Haru Banzuke Crystal Ball

The new rankings will be announced and mailed to supporters on March 1. In advance of this much-awaited event, let’s take a look at how they are likely to shake out.

The named ranks

These should be very straightforward. The absent Yokozuna will keep their positions, with Hakuho on the East side and Kakuryu on the West. As a consequence of his dismal 2-8-5 performance, Takakeisho will fall to East Ozeki 2, behind East Ozeki Shodai and West Ozeki Asanoyama, who will stay in their current order after identical 11-4 performances.

Just like in September, we will have 3 Sekiwake, and also like in September, the extra rank will go to Daieisho after his yusho-winning 13-2 performance from M1. He should be ranked behind the successful incumbents, East Sekiwake Terunofuji (11-4) and West Sekiwake Takanosho (9-6), with the slight wrinkle that his rank will be West Sekiwake 2 to balance out the solitary East Ozeki 2 rank on the banzuke.

Finally, East Komusubi Takayasu and West Komusubi Mitakeumi both went 9-6 and will stay at their ranks. Since the number of wrestlers in the top division is fixed at 42, 10 san’yaku ranks leaves room for only 32 maegashira, meaning that we won’t see an M17 rank for the first time since November 2019.

The rank-and-file

Scroll down if you just want to see the projected banzuke. I’ve written about my process for arriving at the predicted rankings before, so I won’t belabor it here, but I will make a few notes on this particular set of predictions.

  • I left the five maegashira absent due to COVID outbreaks in their heya at their current ranks, as this did not seem unfair to any of the participating rikishi and in several instances helped avoid even bigger under-demotions or over-promotions.
  • I’d be surprised to see any major departures from the official banzuke for the M1e-M7e ranks (Takarafuji through Kotonowaka), where the only decision I wrestled with was how to order Shimanoumi and Kiribayama.
  • The trickiest area of the banzuke for me was M7w-M10e, especially the M7w rank. Placing the next available kachi-koshi rikishi here, M14e Hoshoryu, which is what I ended up doing, represents an extremely generous promotion of 6.5 ranks for someone with a 9-6 record. On the other hand, giving the slot to the best-positioned make-koshi rikishi, M6w Kagayaki, would mean only a one-rank demotion for a 6-9 record. Kagayaki has received some very lenient treatment recently, but this seemed like a step too far, so I placed him at M8e, splitting Hoshoryu and M14w Midorifuji (also 9-6). With Chiyonokuni locked in place at M9e, I have M4e Tochinoshin (4-11) at M9w, just ahead of M7w Tobizaru (6-9), but flipping these two wouldn’t surprise me, nor would any number of more extensive rearrangements among these rikishi.
  • One rikishi is unquestionably going down to Juryo: M17e Sadanoumi (5-10). Highly likely to join him is M13e Akua (5-10). The Juryo promotion picture is complicated by a whopping 7 COVID-related absences in the top 10 ranks, but three rikishi made credible cases for promotion: the yusho winner J8e Tsurugisho (12-3), Tobizaru’s big brother J6w Hidenoumi (11-4), who is looking to return to the top division for the first time in three years, and the highest-ranked man competing, J1w Daiamami (8-7). I project that all three will be in Makuuchi in March, which means that I needed to find another demotion candidate, and I’ve gone with last January’s unlikely champion, M8e Tokushoryu (3-12). He could survive, but I’d hate to guess at whose expense. The only other remotely plausible promotion candidate is J8w Daishomaru (11-4), but he is clearly behind the other 3, and I don’t think his case is strong enough to push down M15e Yutakayama (7-8).

With all that out of the way, here’s the projection. Let me know what you think in the comments.

21 thoughts on “Haru Banzuke Crystal Ball

    • With all the upper rankers (except Takakeisho) soaking up a lot of wins, there were not many winning records in the rank-and-file, especially among the upper half, so there will be a lot of big over-promotions.

      • I don’t doubt the pick…it’s just when I saw him up there, I just see cannon fodder. Going back through his record, for sanyaku opponents he only has fought and lost to Mitakeumi (S) and Abi (K).

