Haru 2021 Juryo Banzuke Analysis

After the release of the banzuke for the upcoming Haru 2021 basho, a great deal of attention has been paid (with good reason) to the goings-on atop the makuuchi division. But, that shouldn’t preclude you, dear reader, from gaining further knowledge of the lower depths of the banzuke. Come with me, as I guide you through the picturesque landscape of the juryo division.


The first thing you might notice is that Hatsu 2020 champion Tokushoryu finds himself back in juryo, only 14 months removed from his first top flight championship. A rather inauspicious accolade for the veteran, but I can’t say I’m surprised by his demotion. He’s only managed one winning record since lifting the Emperor’s Cup. However, if the 34-year-old from Kise-beya can score eight victories from J1E this month, the Kinki University alum will certainly find himself back up top come May.


The remainder of the top of juryo consists of several makuuchi mainstays who missed time due to COVID-19 as well as recent demotees: including Akua, Ishiura, Chiyomaru, Enho, and Sadanoumi. These five, along with Tokushoryu, will be itching to get back into the top division and perhaps claim a juryo yusho along the way.


All eyes will be on Ura as well, hanging out at J7E for this month’s tournament. The only person more excited to see Ura’s return to the top division than sumo fans is Ura himself. He put together a solid 10-5 outing in January, and has not had a make koshi since returning from injury in November of 2019. Our esteemed friend in the pink mawashi is doing good work on the comeback trail.


Speaking of comebacks, the Jokoryu Revenge Tour hit a snag last time out when the Joker posted a feeble  5-10 record, including seven straight losses to take him out of the yusho race for good after a not-entirely-horrific 5-3 start. Let’s all pray that Jokoryu is able to find the form that brought him to a komusubi debut back in 2014.


You’ll also notice that the widely discussed Oho juryo debut did not go particularly well. The 21 year old prospect has fallen out of the salaried ranks after going 5-10 and once again will have to spend a tournament in makushita. Fingers crossed we see him back up in juryo soon, and making his makuuchi debut shortly thereafter.


Finally, there are two juryo debutants this month. Both 25 years old, Takakento and Bushozan come into this basho without much fanfare. They have both Goeido’d their way to juryo, with each rikishi slapping together strings of 4 and 5 win scores to slowly but surely climb their way up. However, it is always nice to see new guys, and who knows? Maybe they can make some noise from the bottom of the division.


Got any thoughts on the outlook for March’s juryo field? Have we seen the last of Shohozan? Is Ichiyamamoto the best shikona in the division? Who do you miss having in juryo more — Ikioi or Kotoyuki? Let me know. I’m dying to hear from you.

Hatsu 2021: A Peek at Juryo

We find ourselves halfway through the first tournament of 2021, and I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated what we have seen so far. The top division alone has provided plenty of twists and turns, but be careful not to overlook Juryo over the next week. Some veterans will need a big turnaround over the next eight days to get back to Makuuchi, while a few notable rikishi look to be well on the way to a long-awaited Makuuchi return or debut. Come with me, dear reader, as I walk you through the magnificent landscape that is the Juryo division.

There are nine Juryo rikishi inactive this month, chiefly as a result of coronavirus protocols. This has opened the field up significantly as several maegashira mainstays have been eliminated from Juryo yusho contention from the jump in Enho, Ishiura, and Chiyomaru. Chiyonoo is also out, meaning he will have to wait for another chance to make his first makuuchi appearance since 2017.

As for the rikishi who are healthy, the remaining top third of juryo has had a basho to forget. Ex-komusubi Shohozan (currently perched at J4E) is showing his age at 36, managing only three wins from his first seven bouts this month. He is without a winning record since 2019, and such a result is not looking likely this January, either. It will be interesting to see if we’ve seen the last of Shohozan amongst the top flight’s rank-and-filers. Daiamami has been unable to build on the form he showed back in November when he accrued a respectable 9-6 record, so this month’s J1W will need a big second week to find himself in the first division for the eighth time come March’s basho. Churanoumi’s 4-3 record at J3W (a career high for the 27 year old from Okinawa Prefecture) might not seem incredibly impressive, but he  is riding three straight winning records, all of them 8-7. His consistency is noteworthy, and he has been slowly but steadily climbing the banzuke. He looked good on Day 7 against M17E Sadanoumi, so who knows? Perhaps another eight win effort is on the cards for Churanoumi.

The leader to this point in the basho in Juryo is J8E Tsurugisho, which is nice to see from a guy who had a cup of coffee in makuuchi from late 2019 to early 2020. Gunning for his second career Juryo yusho, Tsurugisho is undefeated so far. He hasn’t exactly been facing total scrubs either, with quality wins over the likes of Churanoumi, Nishikigi, Shohozan, and a rejuvenated Jokoryu. He has not faced the 5-2 fan-favorite Ura yet, whose return to makuuchi has been widely anticipated. Ura presents perhaps the biggest threat to Tsurugisho’s yusho hopes, as the widely publicized sekitori debut of J11W Oho has been disappointing (a mere 2-5 record so far). There is a significant portion of the division at 4-3 or 3-4, so it will be interesting to see who can separate from the pack and chase down Tsurugisho.

One last story to follow is the continuation of the Jokoryu Revenge Tour. Could he rip off a big second week and inch ever closer to his first makuuchi appearance in five years? It’s been a slow comeback for the 32 year old, but he is without a losing record since 2019. He’s got a good opportunity to build on his 4-3 start against J14E Ryuko on Day 8. Jokoryu is back, you heard it here first.

That’s all for now, catch me back here again next week with some fire post-basho Juryo analysis.