The Juryo promotions have been announced, and there are five.
There are three newcomers to the sekitori ranks (pictured above): Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) from Miyagino beya, who now gets a new shikona of Kiho, the Ukranian Ms2w Shishi (6-1), and Ms5e Yuma (5-2). Two rikishi are returning to salaried status: former Juryo regular Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3), who’s been toiling in the third division for two years, and hard-luck Ms1e Shiden (4-3), who’d missed out on promotion by a hair on several occasions, including last basho, and who missed his only basho ranked in Juryo due to his peripheral involvement in the Hidenoumi gambling mini-scandal.
Where are the 5 slots coming from? J5e Tochinoshin has retired, creating one opening in the second division. A second is opened by Ichinojo’s retirement, which created an extra opening in the top division, with a cascading effect on Juryo. One obvious demotion is that of winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-5), who may be next on the intai watch. The two we were less certain about are Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-9), although it was hard to imagine him staying with that rank and record, and injured fan favorite J3w Enho (0-10-5). We can infer from the five promotions that both will fall to Makushita. We’ll see if Enho has a comeback in him, or if he follows the trajectory of his similarly size-challenged Miyagino heya-mate, Ishiura.
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.
Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji (13-1) on a well-deserved 8th yusho, which completes the latest injury comeback in his remarkable career.
Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-6) has not looked great, but he got the 8 wins he needed to save his rank. Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-3) has exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho, and a tough-fought bout against the champion can only help his chances of rising to sumo’s second-highest rank (I’ll be shocked if he isn’t promoted). Daieisho (9-5) can no longer reach the 11 wins he needed to total 33 over 3 basho, and needs one more win to reach double digits and have a convincing run going into July. Wakamotoharu (10-4) and Hoshoryu (10-4) have posted double-digit totals to keep their runs going, and will try to pad their win columns tomorrow.
All four Sekiwake will at the very least hold their ranks. But we will be looking for at least one new Komusubi. Absent K1w Wakatakakage is guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, and K2e Shodai (6-8) could not manage a winning record. K1e Kotonowaka (7-7) can secure his rank with a win; unlike Shodai, he could potentially slide over from K1e to K1w with a 7-8 record given the paucity of promotion candidates. M1e Abi (7-7) will take the open slot if he can win his Darwin bout against M4e Ura (7-7). If Abi loses, the promotion order is: 1. Nishikigi with a win, 2. Tobizaru with a win, 3/4. Ura or Meisei with a win, 5. Nishikigi with a loss or Mitakeumi with a win.
Makuuchi Men in Danger
M13w Ichinojo has retired. Ms16e Mitoryu (4-10) and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-10) are unquestionably Juryo-bound, and M17e Kagayaki (6-8) is almost certainly so, given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo. That’s four open slots, but we have 5 solid promotion contenders, so M12e Aoiyama (4-10) better win on the final day, and I wouldn’t count M10w Takarafuji (4-10) or even M2w Endo (0-7-7) as completely safe.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
Yusho race co-leader J1e Gonoyama (13-1) and J1w Shonannoumi (10-4) are locks for promotion. The other leader, J8w Ochiai (13-1), also has a very strong case to make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!). Chaser J8e Atamifuji (12-2) and J3e Bushozan (9-5) round out the promotion cases. I am not sure what they’d do were Ochiai to lose, Atamifuji and Bushozan to win, and Aoiyama and Takarafuji to claim final-day wins. They’d have to either deny Ochiai or Bushozan despite very strong promotion cases, demote Endo, or slightly over-demote Aoiyama.
Juryo Men in Danger
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-4), who may be next on the intai watch, has pulled out, and is facing certain demotion. That’s 3 open slots, and we have 3 definite promotions: Ms1e Shiden (4-3), Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) and Ms2w Shishi (5-1). A 4th exchange will be decided tomorrow when endangered J14w Tsushimanada (7-7) takes on his direct challenger, Ms5e Yuma (5-1), with the winner claiming a sekitori slot.
After that, things are less clear. Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-8) would certainly go down with a loss, and may be doomed even with a win. The leading candidate to take his spot is Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3); I don’t know if that’s a strong enough case to force the exchange if Tokihayate wins tomorrow. The last case belongs to Ms4e Tochimusashi (4-3), but he’d have to replace one of J3w Enho (0-10-4), J11e Hidenoumi (5-9) with a loss, or J10e Chiyomaru (5-9) with a loss, and his rank and record may not be good enough to do so (and, presumably, neither would be Yuma’s at 5-2). Let’s see if the picture is any clearer tomorrow.
And then there were three. Yokozuna Terunofuji (12-1) leads by one win over last basho’s champion, Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-2). Former Ozeki Asanoyama (10-3) is the only other man still mathematically in the race. Terunofuji and Kiribayama fight tomorrow; a victory by the Yokozuna would clinch the yusho on Day 14. Should the challenger prevail, the race would go down to senshuraku, with the possibility of a playoff rematch between the two, possibly joined by Asanoyama should he win both of his remaining bouts.
Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-5) did what he needed to do to save his rank, even if it did entail a henka against the lower-ranked Meisei. Kiribayama has now exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho, and should be joining Takakeisho at Ozeki. Daieisho (8-5) can no longer reach the 11 wins he needed to total 33 over 3 basho, and now needs to win out to reach double digits and have a convincing run going into July. Wakamotoharu (9-4) and Hoshoryu (9-4) will likewise be looking to post double-digit totals to keep their runs going.
All four Sekiwake will at the very least hold their ranks. But we might be looking for some new Komusubi, with absent Wakatakakage guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, while Kotonowaka (6-7) and Shodai (6-7) have no margin left for error (Kotonowaka could potentially slide over from K1e to K1w with a 7-8 record given the paucity of promotion candidates). At the moment, M1e Abi (7-6) leads the weak promotion queue, and can guarantee promotion with one more win; Ura, Nishikigi, Meisei, Mitakeumi, Tobizaru, and Tamawashi are also still in the running.
Makuuchi Men in Danger
M13w Ichinojo has retired. Ms16e Mitoryu (4-9), M17e Kagayaki (5-8), and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-9) all have demotable scores, and given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo, lucky escapes are unlikely this time. A couple of others, mainly M12e Aoiyama (4-9) and absent 1-9-3 M5w Kotoshoho, are not out of the woods yet, which probably explain’s Kotoshoho’s questionable choice to reenter and seek the one win he needs for safety.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
With four slots already coming open in the top division, yusho race co-leader J1e Gonoyama (12-1) is a lock, as is J1w Shonannoumi (9-4) will be hard to deny, though whose place he would take is still an open question. The other leader, J8w Ochiai (12-1), now also has a promotable score and should make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!) unless he is passed by J8e Atamifuji (11-2), J3e Bushozan (8-5), or J4w Roga (8-5). It would be exciting indeed to see all 6 go up!
Juryo Men in Danger
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-3), who may be next on the intai watch, has pulled out, and is facing certain demotion. The other winless rikishi, J3w Enho, is also kyujo, though his higher rank holds out some hope that he could survive, depending on the number of promotion cases in Makushita. Last tournament’s lucky escapee, J14w Tsushimanada (6-7), needs to win out for safety, as does J14e Tokihayate (6-7). The others in some danger are J11e Hidenoumi (5-8), J12e Tomokaze (6-7), and J10e Chiyomaru (5-8). As for who is vying to replace them, see yesterday’s Makushita update.