November Banzuke Crystal Ball

Banzuke Bathroom at Azasu New York

The official rankings chart for the November basho will be released on October 26. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate about about how the positions of the wrestlers will be reshuffled based on their September results. Please note, I’ve been asked to hold this post until after the Guess The Banzuke deadline, as some players think the predictions might be affecting the game.

There is no doubt about the top eight positions on the banzuke. Barring something completely out of the ordinary, we will have East Yokozuna Hakuho, West Yokozuna Kakuryu, East Ozeki Takakeisho, West Ozeki Asanoyama, and East Ozeki 2 Shodai. The order here is based strictly on the results (or lack thereof for the Yokozuna) at Aki, with the exception of Shodai, as a newly promoted Ozeki (or Yokozuna for that matter) is always ranked below the incumbents. They will be followed by East Sekiwake Mitakeumi, who’ll be moving over from the West side after posting an 8-7 record, West Sekiwake Takanosho, making his san’yaku debut after going 10-5 at M1w, and East Komusubi Terunofuji, who went 8-5-2 at M1e.

Here’s the full prediction for the maegashira ranks. Keep reading below for some thoughts on how I arrived at it (and to see who I think will occupy the final san’yaku slot at West Komusubi).

With everyone in the M2-M4 ranks posting losing records, we have to look lower to fill the West Komusubi and M1 ranks. Three rikishi rise above the rest: M5e Kiribayama (9-4-2), M6e Takayasu (10-5), and M8w Wakatakakage (11-4). Any order among them is defensible, but I think Takayasu’s extra win puts him ahead of Kiribayama for the Komusubi slot, and his prior san’yaku experience puts him ahead of Wakatakakage. I also predict that Kiribayama will be ranked M1e and Wakatakakage M1w, but this is a really close call.

S2e Daieisho (5-10) and M9w Onosho, with a mirror 10-5 record, are the clear candidates for the M2e and M2w ranks, and I’ve listed them in my predicted order, once again going with rank over wins. They should be followed at M3e and M3w by M6w Kagayaki (8-7) and M2e Hokutofuji (6-9). The promotions in this part of the banzuke are very generous, and demotions lenient, a trend that continues down to M7. In fact, everyone from Myogiryu through Terutsuyoshi is pretty closely bunched in terms of their rank-record combinations, and many orderings are defensible. I’ve generally gone with rank over wins, and, following the banzuke committee’s approach from last time, put Takarafuji half a rank lower than his previous position after his 7-8 record, rather than leaving him in place. I’ve given fallen Komusubi Okinoumi and Endo rather favorable treatment befitting their san’yaku status.

Starting with Aoiyama, everyone down to Enho fits pretty neatly into appropriate slots. M4e Yutakayama sees a pretty modest 8-rank drop to M12e given that he only managed 2 wins before pulling out, but this is justified both by his place in the joi and a lack of candidates to place above him. M12w Kaisei (7-8) gets to maintain his rank as the only alternative is over-promoting Hoshoryu, Ichinojo, or Chiyonokuni even more than they already are.

As is often the case, correctly guessing the ranks at the bottom of the banzuke (in this case, M14-M17) is especially challenging. After deciding on likely division exchanges, we need to figure out how to intersperse the rikishi coming up from Juryo among Makuuchi incumbents who just barely escaped demotion. I expect that Abi, Kyokutaisei, Kotoshogiku, Shohozan, and Ishiura will be going down, to be replaced by Chiyonokuni, Kotonowaka, Kotoyuki, Chiyoshoma, and Akua. The first two demotions (and the corresponding promotions) are certain. The next three promotion cases are not that solid, but the rank-record combinations for Kotoshogiku, Shohozan, and Ishiura are so weak that it’s hard to see them staying up. Kotoshogiku, in particular, managed to post only 2 wins at M11. There have been 60 prior instances in the past 60 years of a wrestler ranked M10 or M11 ending up with 2 or 3 wins. Three retired; the other 57 were demoted. Recall that last time, Ikioi dropped to Juryo from M9 with 3 wins. It would take unprecedented leniency by the banzuke committee to keep the Geek in the top division. While Shohozan’s 5 wins at M15 and Ishiura’s 4 at M13 are a little better, these win totals at these ranks have been just as much of a demotion guarantee historically.

The two top-division holdovers in the bottom 7 slots on the banzuke are M11e Chiyotairyu (5-8-2), who did just enough to earn a stay, and M15e Shimanoumi (6-9), whose rank and record would get him demoted on many a banzuke, but I don’t see a viable 6th promotion candidate to take his place (J6e Chiyonoo, 9-6, is the best of the bunch). In general, Makuuchi records hold more sway than Juryo records, as they’re seen to be achieved against tougher competition. I’ve placed Chiyonokuni ahead of Chiyotairyu on the strength of his 14-1 yusho-winning performance and his past track record in the top division, but the banzuke committee could easily flip them. Shimanoumi should get a drop that at least somewhat reflects his 6-9 record, so I’ve placed him below the Juryo rikishi making a return to Makuuchi, but above Akua, who would be making a rather lucky top-division debut.

