Haru 2021 Juryo Banzuke Analysis

After the release of the banzuke for the upcoming Haru 2021 basho, a great deal of attention has been paid (with good reason) to the goings-on atop the makuuchi division. But, that shouldn’t preclude you, dear reader, from gaining further knowledge of the lower depths of the banzuke. Come with me, as I guide you through the picturesque landscape of the juryo division.

 

The first thing you might notice is that Hatsu 2020 champion Tokushoryu finds himself back in juryo, only 14 months removed from his first top flight championship. A rather inauspicious accolade for the veteran, but I can’t say I’m surprised by his demotion. He’s only managed one winning record since lifting the Emperor’s Cup. However, if the 34-year-old from Kise-beya can score eight victories from J1E this month, the Kinki University alum will certainly find himself back up top come May.

 

The remainder of the top of juryo consists of several makuuchi mainstays who missed time due to COVID-19 as well as recent demotees: including Akua, Ishiura, Chiyomaru, Enho, and Sadanoumi. These five, along with Tokushoryu, will be itching to get back into the top division and perhaps claim a juryo yusho along the way.

 

All eyes will be on Ura as well, hanging out at J7E for this month’s tournament. The only person more excited to see Ura’s return to the top division than sumo fans is Ura himself. He put together a solid 10-5 outing in January, and has not had a make koshi since returning from injury in November of 2019. Our esteemed friend in the pink mawashi is doing good work on the comeback trail.

 

Speaking of comebacks, the Jokoryu Revenge Tour hit a snag last time out when the Joker posted a feeble  5-10 record, including seven straight losses to take him out of the yusho race for good after a not-entirely-horrific 5-3 start. Let’s all pray that Jokoryu is able to find the form that brought him to a komusubi debut back in 2014.

 

You’ll also notice that the widely discussed Oho juryo debut did not go particularly well. The 21 year old prospect has fallen out of the salaried ranks after going 5-10 and once again will have to spend a tournament in makushita. Fingers crossed we see him back up in juryo soon, and making his makuuchi debut shortly thereafter.

 

Finally, there are two juryo debutants this month. Both 25 years old, Takakento and Bushozan come into this basho without much fanfare. They have both Goeido’d their way to juryo, with each rikishi slapping together strings of 4 and 5 win scores to slowly but surely climb their way up. However, it is always nice to see new guys, and who knows? Maybe they can make some noise from the bottom of the division.

 

Got any thoughts on the outlook for March’s juryo field? Have we seen the last of Shohozan? Is Ichiyamamoto the best shikona in the division? Who do you miss having in juryo more — Ikioi or Kotoyuki? Let me know. I’m dying to hear from you.

March Banzuke Analysis

Neither man has reason to smile after the release of the rankings

The March rankings have been released. Let’s take a look at how they compare to the forecast I posted a week ago.

The upper ranks are exactly as predicted, with one glaring exception. That, of course, is the yusho winner M1w Daieisho (13-2) being ranked K2w instead of S2w as everyone expected. It’s difficult to know how to explain the snub. No yusho winner ranked M4 or higher had ever failed to make Sekiwake, nor had any M1 with a record of 13-2 or better. Since no one has ever been promoted to Ozeki from a rank below Sekiwake, is this perhaps an unnecessarily harsh reminder that the NSK does not consider Daieisho to be on an Ozeki run?

My prediction had the upper maegashira ranks (M1-M6) exactly right. However, I had reason to worry about the mid-maegashira ranks. While I expected the trouble area to extend from M7w to M10e, it in fact covered M7e to M11w, where the only prediction I got right was the absent Chiyonokuni and Chiyotairyu maintaining their positions at M9e and M11e, respectively. Among other oddities, this part of the banzuke is characterized by historically lenient demotions: only 3 ranks for Tochinoshin after a 4-11 record, and only one rank for Kagayaki and Tobizaru after their 6-9 performances.

From there, my forecast got back on track, getting all the ranks from M12 to M16 right and only placing Hidenoumi and Yutakayama on the wrong sides at M15. In particular, Tokushoryu will indeed join Sadanoumi and Akua down in Juryo, with Hidenoumi, Tsurugisho, and Daiamami taking their places in the top division.

Despite getting the middle of the banzuke completely wrong, your humble prognosticator now holds the top rank in GTB, based on a weighted average of the last 6 predictions.

March Banzuke Published

Minutes ago, the Haru banzuke was published on the Japan Sumo Association web site – http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnHonbashoBanzuke/index/

Notable tidbits:

  • Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho is Ozeki 2 East. He has to get 8 wins to retain his rank. There is some well founded concern about his physical condition as he did not participate in the joint training session
  • Terunofuji is Sekiwake 1 East – He is looking for 11 wins to regain the Ozeki rank he lost more than 2 years ago due to accumulated injury and illness.
  • Hatsu yusho winner Daieisho is ranked Komusubi 1 West. Many people had expected that he would be ranked Sekeiwake in March.
  • Onosho is ranked Maegashira 1, his highest since November 2017, following a 9-6 finish in January.
  • Wakatakakage retains Maegashira 2 following being kyujo in January due to COVID in his heya

I expect that lksumo will have his post banzuke analysis later for us to enjoy.