With a few days to go before the January banzuke drops on Christmas Eve, it’s time for me to stick my neck out and predict what it will look like. Here’s a brief reminder of my process for those who haven’t read these posts before. First, I assign each rikishi a computed rank based on their rank and performance in the previous tournament. Then, I deal with all the cases that this algorithm doesn’t handle well. This includes ensuring that a rikishi with a losing record isn’t promoted, breaking ties when multiple wrestlers end up with the same computed rank, making adjustments for rikishi with especially large predicted moves, and deciding on the division exchanges and where to rank the predicted promotions from Juryo.
The top three ranks are easy: Terunofuji will remain the lone East Yokozuna. Takakeisho (12-3) will take over the more prestigious East Ozeki rank from Shodai (9-6), who will move to the West side. Mitakeumi (11-4) will remain East Sekiwake, and M2w Takanosho (11-4) will take over the West Sekiwake rank from Meisei (7-8).
I think it’s pretty clear that the two Komusubi slots will go to Meisei and M1e Daieisho (8-7). I expect Daieisho to end up on the East side, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Meisei ahead of him.
The Maegashira Ranks
Here’s the prediction. Scroll down to read what I see as the biggest areas of uncertainty.
- Who will take the M1w slot—Ura or Kiribayama?
- Do I have the rikishi on the correct sides at M5 and M6?
- Possibly the biggest wildcard—how far will Myogiryu drop? I have him at what I think is the highest possible position, M10e, but anything from there to M14e wouldn’t surprise me. This obviously affects the rest of what seems like the trickiest part of this banzuke, M10-M14.
- Will Oho get promoted, or will M14e Kagayaki (5-10) get to stay in Makuuchi instead? Oho just barely eked out a record that warrants promotion, while Kagayaki’s performance clearly warrants demotion. By the numbers, Oho is two full ranks ahead, but this calculation doesn’t always translate well across the division boundary. Kagayaki has consistently received very lenient treatment from the banzuke committee, and may do so again. I’ve gone with what I think should happen, and what I would expect to happen if a different wrestler was in Kagayaki’s place, but not necessarily what I think the banzuke committee is most likely to actually do.
We’ll find out how these decisions played out, and what unexpected surprises the banzuke committee might have up its sleeve, on the 24th. In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments.