I like Bruce’s systematic, mathematic approach to the banzuke. Mine, though, is based on gut. In my sanyaku projection, you’ll notice few differences. I flip Harumafuji and Kakuryu. Rather than basing it on wins, I based it on losses. Six losses for a yokozuna (Kakuryu)? Even injured it’s hard for me to put him in the top rank — so I didn’t. I preserve the two Sekiwake standard rather than making room for Takayasu. Also, I drop Shodai from the senior ranks and let him fall into the rank-and-file.
The Ozeki situation is just bizarre. Terunofuji is kadoban, again, and should be demoted. If by some (cough, cough,
yaocho) miracle he wins eight and retains his rank, I command the NSK to sit his ass for two tournaments. Let him go kadoban after 0-0-15 in May, get demoted after 0-0-15 in July, and come back healthy with a shot to regain his rank in September. Meanwhile, Goeido’s injury appears very serious as well. He has the luxury of sitting out this tournament and coming back kadoban in May.
Given the apparent seriousness of both rikishi’s injuries, it is possible that we will not have any ozeki by July. Add in the injuries to two yokozuna, this opens the door very wide for a *new crop* (新米) of champions in sumo. The three at the top of my list are the three junior sanyaku rikishi: Tamawashi, Takayasu, and Mitakeumi. I believe there’s a 75% chance for new ozeki this summer, 100% chance of new ozeki (likely 2) by year end. If I’m wrong, I will eat a raw wasabi root – marinated in yuzukosho – and post the video on YouTube.
Key to any promotion is health. I will find that article my wife sent me which mentions Kisenosato’s anti-injury training this weekend and post again after the banzuke. He’s been incredibly resilient through his career. I seem to recognize a “tawara-awareness” where he doesn’t risk a nasty fall for a win on the edge. He fights but remains in control and on the dohyo.
Endo used to go for it all to try to pull off a win. I’ve noticed he’s trying to stay in control. If the opponent has position and isn’t off-balance (thus susceptible to a quick pivot) the best course of action is to step out. Don’t go out to a careless knee or back injury from an uncontrolled fall. If possible, tumble in a controlled fashion.
If I were to start a heya, controlled falls from the dohyo would be the first thing I’d teach my rikishi. I’d bring in Hollywood stunt doubles and Chinese tumbling acrobats to show my wrestlers how to brace and control their falls from any position. Then I’d say, if you can’t win with a pivot on the tawara, don’t destroy your knee. Just step out and beat the
fucker gentleman over the head next time.
Below is my take on the sanyaku for March: