I get a lot of information and inspiration from Herouth’s jungyo coverage. She gives so much insight into a side of the sport that non-Japanese rarely see reported. Frankly, even Japanese don’t see much of this reported outside of local newspapers or Twitter, so much of this side of sumo is completely new to my friends and my wife’s friends. I often find myself doing more research into a topic she’s raised, a lesser-known wrestler she’s featured, or sumo-specific vocabulary.
Her post yesterday featured the homecoming of rank-and-file maegashira Ryuden, alongside mention of fellow Yamanashi export Shobushi. She also shone a light on Shodai’s tsukebito, Asakura, and the former Kototsurugi. Frankly, even Ryuden is a bit of a mystery to me. The last couple of years he seemed to pop up from nowhere and turn into a solid maegashira with the potential to crack into sanyaku.
From his page on the SumoDB, we can see Ryuden’s career actually started back in 2006 and he seemed to have been grinding it out, steadily progressing until he reached Juryo and suffered a major set-back, resulting in multiple consecutive kyujo tournaments. I hate to cite Wikipedia but English-language reporting on sumo wrestlers is difficult to find. So, according to Wikipedia, he fractured his hip, reinjuring it twice and falling way back to Jonokuchi (hat tip to Herouth for catching my error).
When I read this story, I think of how Tochinoshin and Jokoryu clawed their way back into the paid ranks after bad injuries. This also gives a glimpse into the challenges that lie ahead of Ura and Terunofuji. But how well do their stories really compare? It’s quite difficult to see just what Ryuden has overcome in that table.
My day job is data management so I thought I’d put together a simple visualization to give a better visual reference for Ryuden’s career. Time (number of tournaments) is along the horizontal axis. Rank is along the vertical axis. We see his rank crater after he reaches Juryo. Interestingly, for four tournaments in a row, the DB shows that he picks up 1 win, perhaps keeping him from going completely off the banzuke while recuperating. Once healthy, he roared back into the top flights with consecutive yusho in the lower divisions. This should give hope for the young Ura and Terunofuji.
Along with Ryuden, though, this type of visualization also helps give us a glimpse into the careers of the other, even less-well-known rikishi. Shobushi has been a fixture in the Sandanme division for much of the past ten years, though he recently dipped back down into Jonidan. Can he put together a run and make it into Makushita?
Asakura is coming fresh off his lower-division yusho, so this graph will need to be updated. He may find himself back in Sandanme. The youngster has started off well but it is challenging to get into the third division.
Lastly, I want to take a look at Kototsurugi, whom Herouth also introduced, alongside Ryuden.