The November rankings have been released. On the whole, they turned out to be rather predictable. My Guess The Banzuke entry had 33 rikishi at their exact position, and 3 more at the correct rank but on the wrong side—the closest I’ve ever come to the real thing. Let’s take a look at how the names on the sumo ladder have been reshuffled.
Yokozuna and Ozeki
As expected, the Aki champion, shin-Yokozuna Terunofuji, now holds the top rank of East Yokozuna. Also as expected, nothing changed at the Ozeki rank: we once again have Shodai on the East side and Takakeisho on the West. There is, however, one surprise: Terunofuji is the sole Yokozuna on the banzuke, and there are only 41 rikishi listed rather than the customary 42. This means that Hakuho’s slot was left blank. Given that his retirement wasn’t official by the time of the banzuke meeting, so that the rate M18e slot wasn’t created, the expectation was that the GOAT would appear on the rankings chart one final time. I am not sure whether we can read anything into this, though.
Sekiwake and Komusubi
As expected, East Sekiwake Mitakeumi (9-6) and West Sekiwake Meisei (8-7) stayed where they were, while West Sekiwake Ichinojo (8-7) moved over to the East side. 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 was correct in assuming that the former would make his san’yaku debut by virtue of his higher rank.
With only 7 san’yaku-ranked rikishi, we will need at least 9 rank-and-filers to make up the top-16 round-robin. As predicted, these ranks are occupied by Daieisho, Wakatakakage, Onosho, Takanosho, Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Takarafuji, Endo, and Takayasu. Other than Takanosho, who just missed out on a winning record with a 7-8 score, and Takayasu, who dropped from his Komusubi rank with a 4-8-3 record, 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.
What I Got Wrong
Well, I had Endo (M11e, 11-4) at M4e and Takarafuji (M5w, 8-7) at M4w, while the banzuke committee ranked them the other way around. But my big mistake was departing from my usual quantitative approach and guessing that the banzuke committee would further punish Asanoyama by ranking him lower than is usual for an absent Sekiwake. This did not happen—he actually ended up a little higher, at M10w. This led me to miss the placements of Kotonowaka (M11e), Hokutofuji (M12w), Yutakayama (M13e), and Chiyonokuni (M14w), and to place Tochinoshin on the wrong side of M13. I would consider Hokutofuji a strong candidate for Grand Sumo Breakdown’s “snub of the banzuke.”
As expected, Tokushoryu, Chiyonoo, Ichiyamamoto and Tsurugisho were demoted to the second division. Replacing them in the top division are Abi, Akua, Sadanoumi, and Shohozan. Kaisei just hangs on to his Makuuchi rank, but at M17e, he has little room for error in Kyushu.
Kyushu Banzuke Questions
I asked the following questions in my banzuke preview post. Let’s look at the answers.
- 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.
- ANSWER: M15w, the lowest possible, below the last top-division incumbent with a winning record, Chiyomaru.
- 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?
- ANSWER: M10w, 5 full ranks ahead of Abi and higher than I could imagine.
- 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)?
- ANSWER: Takayasu got a very lenient demotion to M5e. Kotonowaka ended up roughly where expected (M11e), while Hokutofuji got the short end of the stick (M12w).
- How many of the whopping 8 rikishi who finished with a minimal 7-8 make-koshi will get to keep their ranks?
- ANSWER: 4 of them, at consecutive ranks from M8w to M10e: Tobizaru, Aoiyama, Hidenoumi, Chiyotairyu.
- Will Hakuho’s stablemates—M12e Ishiura, J11e Enho, and J12w Hokuseiho—have their ranks frozen?
- ANSWER: Yes.