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.