Natsu Banzuke Crystal Ball

I started writing these prediction posts exactly a year ago, so this will be my seventh banzuke forecast for Tachiai. The accuracy has varied from basho to basho, though I think it’s fair to say that the forecasts give a very good idea of roughly where each rikishi will land—in most cases, within one rank or closer.

Upper San’yaku

Y1

Kakuryu

Hakuho

Y2

Kisenosato

O1

Takayasu

Goeido

No changes here from the Haru banzuke.

Lower San’yaku

S

Tochinoshin

Ichinojo

K

Endo

Mitakeumi

With his 7-8 record, Mitakeumi will lose his Sekiwake rank, but should only fall to Komusubi. Tochinoshin moves over to the East side, while Ichinojo moves up to Sekiwake. Endo finally gets his San’yaku promotion, and is a sufficiently strong candidate with his 9-6 record at M1e that I have him on the East side, although the banzuke committee could certainly switch him and Mitakeumi.

Upper Maegashira

M1

Tamawashi

Kaisei

M2

Abi

Shohozan

M3

Daieisho

Yutakayama

M4

Chiyoshoma

Ikioi

M5

Shodai

Kotoshogiku

What’s certain is that there will be a lot of turnover in this area of the banzuke, as with the exception of Shohozan, everyone in the M2-M5 ranks checked in with a losing record, and only Shodai limited his losses to 8. Many in the ranks immediately below this group also did not distinguish themselves, meaning that we have to reach far down the banzuke for viable promotion candidates. Exactly how this will play out is much less certain, as there are many possible scenarios, and the considerations going into them are complex.

Let’s start with the easy part. Both Tamawashi and Kaisei did well enough to earn promotions to San’yaku, but since there are no open slots for them, they will have to be content with the top maegashira rank. Abi and Shohozan are the only plausible candidates for M2, although their ordering is uncertain. Abi will jump 5 ranks, and will join the joi in only his third top-division basho after earning 10-5 records in the first two. Similarly, Daieisho is the only plausible candidate for M3e. He will also jump 5 ranks, matching his highest career rank.

From here, things get complicated. The next best numerical score belongs to Shodai, but he can’t take the M3w slot due to his make-koshi record at M4w. The best he could do would be to remain at his current rank, though it’s more likely he gets a minimal demotion to M5e. Kotoshogiku could technically  be only demoted from M3e to M3w, but given his 6-9 record, this seems overly generous, and he should really be ranked below Shodai. The next best candidate for M3e is none other than Yutakayama, whose 10-5 record could vault him 8 ranks up the banzuke, all the way from M11.

If we put Shodai and M5e and Kotoshogiku right below him at M5w, who fills the M4 slots? The choice is between the next two strong kachi-koshi records, which belong to Chiyoshoma (9-6 at M10) and Ikioi (11-4 at M14), and the other two high-rankers due for big demotions, Komusubi Chiyotairyu (4-11) and M2 Takarafuji (5-10). My forecast favors the guys moving up the banzuke over those moving down. If the banzuke committee agrees, six out of the ten rikishi in this group would be moving up at least 5 ranks!

Mid-Maegashira

M6

Chiyotairyu

Takarafuji

M7

Chiyomaru

Ryuden

M8

Yoshikaze

Hokutofuji

M9

Kagayaki

Daishomaru

M10

Okinoumi

Daiamami

M11

Chiyonokuni

Takakeisho

At Natsu, this area of the banzuke will serve primarily as the landing zone for higher-ranked rikishi who achieved make-koshi records ranging from just below .500 (Yoshikaze, Kagayaki, Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni) to horrific (hello, Chiyotairyu and Takakeisho). The only bright spots are Ryuden, who moves up from M9 with a minimal kachi-koshi, and the Oitekaze stablemates Daishomaru and Daiamami, who vault up and out of the demotion danger zone with their 9-6 and 10-5 records.

Lower Maegashira

M12

Asanoyama

Arawashi

M13

Ishiura

Sadanoumi

M14

Takekaze

Tochiozan

M15

Aoiyama

Kyokutaisei

M16

Aminishiki

Kotoeko

M17

Gagamaru


The bottom of the banzuke is complicated by the fact that there are 6 Makuuchi rikishi who earned demotions by the usual criteria (in order from most to least deserving of demotion: Hedenoumi, Kotoyuki, Sokokurai, Onosho/Nishikigi, and Myogiryu), but only 3 Juryo rikishi who clearly earned promotion: Sadanoumi, Takekaze, and Kyokutaisei. Aminishiki is borderline, and the next two best candidates, Kotoeko (10-5 at J8) and Gagamaru (8-7 at J5), are ranked too low to be normally considered for promotion with those records. Obviously, the numbers moving up and down have to match. What to do?

