Aki 2020 Banzuke
The Banzuke has officially been released, and the Banzuke committee certainly made some choices. Chart first, analysis to follow.
The first four slots on the Banzuke were obvious, with the two Yokozuna and the two Ozeki being established and in a clear East-West order. Then there are the Sekiwake. For Aki, there will be three. Shodai and Mitakeumi got 11 wins as Sekiwake, while Daieisho had the same record as a Komusubi. Shodai and Mitakeumi weren't going anywhere, so Daieisho got rewarded with the odd Sekiwake 2 rank. To finish out the Sanyaku, both Okinoumi and Endo deserved a Komusubi spot.
After the Sanyaku is where it gets really interesting. Terunofuji has risen from Maegashira 17 East to Maegashira 1 East. 13 wins and the yusho will do that, although Tokushoryu only went up to Maegashira 2 after his surprise victory in January. Perhaps there was thought that as a former Ozeki and yusho winner, Terunofuji has deserved a weightier slot. He also has just 12 losses in his last eight tournaments. (That does start with Jonidan after he missed four full tournaments due to a spate of injuries, but still.)
Other than Terunofuji, very few rikishi got huge jumps or falls. Basically no one is in a position where they are obviously too high or too low for their recent level. Even Onosho's 2-13 only saw him go from Maegashira 2 to Maegashira 9. He isn't even guaranteed to face the lowest ranked wrestlers. He's still a mid-Maegashira wrestler. On the other hand, the real disastrous performances resulted in demotions (see Ikioi, but look in Juryo.)
The joi-jin line (the top sixteen ranked wrestlers who theoretically have to all face other over the tournament) is between Maegashira 4 East and West, Yutakayama and Tochinoshin. Of course, injuries make this never the actual schedule. Also, stablemates can't face each other, so Takakeisho-Takanosho, Shodai-Yutakayama, Daieisho-Endo, Okinoumi-Hofutofuji, and Terunofuji-Terutsuyoshi won't be scheduled. That probably means Kiribayama and Takarafuji at the Maegashira 5 line will be involved against Sanyaku. Except Kiribayama is a stablemate of Kakuryu, and Takarafuji is in Isegahama with Terunofuji and Terutsuyoshi. In other words, scheduling will be quite unusual.
Ikioi, Kotonowaka, Chiyomaru, Nishikigi, and Kotoyuki all got demoted and justifiably so. In their place are five rikishi who are all intriguing in different ways. Maegashira 13 East Meisei did the immediate bounceback with ten wins at Juryo 1 East, which could indicate he is healthy and has found his sumo once again. Maegashira 14 East Tobizaru has been in Juryo since March 2018, and has gotten his top division slot thanks to four straight solid winning records. Maegashira 16 East Kyokutaisei has been here before, but it was two basho in 2018 and has mostly been a juryo wrestler for five years. Maegashira 16 West Hoshoryu is a 21 year old Mongolian often touted for big things thanks to his lower-level performances and the fact his uncle is former Yokozuna Asashoryu. Maegashira 17 East Ichinojo, meanwhile, is returning to the top division after a short, injury-caused sojourn in Juryo. They are all worth watching for different reasons.
There should also be a reminder here that Abi will not be participating at Aki. In the July basho, he was caught going to a hostess bar with a lower ranked rikishi. Then it was discovered that he was doing it regularly. He submitted resignation papers, but the Japan Sumo Association did not accept them and he was instead suspended for three basho. He will likely return to competition in Makushita for the March tournament. Meanwhile, he will create a hole in the schedule for lower Maegashira.
Basho begins on September 13th. Game to come soon, along with some preview articles and other notes.