What the Kyushu Results Mean for the Next Banzuke

Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji (15-0) on a well-deserved victory. With all the results now in the books, let’s take a look at how they’re likely to reshuffle the rankings for January.

Yokozuna and Ozeki

Terunofuji will remain the lone East Yokozuna. Takakeisho (12-3) will take over the more prestigious East Ozeki rank from Shodai (9-6), who will move to the West side.

Lower San’yaku

Mitakeumi (11-4) will remain East Sekiwake. His 11 wins, and 20 over the last two tournaments, put him on an Ozeki run in January. Given his consistent performance in the named ranks, and the current dearth of Ozeki and Yokozuna, he may well have a lower target than the oft-cited 33 wins over 3 basho.

M2w Takanosho (11-4) will take over the West Sekiwake rank from Meisei (7-8), who managed to do enough to limit his fall to Komusubi. With both current Komusubi, Ichinojo (5-10) and Kiribayama (6-9), set to drop into the rank-and-file, there is another open slot, and it was claimed by M1e Daieisho (8-7) with a final-day win. Just missing out on a san’yaku return is M1w Wakatakakage (8-7). There have been 22 times in the 6-basho era that an M1w with a winning record merely slid over to M1e; the 3 most recent instances even involved rikishi with 9-6 records.

The Upper Maegashira

The joi-jin loosely comprises the named ranks and the maegashira who regularly face them. With only 7 san’yaku ranks, that line falls somewhere between M5e and M5w (Takayasu and Hoshoryu on the current banzuke). The ten ranks from M1-M5 ranks should be occupied by Wakatakakage, the two demoted Komusubi, M7e Ura (10-5), M4w Endo (8-7), M6w Tamawashi, M3e Okinoumi (7-8), M12w Hokutofuji (11-4), M7w Chiyoshoma (8-7), and M15w Abi (12-3), with M5w Hoshoryu (7-8) landing just outside the range. I’ve listed the maegashira in the rough order, with Kiribayama probably landing between Ura and Endo and Ichinojo between Tamawashi and Okinoumi.

Makuuchi/Juryo

At least three open slots in the top division: Hakuho’s, Asanoyama’s, and M17w Shohozan’s (4-11). And there are three clear promotion cases in Juryo: the yusho winner J4w Ichiyamamoto (13-2), Wakatakakage’s bro J1w Wakamotoharu (11-4), and J1e Tsurugisho (9-6).

Will we see any other exchanges? The possible demotion cases are M14e Kagayaki (5-10) and M17e Kaisei (7-8), with Kagayaki more likely to go down by usual criteria. The candidates to replace them are J7e Oho (11-4) and J3w Bushozan (8-7), with Oho having the better case by the numbers. I think we will see Oho make his long-awaited Makuuchi debut, with Kaisei just surviving and Kagayaki and Bushozan occupying the top rung in Juryo, but frankly all four cases are marginal enough that nothing will surprise me, although I’d rate Kagayaki getting the nod over Oho as more likely than Bushozan displacing Kaisei.

Juryo/Makushita

What could have been a messy promotion/demotion situation shook out very neatly in the end. Four spots are open in Juryo: Hakuho’s, Hokuseiho’s, J9w Kyokutaisei’s (2-13), and J14e Kyokushuho’s (6-9), whose uninterrupted run in the second division will end after 28 basho. And conveniently, there are precisely four rikishi in the Makushita promotion zone with winning records: Ms1w Kotoyusho (4-3), Ms2w Shiba (5-2), Ms3e Kitanowaka (5-2), and Ms4e Chiyoarashi (5-2). The first three will be making their sekitori debuts, with Kitanowaka’s the most eagerly anticipated, while Chiyoarashi will be returning to Juryo after an 8-year absence.

J10e Yago’s (5-10) final-day victory, combined with a lack of promotion candidates, earns him a lucky stay in the salaried ranks and makes him the biggest beneficiary of Hakuko’s retirement.

Kyushu Special Prizes

Special prize deliberations and voting

Sanshō 三賞, literally “three prizes” are the three special prizes awarded to top (Makuuchi) division sumo wrestlers for exceptional performance during a sumo honbasho or tournament. The prizes were first awarded in November 1947. The three prizes are:
Shukun-shō (殊勲賞), Outstanding Performance prize
Kantō-shō (敢闘賞), Fighting Spirit prize
Ginō-shō (技能賞), Technique prize

Wikipedia

Who will get the trophies and the ¥2 million that comes with each one? The prizes are voted on before the final day’s bouts take place, but some are conditional on a rikishi winning his last bout or on more exotic outcomes, such as winning the yusho.

