Natsu Banzuke Postmortem

The crystal ball was full of clouds

With the official rankings released, it’s time to examine how my forecast did. I noted a number of uncertainties clouding the predictions. How did they turn out?

Will Mitakeumi (7-8) get to stay at Komusubi with a half-rank demotion, or will that slot go to Kotoshogiku instead?

As predicted, Mitakeumi is the West Komusubi. I guessed that after confronting this choice, the banzuke committee would give Kotoshogiku the consolation prize of top maegashira, but that honor went to Hokutofuji instead, leaving Kotoshogiku to settle for M1w. That’s two half-rank misses for the crystal ball.

How far will Tamawashi (5-10) fall from West Sekiwake? Based on recent precedent for sanyaku rikishi, I’ve given him the mildest possible demotion, to M2e, but he could easily end up a rank lower.

The banzuke committee went with a rank and a half lower, placing the former Sekiwake at M3w. Endo, Daieisho, and Chiyotairyu each benefited by sliding up half-a-rank relative to the forecast. Myogiryu also ended up a rank lower than predicted, with Okinoumi and Abi moving up half a rank as a result.

How big will Shimanoumi’s promotion be? Ranking him at M8e seems pretty reasonable to me, but anywhere from M7e to M8w wouldn’t surprise me, and the banzuke committee could opt to go even lower.

Well, color me surprised. The 13-2 Juryo yusho winner from the top rank in the second division ended up four full ranks lower than I predicted, all the way down at M12e. Notably, this is only one rank ahead of Chiyomaru (J1w, 10-5) and two ranks ahead of Tokushoryu (J4w, 9-6)! The last equivalent performance, by Osunaarashi in 2016, saw him promoted to M7w, so it’s hard to see how the committee would justify this decision. As a result, basically all of my picks from M8 to M12 were off by half a rank, with Kaisei the biggest beneficiary, sliding up from M9e into Shimanoumi’s predicted slot.

How far will Kaisei and Nishikigi fall? I’ve given them relatively lenient demotions because of their places in the joi and the caliber of the opposition they faced, but one could easily argue for placing them a rank lower. The same can be said about Tochiozan, but it’s harder to see who could move ahead of him.

As a result of Shimanoumi’s snub, Kaisei ended up higher by a full rank, and Nishikigi and Tochiozan by half a rank.

What will they do with the mess at the bottom of the banzuke? Having four exchanges between Makuuchi and Juryo makes the most sense to me, but anything from two (with Toyonoshima and Ikioi surviving) to five (with Takagenji trading places with Chiyoshoma) is possible. And when it comes to the precise rankings, any solution that avoids promoting someone with a losing record is a victory.

This is where the crystal ball shined, correctly predicting the exact composition and order of the final eight ranks.

To sum up, of the 42 ranks, the forecast hit 23 on the nose, and had the correct rank but wrong side for 8 more. Of the remaining 11 misses, 4 were by a rank or more, as noted above: Tamawashi, Myogiryu, Shimanoumi, and Kaisei.

Better luck next time. Does pretty much calling the Makushita joi count for anything?

The May Banzuke is Posted!


http://sumo.or.jp/EnHonbashoBanzuke/index/

All across the divisions, this is shaping up to be a barn-burner of a tournament. Some highlights (at least as I see them)

Takakeisho – first tournament as Ozeki. Congrats!

Ichinojo – Back at Sekiwake, which he shares with Tochinoshin who is 10 wins away from regaining his Ozeki rank.

Aoiyama – Komusubi for May, his fans all hope that he is in top form and can stand up to the intense pressure.

Kotoshogiku – Top echelon of the rank and file Maegashira 1w, a winning record might put him back in the named ranks.

Enho – Debut in the top division, I know fans who only get to see the highlight shows are going to wonder where this powerhouse has been hiding the whole time.

Roga – At Sandanme 22, the March Jonidan yusho winner takes a huge leap up the banzuke.

Terunofuji – He looked like death warmed over in March, but maybe he is in better condition now. He punches in at Sandanme 49.

Wakaichiro – After a losing record in March, he finds himself back in Jonidan at 19. Time for him to regroup and move forward.

While We Wait…

Yes, it’s true – I did not catch that the NSK was holding back the Banzuke until Tuesday AM Japan time. You can understand given that tradition plays a strong role in most things they do, that a rabid sumo fan would assume it would be published on Monday.

While we wait for it to actually show up, here’s a fun little video clip shared by Nicola Hetherington – a wonderful person and friend of Tachiai (she shares many, many basho photos with us).

Is That… Gagamaru on Drums?

Its ALMOST Banzuke Tuesday!!


