Early Ozeki Runs Hatsu 2020

The Collapse of Champions

There have been some very interesting storylines coming out of Hatsu but I want to focus on this one for this article. This tournament was very rough on our Ozeki as we only have one left. Four former Ozeki are fighting it out in the Makuuchi, with yet another (Terunofuji) knocking at the door to make a comeback. Terunofuji was the only one among them with a winning record at Hatsu.

As Leonid predicts, Takayasu will likely fall into the rank-and-file. Goeido will fall to Sekiwake. Tochinoshin may swap places with Kagayaki and fall to M11. Kotoshogiku may drop a slot to M14. Other than Takayasu, all have won a tournament. Getting that second one in a row…and the Yokozuna’s privilege of a break without drop in rank…is really hard.

“Show of hands, who wants a promotion?”

Scanning for the Next Plateau

I’ve written about how this situation makes that Meat Puppets song (made famous by Nirvana) pop into my head. The last time I wrote about it, I looked really far down the banzuke. Perhaps I wasn’t aware how dire the situation would become. So I ask, who’s in a position to make a run now?

The Criteria

The criteria aren’t exact but 33 wins over three tournaments seems to be the line…though 32 may make it, as with Goeido’s 12-8-12 run. The run should also start in or near sanyaku but again we have recent exceptions. Tochinoshin’s run started from Maegashira 3 with a yusho 14Y-10-13. Ultimately, we’re looking for consistency at the sanyaku level.

Asanoyama

I will start with Asanoyama because I think this is the strongest run, and the one that is the furthest along. Leonid has written about his run before, especially since he may be starting from Kyushu at Maegashira 2 with 10 wins. It’s also the first real chance since Mitakeumi blew his shot from late last year. His 11 wins in Tokyo this month likely means 12 in Osaka would give him the magic number of 33.

Hokutofuji

If Asanoyama’s run can start from Kyushu, Hokutofuji just started a run here at Hatsu. His 11 wins from the same rank Asanoyama occupied in Kyushu will hopefully be enough to force an extra sekiwake slot since Goeido will occupy a slot, as Leonid has speculated. I’m editorializing here but I think this would be a smart move by the Kyokai. I can’t imagine they would want a vacant Ozeki slot to last long which means they need candidates. I’m never an advocate of early promotion by relaxing criteria but I think that blocking otherwise worthy promotions because there should only be two Sekiwake would be a bit silly. 11 wins at Maegashira 2 is certainly a performance worthy of the Sekiwake rank.

Shodai

Shodai’s case for a run starting now is likely weaker than Hokutofuji’s because of the lower rank, even though one of Hokutofuji’s wins was a fusen. Hokutofuji did pick up a kinboshi. But Maegashira 4 is in the joi and based on his 13-2 jun-yusho performance, Shodai certainly makes another strong case for Sekiwake. Two 10 win performances to follow and we may have Ozeki Shodai by Nagoya.

Endo

Endo’s case for a Sekiwake slot is weaker than those above but he is certainly deserving of a Komusubi slot. It would take a really special run but conceivably spectacular showings in Osaka and back in Tokyo in May could see Ozeki Endo in Nagoya but it is not going to happen. I just mention it because the run would make the newspapers go absolutely bonkers and that would be fun.

Thoughts?

I’m eager to hear what y’all think.

Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 6

Having visited Tochigi, we now go south, back to the center of sumo. Not quite Tokyo, but Chiba prefecture is home to several sumo stables and many savvy fans, as you will see from the number of photos and videos we have today.

By the way, if you want to feel something akin to actually being in a jungyo event, set a couple of hours aside. Hey, it’s Sunday, isn’t it? We have a video at the end of this report which covers almost all the essential points, including a lot of keiko and Makuuchi bouts.

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Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 3

Mini-nobori outside the venue. These are about 2m high.

We are out of Ishikawa prefecture, and off to Toyama prefecture. And when you say “Toyama”, you say “Asanoyama”, as he is the prefecture’s representative in the salaried ranks of Grand Sumo. You can see the mini-nobori above. Most of them say “Asanoyama-zeki” (except one, red with embarrassment at its own obsolescence, carrying the name “Yoshikaze”).

I have to update you on another kyujo. It turns out Daiamami has also been kyujo since day 1. He was supposed to participate, and his name was on the torikumi list for day 1, but Tobizaru did his bout, and he has been absent from the list ever since.

Also, as of day 3, Gagamaru is also off the torikumi. I’m not sure whether he is still on the jungyo, I’ll keep you posted if I find out.

So let’s move on to the happier part of the report.

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Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 2

We are still in Ishikawa prefecture, but this time we are going a little south, to the city of Kanazawa. Do we have a rikishi from Kanazawa? Oh, yes, we do. Prepare for Enho Day!

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