Andy and Bruce get together for a 30 minute discussion on banzuke published today, for the upcoming July tournament in Nagoya. We cover the highlights, who we think is ready, and the absolute mad scramble from May’s ranking sheet.
I learned some banzuke projection lessons from Natsu, and stuck closer to my quantitative system, with fewer subjective adjustments. This worked much better, as detailed below. I also think that Nagoya was easier to predict, largely due to many fewer rikishi with 8-7 or 7-8 records.
The San’yaku went exactly to form. The only real question was whether Kotoshogiku would hold on to the second Komusubi slot, and he did. The meat grinder also went almost exactly as predicted, with only Endo and Ura switching positions. Ura had a better computed rank, and I thought Endo would drop further after his 6-9 record, but given his popularity and how well he did against the San’yaku, relatively speaking, this isn’t a huge surprise. Ura might have a slightly easier schedule at M4e than at M3w, which he can use in his first tournament this high up the banzuke, although he’ll still get at least a taste of San’yaku opponents.
The lower maegashira ranks are always harder to predict, but even here, all the projection misses were by one rank, and involved switches of rikishi who had identical computed ranks. It’s hard to see a consistent pattern in NSK’s choices of Takanoiwa above Aoiyama, Okinoumi above Chiyotairyu, Takekaze above Takarafuji, or Kotoyuki above Chiyomaru. In the coin flip M16 slot, Gagamaru got the nod over Kaisei.
Overall, my projection resulted in 28 “bullseyes” (correct rank and side), 3 additional correct ranks on the wrong side, and 11 misses, all of them by one rank. Among the maegashira projections, there were 17 bullseyes, 3 hits, and 11 misses. I’m gaining some confidence that the projections can give us a good early idea of what the official banzuke ends up looking like.
Complete Re-Rack of Sumo Stars.
We knew coming out of the tumultuious Natsu basho that everything was going to go strange for Nagoya, and it did indeed happen. We are delighted to report that the July banzuke is now live on the sumo associations website.
Notable highlights include
- Takayasu’s first appearance as Ozeki
- Mitakeumi’s first appearance as Sekiwake
- Takakeisho rockets higher to Maegashira 1
- Hokutofuji reaches the joi with his posting to Maegashira 2
- Tochinoshin back in upper Maegashira after nearly washing out to Juryo a few tournaments ago
We are going to have a great July tournament. Tachiai’s wall to wall coverage starts now!
Nagoya Ranking Sheet Today
After the long summer break, it’s time to begin the ramp up to the hotly anticipated Nagoya basho. Later today (in about 6 hours from this post), the Japan Sumo Association will post the banzuke online, as well as release thousands of printed copies.
If you want to take a look at Tachiai’s projections via contributor Iksumo:
Of course Tachiai will bring you all the details and our insights as soon as the banzuke is published.
One of the interesting by-products of my dive into Miyagino-beya’s silver medal squad was uncovering a potential new jewel in Enho. For a stable that produces very little in talent behind possibly one of the greatest rikishi ever to walk the earth (and let’s be honest, Miyagino-oyakata can be forgiven for that), it was curious to see a newcomer blast his way to a 7-0 yusho in the lower levels.
When looking to see whether this was at all something he shared in common with the current crop of sekitori as a possible signal of success, the answer was overwhelmingly yes. Of course, it is not the only signal, and as with many other sports, so much can go wrong (injuries, confidence, new trainer, etc.). But several top level rikishi put up multiple such records in their early (first year) basho and many more did it at least once. So this then begs a new question: out of the hundreds of men trying to break their way into professional sumo, is it possible to use this indicator to pluck names from down the banzuke – and if it is, when do we expect to see them bringing honour to their heya? If they don’t manage it, how much harder is it to then reach the top? This will be the first part in a series to attempt to try and figure all of this out.
