Wrapping up Natsu and Looking Ahead to Nagoya

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).

Ozeki Watch

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.

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

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.

Juryo/Makushita Exchanges

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.

21 thoughts on “Wrapping up Natsu and Looking Ahead to Nagoya

    • The extra rank would make it possible to keep Kagayaki, but only if the Juryo contenders had weak cases for them. As Iksumo explains, Atamifuji and Bushozan have clearly much better arguments than Kagayaki.

    • He pulled it off once before, but to be fair the next-best promotion candidate that time was J2w Hidenoumi (8-7), with a less-than promotable score. Both Bushozan and Atamifuji have much stronger cases.

  1. Thanks, Iksumo, for the overview. Love the new (?) new joi category.

    I was a disappointed that they didn’t include the Juryo playoff in the NHK Highlights.
    Do U happen to know a link to that fight? Would love to see it.

  2. Wonder if it’s an extra advantage for Atamifuji that he was the only one to beat Gonoyama?

  3. Feels like a new kind of semi-stable hierarchy is beginning to coalesce at the top of Makuuchi. With Mitakeumi, Shodai and Asanoyama all in the joi next time – plus the Yokozuna presumably back in action again – we will have basically all the top guys fighting all the top guys. Plus a new Ozeki and a goodly chance that one of Daiesho, Hoshoryu or WakaM could become ‘made men’ in the near future.

    In all the excitement of the Juryo play-off and all those guys with high, promotable scores, one might have overlooked Tomokaze scraping through to his KK on the final day (despite a momentary scare that he was guilty of a hair-pull). Delighted to see him consolidate his recovered sekitori-hood.
    But even more delighted that we will have our first ever Ukrainian Sekitori!

    Many many thanks, as ever, to lksumo for analysis throughout the basho. We are all keenly anticipating your detailed banzuke prediction article in the near future please…

  4. If Enho does go down to Makushita, that would really cement the end of “small man sumo”, with Ishiura way down and Terutsoyoshi heading downwards from Ms5. They could be very entertaining, but the problem seems to be that they need to be at 100% fitness to compete. They simply can’t carry the injuries that all rikishi acquire but heavier men seem to cope with better.

    • Midorifuji is pretty small (listed at 114 kg) but yeah, it’s tough to be constantly giving up 100-200 pounds to your opponent; this is why all other combat sports have weight classes.

    • My preliminary banzuke has Enhō at J-12W, just ahead of the promotees. Presuming he’s anywhere close to recovered from this herniated disc by then, he should wreck the bottom half of Jūryō…

      • We’ll find out in the next 36 hours. There are 4 clear open slots in Juryo + Enho. If 5 makushita promotions are announced, we’ll know he got demoted; if only 4 are, he’s safe.

  5. I hope Terunofuji can show his yokozuna power again next tournament and will test the strength of our new ozeki.
    But even more I hope that Takakeisho can heal up again. I’m actually impressed that he was able to get 8 wins despite having no offensive power whatsoever.

    Daieisho is fixed on that ozeki promotion and looking at his career so far he surely would deserve it if he can get those 11 wins. Same goes for Hoshoryu.
    Wakamotoharu might still need some time.

    And then there is Hokuseiho and Ochiai… Can’t wait to see both of them at the top.

  6. Thank you for all your coverage, know that your time, efforts and knowledge are appreciated.

  7. Had a vision of not to distant future J’oi last night. A big block of newzeki..Not sure if anyone’s enough for the big Y ATM. One thought i had looking at the ages of some of the top game is the number of, for want of a better term, 36’ers…without being arbitary, perhaps the end of the road for top end wrestlers..so how many 36’ers can we expect to lose in the near future and make space for the rising talents in the J’s on their way up ?…

    • There’s only 5 of them left in the top division, right? My guess is that we’ll lose Aoiyama and Takarafuji pretty soon, but Tamawashi, Myogiryu, and Sadanoumi may well have a fair bit left.

      • Yeah, not sure how much big Dan’s got left in the tank…He didnt look to have a lot of forward going power over the course of the last basho…

        • Endo and Ryuden might not be far behind them either. It really depends on how much of their performance this basho was based on injuries that can heal. I can currently see Endo fighting for awhile in Juryo, but considering the thunderous rise of various young rikishi I’m not sure how kind Juryo will be to anyone these days.


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