Spring Banzuke! | February News

The official rankings chart for the 2020 March Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo was released Monday morning! A few things stick out immediately:

1. Both Yokozuna have made it to Banzuke-day without retiring (or should I say we made it to Banzuke-day without our Yokozuna retiring?) In fact, Kakuryu has made a great showing at the joint sparring sessions this past week. Hakuho is letting neither his past-prime body, nor his coronavirus battered lungs get in his way too much during practice matches.

2. Where some thought there would be an extra Sekiwake row to make room in a crowded sanyaku, there is an extra Komusubi slot instead. First time champion Daieisho fills that spot, once again only seeing inches of rank progress for his miles of achievement on the clay. He is situated at West Komusubi #2 in particular to balance out the lack of a West Ozeki #2. The last time there were more than two Komusubi on the chart was November 2019.

3. All top division wrestlers absent from Hatsu Basho due to either having COVID, or simply having it in their stable, have received complete rank forgiveness. Whether this would happen as before with Tamanoi-beya was under question. It goes without saying, we are relieved that everyone from those outbreaks seems to be safe now, although there have been more recent anonymous outbreaks in the news. We’re also glad their ranks were not stripped from them over something they had no choice over. However some lower division corona-related absentees did fall slightly on the chart.

4. While there are no rikishi entering Makunouchi for the first time, three old faces return from Juryo this March, including Juryo champ Tsurugisho (Oitekaze), Hidenoumi (Kise), and another Oitekaze success, Daiamami. As for brothers Tobizaru and Hidenoumi, the last pair of brothers to be in the top division simultaneously was Chiyootori and Chiyomaru, exactly 7 years ago. This is the 9th time it’s happened in history.

The following is a rundown of the top division banzuke. A Juryo + lower division discussion follows…

EastMAKUUCHIWest
recovering from
COVID; strong
showing at joint
practices
Hakuho
Miyagino
YokozunaKakuryu
Michinoku
dominating joint
sparring among
fellow sekitori
Tokitsukaze-beya
under new
management,
Shodai taking
everything in
stride
Shodai
Tokitsukaze
OzekiAsanoyama
Takasago
shoulder healing
well; honing his
right inside grip skills
danger of demotion;
pleased with new
Tokiwayama-
beya location
Takakeisho
Tokiwayama
Ozeki
needs 9 wins for
Ozeki promotion;
newly-wed
Terunofuji
Isegahama
SekiwakeTakanosho
Tokiwayama
once again,
maintaining
personal highest
rank; enjoying new
Tokiwayama-beya
welcomed his 1st
child (a girl) on
2/17; maintains
previous rank
Takayasu
Tagonoura
KomusubiMitakeumi
Dewanoumi
hurt right shoulder
(and possibly neck)
in practice;
disappointing results
overall
KomusubiDaieisho
Oitekaze
January’s champion
moves into an extra
“K2” slot
up from E. M2Takarafuji
Isegahama
M1Onosho
Onomatsu
up from W. M3
down from E. M1Hokutofuji
Hakkaku
M2Wakatakakage
Arashio
receives rank
forgiveness after
COVID absence;
still suffering from
loss of stamina
up from E. M7Meisei
Tatsunami
M3Shimanoumi
Kise
up from E. M10;
another big jump
(13)
up from W. M8Kiribayama
Michinoku
M4Myogiryu
Sakaigawa
up from W. M9
maintains previous
rank
Endo
Oitekaze
M5Okinoumi
Hakkaku
maintains previous
rank
up from W. M8Tamawashi
Kataonami
M6Ichinojo
Minato
up from E. M12
down from E. M4Tochinoshin
Kasugano
M7Kagayaki
Takadagawa
down from W. M6
up 15 slots from
W. M15; biggest
jump on the
Makuuchi banzuke
Kotonowaka
Sadogatake
M8Tobizaru
Oitekaze
down from W. M7
receives rank
forgiveness after
COVID absence;
adjusting to new
Kokonoe-stable
location
Chiyonokuni
Kokonoe
M9Hoshoryu
Tatsunami
up from E. M14
up from W. M14Midorifuji
Isegahama
M10Ryuden
Takadagawa
down from E. M6
receives rank
forgiveness after
COVID absence;
adjusting to new
Kokonoe-stable
location
Chiyotairyu
Kokonoe
M11Kotoshoho
Sadogatake
down from E. M3
up from W. M16Akiseyama
Kise
M12Aoiyama
Kasugano
down from W. M10
down from W. M12Terutsuyoshi
Isegahama
M13Chiyoshoma
Kokonoe
receives rank
forgiveness after
COVID absence;
adjusting to new
Kokonoe-stable
location
down from W. M11Kotoeko
Sadogatake
M14Tsurugisho
Oitekaze
January Juryo
champion;
up from E. J8
maintains rank;
Tokitsukaze-beya
under new
management
Yutakayama
Tokitsukaze
M15Hidenoumi
Kise
up from W. J6; back
in Makuuchi after 3
years
receives rank
forgiveness after
COVID absence
Kaisei
Tomozuna
M16Daiamami
Oitekaze
up from W. J1, back
in Makuuchi after 5
tournaments.

