Aki Banzuke Crystal Ball

It’s time for me to try to predict the sumo rankings for the Aki basho ahead of their official release on August 26th. I’ll go through some of the key uncertainties of this particular banzuke; scroll down to see my projections and let me know what you think in the comments.

Biggest Question Marks

From the top of the banzuke:

  • Will there be two or three Sekiwake? Mitakeumi will stay at East Sekiwake after posting 9 wins. Takakeisho will be demoted to Sekiwake from Ozeki. It seems pretty clear to me that this accounts for the two available slots, leaving no room for East Komusubi Abi (8-7) to move up. However, I’ve seen the argument that the committee would first promote Abi to West Sekiwake, and then create a third S2e slot for Takakeisho. I personally don’t buy it, and neither do most of the commenters in the Sumo Forum thread, but there’s not an exact precedent that would tell us for sure.
  • Who will be West Komusubi? I believe that Endo’s 10-5 record at M2w trumps Hokutofuji’s 9-6 at M1w, that their senshuraku bout was set up as the decider, and that Hokutofuji’s win total wasn’t high enough to force an extra slot. It’s been suggested that the crunch this creates at upper maegashira would be reason enough to create an extra slot, either at Komusubi or at Sekiwake as described above, but I don’t see the banzuke committee doing anything unusual.
  • What will they do with Asanoyama (M1w, 7-8), Ichinojo (M4w, 9-6), and Tomokaze (M7w, 11-4)? Assuming the usual four lower san’yaku slots, there are six rikishi whose performances in Nagoya warrant ranks of M2 or better. Obviously, that’s 2 too many. Hokutofuji Aoiyama, and Daieisho all posted winning records and must receive promotions, and keeping these to the minimal half-a-rank places them at M1e, M1w, and M3e, respectively. That leaves M2e, M2w, and M3w for the other three. The problem is, ranking any of them M3w would be unprecedentedly harsh. Well, Kotonowaka Sr. did fall from M1e to M4e back in 2001, but otherwise M3e is the lowest historical rank following any of their combinations of rank and record.
  • How far will Ryuden fall after managing only 4 wins as the West Komusubi? The last man with that performance, Tamawashi at Aki 2018, received an extremely lenient demotion to M2w, but that was due to unusual banzuke luck. More typical recent placements have been in the M4-M6 range, and I have Ryuden at M6w, at the expense of Kotoshogiku, who falls from M5e to M7e after a 7-8 record.
  • How high will Terutsuyoshi rise from the lowest rank on the last banzuke after posting 12 wins?
  • At what rank will Tsurugisho make his Makuuchi debut after winning the Juryo yusho with a 13-2 record from the fairly low rank of J6e?
  • How will the other highly likely promotions from Juryo—Ishiura, Yutakayama, and Azumaryu—fare in the rankings relative to each other and to the poor performers in the lower half of Makuuchi?
  • Will Takagenji (and, less likely, Tochiozan) end up getting demoted to the second division? If so, who would take their place? Takanosho (J4w, 9-6) is the most likely contender, with Daimami (J8e, 11-4) probably ranked too low and Chiyoshoma (J3e, 8-7) likely lacking sufficient wins?

With all that out of the way, here’s the guess:

29 thoughts on “Aki Banzuke Crystal Ball

  1. I think the 3rd Sekiwake slot solves some problems, I rate the chances higher than many other folks. It also ups the pressure on the the two kadoban Ozeki, in my opinion.

    Don’t get me started on Shodai….

    • What about Shodai? Dropping from M3e to M4w after posting a 7-8 record is a bit harsh, if anything.

      • Maybe this is a language thing more than anything, but in my understanding a 8-7 cannot be demoted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they “must be promoted” – is that right? That is to say, in a situation where someone may be forecasted to receive a larger than usual demotion, someone else (for example) Daieisho could merely hold their rank? With the same thing being applicable to a 7-8… they cannot be promoted, but that does not necessarily mean they will go down, as we have seen before.