The November prizes have just been announced:

Kanto-sho (Fighting Spirit Prize)

West Maegashira #2 Takanosho  conditionally
(10-4)

Kanto-sho (Fighting Spirit Prize)

West Maegashira #15 Abi  
(12-2)

Gino-sho (Technique Prize)

East Maegashira #7 Ura  
(10-4)

Kyushu Promotion/Demotion Picture, Day 14

Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji (14-0) on a well-deserved victory. With the yusho race decided, what else is on the line on Day 15? Two Komusubi slots, at least one Makuuchi-Juryo exchange, and two exchanges between Juryo and Makushita are at stake in senshuraku action.

Lower San’yaku

Mitakeumi (10-4) will remain East Sekiwake, and needs a final-day win against Shodai to mount a credible Ozeki bid in January. West Sekiwake Meisei (6-8) will surrender his rank, and needs to beat Ichinojo to limit his fall to Komusubi. Both current Komusubi, Ichinojo (5-9) and Kiribayama (5-9), are assured of a drop into the rank-and-file.

M2w Takanosho (10-4) has locked up a return to West Sekiwake after a 3-basho absence (fun fact: this will be his 5th appearance at that exact rank without ever being ranked Komusubi).

The pecking order for the two Komusubi slots is as follows: 1. Meisei with a win; 2. M1e Daieisho (7-7) with a win; 3. M1w Wakatakakage (7-7) with a win; 4. M7e Ura (10-4) with a win; 5. M6w Tamawashi with a win (9-5); 6. Ura with a loss; 7. M4w Endo (7-7) with a win; 8. Tamawashi with a loss. It’s possible that Endo with a win could jump over Ura with a loss, and also that M15w Abi (12-2) with a win could jump over Tamawashi with a loss. So that’s as many as seven men with san’yaku hopes on senshuraku!

Makuuchi/Juryo

There will be at least three open slots in the top division: one due to Hakuho’s retirement, one due to Asanoyama’s suspension, and one to be vacated by the lowest man on the banzuke, M17w Shohozan (3-11). Their spots will be taken by Juryo yusho frontrunner J4w Ichiyamamoto (12-2), Wakatakakage’s bro J1w Wakamotoharu (10-4), and J1e Tsurugisho (8-6).

Will we see any other exchanges? If M14e Kagayaki (4-10) loses, he’ll be demoted for certain. He really ought to be demoted even if he wins, but he could yet be bailed out by his uncanny banzuke luck. M17e Kaisei (7-7) is probably already safe, and can make certain of that by defeating Endo, a tough ask by the schedulers.

J7e Oho (10-4) broke his 4-bout losing streak just in time, and should have the 4th-best promotion case. He’ll replace Kagayaki with a win or a Kagayaki loss. The decision is less clear if the choice is between a 10-5 Oho and a 5-10 Kagayaki, and I would guess might favor the incumbent, especially since this is Kagayaki we’re talking about.

Finally, I don’t think they’ll drop Kaisei with a loss in favor of J3w Bushozan (7-7) with a win, and J6e Kotoshoho (8-6) is even less likely to get the nod if he wins and both Kaisei and Bushozan lose, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Juryo/Makushita

Three slots are definitely open in Juryo: one by Hakuho’s retirement, one by Hokuseiho’s withdrawal, and one by J9w Kyokutaisei (2-12). J14e Kyokushuho (6-8) and J10e Yago (4-10) will also finish with demotable records, but each could earn a reprieve with a win, while a loss would doom them to Makushita.

Ms1w Kotoyusho (4-2) should be making his Juryo debut win or lose. He is matched with Yago. Ms2w Shiba (5-2) will also finally become a sekitori after toiling in the unsalaried ranks since 2014. Ms4e Chiyoarashi (5-2) should also be in, as he is competing with Ms3e Kitanowaka (4-2), who is matched with Kyokushuho. A Kitanowaka victory would force down Kyokushuho, creating space for both himself and Chiyoarashi, while a Kitanowaka loss would place him behind Chiyoarashi. In that case, Kitanowaka may need to hope for a Yago loss. Finally, Ms4w Fukai (3-3) faces J8w Churanoumi (6-8). Should he pull off the upset, he would need both Yago and Kyokushuho to lose. If Fukai, Yago and Kyokushuho all lose, a spot would open up for someone outside the traditional Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone: either Ms6e Shimazuumi (4-3) or possibly Ms8e Tamashoho (5-2).