JURYO and below

Dropping all the way from East Maegashira #8 to East Juryo #1 after 12 gut-wrenching losses in January, Tokushoryu becomes the 14th rikishi ever to win a top division title and subsequently fall to Juryo. He also became the fastest to do so; five tournaments since his underdog yusho. Akua and Sadanoumi join Tokushoryu in his descent.

As introduced in the last mammoth Grand Sumo International article, brand new to Juryo and salaried status are Takakento (Tokiwayama) and Bushozan (Fujishima). And returning from the depths are Nishikifuji (Isegahama) and Ichiyamamoto (Nishonoseki).

After pulling out of day 15 of January’s meet — his first time doing such a thing in 16 years of sumo — Ikioi was demoted to Makushita. It was an incredible nearly 10 year run as a sekitori. But wait, does that mean Ikioi is done for good? Not necessarily. He recently had thumb surgery, but I haven’t heard whether he will compete this month. Either way, he is ranked at East Makushita #1. Kotoyuki joins him there in the West slot, after an even slightly longer run as sekitori. We hate to see them go, and we don’t love to watch them leave (or maybe some of you do; to each their own!).

Also demoted after only his first whack at the salaried boys was Oho. A similar situation for Ryuko after his second Juryo rodeo.

(One particular) troublemaker, Abi, has successfully waited out his three basho suspension and will return to action this month! All the way down at West Makushita #56…

Tomokaze may be back from his 7 basho absence after a terrible knee in November 2019. Crossing fingers!

Match-ups for days 1 and 2 are to be announced on March 12th. Action begins on the 14th.


FEBRUARY NEWS

  • Tokitsukaze-oyakata’s disciplinary retirement has been made official. He has turned over the Tokitsukaze name and stable to Magaki-oyakata. Shodai, for one, seems to be taking everything in stride, and expects to perform well, a change in management notwithstanding.
  • Terunofuji got married on February 11th to a girl from his home country of Mongolia. The two had been dating for about 5 years, and the marriage has apparently been in the works for a few years now. Congratulations!
  • Takayasu became a father to his first child, a girl, on February 17th! He hasn’t seen her in person yet as she was born in Hokkaido. Maybe he can bring her a Cup of some sort after the tournament… We can hope!
  • Former Arawashi, who retired in January 2020, had his haircutting ceremony on February 23rd. His former stablemaster Minezaki-oyakata, fellow Mongolian Kakuryu, and around 300 others were in attendance.
  • Tokiwayama Stable has changed locations from Taito Ward to Itabashi Ward. Takakeisho seems quite pleased with the new building.
  • Kokonoe Stable also has a new location, moving from Sumida Ward to Katsushika Ward.

Sources:
Nikkan Sports
Japan Sumo Association
Sumo DB

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