First things first, let’s look at the most recent crop of 70 sekitori. We can use the March banzuke as a guide to figure out if there’s a story here because any makuuchi/juryo promotions/demotions aren’t going to massively change the calculus and the turnover from juryo to makushita doesn’t meaningfully affect our sample size (and we’re not only interested in who might make it to Juryo 14W someday).
What I’ve done here is split the sekitori into four categories: those who managed multiple 7-0 records in their first 6 full tournaments (post-maezumo), those who managed it one time, those who didn’t manage it, and those who didn’t manage it but were already in Juryo well before their 6th tournament (owing to entering the banzuke at makushita level as an amateur champion). This doesn’t tell the full story but it is somewhat telling that half of the professional ranks managed an early zensho. Of course, you’d expect the wrestlers who have been contending for titles their whole career to float towards the top, and so let’s see if that’s what we’ve got:
This confirms those suspicions. Makuuchi contains a higher number of rikishi to have put a zensho on the board their first year at least once (Kisenosato registered his first in his 7th basho otherwise this would have been more extreme), and as you’d expect it also contains a larger number of amateur champions who fast tracked their way to the top (and stayed there).
For the next parts in this series, we’ll start to look at how long it took these sekitori on average to reach juryo, and then start to look at the success rates of those who score this record and start to identify commonalities among them (kimarite, stature, etc), to model out who we might expect to charge up the banzuke soon and give us some more lower level candidates to track over the coming year. Again, this is just one of many signals – and there are many other intangible variables (stable, personality/confidence, etc) but it will be interesting to dig in and get an understanding of how impactful it is.
With the banzuke announcement just a few days away, it’s time to revisit the Heya Power Rankings series. Thanks to everyone who commented on the first version of this post – this time I’ve been able to make the key update of stacking the bars vertically, and hopefully by the time August rolls around I can get them sorted properly and then we’ll really be off and running!
For a refresher on the methodology and calculations behind these rankings, visit the original post. I’m pretty happy with how this held up for the second version – for example the accomplishments of Tochinoshin (kachi-koshi and jun-yusho from M12) are ranked equivalent to Tamawashi’s kachi-koshi at S1, and that seems fair. Without further ado:
And in “Billboard” style Top 20 chart form (ties broken by previous ranking with the most recently better heya ranked higher):
- (+1) Isegahama. 124 points (-1)
- (+2) Miyagino. 107 points (+57)
- (-2) Tagonoura. 75 points (-55)
- (+5) Kasugano. 58 points (+24)
- (-2) Sakaigawa. 50 points (-10)
- (+5) Oguruma. 42 points (+15)
- (-1) Kokonoe. 41 points (-2)
- (-3) Izutsu. 40 points (-5)
- (-2) Oitekaze. 34 points (-4)
- (+3) Kise. 33 points (+9)
- (+7) Isenoumi. 33 points (+18)
- (+3) Dewanoumi. 30 points (+10)
- (-5) Sadogatake. 29 points (-6)
- (-2) Kataonami. 25 points (even)
- (-5) Takanohana. 24 points (-6)
- (-2) Hakkaku. 23 points (even)
- (-1) Tokitsukaze. 20 points (even)
- (**) Onomatsu. 20 points (+15)
- (**) Takadagawa. 17 points (+8)
- (**) Minato. / (-3) Tomozuna. (both 13 points)
Isegahama takes the top spot this month on a slightly diminished score owing to quality AND quantity: Terunofuji’s second straight jun-yusho and consistent levels of performance across the board push them up to the summit. Miyagino vaults up as the greatest gainer on points owing mostly to Hakuho’s zensho-yusho (we’re not currently giving a bonus score for a 15-0, but this is something to think about), and Ishiura grabbing a KK didn’t hurt.
Kasugano takes a big jump up the listing owing to a big performance from Tochinoshin which more than offset declines elsewhere. Yoshikaze’s special prize gives Oguruma a boost, while all four Kise rikishi grabbed winning records to propel the stable forward with modest gains. Isenoumi is the greatest chart gainer with just two rikishi, but Nishikigi’s Juryo yusho and Ikioi’s regained form give the heya a big boost. Dewanoumi’s sole contributor Mitakeumi grabbed a special prize and he’ll likely have a good shot to maintain his score next time out as he will in all likelihood fight at a higher level.
