Hoshoryu Promoted to Ozeki and Five Juryo Promotions

Hoshoryu Ozeki

It’s official! The Nihon Sumo Kyokai has promoted Hoshoryu to the rank of Ozeki for the upcoming September tournament, to be held in Tokyo. The unanimous decision was made during an extraordinary board meeting held to consider his promotion during the Aki-basho ranking conference. It’s the first time since Kotoshogiku & Kisenosato that two Ozeki have been promoted in consecutive tournaments.

For any sumo fans who have been living under a rock for the last two days, Hoshoryu won the Nagoya tournament in a playoff against Hokutofuji, finishing with 12 wins and 3 losses. This capped off an Ozeki run which also included 10-wins in March, 11 wins in May. He was not alone as both Daieisho and Wakamotoharu were also seeking Ozeki promotion in what would have been an unprecedented triple promotion. But only Hoshoryu secured enough wins in Nagoya. Both Daieisho and Wakamotoharu finished at 9-6, putting their current runs on life support and needing truly exceptional performances in September to hit the 33-win benchmark.

Hoshoryu will join Kirishima and Takakeisho at the second highest rank for the upcoming tournament, though both of the incumbents are kadoban and recovering from injuries. Yokozuna Terunofuji joined Takakeisho as kyujo after back-to-back losses, yielding kinboshi to Nishikigi and Tobizaru. The Yokozuna and both kadoban Ozeki will be under pressure to perform well in September, setting up what should be a Thunderdome of high-stakes clashes during the final weekend. Mark your calendars and if you will be in Tokyo, plan to get your tickets.

Juryo Promotions

The Aki Ranking conference did not stop at Ozeki, obviously. They set the entire banzuke for the Aki tournament but the only news that will come out before August 27 are Hoshoryu’s promotion and the Juryo promotions. As predicted by Leonid, a total of five wrestlers were promoted from Makushita to Juryo.

Tokihayate returns to Juryo after his yusho and is joined with a flood of big names. Nishonoseki-beya celebrates both a dual promotion with Onosato and Takahashi. Miyagino’s Tenshoho (Mukainakano) joins them as shin-Juryo along with the newly renamed, Asakoryu (Ishizaki) from Takasago. If you have any opinions on the new shikona, put them in the comments. Asakoryu is an interesting color choice. I was thinking English tea brown but Wikipedia says it’s red, which I guess it kind of is.

While we are certain of these promotions, the demotions were not announced. But with five promotions, that means there were five demotions. This means the likely demotions are Fujiseiun, Tsushimanada, Hidenoumi, Yuma, and Chiyonoumi. Regular readers ears might perk up hearing of Hidenoumi’s likely demotion while Shiden, his former tsukebito, achieved kachi-koshi from Juryo 13. Un-com-for-ta-ble…

30 thoughts on “Hoshoryu Promoted to Ozeki and Five Juryo Promotions

  1. I’d say those demotions are certain. If Hidenoumi is in decent fighting shape, he ought to be able to make a quick return; the promotion zone shouldn’t be exactly stacked with top talent at Aki. I expect it to look something like this. Only Takerufuji has the look of a dominant prospect.
    Tsukahara(6-1 Ms7w) Ms1 Yuma(6-9 J14e)
    Fujiseiun(0-0 J6e) Ms2 Hidenoumi(5-10 J12w)
    Kaisho(4-3 Ms6w) Ms3 Hitoshi(5-2 Ms9w)
    Kamito(5-2 Ms10w) Ms4 Takerufuji(6-1 Ms17e)
    Tsushimanada(3-12 J11w) Ms5 Kiryuko(3-4 Ms2w) or Chiyonoumi(4-11 J14w)

    • How close do you think Kototebakari and Terutsuyoshi are going to be to the Makushita promotion zone? While the top of the division might not boast the big name prospects the past few basho have had, the rungs right below that seem stocked with rikishi on the rise or those with a wealth of experience looking to recover sekitori status.

      • Typically we’d see Kototebakari probably somewhere between Ms9 and Ms11, Terutsuyoshi probably a little closer between Ms8 and Ms10. They might get a little more banzuke luck this time and be a slot higher because of the situation above them, but the 5 Juryo guys should all be in front of them, plus the guys lksumo mentioned above, and Nabatame and maybe a couple of the other make-koshi guys.

        In any case they would both need a zensho to go up after Aki unless something totally nuts happens.

      • They should be in the Ms7-Ms8 range where a zensho gets you promoted. It was nice to see Terutsuyoshi finally arrest his slide. Hatsuyama and Oshoumi are the other most interesting names for me in that area.

