Looking Ahead to the Kyushu Banzuke

With the September results in the books, let’s take our customary preliminary look at how they’re likely to reshuffle the rankings ahead of the November tournament.

Yokozuna and Ozeki

No changes here, except that Kirishima and Takakeisho will swap sides based on their Aki win totals. And all three Ozeki will be in good standing after the kadoban pair posted winning records and shin-Ozeki Hoshoryu recorded his 8th win on the final day.


All three Sekiwake—S1e Daieisho (10-5), S1w Wakamotoharu (9-6), and S2e Kotonowaka (9-6)—will stay at exactly the same ranks. We had two new Komusubi this time, and neither Nishikigi (5-10) nor Tobizaru (6-9) came close to holding rank, so they will be replaced by M2e Abi (9-6) and M1 Hokutofuji (8-7). M2w Asanoyama (9-6) actually has a slightly better numerical case for promotion than Hokutofuji, but no M1e with a winning record has been denied a san’yaku rank since 1969.

Upper Maegashira

Given the above, the former Ozeki Asanoyama will have to settle for the top maegashira spot, where any winning record would return him to the named ranks for the first time since his suspension-driven fall two years ago. The rest of the occupants of the M1-M5 ranks are clear, though the order is not. We have 6 other maegashira with winning records who belong here: M4w Ura (9-6), M3e Shodai (8-7), M5e Gonoyama (9-6), M7e Takayasu (10-5), M6e Onosho (9-6), and M9e Midorifuji (10-5). We also have to slot in M1w Meisei (7-8), as well as the two falling Komusubi, who usually get some preferential treatment. Tobizaru and Meisei could slot in after Shodai, and Nishikigi after Onosho, but I’ll need to look more closely to figure out the most likely solution.

Makuuchi-Juryo Exchanges

We have four rock-solid demotions: absent M9w Hakuoho, lowest-ranked M17e Daishoho (3-12), M15w Chiyoshoma (3-12), and M16e Kagayaki (5-10). There were 3 other men in danger going into senshuraku, and only Nishikifuji picked up a win, so the potential additional denotion queue stands as follows: M14w Kotoshoho (5-10), M14e Aoiyama (5-10), M13w Nishikifuji (5-10). Who stays and who goes comes down to evaluating the promotion cases in Juryo.

The bad news for Kotoshoho is that there are 5 solid promotion cases. These are headed by J3e Tomokaze (11-4), who will finally be back in the top division after a four-year comeback, and J7w Ichiyamamoto (13-2), who took the yusho after he beat Daiamami and J14e Onosato (12-3) lost to promotion-chasing Roga. With that all-important win, top-ranked J1e Roga (8-7) clinched a long-awaited top-division debut. The other solid promotion cases belong to the king of negative sumo, J4w Tohakuryu (10-5), and J5e Churanoumi (10-5).

Sixth in line for promotion is J2e Kitanowaka (8-7), who is a hair short of a numerical promotion claim but should nevertheless replace Aoiyama, although this isn’t a lock. A harder question is whether Nishikifuji’s senshuraku win will be enough to save him; I am guessing that it will just be, given that the best candidate to replace him is J5w Bushozan (9-6).

Oh, and the only record in Makuuchi worse than 5-10, aside from Chiyoshoma and Daishoho, belongs to iron man M3w Tamawashi (2-13), who is in no danger of demotion, but it will be interesting to see how much the banzuke committee opts to cushion his fall down the rankings.

Promotion/Demotion and Yusho Picture, Day 14

Just one day of sumo left to go! Let’s take a final look at where the various storylines stand.

Yusho Race

Young M15e Atamifuji (11-3) prevailed over henka-ing Abi, and is once again the sole leader after O1w Takakeisho (10-4) was bested by Hoshoryu. This dropped Takakeisho into a 4-way tie for second with S1e Daieisho, M7e Takayasu, and M11w Hokuseiho, who all won today. A win by Atamifuji over former Ozeki Asanoyama would clinch a surprise first top-division yusho for him to go with the one he won in Juryo last basho (and a couple from the lower divisions). Otherwise, we’re guaranteed at least a two-man playoff, as Takakeisho and Daieisho are matched up head-to-head. Takayasu and Hokuseiho could also join it with victories over Kirishima and Hoshoryu, respectively.

Ozeki Status

Takakeisho and O1e Kirishima (8-6) have cleared kadoban, while shin-Ozeki Hoshoryu (7-7) must beat the giant Hokuseiho to avoid being kadoban in November.

San’yaku Exchanges

All three Sekiwake will stay at the same ranks after S2w Kotonowaka (8-6) clinched his winning record today, joining already kachi-koshi S1e Daieisho (10-4) and S1w Wakamotoharu (9-5). K1e Nishikigi (5-9) will be back in the maegashira ranks, as will K1w Tobizaru (6-8). So both Komusubi slots are open. Top maegashira M1e Hokutofuji (8-6) will claim one of them. The contenders for the other are M2e Abi (8-6), M2w Asanoyama (8-6), and M7e Takayasu (10-4), in that order. Abi gets it with a win, Asanoyama with a win and an Abi loss, and Takayasu must win, hope for the other two to lose, and then wait to see if that’s enough to jump him over Abi.

