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:
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.
S1E Takayasu S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)
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.
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
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
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.