36 thoughts on “November Banzuke Crystal Ball

  1. The lack of strong records among the top juryo really made this difficult for me, too. It will be interesting to see what they came up with!

  2. I am hoping for the committee to rank the Kyushu Bulldozer at M16 as his “lifetime acheivement award” with the unspoken but obvious stipulation that he retires if he goes make-koshi….

  3. Broadly similar to mine, though it looks like the final points totals could be quite different. I haven’t been so unconfident about a GTB entry ever.

  4. I do wonder how much behind-the-scenes moves can happen or if it is usually straightforward on the banzuke decisions. I read that Isegahama oyakata called for the meeting regarding Shodai’s promotion and wondered if that’s to push for Terunofuji to take the sekiwake spot over Takanosho?

    • That seems like an extremely clear call—two extra wins at the same rank. But I’m sure there’s some lobbying that goes on in less obvious cases.

    • Isegahama called that meeting because he is the man in charge of Ozeki promotions. The meeting is called when there is a man on an Ozeki run, and it can go either way – as it happened with Takakeisho in the past. They always operate on a tight schedule as they have to pass it through the shimpan department, then a board meeting, before banzuke meeting.

      • That meeting was after the tournament, right? Makes me want to know when these meetings happen because, frankly, before the basho I thought Mitakeumi was on the run, not Shodai.

          • Did they hold one before the tournament to discuss a threshold for Mitakeumi? Or would even that have waited until afterward, if he’d gotten a few more wins?

            • I don’t think it needs to be this formal. The actual meeting on Senshuraku is also not exactly board-room with gavel and note taking. I think they just keep an eye on how the sekiwake are doing and discuss accordingly.

              • Flying by the seat of their pants! Just the way I like it. :) Who needs governance or standards?

              • But why do you think long meetings are necessary? You already knew that the criteria are flexible. So why does it bother you now that they don’t have a strict protocol to discuss something that we have already known not to be standardized?

              • I don’t. I was being tongue-in-cheek but I actually do like it this way. I hate long meetings and stodgy black-and-white, inflexible rules….unless it has to do with who won a bout. I like having that be as concrete and nailed down as possible. I don’t like when interpretations of rules change. (See also: the tuck rule, pass interference, or “handball” in the Premier League) I’d rather the rule be concrete or never exist.

              • Oh, add any fouls in basketball to my list of loathed rules, far too open to interpretation. In the 80s and 90s, the game was scrappy and much more fun to watch.

  5. Just a question here, with having only 1 Komusubi (Terunofuji) is it remotely possible that the committee might put Kiribayama or Wakatakakage as a second komusubi thereby moving everyone else up half a rank? I think having two komusubis is more common than having one?

  6. I was wondering if you were asked to hold this until after the GTB deadline. When you weren’t doing all that well, I think people didn’t care as much. Now that you have a yusho and are ranked ahead of me and Asashosakari, people are going to complain more when you release your secrets early.

  7. “Please note, I’ve been asked to hold this post until after the Guess The Banzuke deadline, as some players think the predictions might be affecting the game.”

    The price of fame! It’s funny, I engage on sumoforum occasionally, it’s actually surprising to me this has taken until now. Sometimes people will comment links to Tachiai with comments like “not to tout other sites’ content” as if a blog about sumo is somehow a competitor to a message board (?). Especially those of us who follow Herouth see translations from exactly the same news sources, it’s just a different method of presenting content and opinions, and it’s not like Andy hasn’t been remarkably open in allowing us all to contribute a point of view.

    I don’t understand how Tachiai has been delegitimised in their view but I’m glad for the consistency of your GTB scores and success of this post series, and that it has provided some respect.

    • LOL. I found that funny, too. I hope to work with all the sites because I think it’s promoting the “sumo fan community.” Maybe people read the restriction against hyperlinks the wrong way? The block against hyperlinks in the comments is just to prevent spam/viruses. I approve legit ones but I have to wear my ISSO tinfoil hat at all times.

    • It’s not like the forum has any rule against posting one’s banzuke guesses early, anyway. (Leaving aside that GTB has always had plenty of non-forum dwelling entrants.) I’m personally waiting until after the deadline strictly of my own accord, and as for anybody else – until I started posting my guesses in Kinta’s GTB game announcement threads a few years ago, nobody was contributing theirs there regularly at all, so it’s not the deadline that was causing a lack of public submissions.

  8. You are reading too much into it, as I don’t post in the forum and I’ve asked because having a top player revealing early his reasoning just trigger my autism. I’ll be forever a mediocre player, so please in the future do as you wish and don’t mind me that much eh eh. For my prediction, I’ve Wakatakatakakage at M1e as a refund for missing the special prize, and Tobizaru overpromoted at M4e after seeing an M2w for him in the Japanese predictions posted on Twitter.

  9. I would love to compare this with my predictions but on 11 October I spilled a very large Gin & Tonic over my laptop and the results were catastrophic. And I didn’t have my stuff backed up. So all spreadsheets have disappeared into a gin-soaked underworld (a bit like me on most weekends). I think I’m safe in saying that I would have agreed with 95% of lksumo’s predictions.


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