Nagoya Banzuke Postmortem

Refreshments at the banzuke meeting, probably

By popular demand, let’s take a look at the July banzuke and how the Crystal Ball fared (spoiler: not very well). It started off strongly, getting the first 11 slots, covering the named ranks and M1, exactly right. This wasn’t exactly challenging though—most of these ranks were set in stone. At the ones that weren’t, Terunofuji’s ranking as the top Ozeki, leapfrogging the previously higher-ranked Takakeisho, confirmed the primacy of a head-to-head playoff win. Meisei, making his san’yaku debut, got the nod over Endo for the West Komusubi rank, and the incumbent Daieisho only dropped one rank to M1w after posting a 6-9 record.

I was mildly surprised to see Takanosho, 5-10 at S1w, ranked just ahead of Ichinojo (9-6 at M6w), but both men are at M2, as predicted. And the streak of correct predictions ends with Hokutofuji, who was a lock for M3e. The biggest shock came at the next position, M3w, where we find Tobizaru dropping only a single rank after going 5-10. A demotion of this leniency is virtually unprecedented. I looked at the hundreds of cases of 5-10 records in the M1-M5 ranks during the 6-basho era, and could find only a single comparable instance, back in 1967, when someone was demoted from M3e to M4e. Moreover, the banzuke committee was by no means forced into this choice—they had to over-promote Kotoeko and either Okinoumi or Chiyotairyu anyway, and it would have been much more palatable to place them ahead of Tobizaru.

The next surprise to me was the decision to dramatically over-promote all three of Kotoeko, Okinoumi, and Chiyotairyu, when only two of these were forced. I get the point about trying to treat them similarly, but none of them even remotely deserved to be ahead of Hoshoryu and Onosho, who should have retained their ranks after posting 7-8 records, as has been the custom recently and as happened lower down on this banzuke with Tamawashi and Terutsuyoshi. In a similar vein, why in the world did they feel compelled to promote Chiyoshoma 4 full ranks after an 8-7 performance, pushing down 7-8 Takarafuji in the process?

The Crystal Ball also missed Chiyomaru’s ranking by a whopping 2.5 ranks, although this is probably my fault for placing a kachi-koshi top-division rikishi below the promotions from Juryo, even if Ura deserved to be promoted 5 full ranks ahead of Chiyomaru “by the numbers.” And in a final surprise, I had Yutakayama claiming the last promotion slot instead of Ichiyamamoto. Getting to Makuuchi with an 8-7 record from J4 is rare, but not as rare as doing so from J8 with a 10-5, and on top of this, Yutakayama should have gotten the benefit of the doubt by virtue of his considerable top-division experience.

Overall, the Crystal Ball got only 17 of the 42 ranks exactly right, and placed an additional 11 rikishi at the correct rank but on the wrong side—one of my worst performances of the last two years. Of the 14 misses, 7 were by half a rank (if we count M17e/J1e), 4 by one rank, and 3 by more than a rank—the aforementioned Chiyotairyu and Chiyomaru, as well as Tokushoryu. Hopefully, some of this analysis will improve future banzuke predictions, but some of the misses can only be chalked up to the banzuke committee departing from both historical precedent and internal consistency. I often think how different things might be if they had to publicly justify their decisions, as is the case in most other contemporary sports.

Banzuke Sunday – Nagoya 2021 Edition

Ah, can you hear that clicking noise? Its the sound of Team Tachiai setting up rapid fire refresh on the Japan Sumo Association’s web page. Some time in the next few hours, they will publish the ranking sheet for this July’s sumo tournament, which will return to Nagoya. This marks the first basho since the early day’s of the pandemic to be held outside of Tokyo. In spite of strong political and cultural headwinds, Sumo is making an enormous effort to return to some semblance of normal, and I applaud them for it. Thus far the NSK has demonstrated that they can safely conduct a tournament without having them become super-spreader events.

The tournament in Nagoya will be a massive challenge to their track record. Lessons learned over the past 18 months indicate the little bastard that is SARS-COV-2 loves poorly ventilated, heavily populated indoor spaces. This describes the venue in Nagoya perfectly. I am hoping against hope they have found some way to lesson the risk.

Sumo fans are exceptionally excited for July, as it marks the return of Yokozuna Hakuho to competition, after taking an extended medical leave to have significant repair work done to his lower body. He and his oyakata have tabled this his “make or break” tournament. Lined up against that are potential Yokozuna promotions for both Terunofuji, and (if you squint and look at it out of the corner of your eye) Takakeisho. It has the ingredients for being a tumultuous tournament. I can’t wait.

Check back later today for all of the details around July’s ranks.

An IT Project Manager’s Worst Nightmare…the Next Day Update

Oops. I forgot to include a brilliant feature that my wife had mentioned to me. It is actually that brilliant, so I’m not going to wait a week or so to implement the update. What has me so eager to get this update out early? Well, I added the websites, Instagram, and Twitter pages of all of the stables that I could find. I also included the official profile pages at sumo.or.jp. Cool, no?

How to find it on the visualization?

Example: Naruto-beya website list

Step 1: Mouseover Points on Map

Find the stable you want to learn more about. You can either just randomly mouseover points on the map, or find the name of the one you’re searching for in the table. If you mouseover the stable in the table, it will highlight the corresponding point on the map (and the block in the visualization).

Step 2: Click on a Point on Map

When you find the stable you want, click on the map point. When you do that, the website links will appear below the dotted line in the Tool Tip (pop-up box). Now, you can just click on any of the links and it should take you right to that page. The “Sumo.or.jp Profile” has a lot of great information, including lists of wrestlers and staff.

I need to caveat this with the fact that I do not have a source for how I call these “official” pages for the stables. It’s based off my own judgement. In a few places, the pages seem to be rather inactive. If they were inactive for long periods or I couldn’t be confident that it was the official page, I left it off. If it seemed like it may be a fan page or just a zombie, I did not include it. That said, if you see any errors, let me know in the comments. If you know of any official pages that I have not listed, put it in the comments.

I’ve not finished going through the Facebook or Line pages yet. I plan to add those in the future. The Line page would be a QR code instead of a link. I’m not sure if I’ll add that…it may look weird but I need to get a list of those first. Again, to prevent your browser from loading the Tableau dashboard automatically, I have put it after the “more” link below. There’s also a menu item in the main menu above. Or you can click on this link.

Continue reading

Oitekaze Beya’s No Good, Very Bad May

Feel free to play with the visualization.

I updated the Heya visualization. Along with a map of the stables, it’s got a table of various metrics. One key metric is the “Kachi Koshi Ratio” for the May tournament. The table at the bottom has the raw numbers. But in the visualization, we see that Makuuchi Powerhouse Oitekaze stable had a terrible tournament and lies near the bottom with a .25. Only two small stables, Kagamiyama and Kataonami had a lower ratio (0). The darkest purples come from another small stable, Nishikido. Among the bigger stables, Mitakeumi’s Dewanoumi (.6875) and Kasugano (Aoiyama/Tochinoshin) did better than .6667.

Inspired by Josh’s article about a hypothetical rikishi, hoping to select a stable, I added the “Student/Teacher” metric. As a parent, the student/teacher ratio of local school districts is always of interest when seeking a new house or when making the decision to look at private schools. With a sumo-context, Kasugano-beya has a powerhouse of 7 coaches available to help develop their 18 wrestlers, including recently retired Tochiozan (Kiyomigata-Oyakata). To keep from loading every time you view, you can find the live visualization by clicking through the link below…or clicking on the picture above.

Continue reading