        • Hatsuyama’s intriguing…. kinda telling also, Tamanoi oyakata tends to withhold the shikona from the guys he expects to get to sekitori, no ‘azuma’ or (more recently) ‘to’ reading for him yet

          I know what you mean about Oshoumi but it seems really hard to trust these Naruto guys to stay on the dohyo, he’s been really promising but had all kinds of kyujo time. Whatever Osh is doing over there it’s not working, although he certainly recruits well. A little disappointed that Oshoma’s not really looked properly convincing in Juryo either apart from one basho, madness for a makushita tsukedashi guy to spend the better part of two years once it’s all said and done in Juryo, at least.

          • Yeah, they’ve certainly been snake-bitten when it comes to injuries; no idea to what extent this is just a cluster of bad luck vs. some differences in training relative to other heya…like, what might we even imagine that would cause a whole bunch of different types of injuries to a number of promising rikishi in the same heya?

  2. Asakōryū is similar in meaning to Asasekiryū, although it means more red than crimson. Nonetheless it’s a prettier character and seems to suggest Takasago (ex-Asasekiryū) favours Ishizaki quite a bit.

    Tenshōhō is…. wow. The same characters (minus the -hō) are also the name for Amaterasu. I get that it’s a homage to the Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie, where Amaterasu is worshipped and which is Tenshōhō’s shusshin, but this feels borderline blasphemous when Amaterasu is held to be the ancestress of the Emperors of Japan.

    • Although I should also note that the two reacts on JP Twitter to the Kyokai’s post either a) can’t twig the connection or b) consider it an invocation of the deity for Tenshōhō to wrestle well as a representative of Ise/Mie.

  3. Does anyone have an idea of who our next Yokozuna will be? I am a huge Terunofuji fan, especially considering his journey, but, even at a relatively young age (31, 32?), his back and knees look brittle, and after seeing him in that loss to Tobizaru i felt deeply sorry for him. But I was wondering who has the best chance, is it Takakeisho? We still have a long way to go to see, but we need a Yokozuna, and none of the Ozeki or Sekiwake have that ‘it’ factor, and we don’t want to see a Yokozuna like Kisenosato again (though I respect his career). Any ideas?

    • Takakeisho also seems too brittle despite being younger. Right now, you’d bet on Kirishima or Hoshoryu—both are young, just made the leap to ozeki-level sumo, and are only entering their physical peak. Maybe in a few basho we’ll be talking about Kotonowaka in the same way. Asanoyama might get there, but he’s old enough that he’s unlikely to have a long tenure at the rank. And then you’d have to look at the new kids on the block, but a little early to anoint them just yet.

    • I’m just going to be eager to see an Ozeki in a yusho race. Thinking about the next Yokozuna kind of puts the cart before the horse, especially with both incumbents kadoban from injuries. I want to see an Ozeki winning 10-12 bouts on a consistent basis. Takakeisho struggles to just stay on the dohyo.

      • Good point, we sometimes forget that Ozeki is a champion rank, and that it used to be the top rank for a long time. It’s just a special thing seeing a Yokozuna, a legend, and you can instantly see they are of a legendary status. Really tough to achieve that. Every Hakuho bout was special, and I miss it, especially the last one against Terunofuji, electric staredown! But yes, the young Mongolians look set to continue their domination at the top. I will be watching Nihon-born HakuOho closely with high hopes, as he looks like he has that ‘it’ factor, that presence. Long way to go. Wish each matchup was a best of three, so we could see up to three times the amount of matches we see now.

    • It‘s kinda funny, that you are a big Terunofuji fan, but don’t want to see a Yokozuna like Kisenosato again. I have been a fan of Kisenosato and I have forgiven Teru his henka against Giku a while ago, but in history Teru will be a completely forgettable Yokozuna. Yes, he got 4 Yusho as a Yokozuna, but this transition period is probably the weakest in a very long time in sumo. It’s very doubtful he will get another Yusho given his health. As a Yokozuna he started 107 out of 180 bouts. That’s almost Kisenosato level already. His comeback is admirable and his determination to fight on two borrowed knees is as well, but he will likely suffer from that for the rest of his life until medicine can grow him a fresh pair of knees (he might live long enough for that). He has benefited from the weak state of sumo and albeit that’s not overcome yet, the pulps have grown up enough that in his state of health I think it’s unlikely he collects more Yusho. I hope he can pull of a Hakuho and squeeze out one more for his last basho though.

      Similarly Takakeisho has greatly benefited from the weak state of competition. He had his chance to make Yokozuna, but missed due to numerous health issues. I think his window is closed now. He never really got back to that sumo that made him Ozeki in the first place and with new rikishi coming up and rikishi around him improving, the number of non-favourable matchups increases. Like he might be 8-7 vs. Kirishima all time, but is 1-4 in the last 5. He lost 4 in a row to Tobizaru. But who knows, maybe he can fix both his health and conditioning. It only needs two basho’s in a row …

      I agree with Andy. The two new Ozeki need to show first that they can consistently perform on Ozeki level and the new batch of talent needs to show that they can make the next step.

      Personally I’m watching Asanoyama atm, if he can return to his pre suspension level of sumo. There are glimpses still, but he isn’t back to his Ozeki level.

