Well, the official banzuke is out, and while my prediction got a lot of the big picture right, it got many of the details wrong. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly picks, and my commentary on the work of the banzuke committee.
I got the San’yaku ranks exactly right. Tochinoshin joins the upper ranks as the West Sekiwake, Ichinojo as the East Komusubi, and Chiyotairyu as the West Komusubi. Only the last of these was at all uncertain based on the Hatsu results.
I also got the promotions from and demotions to Juryo exactly right. Down go Takekake (Juryo 1w), Aminishiki (J2e), and Terunofuji (J5w, and they’re being very generous to only let him drop that far). Up come Myogiryu, Hidenoumi, and Aoiyama; all three have previously spent time in Makuuchi.
The forecast did a decent job for the upper maegashira ranks. Endo and Tamawashi are the new M1s, as predicted, although I had them on opposite sides. Arawashi (as predicted) and Takarafuji are the new M2s. By all rights, Kotoshogiku should have stayed at M2w despite his 7-8 record, as there was a large gap in performance below him, and leaving a 7-8 rikishi at the same rank is not at all unusual, but this time the committee apparently felt obliged to demote him by half a rank to M3e, and as a consequence over-promoted Takarafuji all the way from M6, where he went 8-7, to M2. Joining Kotoshogiku at M3 is Takakeisho (as predicted, but on the wrong side).
The next three ranks are a bit of a head-scratcher. As predicted, they involve Shodai, Shohozan, and Chiyomaru. Like Kotoshogiku, Shodai went 7-8, while Shohozan and Chiyomaru both went 9-6 at M9, and therefore should have stayed in adjacent banzuke positions. I considered two logical solutions: leave Shodai where he was, M4e, and promote Shohozan and Chiyomaru to M4w and M5e, respectively, or drop Shodai to M5e, with Shohozan and Chiyomaru occupying the M4 ranks. Instead, the committee inexplicably chose to split Shohozan and Chiyomaru by ranking Shodai between the two.
Filling out this part of the banzuke are M5w Onosho, M6e Kaisei, and M6w Hokutofuji, exactly as predicted.
The forecast also did well on the bottom of the banzuke. In the last six slots, occupied by Nishikigi (14w), Sokokurai (15e), Myogiryu (15w), Daiamami (16e), Hidenoumi (16w), and Aoiyama (17e), the only prediction error was switching the East/West sides of Sokokurai and Myogiryu, and while there is a bias toward ranking Makuuchi holdovers above Juryo promotions, Sokokurai performed so poorly that Myogiryu has reason to complain about being ranked below him.
The bad and the ugly
The middle of the banzuke is where the forecast went to pieces. None of my predictions from M7e to M14e were exactly right, and even the rank was correct for only 3 of the 15 rikishi (M7 Yoshikaze, M11 Yutakayama, and M12 Kotoyuki). Admittedly, almost all of the misses were either by half a rank or one rank, except for Daieisho (predicted M10e, ranked M8w) and Ryuden (predicted M11w, ranked M9w). The general trend here, if one can be identified, is that the committee significantly over-promoted lower-ranked rikishi with strong kachi-koshi records. Abi at 10-5 jumps 7 ranks, all the way from M14 to M7, Daieisho (9-6) jumps 5 ranks from M13 to M8, and Ryuden (10-5) jumps 7 ranks from M16 to M9. The others with 9-6 records received less generous promotions (Kagayaki, Yutakayama, Ishiura, Asanoyama), while everyone else got pushed down to make room.
Aside from setting up Abi, Daiesho, and Ryuden either for rapid rises or hard falls due to over-promotion and a more difficult schedule, none of these differences affect what will happen in Haru much. The contours of both the joi and those who will be fighting for their Makuuchi survival are pretty much as predicted.
On to Osaka.