It’s almost that magical day that sumo fans wait 2 months for: The Japan Sumo Association will release the ranking list for the Natsu tournament, which starts 2 weeks from today. Tachiai will bring you the details as soon as it’s posted (we expect it in about 48+6 hours), and if you want to read through master prognosticator lksumo’s forecast you will find it here. The banzuke comes out on Tuesday. (Hat tip Herouth…per now deleted tweet.)

This will be the first banzuke where we see Takakeisho as an Ozeki, and we will see Tochinoshin reduced to a rank we call Ozekiwake – he is a Sekiwake, but 10 wins returns him to Ozeki. Given the brutal records of many fan favorites, we anticipate a large amount of churn when the Banzuke is published today. We expect to see micro powerhouse Enho make his Makuuchi debut, and for the spheroid known as Chiyomaru to return to the top division. But die hard fans want to know who will fill in the top division’s joi-jin, and we will be tracking new ranks for all of our lower division ones to watch. Check back soon for all of the glorious details.

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 22

🌐 Location: Ome, Tokyo

Although today’s event takes place in a town that’s part of the greater Tokyo, it seems most Tokyoite fans are actually waiting for the bigger event the next day at Yokohama. So we have another short report for you today – but use the time to buy some popcorn and find a babysitter – because the next installment will be a lengthy one.

First, I want to update the sick list. Unfortunately, Kagayaki came up with a rather late case of the flu, and departed from the Jungyo together with his tsukebito.

OK, so in the hand-shake corner, Tsurugisho decides to simulate a crucifix. Shimanoumi is amused:

There are not many people who can dwarf Mitakeumi, but his tsukebito, Dewanojo, certainly seems to have the knack:

Inside the main hall, Abi gets ready to stretch his fine legs, and Daieisho is doing his shiko, and searches for Takakeisho with his eyes:

Up on the dohyo, Takakeisho has some practice with Onosho:

He had seven of these bouts, won 4-3.

Onosho was then given some butsukari by Kakuryu:

Takayasu took Ichinojo for a spin, and as is usual with him, destroyed the boulder 7-1.

This completed the practice part. Everybody hurries to the shower. Apparently, it’s Takakeisho’s shampoo day:

The photographer who took this then found the special Ozeki-and-Yokozuna-only shower room, and set up camp there in hope of capturing the shin-Ozeki when he goes in and out of the shower.

First Class Shower, economy class passengers not welcome

However, the shin-Ozeki is probably still not used to the idea of Ozeki privilege, or maybe he doesn’t want Hakuho to stare at him in the shower… whatever the reason, he failed to show up, much to the lady’s disappointment.

The only bout I got any record of was this Abi-Onosho one. Onosho seems to be really fascinated with Abi’s shiko – despite having seen it many, many times already:

In that bout, Abi proceeded, as usual during the Jungyo, by attacking Onosho’s mawashi:

Hmm… where did the gyoji go?

Anyway, Abi won this bout.

And yes, that’s my report for today. I couldn’t even find a decent photo of Enho for the pin-up corner. So instead, though I can’t in good conscience call a Yokozuna a “pin-up boy”, I give you a photo of Kakuryu being nice to kids although it’s time for his bout soon:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 21

🌐 Location: Hidaka, Saitama prefecture

We have a short one for you today. The Jungyo is back in Saitama, which means these guys are once again in the spotlight:

Hokutofuji, Daieisho

“Hey, hey, hey, wait a second! What about me?!”

Yes, Abi, you’re a home boy, too. Now stop obscuring the other ones.

Not many visuals from the sidelines today, except Chiyoshoma, quietly doing his shiko in the hanamichi while others are practicing on the dohyo:

The practice on the dohyo includes some attention to Wakamotoharu, who has been very popular with the upper echelon this Jungyo:

Can’t say whether that’s a full fledged kawaigari or just plain butsukari. Meisei is also getting some quasi-Ozeki attention. But in his case, it’s pretty clear that when you look like this from the front:

And like this from the back:

…it’s kawaigari. Tochinoshin is making good use of his last days at Ozeki.

Practice bouts: Shimanoumi-Wakatakakage, Endo-Sadanoumi (with a bit of Yokozuna shiko at the end):

Hokutofuji-Kaisei:

Actually, the more interesting san-ban is taking place away from the dohyo. Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima are having at it in the corner:

Then again:

And again:

Good stuff!

Enho – we can’t do without Enho in any report – has finished his practice and wants to go get a shower, when all of a sudden, a team of hoodlums gangs up on him:

“Shortstuff, meet Yuki. He is my VP of Beating People To Pulp”

“Now, for some reason it looks like you think I was born yesterday, but I was not.”