  1. Only 2 flipped pairs difference from mine! Kagayaki/Hoshoryu (but my first draft had Hoshoryu 7W and Kagayaki 8W) and Tobizaru/Tochinoshin (I think I just expected Tochinoshin to lose any close banzuke decisions).

  2. I don’t think Tokushoryu will fall from M8 to Juryo. I think he’ll be M15 or M16, and Hidenoumi will have to wait a bit longer before returning to Makuuchi.

      • Most projections have him dropping; I suppose they could also slide Daiamami over to J1e, switching places with Ishiura, since they said there are some minor banzuke movements among the COVID absentees…

  3. Is Wakatakakage confirmed for the basho? I know he and his brother were supposed to participate in the Kyokai but by all accounts they appear to be absent. I hope he isn’t still suffering from the aftermath of COVID.

  4. I’d probably have Yutakayama very last man on the board, but in the end the functional result is pretty close to the same: Time to put up a winning score or get out.

    I like Meisei and Kiribayama a lot but both are going to have a rough time. What can you do though, almost everyone in those ranks last time lost, so it’s overpromotions for everyone.

  5. It looks like we are going to see some rotten banzuke luck for Daishomaru. One more win and he would have been a solid promotion candidate, but he looks likely to be stuck on j3w.

    • They said some absent guys got demoted by as much as one rank to keep things fair, so I could imagine the top of Juryo looking something like the following. Ura would have the most cause for complaint in this scenario:

      Tokushoryu(3-12 M8e) J1 Akua(5-10 M13e)
      Ishiura(0-0 J1e) J2 Daishomaru(11-4 J8w)
      Chiyomaru(0-0 J2e) J3 Chiyonoo(0-0 J2w)
      Enho(0-0 J3e) J4 Churanoumi(7-7 J3w)
      Kyokushuho(0-0 J4w) J5 Sadanoumi(5-10 M17e)
      Wakamotoharu(0-0 J5e) J6 Chiyootori(0-0 J5w)
      Ura(10-5 J10e) J7 Kyokutaisei(0-0 J7e)

      • The thing about shifting quarantined wrestlers down a slot or two is that it doesn’t solve the issue, it just shoves the injustice further down the banzuke. It’s going to be a case of looking for the least bad option. I have had a crack at GTB this time and expect pain come Monday.

        • I think it does help, as the injustice is concentrated in the upper half and my draft would put the projected demotions from Makuuchi, as well as Daishomaru and Churanoumi, close to where they’d end up under more normal circumstances. From J8 on down, it’s a pretty normal banzuke.

        • All the guys stuck in the upper half also mean that there’s an artificially low number of rikishi falling into the lower half.

      • My attempt at that, or rather my preferred solution:

        Daishomaru (J8w 11-4) J1 Tokushoryu (M8e 3-12)
        Ishiura (J1e kosho) J2 Akua (M13e 5-10)
        Chiyomaru (J2e kosho) J3 Chiyonoo (J2w kosho)
        Enho (J3e kosho) J4 Churanoumi (J3w 7-7-1)
        Ura (J10e 10-5) J5 Kyokushuho (J4w kosho)
        Wakamotoharu (J5e kosho) J6 Chiyootori (J5w kosho)
        Sadanoumi (M17e 5-10) J7 Azumaryu (J6e 7-8)
        Kyokutaisei (J7e kosho) J8 Shohozan (J4e 5-10)

        Sadanoumi’s placement relative to Tokushoryu and Akua would be appropriate like that, but putting him below Churanoumi at all would be rather unusual of course, to say nothing of the large distance between them in that version. Crowded upper juryo is a rare occurrence though, so who knows what guidelines they currently like to apply to that.

        BTW, “as much as one rank” was beat writer speculation, not stated officially. I wouldn’t be hugely surprised by something like this:

        Enho (J3e kosho) J4 Sadanoumi (M17e 5-10)
        Churanoumi (J3w 7-7-1) J5 Ura (J10e 10-5)
        Kyokushuho (J4w kosho) J6 Wakamotoharu (J5e kosho)
        Chiyootori (J5w kosho) J7 Azumaryu (J6e 7-8)

        • It’ll be interesting to see what they actually do. Probably something less well thought out than either of our attempts 😏

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