November Banzuke Postmortem

The official rankings for the upcoming November tournament are out. Let’s take a look at how do they compare to the prediction I posted.

The prediction is mostly a tale of the good, the bad, and the good. I got the top eleven slots exactly right. While the top eight were set in stone, the prediction also correctly placed Takayasu at West Komusubi, marking his first appearance in the named ranks since his “Ozekiwake” tournament in January, followed by Kiribayama at M1e and Wakatakakage at M1w, marking career highs for both. I predicted that Onosho and Daieisho would occupy the M2 rank, although I had the sides switched. Kagayaki at M3e was a direct hit. And that’s where the banzuke committee and I parted ways for a while.

The banzuke has Okinoumi dropping only three and a half ranks, from K1e to M3w, after a terrible 4-11 performance. My prediction had him switched with Hokutofuji, who is ranked M4e, dropping two ranks after going 6-9. Given that Endo fell 7 full ranks from K1w with only one more loss, it’s hard to see why Okinoumi was treated so leniently. Then comes an even bigger surprise: Tobizaru jumping nine and a half ranks, from M14e to M4w, after his breakout 11-4 performance. The highest I could have reasonably seen him placed is M5e, where the banzuke committee placed Myogiryu, who went 6-9 at M3e. Usually, the rankings tend to favor under-demoting upper rankers over over-promoting lower rankers, but this time they went in the other direction. That trend continued with Kotoshoho at M5w, a six-and-a-half rank jump after a 10-5 record, ranked ahead of Tamawashi and Tochinoshin. My only direct hit between M3w and M7e was Takarafuji at M6e, dropping half a rank after a minimal 7-8 make-koshi.

After that, the banzuke committee and I got back in sync, starting with placing the aforementioned Endo at M7w. My only misses on the lower half of the banzuke were switching the order of Aoiyama and Terutsuyoshi at M8 and placing Chiyotairyu above Kotonowaka and Shimanoumi above Akua when making the close calls between top-division incumbents and Juryo promotees. I correctly forecast the five Makuuchi demotions (J11 Abi, J8 Kyokutaisei, J3w Kotoshogiku, J3e Ishiura, and J2w Shohozan, whose new Juryo rankings give a good idea of their order in the demotion queue), as well as the five men taking their place, in the right order of promotion: M14e Chiyonokuni, M14w Kotonowaka, M15w Kotoyuki, M16e Chiyoshoma, and M16w Akua, who is making his top-division debut.

So that’s 27 direct hits out of 42 banzuke positions, with 4 additional rikishi placed at the correct rank but on the wrong side, and 11 misses. While 7 of those misses were by half a rank, the other 4 were by more than a rank—Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, and Kotoshoho by one-and-a-half each, and my biggest miss, Tobizaru, by two full ranks.

In lower-division news, the top three ranks in Juryo are occupied by Akiseyama, Chiyonoo, and Midorifuji, all of whom narrowly missed out on promotion. And in Makushita, the man who arguably should have gotten his sekitori debut, Naya, occupies Ms1w, where a winning record should see him in the paid ranks in January. And with that, on to the basho!

25 thoughts on “November Banzuke Postmortem

  1. I got 23 direct hits, 8 half-right, & 11 misses. Of those 11 misses, 1 was by half a position, 4 were one and a half positions, 1 was two and a half, & 5 by three and a half! Like you, I’m mystified by the positioning of Okinoumi & Tobizaru. Could Tobizaru’s Kanto-sho have had any bearing on the decision? Still, 54 points is my 3rd best performance, so not too bad!

    • Special prizes don’t usually figure into it 🤷🏼‍♂️

      I’m guessing they wanted to push down the MK upper maegashira, and didn’t have better options, but that doesn’t really explain the leniency toward Okinoumi.

        • There are instances you can explain by saying they look at quality of bouts, head-to-head, etc., but other instances that contradict any such pattern.

    • Seems I only got 21 direct hits. I couldn’t figure out where I had gone wrong, as I checked my notes against the actual banzuke and still got 23, so I checked my confirmation email and I’d put Akua below Shimanoumi when I submitted the predictions – which is rather annoying!

  2. Hokutofuji and Myogiryu were the big surprises here as far as I’m concerned, and given that Okinoumi was not significantly changed in placement after taking Hokutofuji’s movement into consideration, it’s basically one of those things that they do simply to be different. I think they pride themselves on not being predictable, and given the wide latitudes they have, they very often will make a few choices that make very little sense in the broader context of the history of banzuke making. For a long time I studied the recent history of relative banzuke positioning rather closely, but I eventually realized that there’s a lot of inconsistencies from one basho to the next, and it’s better to just go with what’s most likely going to happen. Trying to predict the few places they’re going to bizarro world for is hopeless.

    • I’m considering those two to be the outliers since they had the same record and both had the same basic schedule, which often means they get treated as identically as they can be. So their fates probably were settled in tandem with each other, and trying to think about it in terms of the others that moved around them is probably less likely to be useful. They dunked on 6-9s in the joi this time around; that’s really all the explanation needed.

  3. While it was clearly going to happen, it’s sad to see Kotoshogiku officially on the Juryo banzuke. I guess better there than on no banzuke as long as he wants to keep going.

  4. The board has been quite lenient with san’yaku dropouts, indeed. A bit as if sliding down each rank counts as 1,5 or even 2 maegashira ranks.

  5. Very well done on your predictions. The 1 thing I am going to be closely watching is Kakuryū. He’s basically being pushed to either do something this coming Basho or retire. Not that he can be forced but with his Stable master even telling him such, I feel if he does not do well this time around, it’ll be his last Basho.

    • Thank you. My reading of the Kakuryu reports is that he has the option of sitting out November and returning in January, but he must do well in whichever tournament he next enters or retire.

  6. I did well at the top. I even got Hokutofuji and Myogiryu right. I had Okinoumi and Tobizaru switched though. Messed up at the bottom though.

    • I only had two half-rank switches from M9 on down, but they cost me 8 points and 3rd place. But I totally missed the M3w-M7e section—2 points (Takarafuji) out of a possible 16.

      • My M3 through M8 was great, but the bottom probably cost me 3rd. I didn’t have Shimanoumi at the bottom and that shifted everything about a bit. Still not expecting many people to get Okinoumi right. I was hoping for a top 10 finish, but 13th place out of 130 isn’t bad.

  7. Thanks to Iksumo and Herouth for their knowledge (and intuition) regarding banzuke. Mostly pleased with the banzuke on the whole – I think November will bring some very interesting viewing. Yutakayama and Enho’s next door placements almost insure another unusual bout – hoping Yutakayama’s ankle is healing sufficiently. Takarafuji is surrounded by a good mix of opponents. And while Takanosho is a favorite, his sekiwake status brings some more nailbiters, but that has been his 2020 rise. Hoping his irrepressible Onigiri-ness shines through the seriousness of sanyaku.

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