Aki Banzuke Postmortem

The official September banzuke has just been released. Let’s see how my prediction fared. As expected, there are lots of very lenient demotions and generous promotions, although I didn’t get all the details right.

I correctly predicted all nine san’yaku rikishi at their exact ranks, but this was a fairly routine exercise this time (the only slight wrinkles are that Hoshoryu, as a newcomer to the rank, is the lowest-ranked of the Ozeki, despite posting by far the best record in Nagoya, that he is placed on the West side, to balance out the sole Yokozuna Terunofuji, and that the third Sekiwake, newcomer Kotonowaka, is on the East side).

In my prediction post, I wrote that the most likely order at M1-M2 was Hokutofuji, Meisei, Asanoyama, Abi, but that Abi could jump ahead of Asanoyama. That is in fact exactly what happened. I also correctly outlined who’d fill M3-M5, with my one error in this part of the banzuke being placing Gonoyama at M4e and Takanosho at M5e, while the banzuke committee flipped them. Given their respective ranks and records, the rikishi with the most wins usually gets the tie, so I am not sure why M9e Takanosho (8-7, 4-rank overpromotion) got the nod over M13e Gonoyama (10-5, 3-rank overpromotion). Of the 19 rikishi placed so far, I had 15 at the correct rank and side, plus two more at the right rank but on the wrong side.

The trickiest part of the banzuke to predict was M6-M11, with a dozen rikishi very close to each other by rank and record. And the banzuke committee made a number of choices among them that differed from mine: I had only 3 of the 12 at the exact same rank (all in the M6-M7 area), plus one more on the wrong side. The general trend was to favor overpromotions rather than underdemotions—for instance, M15e Ryuden (10-5) ended up two ranks higher than I thought, while M3e Midorifuji (4-11) was 2.5 ranks lower. Rikishi like Midorifuji, Mitakeumi, and Hokuseiho, who ended up with rough records after facing high-ranking opponents, did not seem to get the leniency they often do.

My prediction got back on track at M12, and the only error from here was placing Chiyoshoma and Atamifuji on the wrong sides of M15. Again, I am a bit surprised by the choice of the committee to favor Atamifuji here, not because he didn’t deserve it, but because it meant giving Chiyoshoma a half-rank overdemotion, which the committee generally goes to great lengths to avoid.

Overall, I feel like the prediction captured what could reasonably be expected. It was very close through the first 23 ranks, with only the inclusion of Midorifuji being way off, and again in the last 11 ranks. The 8 positions in between were always going to be something of a coin toss. Now, on to the basho!

Aki Banzuke Crystal Ball

In my previous post, I took a preliminary look at what the Nagoya results mean for the named ranks and division exchanges on the September banzuke. Now, let’s tackle the hard stuff and try to sort out the maegashira mess. This turns out to be an exercise not for the faint of heart. By the usual banzuke math, only 7 rikishi deserve to be ranked M1-M7, and since there are 14 spots to fill, the banzuke committee will have to be creative, with lots of very lenient demotions and generous promotions.

Only 4 of the 12 maegashira ranked between M1 and M6 had winning records, and two of them—M1e Nishikigi (10-5) and M1w Tobizaru (9-6)—will be moving up to fill the vacant Komusubi slots. That leaves us with M3w Meisei (8-7) and M4e Asanoyama (8-4-3). Throw in the dropping K1w Abi (6-9), M2e Shodai (6-9), and M4w Ura (7-8), plus the surprise runner-up, M9w Hokutofuji (12-3), and that’s what we have to work with for the upper maegashira ranks. Obviously, the best Ura can do is keep his rank at M4w, which is what I expect to happen. Shodai’s record necessitates a demotion; we’ll get back to him in a moment. The other four rikishi will occupy M1-M2. With the same win total from a higher rank, Meisei has to stay ahead of Asanoyama, but other than that, I can see those two, Hokutofuji and Abi placed in almost any order. I don’t see a need to rank Abi at M1, and the most likely order seems like Hokutofuji, Meisei, Asanoyama, Abi, but Abi could jump ahead of Asanoyama, and Hokutofuji could be lower by virtue of his rank outside the joi.