        • True, but while non-demotions for 7-8 happen fairly frequently, I haven’t seen a non-promotion for 8-7 since I’ve been following the banzuke, unless it’s someone at M1e and there’s no room in san’yaku. I believe they’ll go with an over-demotion over a non-promotion every time, and only do it when there’s no alternative short of creating extra ranks.

    • Not sure I really understand the “pressure” thing here. The 16 rikishi forming the joi will be the same no matter what their ranks are called.

      Anyway, not that I believe either is going to happen, but if anything I’d bet on three komusubi rather than three sekiwake.

      • Pretty sure it impacts their pay and, less likely to make a difference here, potential Ozeki runs.

    • I’d have to say Ichinojo, based on the way he tends to casually knock people over with one shove.

      • I agree. I believe Ichinojo and Tochinoshin are probably the strongest. However both have their injuries that kind of blind us from seeing the strength, more prevalent in Ichinojo that Tochinoshin.

    • Bit of an obvious choice but I’d go with Tochinoshin. The guy I watched carry out 190kg of flailing Chiyotairyu.

  2. This time last year I’d never have guess Kotoeko and Terutsuyoshi would be (possibly) sharing a rank that deep into makuuchi.

  3. The thing about this time is that you could get the order 100% correct and still get the rank of everyone below S1w wrong. I’m hoping that the committee will create an extra spot: it would balance E & W better and give the whole thing a fairer look.

    • They’ve been really reluctant to do that lately—not sure if it’s a philosophical thing or the extra ¥¥¥. But yeah, if they do, anyone who guesses that correctly wins GTB.

      • I was looking at the last five wrestlers at a rank who achieved a specific result and where they ended up in the following banzuke (small sample admittedly). Wrestlers with identical rank/ results to Abi AND Endo usually ended up at sekiwake, while those with identical results to Hokutofuji AND Aoiyama tended to land at komusube more often than not. Context is everything of course, and if the slots aren’t available that’s too bad. But the committee can do whatever they like and I think there is a fair chance that we’ll have five men in lower sanyaku.

        • Hmm, both of the last two M1w to go 9-6 ended up at M1e…Tochinoshin in 2015 and Tamawashi last year.

          • Yes but prior to 2015, no M1w with a 9-6 record had failed to make sanyaku since Asahikuni in 1974.

            • Usually, that’ll happen naturally via open slots. And Tochinoshin’s non-promotion in 2015 is regarded as something of a philosophical change by the shimpan department, which does after all change over time.

              • Was it really? I daresay that decision-making process was well entrenched by then. I can’t claim to have had that kind of insight at the time, of course – my GTB entry that basho was my worst score ever at 3-12, although arguably not my worst entry ever; I reserve that designation for another one that had the wrong number of sanyaku as well, but still finished 6-9 because the rest was also badly done and I fluked more ill-gotten points than other players who’d screwed up the sanyaku ranks.


                Anyway, that aside, if one wants to pinpoint a specific moment of philosophical change, IMHO that has to go all the way back to 2006 when


                with extra promotions for Roho and Aminishiki was immediately followed by


                with no extra promotions for Kotoshogiku and Dejima, where at least the former had a very strong claim to equivalent treatment with an extra slot.

                This was the exact same committee making two completely different decisions back-to-back. And Giku already had the public’s eyes on him as a promising up-and-comer, so this was really quite a puzzling outcome at the time, considering many people then and now assume the Kyokai folks would want to spotlight rikishi with obvious audience appeal, or at least wouldn’t actively work against it.

                There had been semi-harsh refusals of additional slots even before that – e.g. Tochinonada M2e 9-6 -> M1e after Haru 2003, Toki the same eight months later – but that one single dalliance with creating extra sanyaku slots seemed to make them resolute to stop doing it for good. (As long as in any way possible; we’ve had three sekiwake for unrelated reasons since then, of course.)