Finally, 3 new heya hit the chart as Onosho’s performance drives Onomatsu, Kagayaki and Ryuden’s solid performances put Takadagawa on the board, and Ichinojo grabs a kachi-koshi for Minato.
Tagonoura lose their grip on the top, but this is simply owing to Kisenosato not winning (in any capacity). Their top 3 spot should be relatively safe however, with Takayasu’s promotion confirmed, and both of them when on-form now represent title challengers. Elsewhere, Sakaigawa takes a hit just owing to Toyohibiki coming off a Juryo yusho onto a make-koshi and not much support among the rest of the crew beyond Goeido. Meanwhile, Kokonoe’s quality doesn’t translate to quality as despite 6 sekitori, only 3 could manage winning records and the toppermost – Chiyonokuni and Chiyoshoma – ran into a san’yaku slaughterhouse.
Takanohana could be set for another dip, with Takagenji heading out of Juryo and Takanoiwa and Takakeisho likely swapping ends of the banzuke. Tomozuna’s fortunes will also likely get worse before they get better, with Asahisho likely following Takagenji, moviestar Kyokutaisei set for a drop down to the nether regions of Juryo, and Kaisei looking like he may only be a couple tournaments behind.
Shikoroyama (not ranked) should grab their second Juryo rikishi as Abi should certainly be promoted (5-2 at Ms1), and one would think Iwasaki (6-1 at Ms2) would join him in the pro ranks to give Oitekaze a shot in the arm. If Daishoho can get his act together soon and join up later this year, the stable would have a truly impressive number of rikishi in the top 2 divisions.
Kise had a great basho at Natsu as outlined above and they may also be ready to call on reinforcements soon: they boasted 7 rikishi between Makushita 1 and Makushita 12 and while none look like certain promotion candidates for Nagoya… ALL of them scored winning records, as did 2 of the 3 just behind (so that’s 13 of their top 14 with a kachi-koshi – bear in mind some stables don’t even have that many rikishi in total!). As always with the larger stables, a number of these guys are journeymen and also-rans, but the names to watch here are Shimanoumi (5-2 at Ms5W won’t get the job done this time, but he’s scored no less than 5 lower division unbeaten yusho and will be determined to get back to Juryo after fighting back from a period out of competition), and former university man Kizaki (who has raced to the top of Makushita in a year with 7 straight KK, including a pair of yusho).
Athlete Preparations Underway
As of Sunday June 18th, there are three weeks until the start of the Nagoya basho, and just one week until the release of the banzuke. As stated multiple times, my poor spreadsheet is unable to cope with the chaos coming out of Natsu, so as I put together my guess at a banzuke, please take mine with a huge grain of salt.
The break between Natsu and Nagoya is kind of unusual, in that there is no tour between these tournaments. As a result, many rikishi take small breaks to visit family, travel, consult physicians or just rest.
As reported here earlier, all of Japan seems to have celebrated Takayasu’s Ozeki promotion with gusto, and he has been working hard to further improve his sumo. There have been significant limits on Takayasu’s training, as his sparring partner, Yokozuna Kisenosato has been struggling to overcome injuries to his right pectoral and right arm. His stable has stated without any reservation that Kisenosato will participate in Nagoya for the full 15 days.
Pectoral injuries are tricky matters, and for the most part they require surgery to correct. It’s clear that Kisenosato has not had surgery, and will likely try to “rest and let it heal naturally”.
The good news is that in this past week, Kisenosato has been doing full contact training once more with other rikishi, including Takayasu. Even better news is that he is now training without tape on his chest or arm. This is, in the words of his stable, to get him ready for competition next month.
But reports are that he is still not at full strength on his left side, and is not consistently able to deliver power from his chest with both arms.