New Covid infection

Sadly, the worrying news reel goes on. The sumo association released a statement that an unnamed rikishi has tested Covid positive. Fortunately, the wrestler does not have symptoms. We wish him a smooth recovery.

The rikishi belongs to the lower ranks. Few details have been released: he was last at the stable four days prior, and his stable mates are not considered close contacts.


Newly retired rikishi

The sumo association just released a list of newly retired rikishi. Always a sad list to watch.

Are concerned:

  • In sandanme: Sd8e Tsukuyusa (from Otake), Sd21w Kotohayato (Sadogatake), Sd31w Joyuriki (Yamahibiki), Sd33e Munakata (Fujishima), Sd60w Kijuin (Kise), Sd68e Miryuzan (Otake)
  • In jonidan: Jd18w Seito (Fujishima), Jd20e Kotokantetsu (Sadogatake), Jd33e Takamiryu (Azumazeki), Jd38w Kotoomura (Sadogatake), Jd46eTochisato (Kasugano), Jd59e Goshinryu (Shihikide), Jd68e Hokutoryu (Tamanoi) and Jd85w Shori (Tatsunami).

So, Sadogatake beya suffers the most from that wave, with three rikishi having departed.

Some concerned rikishi are retiring at quite a young age. Usually, rikishi retire due to age, injury, or lesser known personal reasons. Another potential issue this time is Covid fears: Kotokantestu’s case was made public right at the beginning of last basho:

Among the others, Miryuzan is just 19 and already decided to abort his young career. He actually won his last ever two bouts. Here’s the very last one:

Miryuzan (left) faces Omote (right)

The now former Kise beya resident, Kijuin, has retired at the venerable age of 35. He actually came close to becoming a sekitori, narrowly missing a kashi koshi ranked makushita 2, in September 2015.

We wish all these people a great new career!

New Juryo for Haru

As expected, four rikishi have been promoted to Juryo: crossing the heaven/hell boundary are Ms1w Takakento (5-2), Ms2e Bushozan (4-3), Ms3w Ichiyamamoto (4-3), and Ms5w Nishikifuji (6-1). This marks sekitori debuts for Takakento and Bushozan (pictured above) and returns for Ichiyamamoto, after an injury led to more than a year in Makushita, and Nishikifuji, who bounces back after a single tournament in the third division.

The corresponding demotions are not announced, but reading the tea leaves, it’s not hard to figure out that falling out of the salaried ranks are J14 Ryuko (6-9), J13 Ikioi (6-9), who’s been a sekitori for nearly a decade, J11 Oho (5-10), the wrestler formerly known as Naya, and J9 Kotoyuki (4-11), who, like Ikioi, hasn’t been ranked this low since 2011.

We can also look at who is likely to be fighting for Juryo promotion at Haru. Generally, there is a promotion zone, Ms1-Ms5, and it’s the 10 rikishi occupying these ranks who compete to reach sekitorihood. In very favorable instances, someone just outside this zone can move up, but typically, only a 7-0 record leads to promotion from the extended zone, Ms6-Ms15.

Nine of the ten slots in the promotion zone are clear: the four Juryo demotions listed above will be joined by two men with kachi-koshi records in the Ms1-Ms5 ranks who just missed out this time: Ms4w Daishoho and Ms5e Tochimaru, both 4-3. Also getting another chance will be Ms1e Kitaharima, who fell one win short at 3-4. And moving up into the promotion zone will be Ms8w Shohoryu (6-1), who came agonizingly close to the 7-0 record he needed, and Ms6e Hokutenkai (4-3), Takanoiwa’s nephew.

The last slot will go to either Ms2w Roga (3-4), or one of the following wrestlers with winning records further down the banzuke: Ms8e Murata (4-3), Ms13w Kaisho (5-2), or Ms17w Ryusei (6-1). My guess would be Ryusei, but I’m really not sure how to handicap the rank-record combinations in this part of the rankings. As commenter Jay points out, the 10th slot is presumably spoken for by Ms3e Kotokuzan—one of the Covid absentees from Arashio beya.