How Did The Crystal Ball Do?

My Haru Banzuke forecast was right on target, if I do say so myself. In the upper ranks, the only deviation from the real thing was that I swapped the two Sekiwake after Tamawashi’s yusho, following what I thought was the precedent set when Mitakeumi and Ichinojo switched sides after the former won the Nagoya basho. Apparently, that was a one-off exception, and Takakeisho stayed on the East side despite finishing behind Tamawashi. Congratulations to Shin-Komusubi Hokutofuji on his sanyaku debut.

I am especially pleased with how close I was in the M1-M6 ranks, as this was a tricky area based on the Hatsu results, with a number of possible solutions. My only error was switching Tochiozan and Shodai at M3w and M4e, and I am beginning to see Bruce’s point about Shodai’s inordinate banzuke luck, as by all rights a 6-9 M1e should have stayed ahead of a 7-8 M3e.

In the M6-M12 ranks, I got a few things wrong. I thought Asanoyama would be promoted a rank after posting an 8-7 winning record at M8w, but (unusually) he was only moved to the East side, with Takarafuji taking the M7w slot instead, and Kotoshogiku filling the vacated slot at M8w. I also had the Ryuden/Yago and Yoshikaze/Chiyonokuni pairs in the wrong order.

In the lower ranks, I correctly called the number (5) and identity of promotions from Juryo. While I had Tomokaze making his debut at M13, I did not move him up quite far enough, as he ended up on the East side, ahead of Kagayaki. I am a bit surprised they let Kotoeko keep his M15w rank despite a 7-8 losing record, when there was room to demote him to M16e. In any case, this bumped Daishoho, not Toyonoshima as I had forecast, into the lowest promotion position. And as predicted, Yutakayama and Chiyoshoma were fortunate to hang on to the bottom two rungs of the Makuuchi ladder.

To sum up, I had the right rank for 33 of the 42 Makuuchi rikishi, and in 26 of these cases, I also forecast the correct side. Most of the misses were by half a rank, with the exception of Takarafuji and Toyonoshima (one rank) and Daishoho (one and a half). This is my best prediction by the total number of correct ranks, if not quite by Guess The Banzuke scoring, and my second top-ten finish in that game.

On to the basho!

12 thoughts on “How Did The Crystal Ball Do?

  1. As far as the Sekiwake pairings go, neither you nor I, nor Gurowake, Asashosakari or yusho winner Chiyonosawa got that right, so that’s 5 out of the top 10. I suspect that this came as a surprise to most people.

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Sekiwake switch was a one-off. The banzuke committee is the same as the shimpan department who do the ring-side judging (and torikumi making, I think). This committee changes with people getting added or removed as they work their way through the organizational structure. As a result, we get some different voices each year (not all new or different). These voices might have other ideas about rankings.

    Which leads me to Shodai. As you and Bruce say, he might well have some favour in that banzuke making room. I also had him misplaced. If you consider the fact that Kisenosato retired, the switch from East to West side has left him in essentially the same slot (position 15 on the banzuke), so no move for a make-koshi. That partially explains Asanoyama, a move from West to East actually means a move of two positions instead of one relative to the top of the banzuke, which is what you’d expect for an 8-7.

    Kotoeko on the other hand, by keeping rank, technically moved up relative to the top of the banzuke with a MK. He goes from being 3rd from bottom to being 4th from bottom. Now that’s banzuke luck.

    (Also, check out the exceptionla good fortune of Gagamaru and Chiyonoumi in Juryo)

  2. First thing I did was compare the Juryo banzuke to your prediction, because I’m an evil woman. You did great all the way down to J7. From then on down it’s… different. Yeah, I know, there were disclaimers in large letters on that one.

    • Haha, true. My first draft actually had the KK M14s much higher up, but it looked too crazy :-?
      And I made no attempt to place the Makushita guys, which usually doesn’t matter much but would have really helped with this one. Oh well, maybe next time.

    • Well, I was wrong about Wakamotoharu being promoted past the 8-7 J14s….but only because they gave them ludicrous promotions. My sketch of a guess was a half-rank off for the Makushita Yusho winner, but given how far I was off with Gagamaru and Chiyonoumi, the rest was pretty much a mess.

  3. I hate to be that guy, maybe it is not as obvious to you as it is to me, but you should take direct head-to-head results in the previous basho way more into your consideration.

    I looked up the examples of your personal ‘edge cases’ Tochiozan vs. Shodai, Asanoyama vs. Takarafuji and Daishoho / Toyonoshima. And sure enough, the respective winners were given the higher position.
    Decades ago, when I was also playing in Sumo games, this ‘pattern’ was always obvious to me.

    And it is a perfectly natural consensus solution in my eyes. I do not know the actual procedures of the banzuke committee, but I am pretty sure they decide the ranking from the top going down, discussing only the tricky cases. And how would you settle an argument were two large enough groups of members argue their side? Just point to ‘who beat who’ and move on…

    • How would one settle such an argument? I dunno, voting comes to mind. That also has the advantage that the 23 people involved don’t have to adhere to an indicator the usage of which some of them might not even agree with in the first place. Why head-to-head? Why not “I liked his fighting spirit better”, or “he’s more popular with fans”, or the obvious one, “he’s from my group of stables”?

      Anyway, the historical record is littered with both counterexamples and ones supporting your hypothesis, so it’s hardly obvious at all.


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