March Banzuke Analysis

Neither man has reason to smile after the release of the rankings

The March rankings have been released. Let’s take a look at how they compare to the forecast I posted a week ago.

The upper ranks are exactly as predicted, with one glaring exception. That, of course, is the yusho winner M1w Daieisho (13-2) being ranked K2w instead of S2w as everyone expected. It’s difficult to know how to explain the snub. No yusho winner ranked M4 or higher had ever failed to make Sekiwake, nor had any M1 with a record of 13-2 or better. Since no one has ever been promoted to Ozeki from a rank below Sekiwake, is this perhaps an unnecessarily harsh reminder that the NSK does not consider Daieisho to be on an Ozeki run?

My prediction had the upper maegashira ranks (M1-M6) exactly right. However, I had reason to worry about the mid-maegashira ranks. While I expected the trouble area to extend from M7w to M10e, it in fact covered M7e to M11w, where the only prediction I got right was the absent Chiyonokuni and Chiyotairyu maintaining their positions at M9e and M11e, respectively. Among other oddities, this part of the banzuke is characterized by historically lenient demotions: only 3 ranks for Tochinoshin after a 4-11 record, and only one rank for Kagayaki and Tobizaru after their 6-9 performances.

From there, my forecast got back on track, getting all the ranks from M12 to M16 right and only placing Hidenoumi and Yutakayama on the wrong sides at M15. In particular, Tokushoryu will indeed join Sadanoumi and Akua down in Juryo, with Hidenoumi, Tsurugisho, and Daiamami taking their places in the top division.

Despite getting the middle of the banzuke completely wrong, your humble prognosticator now holds the top rank in GTB, based on a weighted average of the last 6 predictions.

32 thoughts on “March Banzuke Analysis

  1. This was always going to be a weird one given the COVID-Kyujo. I know I encouraged the banzuke committee to be well lubricated with sake, but perhaps they went a bit too far.

  2. Am I the only one unsurprised by Daieisho’s Komusubi position? It seems to me that in all cases in the past with 13-2 from his position, people got to Sekiwake because there was either an open slot, or in Mitoizumi’s case, there was already a Komusubi haridashi.

    • Mitoizumi is an absolutely direct analog, and I don’t think that the presence of another extra Komusubi would do anything to impact where someone else ends up. The extra Komusubi spot wouldn’t have been given today. The last two times extra Komusubi slots have been given, they’ve been given in pairs, so saying that a 3rd Komusubi pushed MItoizumi to Sekiwake makes very little sense.

      In fact, while Hokutoriki’s situation is not exactly analogous, we’ve seen in general that demoted Ozeki get “first dibs” on open Sekiwake slots before looking to Komusubi with less than 11 wins or maegashira, so the creation of the 3rd Sekiwake spot in that case is also good evidence that it seemed to be the case back then at least, over 15 years ago, that a 13-2 M1 would get to Sekiwake.

      It’s simply a continual reminder that they have gotten much harsher on extra sanyaku promotions over time. Everyone got it wrong in GTB simply because there was no evidence that this was one way that they would be making them harsher. I couldn’t say for sure, but it seems to imply that even a 15-0 M1 would only get promoted to Sekiwake. Apparently the only way extra Sekiwake slots are created is by demoted Ozeki or 11 win Komusubi; both of those happen when there are two other KK Sekiwake with reasonable frequency (every few years), while 13 win M1s are much rarer.

    • I think this is a reminder that a yusho does not have much impact on the ranking, it’s the numbers that count. And while 13-2 from M1 has always resulted in a sekiwake slot in the past we are dealing with a very small sample size.

      I got 32 bullseyes and 4 hits. Seventh in GTB at my first attempt. I am awarding myself a Fighting Spirit prize.

      • In some ways, the numbers don’t count either. Take Daieisho himself. He went from Mie to K1e after going 8-7, then K1e to S2e after an 11-4. He was demoted, then went from M2w to M1w after going 10-5 and now M1w to K2w after 13-2. So better performances the second time around resulted in the same one rank promotions as the first time. What seems more important was whether there were vacant slots. Clearly, this time they didn’t want to advance him over the rikishi who were already in the K1 slots, even though he had better numbers than they did and beat them.

        • Thanks, I learned a lot from gazing into your crystal balls, so to speak.

          Tora=虎=Tiger, as in tigerboy1966. no+shin=ノ心 is a tribute to Tochinoshin. It’s meant to convey “Tiger’s Heart”.

    • i agree. i find it normal. why are we assuming he is on an ozeki run at Maegashira. his run starts now if anything

      • Yes, that’s a separate issue, though. There have been two-nasho runs in he past (e.g. Terunofuji, Tochinoshin), so people think the run has started in maegashira. My ow view is that the run starts at san-yaku, but if you do exceedingly well (y/j), they may consider shortening it provided you weren’t make-koshi before you started it. Some would see that as counting from maegashira, but my point is that this look back into the time before san-yaku only occurs if you did 2/3 of your run with excellent results. So he is ot currently on a run.

