Now that the official banzuke is out, it’s time once again to review how my predictions fared.
Here, my forecast was right on the money: all ten slots were predicted correctly. There was some talk about whether Shin-Ozeki Tochinoshin would leapfrog the two incumbent kadoban Ozeki, Goeido and Takayasu, in the standings. Instead, as predicted, he begins his Ozeki career at O2w (the additional wrinkle here is that he is placed on the less prestigious West side, leaving the O1e rank empty, in order to balance the two sides).
It was clear that the Sekiwake ranks would be occupied by Ichinojo and Mitakeumi, although there was some question about the order. As predicted, the incumbent, Ichinojo, is ranked ahead of Mitakeumi, who is returning to the rank after spending a tournament at Komusubi, despite Mitakeumi’s better win total (9 vs. 8) and head-to-head victory over Ichinojo. Also as forecast, the Komusubi slots are occupied by Tamawashi and Shohozan, neither of whom is a newcomer to the rank. Shodai has to settle for M1e, and is in pole position for any potential San’yaku openings should he achieve kachi-koshi in Nagoya.
Here the forecast record is a lot more mixed. Of the 32 maegashira ranks, I correctly predicted 16, and for 11 of these I also got the side correct. Of the other 16 predictions, 13 were off by one rank, typically as a result of a switch between two consecutively ranked rikishi (e.g. 10w Nishikigi and 11e Aoiyama) or a more complex local rearrangement.
This brings me to the three more substantial misses. Two that could have been anticipated resulted from the banzuke committee’s noted bias against promotions from Juryo. I tried to take this into account by dropping Onosho and Kotoeko, who by my formula should have been ranked M8 and M11, to M9 and M12, respectively. The banzuke committee was much harsher, ranking the two M11 and M14. This is especially surprising to me in the case of Onosho, a recent Makuuchi mainstay who was only back down in Juryo for a single tournament due to injury and won the yusho with an impressive 12-3 record from J1, but nevertheless got treated like someone making his top-division debut. (I’ll note parenthetically that I correctly forecast the three promotions, Onosho, Kotoeko, and Meisei, who occupies the final M16w rung, and the corresponding demotions of Takekaze (J1e), Daiamami (J2e) and Aminishiki (J4w)).
This brings us to by far my biggest miss in this or any previous forecast, by a whopping five ranks, and one where I find the banzuke committee’s decision completely baffling. M3 Yutakayama, after putting up a disastrous 2-13 record, finds himself demoted only 6 ranks, landing at M9. My forecast had him at M14, which one could argue was slightly harsh, but even M11 would have been extremely charitable, and M9 is beyond generous. For comparison, the next-worst-performing rikishi, Ryuden, was demoted 8 ranks despite a slightly better 3-12 record. Perhaps the quality of Yutakayama’s losses was taken into account, although this is not something the banzuke committee generally engages in. It’s hard to argue that his ranking is simply a consequence of good banzuke luck, as several rikishi with kachi-koshi or minimal make-koshi records deserve to be ranked ahead of him. If anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it.