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

We have four rock-solid demotions: absent M9w Hakuoho, lowest-ranked M17e Daishoho (3-11), M15w Chiyoshoma (2-12), and M16e Kagayaki (4-10). M14e Aoiyama (5-9) won today; he’ll be safe with a win tomorrow, and could escape demotion even with a loss depending on other results. The other men in danger both lost, and as a consequence, M13w Nishikifuji (4-10) and M14w Kotoshoho (5-9) must win tomorrow and rely on banzuke luck.

There’s quite a logjam in Juryo for any open slots, with up to a dozen rikishi still in contention. The yusho co-leader, J7w Ichiyamamoto (12-2), should be a lock for promotion, along with J3e Tomokaze (10-4), who will finally be back in the top division after a four-year comeback. J5e Churanoumi (10-4) has probably done enough to earn a top-division debut, but one more win wouldn’t hurt. J1e Roga (7-7) would clinch a long-awaited promotion with a win, but a loss would eliminate him from contention. J2e Kitanowaka (8-6) and J4w Tohakuryu (9-5) should earn promotion by winning, and may have done enough regardless. Several others must win and hope for losses by the other contenders and by the endangered Makuuchi incumbents. There’s a decent chance that we might see 7 exchanges, which would tie the record for a non-scandal basho.

Oh, and the Juryo yusho also comes down to the final day. Ichiyamamoto is in a tie with uber-prospect J14e Onosato (12-2), so if one wins and the other loses tomorrow, that would decide the title in regulation; otherwise, it’s on to a playoff rematch of their regulation bout on Day 10, in which I’m sure Onosato would be eager to avenge one of his only two losses. Combine this possibility with the top-division intrigue and the big 7-way playoff in Makushita, and we’re set for an exciting finish to the Aki basho!

We Get the Giant Makushita Brawl for the Title!

When we last left things, journeyman Ms47w Chiyoarashi was the last undefeated Makushita rikishi at 6-0, which meant that he would face a 5-1 opponent on Day 13, who needed to win to force a big Day 15 playoff the likes of which we have not seen since Hatsu 2021. The task fell to former co-leader Ms27w Asahakuryu, and to the delight of everyone except Chiyoarashi fans (are there Chiyoarashi fans?), he pulled it off. This means that we have seven, count them, seven rikishi tied with 6-1 records. They range from Ms3w Hitoshi, who is headed for a Juryo debut, to Ms53w Onojo. The format here is that they will draw lots, one wrestler will get a bye directly into the semifinals, the other six will be paired up randomly, and then the winners of those bouts and the rikishi who got the bye will again be randomly drawn into two semifinals, with the winners facing off for the title.

The Juryo promotions are settled. Precisely three rikishi in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone have winning records: Ms1w Yuma (4-3), Ms2e Hidenoumi (4-2), and Ms3w Hitoshi (6-1). Two spots in Juryo are open due to Wakatakakage’s absence and J13e Kiho’s (4-8-1) withdrawal. J10w Hakuyozan (3-10) is already demotable and would be the last man out as things stand today, but he could yet save himself by winning out, combined with losses by others.

Promotion/Demotion and Yusho Picture, Day 13

With two days to go, it’s time for a quick look at where the various storylines stand.

Yusho Race

Facing his first Ozeki was too much for young M15e Atamifuji (10-3), and he is now tied for the lead with O1w Takakeisho. M7e Takayasu lost again, but is still in the race as part of a four-man chase group that also includes S1e Daieisho, M10e Kinbozan, and M11w Hokuseiho (raise your hand if you had the last two in the yusho race on Day 13). A whopping 11 rikishi two back at 8-5 are not mathematically out of it yet, but the yusho scoreline is very unlikely to drop to 10 unless all six men ahead of them lose tomorrow. Tomorrow, Takakeisho draws O2w Hoshoryu (6-7), whose back is to the wall, while Atamifuji gets his first bout with M2e Abi (8-5).

Ozeki Status

Takakeisho and Kirishima (8-5) have cleared kadoban, while Hoshoryu (6-7) must win out to avoid being kadoban in November.

San’yaku Exchanges

S1e Daieisho (9-4) and S1w Wakamotoharu (8-5) will keep their rank. Shin-sekiwake S2w Kotonowaka (7-6) needs one more win to maintain his career-high rank, and will not fall lower than Komusubi. K1e Nishikigi (5-8) will be back in the maegashira ranks, while K1w Tobizaru (6-7) must win out to avoid joining him. One or two Komusubi slots should open, unless Kotonowaka loses out and Tobizaru wins out. In any case, top maegashira M1e Hokutofuji (8-5) has clinched promotion even if that means creating an extra Komusubi slot. The other lead contenders for promotion are M2e Abi (8-5) and M2w Asanoyama (8-5).

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

We have three rock-solid demotions: absent M9w Hakuoho, lowest-ranked M17e Daishoho (3-10), and M15w Chiyoshoma (2-11), who’ll be in Juryo for the first time in three years. M16e Kagayaki (4-9) is also going down unless he gets very favorable banzuke luck. The other men who are in danger, and need two wins to ensure safety, are M14e Aoiyama (4-9), M13w Nishikifuji (4-9), and M14w Kotoshoho (5-8).

There’s quite a logjam in Juryo for any open slots, with about 8 rikishi in contention. The yusho leader, J7w Ichiyamamoto (12-1), should be a lock for promotion, and J3e Tomokaze (9-4) should finally be back in the top division after a four-year comeback, but the rest of the spots will be decided in the final two days of action.