My initial inclination was to demote Nishikigi in favor of Aminishiki, and save Onosho (who was kyujo) and Myogiryu. Over on the sumo forum, Asashosakari suggested that they could instead demote Onosho and save both Nishikigi and Myogiryu. The solution I’m currently favoring, given how poor their records were, is that both Nishikigi and Myogiryu will be demoted, as will Onosho. I’m guessing that the banzuke committee will be more likely to promote kachi-koshi Juryo rikishi with insufficiently strong records (after all, this has happened in the past) than to keep in the top division rikishi who failed to defend their places there. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see this play out in any number of ways. We’ll find out on April 26th!

 

18 thoughts on “Natsu Banzuke Crystal Ball


  1. to see Kyokutaisei debut at M16 in your predictions is delightful! he’s been working very hard and no doubt will continue to do so! Yoshikaze at M8 breaks my heart, however, he knows what he needs to do to turn this round – my berserker reappeared at the end of Haru, i’m hoping he only gets stronger and more feisty as we move along. My prediction for an outstanding Juryo – my other Hokkaido rikishi – Yago… he’s a bit of a quiet achiever… watch this space… 🙂


  2. tough promotion calls. I would think it is more important to have earned a place in the top division with an appropriate record than to shlub into the top division. but i also understand that you people need to defend their place in the top division.


    • Agree it’s a tough call (and a situation that doesn’t arise often). You could argue the merits either way; the prediction question is more about guessing how the banzuke committee will see it.


  3. It will be interesting to see if Abi can pull an Onosho and go 10-5 in his first three basho in the top division. It did seem to me that his sumo skills increased between Hatsu and Haru in a manner commensurate with the records he was earning. Can he continue to improve and earn that third double-digit result?


    • Not impossible either – Abi can work the mawashi and execute some decent throwing techniques, so he’s not just limited to the strength of his Oshi zumo. He’s also a confident and positive rikishi. 10-5 might be quite high but I reckon he’ll give a decent account of himself.


      • His oyakata insists Abi will never fight on the mawashi, but instead will be a tsuppari man like Terao used to be. I suspect this might be doing Abi a disservice, but it is interesting to see what a jumbo-sized, lengthy Terao would look like.


  4. So you think the fact that Mitakeumi’s record was protected by not having him fight the only Yokozuna (and eventual winner of the tournament), despite him being a Sekiwake has worked?

    And having Kaisei (at maegashera 6) fight Kakuryu has prevented him from reaching San’yaku – considering that that record might well have been 13-2 had he not been switched to having to fight the Yokozuna..

    That’s seems somewhat unfair.


    • It was odd that Mitakeumi didn’t fight the Yokozuna at sekiwake (and not being stablemates). He clearly will not be on an ozeki run anytime soon.


    • As far as the guys who set up the torikumi knew, he only had one loss and was still strong in the yusho run. This was actually true even after day 12. They tend to match people up with tough competition in such cases – the fact that they didn’t do so with Aoiyama in Nagoya 2017 was more remarkable.

      If he’s good – and stable – he’ll get that promotion soon enough. If not, he’ll be culled by the existing sanyaku whether he is M1 or K.


      • I’m a bit woried about Mitakeumi, whom I have been following ever since he entered the professional ranks. It’s not even as though he’s plateaued- he actually seems to be going backwards (injury?). I just can’t imagine any of the jo’i guys checking the matchups and saying “Oh spit, I’ve got Mitakeumi tomorrow”.


  5. Splitting Endo and Tamawashi, when at the same rank and with the same record, seems to run counter to what you previously say happens in your earlier banzuke predictions.

    It would seem remarkable if Kotoeko could find himself at M16 with a 10-5 at J8!


    • I’d go with Leonid here in that there’s only limited options for sanyaku promotion. Tochinoshin was M1W in May 2015 with 9 wins: only promoted to M1E! And in that situation, there was even one extra sanyaku slot as Terunofuji was promoted to Ozeki. Myogiryu’s 7-8 record was not poor enough to fall out of sanyaku; he was only demoted to komusubi.


    • There’s not much else for them to do with Endo and Tamawashi, given the recent precedents. Something similar happened at Hatsu, where Tamawashi was S1w and Takakeisho was K1e after both went 11-4 and M1e and M1w, respectively, in the previous basho. And on the Haru banzuke, Shohozan was M4e and Chiyomaru was M5e after they both went 9-6 at M9e/w. In that instance, not only were they placed at different ranks, they weren’t even ranked consecutively, with Shodai placed between the two.

      I completely agree about Kotoeko, but it would also be remarkable to keep Nishikigi/Myogiryu in Makuuchi. Unusual set of circumstances; we’ll see what they decide to do.


      • Yep definitely the hardest to predict for a while! Good job anyway! Was just challenging a couple of ones that seemed unusual by previous standards


  6. Credit to Iksumo for sticking his neck out on the promotion/ relegation situation. I just went for “three up”, “three down”, with Sadanoumi, Kyokutaisei and Takekaze replacing Hidenoumi, Kotoyuki and Sokokurai, I don’t pretend to understand how the collective mind of the committee works, but tossing out Onosho to make room for Gagamaru (or Aminishiki for that matter) would look like a huge backwards step.


    • it’s hard not to isn’t it… and irrespective of the outcome he never complains and always has that lovely smile firmly in place.

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