At the heart of professional sumo is the banzuke—the rankings chart that lists all the wrestlers in order, from the top Yokozuna to the lowest man in Jonockuchi, the sixth division. The rankings are reshuffled after every tournament based on performance; indeed, one could argue that this updating of the banzuke is the real purpose of a honbasho.
The committee that puts together the new banzuke meets on the first Wednesday after senshuraku—August 5 for the the just-concluded July basho—but the new rankings are not revealed until two weeks before the next scheduled tournament, with the exception of promotions to Juryo and announcements of new Ozeki and Yokozuna. In this instance, we won’t see the official banzuke until August 31, but the Crystal Ball can give us a good idea of what it might look like.
Yokozuna, Ozeki, and Sekiwake
The top six spots on the banzuke are clear. Hakuho recorded more wins than Kakuryu, so they will remain East and West Yokozuna, respectively. Similarly, Asanoyama (12-3) will be East Ozeki, jumping over Takakeisho (8-4-3), who’ll move over to the West side. Shodai and Mitakeumi both had excellent 11-4 tournaments and will remain East and West Sekiwake, respectively.
The order of the next three rikishi is obvious—K1e Daieisho (11-4), K1w Okinoumi (9-6), M1e Endo (8-7)—but their new ranks are not. One option would be to leave them where they are, but 11 wins at Komusubi have been a lock for a Sekiwake promotion, and the top-ranked maegashira with a winning record last failed to enter the san’yaku ranks in 1969. I therefore lean toward S2e Daieisho, K1e Okinoumi, and K1w Endo, although leaving the incumbent Komusubi in their current slots and creating a K2e slot for Endo is yet another option—after all, two of Daieisho’s wins came by default. If the san’yaku does expand to 9 rikishi, everyone in the maegashira ranks will benefit from pretty good banzuke luck.
Let’s assume that one extra san’yaku slot is created (otherwise, slide everyone down half a rank). That brings us to the upper maegashira. M2e Takanosho (8-7) managed a kachi-koshi at his career high, and I expect him to rise to M1e. He should be joined on the West side by M5w Hokutofuji (9-6), the only other joi maegashira to post a winning score. From here, there is something of a hole in the banzuke, with the other seven members of the M1-M5 “meat grinder” managing a combined 31 wins. To find the next rikishi who earned a promotion, you have to look all the way down at M7e Terutsuyoshi (8-7) and M9e Tamawashi (10-5). So at M2e, I’m going to put none other than your yusho winner, M17e Terunofuji (13-2). The former Ozeki’s placement is one of the biggest wildcards for this banzuke. On the one hand, Toskushoryu got bumped up from M17w to M2w in March after a higher winning score (14-1). On the other hand, he wasn’t exactly a former Ozeki and prior top-division champion, and the competition for upper maegashira slots on that banzuke was tougher.
The rest of the ranks from M2w to M8w are filled by a mix of well-performing lower maegashira and make-koshi upper maegashira. In addition to the aforementioned Terutsuyoshi and Tamawashi, the former include M10w Myogiryu, M11w Tochinoshin, M13e Takayasu, and M14w Wakatakakage, all 10-5. The group of falling under-performers consists of M1w Yutakayama (5-10), M3w Kiribayama (6-9), M3e Takarafuji (5-10), M6w Ryuden (7-8), M4e Kagayaki and M4w Aoiyama, both 5-10, and M7w Tokushoryu (7-8). And aside from a few minor dilemmas—will Tochinoshin be ahead of Terutsuyoshi? Does Tokushoryu stay where he is or drop half a rank?—the ordering seems fairly straightforward.
This is the area where banzuke making gets especially challenging, with incumbents with middling records, higher rankers who performed poorly, and rikishi promoted from Juryo all vying for similar ranks. M9-M10 should be filled by M16w Kotoeko (10-5), M12e Sadanoumi (8-7), M8w Chiyotairyu (6-9), and M6e Enho (5-10); I’ve listed them in what I think is the most likely order, but pretty much any permutation would be justifiable. The next group, which should occupy M11-M13, contains M2w Onosho (2-13), who takes the dubious honor of the biggest fall down this banzuke, M14e Kotoshogiku (8-7), M10e Kaisei (6-9), M5e Abi (3-4-8), M15e Kotoshoho (8-7), and J1e Meisei (10-5 Y). Abi’s extracurricular activities could see him ranked below Kotoshoho; I would guess his drop won’t be any bigger since he’s been punished by other means.
The final seven slots should go to the “broken toys” of Makuuchi (Ishiura, Shimanoumi, Shohozan, Ikioi) and the lucky promotions from Juryo (Tobizaru, Kyokutaisei, Hoshoryu). The order within each group is clear, but how to interleave them is not, especially when it comes to Shohozan vs. Tobizaru and Ikioi vs. Kyokutaisei. In this forecast, I’ve gone with the recent trend of favoring incumbents over newcomers.
The full predicted banzuke is below. Let me know what you think in the comments!