At least the occupants of M1-M2 are pretty clear, even if the order is not. What do we do at M3? We can place Shodai on the east side, giving him only a one-rank demotion for his 6-9 record; this is extremely lenient, but there really isn’t a better candidate. But now we’ve used up all rikishi who deserve to be ranked M1-M5, and we still have four slots to fill. M7w Tamawashi (8-7) is really the only candidate for M3w, giving him a 3-rank over-promotion. With Ura filling the gap at M4w, the candidates for M4e, M5e, and M5w are M9e Takanosho (8-7), M13e Gonoyama (10-5), and M14w Shonannoumi (10-5). These are all very lenient promotions, but there isn’t really an alternative. And we’re not out of the woods yet. What do we do at M6?

Your humble prognosticator got this far, and then life got in the way of sumo blogging. Without further ado, here’s my full guess. We’ll find out how close it is to the real thing tomorrow/Monday, depending on your time zone.

Looking Ahead to the Aki Banzuke

Congratulations to S1e Hoshoryu (12-3) on a well-earned first yusho; I don’t expect it to be the last, health permitting. With the Nagoya results in the books, let’s take a preliminary look at what they mean for the next banzuke.

Yokozuna and Ozeki

Terunofuji will remain the sole Yokozuna, and hopefully will be back in fighting trim in September.

Absent O1e Takakeisho and shin-Ozeki O1w Kirishima (6-7-2) will both be kadoban at Aki, needing 8+ wins to save their ranks. They will also be switching sides on the banzuke by virtue of Kirishima’s 6 wins. And we’ll have a 3rd Ozeki! Hoshoryu reached the nominal Ozeki promotion target of 33 wins over 3 basho and punctuated his claim with a yusho; the special board meeting to elevate him has already been called, and the promotion should be official on Wednesday. S1w Daieisho and S2w Wakamotoharu both faded at the end, finishing 9-6. Their Ozeki runs officially continue into Aki, but with just 19 wins over two basho, each would need an exceptionally strong performance to be considered.


While they failed in their Ozeki bids, Daieisho and Wakamotoharu did more than enough to hold rank, and Hoshoryu’s elevation means that they will move up to S1e and S1w, respectively. K1e Kotonowaka (11-4) reached the 11 wins needed to force a Sekiwake promotion, and will finally make his debut at the rank after 4 straight basho at Komusubi. Since the start of 2022, Kotonowaka did not record 8+ wins only once—in the COVID-hit basho a year ago, when he was forced to withdraw with a 7-3 record. Oh, and he has started an Ozeki run of his own.

With Kotonowaka vacating his rank via promotion, and K1w Abi (6-9) losing his via demotion, we have 2 Komusubi slots to fill. Conveniently, we have two M1’s with strong records to fill them: M1e Nishikigi (10-5), who will make a late-career san’yaku debut, and M1w Tobizaru (9-6), who last held the rank in March. Just missing out is the runner-up, M9w Hokutofuji (12-3), who should be the top-ranked maegashira at Aki. I’ll take a look how the rest of the rank-and-file is likely to shake out in a separate post.

Makuuchi-Juryo Exchanges

Dropping to Juryo will be absent M12w Wakatakakage and M16w Bushozan (3-12). Their places in the top division will be taken by J1e Kagayaki (9-6) and the Juryo yusho winner, J1w Atamifuji (11-4). The final Makuuchi slot was decided in a straight-up exchange bout between M14e Daishoho (6-9) and J2e Roga (8-7); the incumbent won and earned a stay.