              • really interesting insight by asashosakari. 5 Ozeki and 4 Komusubi … those have been times ;) Had to google up on ROho, as that happened before I discovered sumo

        • The last time an extra slot was opened was Hatsu 2017 for Takayasu with 11 wins, before that Hatsu 2014 for Tochiozan (both times from Komusubi to Sekiwake). Natsu 2011 Kakuryu made the move with 12 wins (from Komusubi at continued as 3 musketeers …eh … sekiwake with Giku and Kise for 3 tournaments or so). Thats all in the last 10 years. extra komusubi slot didn’t happen once. Not a single time in history have 11 wins as komusubi not led to a promotion to at least Sekiwake.
          Tochinoshin in Aki 2015 and Tochiozan in Haru 2013 remained at Komusubi with 10 wins. 11 guys had 9 wins at M1 in the last 10 years and 9 of those got promoted to either Komusubi or sekiwake, but not a single time was an extra slot created for that.
          The last time someone with 9 wins from M1 didn’t get promoted to Sanyaku was haru 2018 Tamawashi. The last time a Komusub easti wasn’t promoted to Sekiwake with 9 wins was Mitakeumi in Haru 2017, there are a number of basho where 9 wins only led to half rank promotion from west to east, most recently Takakeisho. There are a number of occasions where 8 wins at K1e didn’t lead to a promotion, most recently Nagoya 2018.
          Obviously situations where you would potentially need an additional Sanyaku slot are quite rare, yet historically there has been a strong reluctance to open additional spots. It seems that 11 is the magic number to give you a real chance.
          I think there is a very slim chance for Hokutofuji getting an extra slot and zero chance for Abi.

          • I agree completely; all precedent argues for no extra slots, yet people keep expecting them to be created. Some version of the base rate fallacy is in effect, I guess 😉

  4. Nothing to do with the banzuke prediction, but I was just wondering how long Mitakeumi will stay as a Sekiwake. He seems to be good enough to hold that rank but not good enough to get promoted. I hope he can prove me wrong.

    • When the Aki banzuke comes out, he’ll be in second place for all-time consecutive lower san’yaku appearances with 16. Wakanosato holds the record with 19, and never earned promotion, though he stuck around, mostly as a maegashira, for another decade. And Goeido was famously promoted after 14 straight basho at Sekiwake.

  5. Even though I think its a bit early to talk about rankings and I very much enjoy all the news around Jungyo and other sumo snippets, I also took a stab at the rankings but this time using mathematics and specifically last rank combined with win-loss difference. Some of them came up quite strange, e.g. I agree with your M17 placement of Takagenji. I any case, I am very much looking forward to the next basho.

    Ye Kakuryu Yw Hakuho
    O1e Takayasu O1w Goeido
    O2e Tochinoshin
    S1e Mitakeumi S1w Takakeisho
    Ke Abi Kw Endo
    M1e Hokutofuji M1w Asanoyama
    M2e Aoiyama M2 Tamawashi
    M3e Daieisho M3 Ichinojo
    M4e Shodai M4 Tomokaze
    M5e Ryuden M5 Kotoshogiku
    M6e Chiyotairyu M6 Shimanoumi
    M7e Myogiryu M7 Takarafuji
    M8e Meisei M8 Okinoumi
    M9e Kotoeko M9 Onosho
    M10e Shohozan M10 Daishoho
    M11e Sadanoumi M11 Terutsuyoshi
    M12e Kotoyuki M12 Nishikigi
    M13e Kagayaki M13 Enho
    M14e Takagenji M14 Tochiozan
    M15e Tsurugisho M15 Toyonoshima
    M16e Ishiura M16 Azumaryu
    M17e Yutakayama M17

    • Saying “using (…) specifically last rank combined with win-loss difference” is kinda weird, since that’s basically what all banzuke-making amounts to… That being said, the additional parameters you’ve used (each win over/under the KK/MK line = half a rank?) have led to a rather strange banzuke projection here, to say the least.

      One particular question: How come you’ve chosen to demote Chiyomaru if Tochiozan is clearly safe from only one rank higher with the same record?

      • its an alternate point of view and designed to generate discussion. Few finished on the same points after analysis and for them it was a manual up or down half a rank. Regarding your specific question, Tochiozan finished 2 ponts ahead of Chiyomaru and hence safe and possibly as ‘safe’ as Toyonoshima. Yoshikaze, Yago and Kaisei finished in negative territory and clearly headed to Juryo. Chiyomaru was only slightly positive and may end up at M17 after all.


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