As expected, there were no surprises in the top two ranks, with the only difference from November being Shodai and Asanoyama exchanging spots. My prediction was also right on the money when it came to the less predictable than usual junior san’yaku ranks. Terunofuji’s 13-2 performance was indeed good enough to vault him into the East Sekiwake slot over the incumbent West Sekiwake Takanosho. And, at the rank we were all waiting for with baited breath, there are only two Komusubi—Takayasu, moving over from West to East, and Mitakeumi, dropping from Sekiwake but remaining in san’yaku after a 7-8 performance.
The decision not to create extra slots means that Hokutofuji and Daieisho had to settle for the top maegashira rank, as predicted, though I had them on the wrong sides. There were also no big surprises elsewhere in the rank-and-file. Of the 33 rikishi ranked at maegashira, my forecast had 13 in the exact spot, 8 at the right rank but on the wrong side, 9 off by half a rank (as in exchanging M11w and M12e), and only 3 off by a full rank.
What were these 3 misses? I did not expect Takarafuji to be ranked all the way up at M2e, ahead of Onosho and Wakatakakage. Onosho has a claim for the GSB snub-of-the-banzuke award, being over-demoted from M2e to M3w after a 7-8 record. Kagayaki (M6e) yet again seems to have benefited from very good banzuke luck, dropping only 3.5 ranks after a 5-10 performance, especially since ranking him that high meant splitting Ryuden and Meisei, who posted identical records at the same rank in November (for good measure, the banzuke committee also split Yutakayama and Kaisei, who were in the same situation).
As expected, Enho (J3e) and Kotoyuki (J9w) dropped out of the top division, and were replaced by Midorifuji and Akiseyama, whose placements at M14w and M16w, respectively, I correctly predicted. So, although its overall precision was hurt by the 17 half-rank misses, the crystal ball fared well in getting the big picture right.
What do you think of the banzuke? Let me know in the comments. And you can look forward to lots of coverage from Tachiai in the run-up to the Hatsu basho, which will be chock-full of exciting, high-stakes storylines.