Well, with Goeido’s retirement, the san’yaku ranks dwindled to seven as predicted, which hasn’t happened since Haru 1934 and is a first in the six-basho era. My forecast got the rankings exactly right for the first ten men, from Hakuho at East Yokozuna to Okinoumi at M2e. This included placing Shodai at West Sekiwake, ahead of Hokutofuji and Endo, who got the two Komusubi slots in that order. The big surprise of the banzuke, and my biggest miss (3 full ranks), came next, with M2w occupied by the yusho winner Tokushoryu. This is a 15-rank jump from M17w, bigger than would be predicted “by the numbers,” and especially large for someone ranked so low. I guess the banzuke committee essentially split the difference between Tokushoryu’s expected placement at M4-M5 (I had him at M5w) and the argument that he should have received an extra san’yaku rank.
This placement also threw off my predictions from M3e to M5w, with Yutakayama, Mitakeumi, Enho and Abi all off by half-a-rank, and Ryuden and Onosho off by one-and-a-half. The latter two are candidates for bad luck of the banzuke award, with Ryuden only getting a 3-rank promotion with 10 wins, and Onosho a 2-rank promotion with 9.
The crystal ball had a good run after that, getting the rankings exactly right from M6e (Myogiryu) all the way down to M13e (Kotoshogiku). Below that, though, the only exactly correct prediction was Azumaryu at M16e, though all the misses were small. I thought that M16w Kaisei (8-7) was a shoo-in for the M13w rank, but he got bumped down a slot in favor of M8e Aoiyama (4-11). Nishikigi makes his return from Juryo at M14w, a rank higher than I expected. Daiamami, on the other hand, is at M17w, a rank lower than predicted and below such marginal Makuuchi incumbents as Shimanoumi and Meisei. Finally, the banzuke committee has once again punished a rikishi who sat out the entire basho, dropping Kotoyuki (who was ranked two ranks above Meisei and had only one fewer victory) to J1e. The beneficiary is top-division debutant Kotonowaka, who makes the jump with an 8-7 record at J2e, a marginal combination for promotion. His fellow J2 on the West side, Hidenoumi, who also went 7-8, could easily have taken Meisei’s place, but instead has to settle for J1w, below Kotoyuki.
In all, the crystal ball scored 26 bullseyes (correct rank and side) and 4 hits (correct rank, wrong side). Of the 12 misses, the only substantial one was Tokushoryu, who was always going to be a wildcard. For comparison, Timothee’s prediction, if I counted correctly, scored 14 bullseyes and 4 hits, with most of the discrepancies (other than the Shodai-Hokutofuji switch) coming below M8e. Timothee did correctly call Kotonowaka’s promotion, although he had Hidenoumi joining him in place of Meisei.
I also made a stab at predicting the Juryo banzuke, and this turned out pretty well, with no misses by more than a rank. A few notable items:
- Kotoyuki and Hidenoumi occupy the J1 line.
- Terunofuji jumps up 10.5 ranks to J3e.
- Kotoeko lands at J5e.
- New career highs for Kotoshoho (J6e), Akua (J6w), Churanoumi (J7w), and Hoshoryu (J9w).
- Ichinojo is at J8w.
- Yago inexplicably only drops 2.5 ranks to J10e after posting a dismal 4-11 record.
- Midorifuji debuts at J11w.
And now (crosses fingers), on to the basho.