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.
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…