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!

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.