, and it will be filled by M1e Abi (8-7), who won his Darwin bout against M4e Ura (7-8). We will go from 1 Y, 1 O, 4 S, 3 K to 1 Y, 2 O, 3 S, 2K, shrinking the number of San’yaku ranks by one and reviving the M17w rank for the first time in exactly a year.
The New Joi
These are the maegashira who fill out the top 16 round-robin along with the San’yaku ranks. Nominally, the joi will extend down to M4. These ranks should be occupied by the other two kachi-koshi survivors from the “zone of death”, M4w Nishikigi (9-6) and M3e Tobizaru (8-7), along with falling Shodai, M1w Midorifuji (6-9), and M4e Ura (7-8), rising M6 duo of Mitakeumi (9-6) and Meisei (8-7), and, last but not least, former Ozeki M14e Asanoyama (12-3), who should get a full tour of the named ranks next time.
Three top-division slots are unquestionably open due to the retirement of M13w Ichinojo and the performances of Ms16e Mitoryu (5-10) and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-11). M17e Kagayaki (7-8) is almost certain to go down, given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo, although his past extremely lenient treatment by the banzuke committee makes the fans a bit nervous.
There should be little doubt about the first three promotions: Juryo yusho winner J1e Gonoyama (14-1), fellow J1 Shonannoumi (11-4), and regulation co-leader J8w Ochiai (14-1), who should make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!), tying the record held by Endo. But we also have J8e Atamifuji (13-2) and J3e Bushozan (10-5), who’ve done more than enough to earn promotion, assuming there is room. Atamifuji has the better rank-record combination, since each extra win makes up for 2 ranks, but Bushozan’s much higher rank argues in his favor. Barring shenanigans, one of them should replace Kagayaki, but which one, and what to do with the other? M12e Aoiyama (5-10) won on the final day to be just safe by the numbers. M2w Endo (0-7-8) could technically be considered demotable, but this would be extremely unusual given his rank. It seems most likely that one of Atamifuji and Bushozan will have to try again from J1e.
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Two more slots will be vacated by winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-5), who may be next on the intai watch, and Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-9). The first 3 open slots will go to Ms1e Shiden (4-3), Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) and Ms2w Shishi (6-1); the 4th should be occupied by Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3).
After that, things are less clear. The remaining promotion cases belong to Ms4e Tochimusashi (4-3) and Ms5e Yuma (5-2). Yuma’s extra win probably makes up for the one-rank difference, but he did lose his “exchange bout” against Tsushimanada. The rikishi one of them would have to replace is J3w Enho (0-10-5). Because Juryo promotions are announced on Wednesday, we’ll know soon who is going up, and from their number we can infer whether Enho will fall to Makushita.