Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

After going kyujo for one basho, the crystal ball is back! The new rankings will be announced and mailed to supporters on June 21. In advance of this much-awaited event, let’s take a look at how they are likely to shake out.

Here’s my banzuke guess. Scroll down to see which ranks I think it’s most likely to get wrong.

Starting from the top, it’s not a certainty that Terunofuji will leapfrog Takakeisho as a result of the outcome of their playoff bout. Also, it would only qualify as a minor surprise if Endo got the nod for the West Komusubi rank over Meisei. And Daieisho and Ichinojo could switch spots.

Then we come to the biggest question mark on the banzuke—who gets to fill the hole in the rankings at M3w/M4e. M3w is a toss-up between M12e Kotoeko (9-6) and M14w Chiyotairyu (10-5). I went with the former for two reasons. First, their ranks on the east and west side, respectively, give Kotoeko a half-rank edge “by the numbers.” Second, it allowed me to keep Kotoeko and Okinoumi, who posted the same records at the same rank, at similar banzuke positions; otherwise, they’d be separated by 3 full ranks. The banzuke committee could easily go the other way, or even increase the gap by placing Chiyotairyu at M4e and Okinoumi at M7e.

Further down, Aoiyama and Chiyoshoma could easily swap sides at M8, as could Kaisei and Tochinoshin at M11, and in fact any rearrangement of the quartet I placed at M11-M12 wouldn’t surprise me. M15 is another rank where the decision to place Tsurugisho on the East side and Chiyomaru on the West basically came down to a coin flip.

I feel pretty good about the rest of the guesses, but I’m always surprised by at least a couple of the banzuke committee decisions when the official rankings are released. We’ll get to see them in a week; in the meantime, feel free to speculate in the comments.

16 thoughts on “Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

  1. First time I remember having to pause for thought at the the second spot on the banzuke. Takakeisho or Terunofuji? Play-offs don’t count do they? Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Examples and counter examples are cited, precedents are proclaimed and caveats are duly noted, and I have a headache. I went for Takakeisho because if I do get it wrong I can blame it on Kintamayama who once told me most emphatically that play-offs meant diddly-squat as far as rankings were concerned.

    I have the juryo promotees dropping into significantly higher slots with Ura at 8w, Chiyono-o at 11e and Tukushoryu at 11w. I also have Ichinojo edging Daieisho at 1w and Tobizaru taking 3w ahead of Kotoeko and Okinoumi. Only a week to go before we find out!

    • My rule for the juryo guys is to not move them higher if that means over-demoting someone in makuuchi even by half a rank; otherwise they’d be higher. Ichinojo and Daieisho is really a coin toss, but I’d be surprised if they only dropped Tobizaru one rank after a 5-10.

    • I looked at the last 80-something times a rikishi had 5 wins in the M1-M4 region, and the smallest demotion was 2 full ranks, which happened only twice. If Kotoeko/Okinoumi/Chiyotairyu hadn’t all won tough matchups on day 15, we may have seen some record-breaking leniency for Tobizaru, but now I don’t think the pressure to underdemote him is that severe.

      Tough to think they’ll promote Juryo guys that high. The last time a Juryo promotee was ranked ahead of a kachi-koshi from a Makuuchi incumbent was 3 years ago. There have been some situations similar to the current one and the guys in Chiyomaru’s position have been getting overpromoted to keep them ahead of newcomers. There’s always a chance they break that trend, but no way Ura is near M8.

      • I think my problem is that I rank J1e as “43”- one spot below the lowest mauku’uchi wrestler. If, as seems likely, I am way too high with the promotees I will have to tweak the formula. But hey, formulas were made for tweaking! If, on the other hand, I’m right and everyone else is wrong you can expect me to engage “smug mode”.

        • If it helps, I have Ura at M9W partially due to having J1E as 43 as well. Guess I’m joining the smug train too, if it doesn’t first go off a cliff.

        • That’s not wrong, but as elsewhere on the banzuke, there’s nuance in applying the formula.

  2. Every title winning ozeki since 1963 has been the top ranked ozeki in the following basho apart from Musashimaru after an 11-4 championship.

    • Yes but in that whole 58 years there has (as far as I can see) been only one instance of a lower-ranked ozeki beating a higher-ranked ozeki in a one-on-one playoff and that was when Tochiazuma beat Chiyotaikai in 2002 so there isn’t a lot of data to go on.

      In 2002 Tochiazuma did leapfrog Chiyotaikai in the rankings, but (and this might be the clincher) he had already beaten his higher-ranked opponent in their regulation bout on day 15. In 2021 the situation is different as TKS beat TNF in their first match.

      Either way there will be a lot of GTB entries derailed before we get to the traditionally tricky parts of the banzuke.

      • Quoting the google translation of the relevant passage from Japanese wikipedia: Every time such a case occurred, there was a voice saying, “It is strange that a sumo wrestler who won the same yokozuna (Ozeki) position will be placed below the winning wrestler in the next place,” in September 1997. At the board of directors of the Japan Sumo Association , the rules were revised to “if a championship match is played in the same position, the winner will be ranked higher.” In January 2001, when Takanohana won the championship match against Nishimasa Yokozuna / Musashimaru-East 2 (2nd) Yokozuna / Takanohana, the next March location was won by Tosho Yokozuna. Takanohana went up, and Musashimaru, who had the same score as the winner, was deferred to Nishimasa Yokozuna, and the position was reversed from the previous place.

        • Stanley Unwin is alive and well and translating Japanese wikipedia pages. Deep joy!

          • Thanks for the introduction to Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake tigerboy, that will pass the time nicely until banzuke day.

      • Being listed on the banzuke when everyone knows he will not be taking part. I had the same initial reaction, but of course he has to go through his demotion basho by basho.

        • Right, the banzuke simply lists the ranks of all active riskishi, without any regard to their participation in the upcoming basho. We’ve seen this during suspensions like Abi’s, as well as absences like Hakuho’s in May that were known far in advance.

  3. Looking forward to Terutsuyoshi vs. Ura. The crash of style during salt-throwing should be nice to see.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.