Looking Toward the November Banzuke

All the hardware has been handed out, but that’s really secondary—the primary purpose of a honbasho is to set the banzuke for the following tournament. How will the Aki results reshuffle the rankings?

Yokozuna and Ozeki

The only change I expect here is a move by the Aki champion, shin-Yokozuna Terunofuji, over to the East side. I am assuming that the rank protection that has generally been given to those forced to sit out due to pandemic precautions will not extend to Hakuho keeping the Y1e rank. Our Ozeki duo did not exactly distinguish themselves, doing just enough to avoid kadoban or demotion, and their matching 8-7 scores mean that we will once again have Shodai on the East side and Takakeisho on the West.

Hakuho Retirement Update

Assuming the GOAT’s intai is made official before Wednesday’s banzuke meeting, a few things below will change. The rare M18e rank will make only its second appearance since the 1950s (Kotonowaka held it in March 2020), and will be occupied by Tsurugisho, who would get a lucky reprieve, as I don’t see J3 Wakamotoharu (8-7) pushing him down. Jokoryu will definitely be in Juryo, and either Kyukushuho will be too or his slot will go to Ms4 Kotoyusho (4-3) for his first sekitori appearance.

Sekiwake and Komusubi

Little change here too. East Sekiwake Mitakeumi (9-6) and West Sekiwake Meisei (8-7) will stay where they are. West Sekiwake Ichinojo (8-7) will move over to the East side, into the slot being vacated by Takayasu (4-8-3). M2w Kiribayama (9-6) and M4w Daieisho (10-5) finished in a virtual tie in the race for the one open Komusubi slot, and I assume that the former will make his san’yaku debut by virtue of his higher rank, unless the banzuke committee opts to weigh Daieisho’s previous san’yaku experience more heavily.

Upper Maegashira

At Aki, rank-and-filers down to M4w faced the Yokozuna and a full san’yaku slate of opponents. I expect these ranks at Kyushu to be occupied by Daieisho (or Kiribayama), Wakatakakage, Onosho, Takanosho, Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Takarafuji, and Endo. Other than Takanosho, who just missed out on a winning record with a 7-8 score, this group all had winning records and contains all the outstanding maegashira performances at Aki. This should translate into exciting bouts near the top of the torikumi in November.

Juryo-Makuuchi Exchanges

We had three clear demotions going into Day 15—Tokushoryu, Chiyonoo, and Ichiyamamoto—and two men on the bubble—Kaisei and Tsurugisho. We also had three clear promotions—Juryo champion Abi, who matched Terunofuji’s 13-2 score, Akua, and Sadanoumi—as well as two other possible candidates for promotion—Shohozan and Daiamami. And of course the schedulers paired up the bubble rikishi across the divisions in what were arguably the real “Darwin bouts.” M14e Kaisei (6-9) prevailed in his matchup against J2 Daiamami (7-8), saving his spot in the top division and eliminating the Juryo man. M13w Tsurugisho (5-10) fought like his life depended on it, but could not overcome J4 Shohozan (10-5), so we should see the veteran brawler and oldest sekitori make an unexpected late-career return to Makuuchi after a full year toiling in the second division.

Makushita-Juryo Exchanges

Dropping out of the salaried ranks are the two M13s, Takakento and Asashiyu. Making their sekitori debuts are Ms1 Terasawa and Ms2 Hiradoumi, both 5-2. Returning to Juryo (thanks to the slot vacated by Takagenji, who is mentioned here for the last time) is Ms2 Kotokuzan (4-3). The only question mark is whether his head-to-head victory yesterday will be enough for Ms4 Jokoryu (4-3) to trade places with J12 Kyokushuho (6-9). We’ll find out on Wednesday, when promotions to sekitori are announced.

Kyushu Banzuke Questions

  • Just how high up will Abi be ranked? His sterling performance at Aki and his career-high rank of Komusubi weigh in his favor, while a general Makuuchi bias and perhaps the lingering shadow of his suspension could count against him. Anything from M10 to M15 seems possible.
  • Conversely, how far will suspended Asanoyama drop? His Sekiwake rank would normally cushion the fall, but the circumstances of his demotion may more than balance that out. I see him ending up in the M13-M15 range; will he be ranked above or below Abi?
  • In a similar vein, how much leniency will be shown to the injured upper-rankers Takayasu (4 wins, 2 of them by fusen), M3 Kotonowaka (3 wins), and M2 Hokutofuji (2 wins)?
  • How many of the whopping 8 rikishi who finished with a minimal 7-8 make-koshi will get to keep their ranks?
  • Will Hakuho’s stablemates—M12e Ishiura, J11e Enho, and J12w Hokuseiho—have their ranks frozen?

