The Fish Tank & Fresh Faces
In the last of our series prognosticating the banzuke for Haru, we take a look at the lower half Makuuchi, including the rikishi who are likely to be demoted down to Juryo and promoted out of Juryo to the upper division.
The action during Hatsu in January saw some incredible winning records among rikishi ranked below Maegashira 4, several of whom racked up double digit records. This resulted in some dramatic shifts up and down the banzuke, with some names familiar to Tachiai readers poised for some of their lowest ranking in many tournaments.
Gone from the upper division are Chiyootori, who was only at Maegashira 14, but had a terrible rank velocity score of -3.3, which is identical to his stablemate Chiyotairyu. One of them is going back to Juryo most likely, and a flip of a coin gave me Chiyootori. The overwhelming swarm of Kokonoe beya wrestlers in January caused fits for scheduling, and frankly it will be good to thin the ranks a bit.
Likewise we can wave goodbye to Gagamaru, the massive Georgan turned in yet another terrible performance in January, with a rank velocity score of -5.5 from his 5-10 result. Sadly we are also losing Osunaarashi, who gave it everything he had but was just too injured to compete in January. His last demotion was brutal, and I have no idea how far down the banzuke he is going to drop.
Joining Makuuchi from Juryo are 3 favorites who have worked hard to win their upper-division slots: Juryo yusho winner Daieisho, Kyokushuho, and Tachiai favorite Ura.
Running everyone’s scores through the magic computations gives us the following list:
First up at Maegashira 8, Chiyoshoma dropping 2 ranks from Maegashira 6. Chiyoshoma had a fairly decent performance at Hatsu, including wins over Maegashira 4 Endo and Maegashira 5 Takekaze. He is joined on the west by Kaisei, who has been struggling for several tournaments, but managed to get his kachi-koshi with a win over Gagamaru on the final day.
Leading up Maegashira 9 is the injured and struggling Okinoumi, who could only find 4 wins in January. He drops 6 ranks in a fairly brutal demotion that is more a testament to his injuries than his sumo skill. Joining him is Kotoyuki, another veteran who had a terrible tournament in January. He falls 3 ranks to take up the west position.
Tochiozan falls 6 ranks as well to take the Maegashira 10e slot. He managed only 3 wins in January and is really having trouble recapturing his former power and strength. Joining him is Kagayaki, who rises 1 rank on the back of his 8-7 kachi-koshi from January.
After an impressive debut performance in Kyushu, Ishiura struggled during Hatsu, managing only 6 wins. He drops two ranks to take up the Maegashira 11e slot. Myogiryu had a horrific Hatsu, with a 4-11 result. He drops 4 ranks to occupy the Maegashira 11w slot at Osaka.
Maegashira 12 seems to be a strange rank this tournament. Both occupants, Takakeisho in the east and Daishomaru in the west, were at this same rank for January, and ended up with 7-8 records. But because of the downward velocity of some other rikishi, they ended up here. Be aware that they may end up lower in the final, NSK banzuke.
Sadanoumi improves to Maegashira 13e for Haru after being Maegashira 15 in January, his 8-7 kachi-koshi record was enough to bring him forward 2 ranks. He is joined by the Juryo yusho winner, Daieisho, who is making his return to Makuuchi after 3 tournaments in Jury.
At Meagashira 14e, making his Makuuchi debut – none other than Ura. Only time will tell if he can survive in the top division, but many fans (including myself) are hopeful we can finally get a steady digest of Ura’s sumo acrobatics in our video feed. At 14 west, we find the hapless Nishikigi. Nishikigi’s record was worthy of demotion by the “rank velocity” formula, but it was necessary to round out Maegashira ranks, so being slightly less damaged than some of the others, I have him staying.
Also up from Juryo, Kyokushuho re-joins the top division, after spending Hatsu in Juryo. Also at Maegashira 15 is Chiyoo, who was chosen by coin toss from the 3 demotable Kokonoe wrestlers.
if there is a need for a single Maegashira 16 to even out Makuuchi, Tachiai predicts Chiyotairyu survive demotion back to Juryo in order to balance the banzuke. This will come down to how many of the injured rikishi actually state they will be able to compete, and may be decided at the last minute.
That’s Bruce’s guess for Haru 2017. As always, please feel free to post your ideas too!