Aki Banzuke Postmortem

The refreshments flowed freely at the banzuke committee meeting

The September banzuke has been posted, and the Crystal Ball utterly failed to foresee what the Shimpan department cooked up on this occasion. Well, maybe not utterly—my forecast did get the san’yaku ranks exactly right, including the extra Sekiwake 2 East slot for Daieisho, who makes his debut at the rank.

But of the 33 rank-and-filers, I only placed 8 at the correct rank and side, plus 6 more at the correct rank but on the wrong side. Sure, most of the misses were by half-a-rank, and the worst ones were by a rank and a half (there were several of those), but usually the forecast gets a lot closer to the real thing.

What accounted for this performance? Well, I thought I was aggressively promoting the yusho winner, Terunofuji (13-2) from M17e all the way up to M2e; the committee moved him up even higher, to M1e. Puzzlingly, Kagayaki is ranked ahead of Ryuden, despite having two fewer wins from only two ranks higher. Onosho only dropped 7 ranks, from M2w to M9w, despite an abysmal 2-13 record, while Ikioi fell all the way from M9w to Juryo after going 3-12, to be replaced by Ichinojo, who lost what was clearly meant to be a final-day exchange bout with Shohozan. Apparently, the official punishment for Abi wasn’t harsh enough, as he was pushed all the way down to M14w, below Juryo promotees Meisei (J1e, 10-5 Y) and, more surprisingly, first-timer Tobizaru (J2e, 9-6). I could go on, but these and other head-scratchers and their ripple effects on nearby positions led to the worst Crystal Ball forecast to date.

I, for one, am excited to see Ichinojo back in Makuuchi after a three-tournament absence, even if the numbers and precedent said his promotion case wasn’t strong enough to push down Ikioi. It’s also exciting to see Hoshoryu make his long-awaited top-division debut and Kyokutaisei get another shot in the big leagues. And, last but not least, Tachiai favorite Ura did just barely make it into the Makushita top 10 promotion zone, getting the last Ms5w slot above the “invisible line.” This means that he should land in the sekitori ranks with a 6-1 record, and has a chance with a 5-2, while a lower rank would have required him to go 7-0.

34 thoughts on “Aki Banzuke Postmortem

  1. No way! No one will ever win a yusho from the last position! Oh wait… more rikishi have won from there than the Ozeki rank!

  2. We all did so badly with the guess. Clearly they were determined to relegate everyone with a demotable record this time around.

    Terunofuji at M1? Kagayaki between Yutakayama and Kiribayama? Ichinojo? The most head scratching banzuke in a while.

    I got Enho right though.

    • I actually made two half-rank switches between the guess I posted on the blog and my GTB entry (Aoiyama-Tokushoryu and Hoshoryu-Ikioi). They cost me 6 points, the difference between 4th and 40th 🙄

      • Those half-rank out (in the wrong direction) things are brutal in the scoring. I didn’t even have Hoshoryu in my entry. I had convinced myself that Nishikigi would do another Houdini act.

  3. I ended up with 18 direct hits but only four wrong siders, which means that I got almost half the men at the wrong rank! I thought Ikioi would survive but it looks like they really wanted to shake the bag on the makuuchi-juryo boundary.

    Does this mean that we might see Teruniofuji fighting both yokozuna in the first few days?

    • You are assuming both Yokozuna show up for this basho. The current wind is blowing in the direction of a Nokozuna basho.

        • Maybe. He finished last basho having difficulty mounting the dohyo. In the joi, the load on those knees will be greater.

          • It all depends on whether he is allowed to (cliche alert!) do his style of sumo, by which I mean maintaining forward momentum and getting to the belt. Even if he had to be winched onto the dohyo with a crane he completely outclassed Mitakeumi on Day 15 when he got to do his thing. As others have pointed out if one can keep him at arms length and back him up he looks vulnerable: he does not appear to be able to use his legs to brace himself when shoved back. I’m sure the other top guys will have been taking notes.

    • In all likelihood given that he is (narrowly) outside of san’yaku he would need to win this tournament and then put up two very strong tournaments in November and January to have a shot to be re-promoted to Ozeki by March. IMHO, something like Tochinoshin’s performance (he had 37 wins starting with a yusho outside san’yaku). Following that he would need two consecutive yusho or the equivalent to become yokozuna.

      It isn’t likely (but then again neither was him coming all the way back from Jonidan to win a yusho in the top division).

    • Consecutive yusho below the rank of Ozeki have literally never happened, so there isn’t a precedent. He definitely wouldn’t become Yokozuna; Ozeki might not be out of the question given that he’s held the rank before, but I’d guess they’d want to see high-level performance over a couple of tournaments near the top of the banzuke.

          • Ha. Yes, why not. I’d stick then to my Mitakeumi idea. Another variant, where any rikishi to win, say, three, or four, yusho, gets ozeki promotion. Would make sense too.

            • In the Edo era, they used to just pick very large men and make them Ozeki. Even when they had absolutely no sumo skills.

      • Looking further ahead I suppose the case of Tochinoshin does give a sort of precedent as it showed that wins outside sanyaku could count if they were part of a yusho. So a yusho in September would see Terunofuji given a target of ten wins in November to return to ozeki. Of course, as Herouth points out below, there are no rules.

        Looking even further ahead, it’s good that we have two strong sekiwake and improving third one in Daieisho. We could get a slew of ozeki promotions over the next year and given the age of our yokozuna and the condition of Takakeisho that would be most welcome.

    • No, to become a yokozuna you have to win two yusho in a row (or equivalent) ranked ozeki specifically. Otherwise you would have heard talks of possible yokozuna promotion for Kyokutenho back in 2012 😁

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