Nishiiwa Beya To Open Feb 2018, 5 Wrestlers Promoted to Juryo

Hat-tip to Asashosakari for posting on Reddit that the new Nishiiwa Beya will open in 2018, headed by former Sekiwake Wakanosato. Nikkan Sports reports that this will be the 46th stable, an off-shoot from Taganoura stable where he is currently coaching. Youngsters Wakanoguchi and Wakasatake will make the move with him. Both were Jonidan-ranked wrestlers for the Kyushu tournament, having made their debuts earlier this year. The Japanese Sumo Kyokai’s website has a full list available.

Five wrestlers were promoted to the full-time salaried ranks of Juryo. Mitoryu (6-1) and Akua (5-2) will make their Juryo debuts Hatsubasho. Three others will be returning, Kizenryu, Daishoho, and Makushita yusho winner Tochihiryu.

In other news, nine wrestlers announced their retirement with the headliner obviously being Yokozuna Harumafuji. Kotohayashi from Sandanme, four Jonidan wrestlers (Suekawa, Kasuganami, Hasugeyama, Mutsumi), two Jonokuchi wrestlers (Tomiyama & Masuyama) and unranked Wakainoue also called it quits.

Why Kisenosato Shouldn’t Worry

Bruce’s article from the other day got me thinking about Goeido’s title and possible Yokozuna promotion as well as Kisenosato’s Ozeki career. I put together a chart of the several indicators of ozeki performance for a select group of rikishi to act as a bit of a baseline.

Obviously, titles are the key statistic. In the words of Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game.” Of the ozeki careers I’ve selected, something should stand out. Most of these ozeki won titles, multiple titles, before promotion. I don’t understand why everyone is so eager to see a promotion, whether Goeido or Kisenosato. Our ozeki need to be doing a better job of pulling their weight.

Kaio and Chiyotaikai were great, recent ozeki. Each had a career spanning at least 50 healthy tournaments at the rank of ozeki. 50. Kaio won 5 titles over that span, Chiyotaikai won 2. Compared with those careers, Kisenosato’s a pup. He’s been ozeki for a mere 28 tournaments. Konishiki was ozeki for 35 tournaments and won 3 yusho. These guys never made and are remembered for being great ozeki. There’s no shame in that.

There is shame, however, in a promotion that comes too early. The poster child for this would have to be Futahaguro, a yokozuna with the distinction of never having held the Emperor’s Cup. In a short, four tournaments at the rank of ozeki, he did average 11.5 wins per basho. However, he was promoted after securing two consecutive second-place jun-yusho. His career as yokozuna was winless and cut short when he punched the wife of his oyakata.

We expect a certain level of play from our ozeki. We expect better than 8 wins per tournament, consistently. Actually, I should say we demand 8 wins per tournament. If they don’t get it, they go kadoban – as Terunofuji is now and both Goeido and Kisenosato were at the start of the last basho. We get our 8 wins from Kisenosato. He has actually averaged a cool 10.68 wins which is certainly not too shabby and a far sight better than Goeido’s 8.33.

The thing is, a yokozuna needs titles. And to get those, he needs even more wins. Musashimaru had 5 titles as ozeki over 32 tournaments with an average of 11.03 wins per basho. Clearly both Kisenosato and Goeido can and should perform better if they want to be promoted. It’s a lot better to look back on a great ozeki career than an underperforming yokozuna career. But it’s even better to look back on an ozeki career WITH CHAMPIONSHIPS, like Kaio, Baruto, Kotooshu…even Goeido. Chances are, these guys would have been underperforming yokozuna. Kaio had many injuries. Kisenosato’s been very healthy. Hopefully his time will come but he needs to earn it.

Selected Ozeki Careers (some went on to be Yokozuna)
Rikishi Avg Wins (Ozeki) Ozeki Term (healthy basho) Yusho
Musashimaru* 11.03 32 5
Kaio 9.72 50 5
Harumafuji* 10.19 21 4
Hakuho* 12.17 6 3
Konishiki 9.77 35 3
Asashoryu* 12.67 3 2
Chiyotaikai 9.37 51 2
Chiyonofuji* 12.67 3 1
Hokutoumi* 11.2 5 1
Kakuryu* 9.92 12 1
Goeido 8.33 12 1
Futahaguro* 11.5 4 0
Kisenosato 10.68 28 0

Ozeki Terunofuji

It’s official.

Terunofuji is the new ozeki. I’m eager to see the next banzuke. He will likely be ozeki 1 East while Kisenosato will be ozeki 1 West, Goeido as ozeki 2 East, and kadoban Kotoshogiku as ozeki 2 West. What interests me is if this will motivate Ichinojo or lower sanyaku/top maegashira wrestlers. It seemed this atmosphere has lit a bit of a fire under other rikishi.

There will also be two fresh faces in Juryo: Mitakeumi and Takaryu.

I Really Need to Practice My Japanese

I think this article* (Nikkan Sports) says that while sparring head-to-head in a joint practice between their two stables, Terunofuji and Hakuho fought each other four times with each winning twice. The article reiterates the assertion that either a championship (優勝) or 14 or more wins (14勝以上) for Terunofuji will result in an ozeki promotion (大関昇進). Good Luck!

*Update: I forgot to put the link to the article. Bonehead. It is there now.

Screenshot (79)

Terunofuji Gunning for Quick Ozeki Promotion

According to Nikkan Sports, Terunofuji has expressed a desire for a rapid rise to Ozeki. Full of confidence from his 13-win Spring tournament, including a win over superzuna Hakuho, Terunofuji said that “When I go up [to Ozeki], I want to do it quickly. A slow rise doesn’t make sense.” The general guidelines for ozeki promotion are 33 wins over 3 tournaments. They’re also talking about a potentially faster rise if he’s able to win the next tournament or get at least 14 wins.

It should be noted that these guidelines are flexible as we saw with Goeido’s promotion last year. Goeido had 32 wins in the three tournaments prior to his ozeki promotion. The fact that he had two jun-yusho gave the Sumo Kyokai the impression that he could be promoted despite being one win shy of the 33 win mark. However, Goeido’s performance at the ozeki rank has been less than stellar. He’s already faced demotion and is so far yet to break 8 wins in four tries with a record of 29 wins and 31 losses. The period spanning Day 8-Day 12 has been particularly rough. Of the 20 bouts during those days, during these four tournaments, Goeido’s only managed 3 wins.

I note Goeido’s challenges because he faced a fairly long spell at sekiwake, 14 tournaments or more than 2 years at the rank. It’s now possible that Terunofuji can be promoted after just 2 tournaments at that rank and I doubt the Sumo Kyokai is eager to have more lackluster performances out of another ozeki. However, in this case I do not think that Terunofuji will be a bust at ozeki but a two tournament promotion is jumping the gun. I think he’ll need at least two more tournaments at sekiwake.

Yes, he was dominant this tournament but the question is whether he can keep it up, particularly facing two yokozuna instead of one. He never had more than 8 wins in the top maegashira ranks, he doesn’t fight stablemate Harumafuji, and next tournament he will face both Hakuho and Kakuryu. The two-tournament promotion will be very tough but the three-tournament promotion is definitely within reach. He definitely needs to find an answer for Kaisei, that’s for sure. He’s lost to the Brazilian in two straight basho. Anyway, we shall see.