      Both new Ozeki have the potential and Kotonowaka is improving steadily.. I’m still unsure what the ceiling for Wakamotaharu is. He is a late bloomer and has been very consistent and steadily improving, but there were also some plunders last basho, not only that wannabe henka.

      • Asanoyama started to look a bit more like pre-suspension Asanoyama after his biceps injury, weirdly..

        • I really hope that heals and doesn’t hamper him going forward. He’ll be in the joi again in Tokyo and will face a cauldron of simmering… something. My analogy just died.

  4. Thanks for the post Andy – and the pinned tweet so that I could see it! I am very pleased for Hoshoryu and glad that we won’t have all Ozekis kodoban! Here’s hoping for Consistency from the Ozeki Corps!

    • He will probably move up to M2 or M3 but Hokutofuji will leapfrog him. Meisei will stay ahead of him but I am not sure whether Abi will benefit from some banzuke luck and stay above Asanoyama or not.

      • I’d like him to get back into Sanyaku after the next one. He still seems a class above almost everyone after the way he beat Kiri and Waka with such authority at the end of the basho.

        • There’s some luck in getting into san’yaku depending on whether any of the incumbents have losing records and how those ranked around him do, but a winning record at M1-M2 generally gets people up to san’yaku about twice as often as they get stuck at maegashira.

      • These 4 will occupy the M1 and M2 ranks, but other than Meisei staying ahead of Asa, I can see them being ranked in almost any order due to Hokutofuji’s lower rank and Abi’s san’yaku rank. So anywhere from M1w to M2w.

      • Andy, what have you made of Tobizaru’s recent performances? I always thought of him by his moniker as the ‘flying monkey’, quick, unpredictable, agile. But like I said to someone a few basho back, he is more like the ‘firm gorilla’ now. His strength really impresses me, and he is moving away from the Ura comparisons some attach to him (not the perfect comparison, I know, but shades of that). Is Tobizaru bound to be stuck as a solid M1 or Komusubi? I think his brother is Myogiryu, right? And that guy, though old, is seriously intimidating. Think he has some Yakuza connections, if the gambling rumours are true. Anyways, does Tobizaru have the potential to grow into Sekiwake or even Ozeki ranks? He seems like an 8-7 or 9-6 guy to me, but as I said, he impresses me more than I thought possible every basho.

        • Ha – its funny, I was thinking more-or-less the opposite. I previously thought he had turned a corner into the real “firm gorilla”, but he hasn’t really pushed on with this the way I hoped he would. He is still quite effective with his Takakeisho-like feints and the like (that are less-and-less used by The Great Round One these days, even when he’s on the dohyo). But I haven’t seen him develop the power and technique game that he looked like he was starting to bring on. Perhaps there’s some underlying injury that has sapped a bit of that power game, though.
          He’s Hideoumi’s brother – bit of a different comparison..

          • Ah, Hidenoumi, thanks for the correction. Shame, the guy has faded so much from Makunouchi into Juryo that I forgot about him. Tobizaru is not the biggest guy, not intimidating, but he consistently gets better every year. No major dips or surges. He’s always under the radar, and he keeps on beating my picks in my online sumo games.

            • Hidenoumi might fade right into Makushita. Tobizaru has been a great wildcard but I still haven’t pinpointed his style, other than to be very mobile, dynamic. He had seemed more evasive in the past but stronger recently, taking some guys head-on. I don’t know, to be honest. I will be keeping my eye on him.

  5. I’d like to see Terunofuji get 10 basho titles. Given he hasn’t been able to complete consecutive tournaments for the past year makes it seem unlikely. His 14-1 May tourney shows that he doesn’t really have a peer amongst the current sekitori, but his July withdrawal also demonstrates why his tenure as Grand Champ has seemed somewhat delicate. His story of injuries and comebacks, though inspiring can’t continue forever. Sometime fairly soon he’ll move on to become a stablemaster and guide other wrestlers along on their journeys. He’s very aware of the importance of his position in the Sumo world and I don’t expect him to retire unless he believes the organization is a good position similar to the way Hakuho waited for him to be promoted before making his retirement official.

    As for the next dominant figure in Ozumo, maybe one of Teru’s countrymen, Kirishima or Hoshoryu, will take another step and assert themselves. Hoshoryu is only 24 and has the skills and pedigree to become truly great. It was also great to see all 3 of the Makurookies get at least 10 wins in Nagoya, they all look like they’re going to be solid wrestlers for sometime to come. Maybe Hakuoho will continue to impress and live up to his shikona, he’s got the skills and legs (his thighs are huge!) to become a champion. It would be fun to watch a Hoshoryu v. Hakuoho rivalry take shape. Anyways that’s a long way off, Hoshoryu made quick work of him a couple of weeks ago, but I enjoyed the build up to their match even if it didn’t last long.


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