It’s time for me to try to predict the sumo rankings for the Aki basho ahead of their official release on August 26th. I’ll go through some of the key uncertainties of this particular banzuke; scroll down to see my projections and let me know what you think in the comments.
Biggest Question Marks
From the top of the banzuke:
- Will there be two or three Sekiwake? Mitakeumi will stay at East Sekiwake after posting 9 wins. Takakeisho will be demoted to Sekiwake from Ozeki. It seems pretty clear to me that this accounts for the two available slots, leaving no room for East Komusubi Abi (8-7) to move up. However, I’ve seen the argument that the committee would first promote Abi to West Sekiwake, and then create a third S2e slot for Takakeisho. I personally don’t buy it, and neither do most of the commenters in the Sumo Forum thread, but there’s not an exact precedent that would tell us for sure.
- Who will be West Komusubi? I believe that Endo’s 10-5 record at M2w trumps Hokutofuji’s 9-6 at M1w, that their senshuraku bout was set up as the decider, and that Hokutofuji’s win total wasn’t high enough to force an extra slot. It’s been suggested that the crunch this creates at upper maegashira would be reason enough to create an extra slot, either at Komusubi or at Sekiwake as described above, but I don’t see the banzuke committee doing anything unusual.
- What will they do with Asanoyama (M1w, 7-8), Ichinojo (M4w, 9-6), and Tomokaze (M7w, 11-4)? Assuming the usual four lower san’yaku slots, there are six rikishi whose performances in Nagoya warrant ranks of M2 or better. Obviously, that’s 2 too many. Hokutofuji Aoiyama, and Daieisho all posted winning records and must receive promotions, and keeping these to the minimal half-a-rank places them at M1e, M1w, and M3e, respectively. That leaves M2e, M2w, and M3w for the other three. The problem is, ranking any of them M3w would be unprecedentedly harsh. Well, Kotonowaka Sr. did fall from M1e to M4e back in 2001, but otherwise M3e is the lowest historical rank following any of their combinations of rank and record.
- How far will Ryuden fall after managing only 4 wins as the West Komusubi? The last man with that performance, Tamawashi at Aki 2018, received an extremely lenient demotion to M2w, but that was due to unusual banzuke luck. More typical recent placements have been in the M4-M6 range, and I have Ryuden at M6w, at the expense of Kotoshogiku, who falls from M5e to M7e after a 7-8 record.
- How high will Terutsuyoshi rise from the lowest rank on the last banzuke after posting 12 wins?
- At what rank will Tsurugisho make his Makuuchi debut after winning the Juryo yusho with a 13-2 record from the fairly low rank of J6e?
- How will the other highly likely promotions from Juryo—Ishiura, Yutakayama, and Azumaryu—fare in the rankings relative to each other and to the poor performers in the lower half of Makuuchi?
- Will Takagenji (and, less likely, Tochiozan) end up getting demoted to the second division? If so, who would take their place? Takanosho (J4w, 9-6) is the most likely contender, with Daimami (J8e, 11-4) probably ranked too low and Chiyoshoma (J3e, 8-7) likely lacking sufficient wins?
With all that out of the way, here’s the guess: