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?

9 thoughts on “Natsu Banzuke Postmortem

  1. I’m glad Enho finally made it to Makuuchi! He won’t last long, but he’ll make things interesting for the next 2 basho.

    • I agree that his “little man sumo” (not my words) won’t take him far, but he does have skill so I don’t see him falling to low either.

  2. The popularity syndrome seems to have affected fans more than the sumo association. I saw too many predictions putting Kotoshogiku at Kumusubi and M1E, when in M1W seems to be a too generous a promotion for him, and he wouldn’t have made it that far if not for the bad performance at the top ranks. Seeing that the only sensible thing was to demote Mitakeumi by half a rank, it would have been unfair to demote Hokutofuji, Endo and Daieisho by more than half a rank each, so it would make sense for Tamawashi, another wrestler whom fans were lenient on, to fall below the bunch.

  3. FWIW, I don’t see much wrong with their placement of Shimanoumi, at least not wrong in the sense of “surprising”. Juryo promotees (even with very strong records) are rarely given a position that would require larger-than-normal demotions for maegashira MK, and the current standards for what constitutes a “normal” demotion are on the small side.

    • I certainly can’t argue that it was surprising for everyone, since you correctly called it before the fact (congrats on another great forecast!). Part of my logic in placing him higher was that the demotions for those I had ranked right below him (Kaisei and Nishikigi) already seemed lenient even at M9…

      • I do agree about Kaisei and Nishikigi, and their positioning gave me pause, too, but looking back at your projection and the general situation it’s more the necessary over-demotions for Onosho and Shohozan (or alternatively under-promotions for Tomokaze and Kagayaki) that made me skeptical of Shimanoumi entering in the single digits. It’s far from an ironclad rule, but my impression is that the juryo guy will usually draw the short straw in that scenario.

        • True, I did feel Onosho and Shohozan were unlucky by half a rank in my projection, although it didn’t even occur to me to try to fix this by bumping Shimanoumi that far down. Appreciate your insights as always.

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