Do you have other questions? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for following Tachiai’s coverage of the Aki basho!

27 thoughts on “Looking Toward the November Banzuke

  1. Just saw that! Only if it’s official before the banzuke meeting on Wednsday. If so, Tsurugisho would get a lucky reprieve, as I don’t see Wakamotoharu pushing him down, Jokoryu would definitely be in Juryo, and either Kyukushuho would be too or his slot would go to Kotoyusho.

  2. I find the mediocrity of the named ranks a bit frustrating. Except for the yokozuna and Takayasu, they were all 8-6 or 9-5. Enough to hold their positions, but that’s it. The excitement all came from Terunofuji and the rank and filers. It just seems a bit odd.

      • Not sure i would call it parity. It’s just that some of those guys (hello Mitakeumi, hello Shodai) are extremely inconsistent and don’t seem to have the drive to win. Takakeisho and Takayasu always seem to get plagued by some injury. Meisei is still relatively new there. I think he has the right mindset, but maybe not a high enough ceiling, he is not too old, will be curious if he can do the next step. Oh and Ichinojo is another go not having the mind (and the body) in the right state way too often.
        There are just too many “no effort” losses.

        • I guess my point was that it’s not clear that any of them are obviously stronger than Hoshoryu, Takanosho, Kiribayama, Wakatakakage, Daieisho et al.

  3. Did Hakuho time his announcement to take the limelight away from Terunofuji’s yuhso? Other than that, I’m just sad that their Yokozuna rivalry never got to materialize. It’s the best for his health, best for the sport’s integrity (Hakuho not becoming another kyujo-abusing Yokozuna), and only bad in that the sport’s popularity might suffer a bit now. Awesome career, no matter what I thought of his shenanigans as he got older.

    • Well, announcements aren’t supposed to be made during the basho, and it has to be made before Wednesday to open up a banzuke slot, so it’s a pretty narrow window…

  4. This one looks relatively straightforward compared to most recent banzuke, although there are lot of cases of 7-8 guys retaining rank. I have Kiribayama taking the K slot but it’s really a toss-up between him and Daieisho. As for Abi his position depends on whether or not they adhere to the guideline of not ranking a promotee above a makuuchi wrestler with a winning record. If they do he would be behind Chiyomaru, probably at M15w but that looks wrong so I’m tentatively putting him at M13e. Hakuho’s withdrawal means that either Wakamotoharu or Tsurugisho will get lucky: I’d rather give the chance to the newcomer but we’ll see.

  5. So is it that the banzuke is set this Wednesday, and just kept secret for a month, or does something happen in the mean time?

    • I think they do announce who is moving up to Juryo, because the ones moving up need time to get their nice silk mawashi made in the color of their choice. Everything else (except I guess who has to move down out of Juryo) is secret.

      • Right, and of course Ozeki and Yokozuna promotions are announced as well. They don’t actually announce who is moving down to Makushita, but it can usually be inferred.

  6. Just to respond to your fourth point I have Takayasu at 6e, Kotonowaka at 10w and Hokutofuji at 11w, but I have found that I tend to over-demote guys like this so I might tweak them up half a notch.

  7. I saw a video once of the torikumi being decided and there was a bunch of oyakata placing counters on a very long roll of paper, accompanied by a very large amount of discussion.

    In my mind the banzuke committee operates in a similar way i.e. get out the paper and counters, apply various starting rules like +1 rank per victory, juryo below makuuchi etc… Then juggle the conflicting counters around a bit until it looks mostly right.

    I’m guessing that when for the greyer areas we see precedence being followed this is due to the corporate experience/memories of the oyakatas (rather than, say, a comprehensive search on sumo DB). And that when we see a departure from tradition this could often be accidental rather than a deliberate innovation.

    But does anyone know the details of how they actually do it? Do they consult electronic records at all?

    • I’ve often wondered this. The process is predictable enough that it suggests some electronic assistance, but unpredictable enough that we can’t be sure. Someone must actually know…

    • Many sumo fans produce their own versions of the banzuke which often make more sense than the real thing, and it doesn’t take a lot of computing power. Using a basic spreadsheet, I can cook up rankings for the top 2 divisions within about an hour of the last match, and I’m sure iksumo does something similar. I suspect the stones ‘n’ scrolls routine is mainly for show but this is sumo so you never know. If there’s a choice between an easy way and a traditional way…

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