Juryo-Makushita Exchanges

We’ll have a bumper crop of new (or returning) sekitori with 5, the most since January of 2020. Going into senshuraku, we had 4 clear open slots in Juryo: absent J6e Fujiseiun, J14e Yuma (6-9), J14w Chiyonoumi (4-11), and J11w Tsushimanada (3-12). Ms4w Takahashi (5-2) won his exchange bout against J12w Hidenoumi (5-10), opening up a 5th. These spots will go to Makushita yusho winner Ms1e Tokihayate (7-0), Ms3e Onosato (4-3), Ms3w Mukainakano (4-3), Takahashi, and Ms5e Ishizaki (5-2). That’s a pretty exciting crop of new sekitori! Their promotions, along with that of the new Ozeki, should be official on Wednesday; for the rest of the banzuke, we have to wait until August 28, but never fear—the Crystal Ball will weigh in long before then!

Nagoya Day 15 Highlights

The final day of sumo saw an unthinkable flurry of special prizes awarded, along with a first time yusho winner. We will have a new Ozeki in September, as Hoshoryu takes the cup and the promotion while the other two hopefuls fail to reach double digit scores, and must start over in September.

Early on day 15, Hiradoumi dropped out, giving Kotoshoho a free win on the final day. On to the matches!

Highlight Matches

Daishoho defeats Roga – Daishoho wins his exchange match, and if it works out as lksumo predicts, stay in the top division for September. The fight itself was remarkably straightforward, Roga went chest to chest with Daishoho, Daishoho moved him back and slapped him down. Daishoho ends Nagoya 6-9.

Takarafuji defeats Tsurugisho – One last loss for Tsurugisho to send him to double digits. He had little ability to hold up to forward pressure head on, and I hope he can heal up or at least improve for September. Takarafuji gingerly walks him around until he can get directly in front of him, then shoves him out. Takarafuji ends Nagoya 9-6, Tsurugisho 5-10.

Shonannoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu plows straight ahead into Shonannoumi, who puts his neck under his right arm and slams Myogiryu to the clay. Simple and effective. Myogiryu finishes Nagoya 6-9, Shonannoumi reaches double digits at 10-5, and a Fighting Spirit special prize.

Endo defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji works hard to keep Endo from touching his mawashi for most of the match with good reason. As soon as Endo does manage to latch on, Nishikifuji is out three steps later by yorikiri. Nishikifuji finishes Nagoya 5-10, Endo with double digit wins at 10-5.

Aoiyama defeats Sadanoumi – Aoiyama closes out with 7 straight wins after a rocky start of 2-6. I thought he was a goner from the top division for sure. Sadanoumi put up a solid defense today, but once Big Dan got his meaty hands around Sadanoumi’s neck, the hatakikomi was on its way. Sadanoumi has a final score of 5-10, Aoiyama finishes with 9-6.

Gonoyama defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi sets up his favored face attack from the second step, and Gonoyama looks overwhelmed. But he manages to consolidate his sumo, and finds Tamawashi’s chest open for thrusting attacks. Tamawashi attempts to counter with a pull, but Gonoyama has his target, and won’t relent. He drives Tamawashi from the ring by oshidashi for a final day win. Tamawashi finishes 8-7, Gonoyama 10-5 with a Fighting Spirit special prize.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – Takayasu manages to gather up enough sumo power on the final day for one last win, pushing Chiyoshoma back and out in direct and rapid fashion. Chiyoshoma’s final score for Nagoya is 6-9, Takayasu 7-8.

Oho defeats Bushozan – Bushozan has one moment where he is attacking, it lasts until Oho can get his hands under Bushozan’s arms and begin to lift and push Bushozan back. Unable to do much to stop Oho’s advance, Bushozan is out quickly by yorikiri. Final score for Bushozan is 3-12, for Oho 6-9.

Meisei defeats Kinbozan – The only Darwin match of the basho, Kinbozan lets his feet get into poor position while he is distracted by a tsuki/oshi fight with Meisei. A quick tsukiotoshi while Kinbozan is off balance, and it’s Meisei’s win. He’s kachi-koshi on the final day at 8-7, Meisei make-koshi at 7-8.