“So I can’t get you to see reason? OK, Yuki, you have a go at making him see reason”

Poor pixie… Got in trouble with the Tamawashi-gumi.

I have absolutely nil material from the afternoon part of this event, sorry. All I have is Hokutofuji serenely having his head shampooed.

Rikishi don’t wash their hair every day, and when they do, it’s basically done with car-mechanic-grade grease remover, because the suki-abura used for their hairstyles is pretty much like having a head full of butter.

So I bid you farewell with our pin-up of the day, Tsukahara, from Kasugano beya, who is also a Saitama home boy:

Jungyo Newsreel – Day 20

🌐 Location: Sano, Tochigi

We have a small event today, with 1800 participants. Let’s start today with the consecration of the dohyo:

If you recall, at the Yasukuni event, the dohyo was consecrated with a full dohyo-matsuri, featuring high ranking gyoji and all that jazz. But since this is a temporary dohyo, it is consecrated by the local organizers. A bit of saké, and off we go.

Who are our home boys of today? Well, there are Dewanojo, Mitakeumi’s tsukebito, and the pretty Toshonishiki, Mitoryu’s tsukebito:

They would make a good shokkiri team

But the real pride and joy of the prefecture are the Taka twins:

Since I rarely write about the twins, this would be a good opportunity to remind you how to tell them apart. Little brother (by half an hour or so) Takagenji, when he smiles, has a gap between his front teeth. Big bully brother Takanofuji (formerly Takayoshitoshi) has a mole over his right lip. And he smiles a lot less than his little brother, probably because he knows that his days as a sekitori are numbered.

The twins were interviewed by the local papers and struggled to come up with memories of the prefecture, which they have left at a very young age – they grew up at Ibaraki. They did mention that their kindergarten teacher came to see them at the venue.

Turns out they are also a bit stung about the fact that their ototo-deshi (member of the same heya who joined more recently) has left them in the dust and made Ozeki. Takagenji says: “What’s important is what your rank is when your mage is shorn”. He has been told in the past that he is a future Yokozuna, and apparently believes he will be at that rank by the time he retires.

Meanwhile, though, Takakeisho is Ozeki, and they are not. Hence, kawaigari!

Takakeisho entertaining the crowd by torturing Takanofuji

Yeah, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. We were at the handshake stage, weren’t we? For some reason, it seems like they had the handshakes today in the toilets:

At least, for some reason, the outer corridors of this community hall are lined with sinks.

Takayasu enjoys the sunny day, and uses it for a bit of deep contemplation:

What rank will I be when I retire, I wonder?

Nishikigi wants to change from Clark Kent to Superman… or maybe just get on the dohyo:

We only have one practice video from the NSK, but this one is significant: Kakuryu starts on-dohyo training. We are officially at the last leg of the Jungyo, then.

His chosen opponent – and butsukari victim – is Daieisho.

So we are done with the practice part. It’s time for some shokkiri. Ebisumaru and Shobushi keep refining small points of their routine:

Ebisumaru lets Shobushi do his high kicks alone, and goes around encouraging the audience to clap.

Juryo dohyo-iri. Gagamaru and Sokokurai fool around happily:

Aminishiki seems not to think much of the behavior of these two kiddies.

Arawashi is about a meter ahead of them, busying himself, as always, with being dreamy:

Then they all wait for their turn to wrestle, as the Juryo bouts start with Shonannoumi, who is today’s “filler”:

Filler or not, he beats Daiseido.

And now, where are the aforesaid Gagamaru and Sokokurai?

Ah, right in the middle of the crowd. More specifically, right in the middle of a bunch of primary school kids:

Gagamaru tries to camouflage himself. For some reason «cough»212kg«cough», this doesn’t work all too well.

But the man is sure enjoying himself:

And so do the kids. His tactic works – when he goes on the dohyo, he is accompanied by many little voices calling “Gagamaru! Ganbare!”

Oh, you think this sort of foolish antics is solely the realm of the likes of Gagamaru or Shodai? I give you:

Prince Charming himself! The funny thing is, it looks like the hat actually fits him.

The Juryo bouts end with local boy Takagenji vs. Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru is showing us his prize winning… lunar aspects.

And I swear that Kotoyuki is showing much interest in the full moon that rises on the other side as well.

Ahem… let’s take a look at the three Yokozuna:

Hakuho and Kakuryu do their duty to the local sponsors – and the local mascot, who became a Yokozuna for a day.

On to the Makuuchi bouts, and here is Kagayaki’s shimekomi, sans kagayaki:

Ah, the duties of a tsukebito.

Here is a summary video of today’s event, which includes a few bouts:

Note the “gaijin-cam” there…

Our pin-up boy of the day is the slightly blurry Ryuden: