Natsu Banzuke Prediction

I am honored to be invited by Andy and Bruce to contribute this guest post. I’ve been following sumo for less than a year, and have learned so much from reading Tachiai. Judging by past basho, I believe that the banzuke for the next basho is mostly predictable based on the rikishi’s ranks and performances in the previous basho. Basically, for each rikishi, I assign a score that’s a combination of their previous rank and their win-loss record. The rikishi can then be sorted by this score and assigned to (any available) sanyaku and maegashira slots in order. The tiebreaker for rikishi with the same score is win-loss record. The main deviation from the straight score order is that rikishi with make-koshi must move down in rank, even if the formula would place them at (or above) their previous rank (indicated with *).

With these preliminaries out of the way, here are my predictions for Natsu:

Upper Sanyaku

Y1E  Kisenosato               Y1W Kakaryu

Y2E Harumafuji               Y2W Hakuho

O1E Terunofuji                 O1W Goeido

These are pretty self-explanatory. Kakaryu and Harumafuji stay in the same positions given their identical records and a head-to-head win by Kakaryu.

Lower Sanyaku

S1E Takayasu                    S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)

S2E Tamawashi

KE Mitakeumi                  KW Okinoumi

The only “open” slot is the one at Komusubi vacated by Shodai. Mitakeumi doesn’t get to move up this time, as it usually takes 11 wins to “force” an extra slot, as Takayasu did for Haru. Given the terrible performance by the lower ranks, there were no good contenders for the Komusubi slot (really, by past standards, nobody deserves to be ranked above maegashira 3 at Natsu). The 3 contenders with equal scores are Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshikaze, and Okinoumi gets the nod by virtue of his double-digit wins. I wish Yoshikaze had picked up another win; he’s definitely the sentimental candidate for this slot.

Upper Maegashira

Given the devastation in the upper maegashira ranks at Haru, there will be a lot of turnover here; all of the predicted M1-M3 rikishi were ranked lower at Haru. There are some big jumps, with Daieisho and his 11 wins coming all the way up to M2 from M11.

M1    Chiyonokuni          Yoshikaze

M2    Daieisho                 Chiyoshoma

M3    Endo                        Tochiozan


A mix of guys moving up or dropping down (in some cases, waaay up—Takakeisho—or waaay down—Shodai, Takekaze, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Shohozan, Arawashi).

M4    Takarafuji*            Aoiyama

M5    Takanoiwa             Takakeisho

M6    Hokutofuji            Takekaze

M7    Ikioi                        Shodai

M8    Shohozan             Sokokurai

M9    Ichinojo                Ura

M10  Kayagiki*             Arawashi

Lower Maegashira

A mix of Juryo escapees and guys hanging on to Makuuchi.

M11  Tochinoshin*      Toyohibiki

M12  Ishiura*                Tokushoryu

M13  Kotoyuki               Onosho

M14  Daishomaru*      Chiyotairyu

M15  Oyanagi                Osunarashi

M16  Kyokutaisei

The promotions of Osunarashi and Kyokutaisei are perhaps the most speculative bits of the whole predicted banzuke, but I think they get the nod over Miogiryu and Kaisei, the last two contenders to hang on to Makuuchi but whose performances didn’t really warrant it.

Demoted to Juryo, from least to most likely:

Miogiryu, Kaisei, Kyokushuho, Sadanoumi, Nishigiki, Chiyoo.

Promoted to Makuuchi, from most to least likely:

Toyohibiki, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Oyanagi, Osunarashi, Kyokutaisei.

Chiyomaru would be the next in line for promotion if someone retires or withdraws before Natsu. The other interesting candidate is Asanoyama, Juryo Yusho-doten along with Osunarashi, but it’s probably too big a jump all the way from J12 to Makuuchi. If he keeps performing like he has been, this young rikishi will get there soon enough.



15 thoughts on “Natsu Banzuke Prediction

  1. Predicted new career-high ranks (previous high rank): Chiyonokuni M1 (M4), Daieisho M2 (M9), Chiyoshoma M2 (M6), Takakeisho M5 (M12), Ura M9 (M12).

  2. One thing I’m unsure of in the maegashiras is how they determine, for instance, how far a falling Sokokurai or Shodai will drop compared to how high a rising Daeisho or Takakeisho will climb? As I imagine sometimes the amount of places predicted for A to fall will be at the same maegashira rank as how much B and C should rise in the banzuke. How is that resolves?d?

    • In my system, the tiebreaker is the record in the just-completed basho. So a rising rikishi will be placed above a falling one if their predicted ranks are equal. For instance, Takakeisho, Hokutofuji, Takekaze and Ikioi are all predicted to be M6. Takakeisho gets the remaining M5 slot by virtue of his stellar 11-4 record, Hokutofuji gets the first M6 slot with his 7-8, and Takekaze and Ikioi get the remaining M6 and the first M7 slots, respectively; since those two both started at M1 and went 5-10, their order is resolved based on M1E > M1W.

  3. I’m going with Yoshikaze for the K slot even though he had an inferior record and lost the head-to-head with Okinoumi. The thing is that Okinoumi compiled his record at M8 and had an M8 schedule- no sanyaku opposition. Yoshi on the other hand fought 2 yokozuna, 1 ozeki and 2 sekiwake which I think gives him the edge.

  4. Following up on Andrew’s point more generally, you could break ties by current rank instead of by record, favoring higher-ranked rikishi with tougher schedules. In addition to raising Yoshikaze to Komusubi and dropping Okinoumi to M1, this would change the following ranks (not bothering with mere switches between East and West):

    Endo M2, Daieisho M3
    Takanoiwa M4, Aoiyama M5
    Ikioi M5, Takakeisho M7
    Kotoyuki M11, Toyohibiki M13
    Chiyomaru M16 instead of Kyokutaisei

    Will be interesting to see if there’s a consistent way in which NSK makes these choices.

    • That’s easy to answer: No, there isn’t. The whole thing is a committee effort of 23 people; consistency isn’t a particularly high priority.

    • My method, which is quick but a bit crude, generates a rating which gives a rank order so there aren’t too many ties, but if there are I always give the nod to the wrestler ranked higher in the previous basho.

      I think the committee members want to avoid over-promoting a wrestler to a rank where he might embarrass himself (and them) so if push comes to shove, they’ll opt for the tried and tested rikishi rather than the promising novice.

  5. Struggling to get the time to do this properly at the moment but still a long time til the Basho!

    My initial thoughts are that Yoshikaze will get the West Komosubi spot. I also think Endo will be higher than Daeisho.

    Additionally I don’t think Kaisei will drop into Juryo after a decent Hatsu and being kyujo for first 5 days, plus I think Toyohibiki will not come into Makuuchi as highly ranked As Daeisho did this time (remember Daiesho has been there before and won 12-3 not 10-5

    • I agree those are all points where the prediction is low-confidence (see also my comment right above yours), where we can’t rely on numbers alone and have to make some judgement calls. These borderline predictions will hopefully improve with the experience of a few basho. I still think Kaisei drops to Juryo; they seem to treat kyujo fairly harshly…

      • Yeah they weren’t too forgiving for Tochinoshin were they.

        Wow it’s only been two days and I already need this next Basho to start


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