Midorifuji defeats Hokuseiho – No official special prize for Midorifuji throwing the enormous Hokuseiho by shitatenage to win the match, but you have to know every sumo fan looked at that and said “Wow!”. Both with double digit losses at Nagoya, Hokuseiho at 5-10, Midorifuji at 4-11.

Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – Mitakeumi proves his sumo is still around, even if he is not actually using it this tournament. He handily brackets and constrains Onosho, engaging him in a yotsu-zumo fight that favors Mitakeumi if he wants to fight. The match was not spectacular, but gave Mitakeumi a final day win to finish at 3-12, while Onosho ends the tournament with 6-9.

Ura defeats Shodai – Ura showed up to compete today, Shodai did not. Ura got a double inside body grip on Shodai, and ran him for the east side before the former ozeki could set his feet up to defend. Ura finishes Nagoya 7-8, Shodai 6-9.

Tobizaru defeats Kotoeko – We guessed this might be a wild, fast and dynamic match, and it was. Both men were at close to full throttle, and the finishing okuridashi had Kotoeko deep in the zabuton interacting with the fans. Both end the tournament kachi-koshi, with Kotoeko at 8-7, Tobizaru 9-6.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s early attempt at a pull gets him horribly off balance, with his feet aligned to boot. Hokutofuji says, “Thank you very much” and puts him on the clay. Nishikigi ends Nagoya with a respectable 10-5, and the Outstanding Performance special prize. Hokutofuji advances to a yusho playoff at 12-3, with a Fighting Spirit special prize.

Kotonowaka defeats Ryuden – Ryuden was not match for Kotonowaka’s yotsu today. He grabs a hold but finds Kotonowaka putting much more power forward. A quick walk back and a win by yorikiri. Ryuden’s final score 10-5, Kotonowaka 11-4 with yet another Fighting Spirit special prize.

Asanoyama defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu fails to reach double digits, resetting any hoped for Ozeki run back to the start. Asanoyama’s makikae gave him perfect hand placement to deliver the power to Wakamotoharu’s chest, setting up the yorikiri. Wakamotoharu finishes Nagoya 9-6, Asanoyama kachi-koshi at 8-7 after coming back from kyujo.

Takanosho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho resorts to his preferred “mega-thrust” sumo with all power forward. If you can endure the initial hits, its quite easy to set up a step to the side and a match winning hikiotoshi against him, which is just what Takanosho does. Daieisho also fails to reach double digits, his Ozeki bid is likewise reset, and he will have to try again. Final scores for Nagoya, Daieisho at 9-6, Takanosho at 8-7 and kachi-koshi on the final day.

Hoshoryu defeats Hakuoho – It was over in a flash, as Hoshoryu expertly set up the uwatenage at the first step and took Hakuoho down before the rookie could counter. Hoshoryu ties for the yusho with Hokutofuji, and advances to the playoff match. Hakuoho finishes the basho with an impressive 11-4 after facing some of the top men in the sport from the bottom of the banzuke, and beating them. This earned him the Technique special prize and the Fighting Spirit special prize. Hoshoryu at 12-3 also picks up a Fighting Spirit special prize.

Abi defeats Kirishima – With his bid to remain out of kadoban ended, Kirishima suffers a final day loss to already make-koshi Abi. This might be the first time this week we have seen Abi-zumo really work at full power, and he uses it to eject the lone Ozeki from the ring. Final scores for Nagoya, Abi at 6-9, Kirishima at 6-9.

Yusho Playoff

Hoshoryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji had his sumo running well, but for some reason decided to pull against Hoshoryu. That lost him the match to be certain, as Hoshoryu ran him out like a bad batch of curry. Hoshoryu wins his first Emperor’s Cup, secures an Ozeki promotion, and finally smiles for the first time in 2023.

Congratulations to yusho winner Hoshoryu, enjoy your moment of victory!

To the readers of Tachiai, this ends our regular basho coverage. I am sure we will continue posting during the run up to Hoshoryu’s Ozeki promotion in the coming week. Thank you and see you again in September for the Aki basho.