A Visual Look At the Makuuchi Joi-jin

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to digest the Aki banzuke, I wanted to review the “aikuchi ga warui” visualization. This time, though, I focused on just the joi. These are the top wrestlers in the makuuchi division. Aside from exceptions, like those made to prevent bouts between stablemates and brothers, all of these wrestlers should compete against each other.

The List

With Asanoyama’s suspension, Ichinojo’s Covid diagnosis, and Takakeisho’s scary injury from last tournament, I’m not expecting them to participate. They may participate, I’m just leaning a bit more toward caution. **Update: Hakuho will definitely be kyujo due to Covid cases at Miyagino-beya.**

I would be surprised by a Shodai-No-Show, despite his drama-filled participation in the joint practice. So, going from Terunofuji and counting 15-slots, for the likely cannon-fodder for top-ranked Hakuho we get everyone down to M4 East Tamawashi. Adding the three likely absences, that brings us to Takarafuji at M5W, and I added Ura for prohibited bouts, like Meisei-Hoshoryu, Takakeisho-Takanosho, and Terunofuji vs Takarafuji. Lastly, I added Endo because I expect him to clean up with such a low ranking and I would not be surprised if he features late in the yusho race and gets thrown into the mix.

I left Takakeisho in the mix for the visual because his participation is far more likely than Ichinojo, and Asanoyama is definitely out. But I did add the extra wrestlers to try to include all possible joi bouts.

The Results

The numbers in the boxes are the win rates, and that corresponds with the shading. More wins in the head-to-head, darker gold. Fewer head-to-head victories corresponds with darker purple. The rows are sorted from the most head-to-head success (Terunofuji) to the least success (Takarafuji). The black boxes are where there are no matches, mostly because a wrestler can’t compete against themselves, but also the aforementioned prohibited bouts and some which just haven’t happened yet. Kotonowaka has the thinnest résumé at this level. While dynamic wrestlers like Ura or Wakatakakage or Hoshoryu likely claim a few scalps, I anticipate a rough ride for Sadogatake’s heyagashira.

*Update: I have swapped the rows for the columns. Now, the numbers are viewed from the perspective of the wrestler for each row. So Terunofuji’s field of gold indicates he usually beats all of these wrestlers. Takarafuji’s deep purple indicates he usually loses against these particular guys.*

For those who don’t want the columns sorted by performance, and would rather it sorted in the same way as the rows so the diagonal is consistently missing…here. This is probably a bit easier to read while the sorted colors above were easier for me to interpret. This table also includes a second number in each box, the number of bouts in the head-to-head rivalries. Mitakeumi has faced Takayasu 25 times with Takayasu usually claiming the win (合い口が悪い) but he has faced Tamawashi 26 times and usually comes out on top (合い口がいい).

This is clearly imperfect. With so many unknown battles, Kotonowaka could end up performing very well against the likes of Shodai and Mitakeumi. I find it less likely that he’ll surprise Daieisho, or Hokutofuji. Also, the varying stages of injury may lead to under-performance. Hakuho’s departure sure changes the math a bit.

5 thoughts on “A Visual Look At the Makuuchi Joi-jin

  1. This is very interesting but it would be more intuitive if the axes were the other way around. I would tend to find the name on the left and then read across, so my first thought was “Wow! Chiyoshoma has really been kicking ass!”.

      • That was a good thing because it reminded me to update the article and I took your advice and swapped the visual from the column to the row.

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