After an exciting return to the ring for the July tournament, Grand Sumo will make its return for the annual Aki tournament, hosted in Tokyo’s Kokugikan arena (from the 13th of September through to the 27th). This basho looks set to offer an entirely new dynamic to the sumo world, with plenty of young Jūryō rikishi making the Makuuchi cut. Aki, also sees the much loved veteran rikishi, ichinojo, return to the top division for the first time since his relegation to Jūryō after the November 2019 tournament.
New Dynamic for the September basho
July proved to be a thoroughly entertaining tournament for the Makuuchi division of sumo, with plenty of upsets and surprises (none less than Kakuryu’s withdrawal and Abi’s suspension from sumo on day 6 of the July tournament), but mostly comprising the old troop of sumo. This year has been extraordinary for professional sumo, with the cancellation of the May tournament due to coronavirus and two Maegashira #17 Yūshō winners within the same season! Septemeber meanwhile is shaping up to be a completely different ball game, with further swathes of Jūryō wrestlers securing promotion to Makuuchi ranks, providing even more room for ambitious rikishi to prove their talents and upset the current hierarchy.
Reflective comparison between Banzuke
For both Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks, not much has changed: Hakuho remains the East Yokozuna and Kakuryu the West, Asanoyama has been promoted from West Ozeki to East and vice versa for Takakeisho.
Sekiwake welcomes a new rikishi to its ranks in Daieisho, with the rest of the rank remaining unaltered: East Shodai, West Mitakeumi, East Daieisho. This will be Daieisho’s highest ranked tournament to date, so make sure to keep an eye on the sumo from Saitama prefecture.
Endo has been promoted from Maegashira #1 to Komusubi, where he will fight on the West, along with fellow Komusubi , Okinoumi, who has now progressed to the East (Daieisho left his post for higher ranks).
The Maegashira ranks have suffered a major shuffle since the July basho, with major names such as: Chiyomaru, Nishikigi, Kotoyuki, Kotonowaka and Ikioi all being relegated to Jūryō. These demotions have sparked a rallying call for the Jūryō rikishi, whose turn it is to now prove they have what it takes to compete with the very best. Those promoted since July include: Ichinojo, Hoshoryu, Kyokutaisei, Tobizaru and Meisei.
Note: There are only 33 Maegashira rikishi in this basho (as opposed to the usual 34), since Daieisho has been promoted to Sekiwake and Endo has been promoted to Komusubi. 5 rikishi have been relegated to Juryo and 5 have been promoted in their stead.
Notable mentions from the Maegashira ranks include: Terunofuji (moving from M17, to M1 East), Kotoeko (moving from M16, to M10 West), Tamawashi (moving from M9, to M2 West), Tochinoshin (moving from M11, to M4 West), Takayasu (moving from M13, to M6 East), Ishiura (dropping from M8, to M13 West).
As previously mentioned, this season of sumo has been extraordinary; we have already seen two Maegashira #17 rikishi win a Yūshō – Tokushoryu in January and Terunofuji in the July basho! Therefore, based off previous precedent, let’s not write off the chance that one of the newly promoted Jūryō wrestlers could secure an astonishing tournament victory at this September basho and provide a further upset to the current hierarchy of professional sumo.