Kyushu Promotion/Demotion Picture, Day 13

The Yusho Race

Yokozuna Terunofuji (13-0) leads M15 Abi (12-1) by one win with two days to go; Ozeki Takakeisho (11-2) is two wins off the pace. Tomorrow, we get Terunofuji vs. Abi, which is a bit unusual, in that a low-ranked chaser doesn’t usually get a direct shot at a Yokozuna, but it’s great scheduling for us fans! The two have never met. A Terunofuji victory would give him the title with a day to spare. If Abi can pull off the upset, the title race will be decided on Day 15, with Takakeisho also in the picture should he prevail against fellow Ozeki Shodai (9-4). The scheduling should then be Terunofuji vs. Takakeisho and Abi vs. Shodai.

Lower San’yaku

Mitakeumi (9-4) will remain East Sekiwake, but he needs to win his final two bouts to mount a credible Ozeki bid in January. Tomorrow, he faces Tamawashi, against whom he is a remarkable 24-3. West Sekiwake Meisei (5-8) will surrender his rank, and needs to win out to limit his fall to Komusubi. Tomorrow he gets Ura, who prevailed in their one previous meeting in July. Both Komusubi, Ichinojo (5-8) and Kiribayama (5-8), are now assured of a drop into the rank-and-file.

M2w Takanosho‘s (9-4) is the frontrunner to return to Sekiwake after a 3-basho absence (fun fact: he’s never been Komusubi). It’s not clear if anyone can pass him at this point even if he loses out, though M7e Ura (10-3) might if he gets to 12 wins. Ura is the current leader for the second open slot. Still in contention are M6w Tamawashi (9-4) and the M1 duo of Daieisho and Wakatakakage, both 6-7; of course, they have to win out just to be eligible for promotion, but should Daieisho pull it off, he is guaranteed promotion ahead of potentially more deserving candidates by virtue of his top M1e rank. I would not yet rule out M4w Endo (7-6) or M3e Okinoumi (6-7), though a lot would have to break just right for them, and of course the wildcard is Abi should he go 14-1.

Makuuchi/Juryo

There will be at least three open slots in the top division: one due to Hakuho’s retirement, one due to Asanoyama’s suspension, and one to be vacated by the lowest man on the banzuke, M17w Shohozan (3-10). M14e Kagayaki (3-10) now needs to win out just to have a chance to be bailed out by banzuke luck. M17e Kaisei (6-7) needs two wins or one and some leniency, while M13w Tochinoshin (5-5-3) and M15e Chiyomaru (6-7) might be safe already, but can make certain with one more victory.

The first two promotion slots are spoken for by Juryo yusho frontrunner J4w Ichiyamamoto (11-2) and J1w Wakamotoharu (9-4). Top-ranked J1e Tsurugisho (7-6) can claim the third with one more win. J7e Oho (9-4), who’s now dropped 4 in a row, can still earn promotion by winning his last two, while J6e Kotoshoho (8-5) and J3w Bushozan (6-7) need to win out and hope for banzuke luck.

Juryo/Makushita

Two slots were already open in Juryo, one also due to Hakuho’s retirement and the other due to his protege Hokuseiho’s disappointing early withdrawal in his long-awaited sekitori debut. Today’s loss by J9w Kyokutaisei (2-11) has opened a third. J14e Kyokushuho (6-7) and J10e Yago (4-9) need to win out to guarantee a stay.

Ms4e Chiyoarashi (5-2) got a crucial 5th win and opened up a third promotion slot when he bested Kyokutaisei. He is seeking a return to Juryo after more than 8 years, but is not quite guaranteed promotion yet, as three others ranked ahead of him have 4-2 records. Tomorrow is Ms2w Shiba‘s (4-2) turn to try to lock down a sekitori debut and possibly create another opening when he takes on Yago. Ms1w Kotoyusho (4-2) should be making his Juryo debut win or lose, while the exact place of Ms3e Kitanowaka (4-2) in the pecking order won’t be decided until Day 14.

The Makushita yusho was predictably claimed by former Komusubi Ms47w Ryuden (7-0), who will be the favorite to take the title again in January, when he’ll be fighting in the upper ranks of the third division for a sekitori return. The Sandanme title went to Kazakhstani Yersin Baltagulov, making his professional debut as Kinbozan at Sd100 tsukedashi after a successful collegiate career.