    • Just wondering – imagine Daieisho goes 11-4 JY next time, Mitakeumi wakes up and wins the Yusho from Komusbi 1W with 14-1 and is first in line for Sekiwake promotion, kadoban Takakeisho gets a losing record so is demoted to Sekiwake, and the two existing Sekiwakes, Takanosho and Terenofuji, get unspectacular winning records. So in this scenario, I imagine they aren’t going to have 5 sekiwakes and Daieisho misses out on promotion again and enters the May basho as a komusubi with 24 wins out of the last 30. Would this mean in May he could feasibily go straight from Komusubi to Oseki with 11 or more wins?? Or is that considered impossible/unprecedented ?

      • We have had five sekiwake once before under similar circumstances; I believe there’s even an old tachiai post about this that I can’t seem to dig up, so I think that’s what would happen. 11 wins at komusubi has meant automatic promotion to sekiwake even if there are no empty slots.

      • I believe it’s impossible. The run starts at san-yaku. Although theoretically the shimpan department can do whatever the hell it pleases, the general guideline is three consecutive good results in san-yaku. In the past we have seen examples of Ozeki being promoted after two basho in san-yaku, but only with exceedingly good results. Since the 6-basho era, there has never been anybody who was promoted to Ozeki after only one basho in san-yaku. Furthermore, there was nobody who has been promoted from Komusubi to Ozeki (again, in modern times). This is exactly what “forcing a sekiwake slot” means.

        • Nobody has been promoted straight from Komusubi to Ozeki in the modern era yet. However, nobody has ever won back-to-back basho without being ranked at least at Ozeki for their second win. So who knows, if Daieisho wins back-to-back Yusho, he may be the first to go from K to O and be the first to do so. But then again, that’s quite a difficult task. Perhaps an M1 Y and a 14-1 Jun-yusho as Komusubi may even do.

  3. 1 rank demotions for 6-9s are not particularly unknown. There definitely have even been cases of half-rank 6-9 demotions, although the ones I am thinking of I think only happened in Juryo. The Tochinoshin demotion is definitely explainable by viewing him as only a half-rank worse by the numbers than Kotonowaka, but he faced a full sanyaku schedule from M4, and so could reasonably be treated as being ranked a bit higher. I think 3 full ranks is the minimum to expect a 4-11 to fall, and so while it is a bit rare, I wouldn’t dismiss it if it’s the best alternative.

    • I guess I felt like promoting Kotonowaka and even Hoshoryu more wasn’t so out of the ordinary that you’d need to consider fairly rare under-demotions. Another one to store in the memory banks for how the current shimpan department thinks.

    • It’s about right; there were worries, given how much they were punishing him in the previous rankings, that he’d end up in Sandanme.

    • At M56 he won’t be getting out of Makushita anytime before July. He’ll need to go 6-1 or better in both March and May and probably also need to win at least one yusho in order to get out of Makushita.

      • 7-0 followed by 6-1 is the absolute minimum he’ll need to get to juryo in two basho. (The other way around won’t work.) And if he does go 7-0 this time I wouldn’t put it past them to rank him low enough (i.e. below Ms5) for May that 6-1 still won’t be enough.

        6-1, 6-1 would put him around Ms10.

        • On second thought, I suppose 7-0 followed by 5-2 could be enough with very lucky banzuke breaks. Same caveat as above though, they can easily engineer it so that it goes from “very lucky” to “entirely theoretical”.

          • Might the punitive approach to ranking him be lifted now that he’s served his suspension?

            • I wonder if they will treat him as “time served” or if he’ll still be on a short leash and given poor banzuke luck…figuratively on an ankle monitor, like Nicolas Sarkozy?

          • Let’s remember that a healthy, komusubi-class rikishi really should go 7-0Y, 7-0Y at this level. It’s not as if Abi is coming back from some horrible injury

            • Not slipping up even once is never a given though, even with a large skill differential. Plus, Abi’s fighting style doesn’t lend itself towards a low-risk “controlled aggression” approach like, say, Tochinoshin’s would have on his comeback run. Makushita has plenty of rikishi who are good enough to take advantage of a hasty push gone wrong.

              • Good points, but remember that Tochinoshin, Terunofuji, Ura etc were protecting injuries. Abi just needs to shake off a little ring rust, and given his ranking he will have four or five bouts to do so before he is matched against the top men in the division… on the other hand there might be some fun in the offing if gets paired with Ofukasawa and/or Shishi in the first week.


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