Hatsu 2022: Kensho Update

Thanks again to Herouth for the tracking the kensho data, but I love this data. Nintendo’s sponsorship helped make this tournament the biggest as far as kensho payouts go since we started tracking it, with 22% higher payouts than Wacky-Aki and 44% more kensho than Kyushu. The increased sponsorship of hiramaku bouts made for a dramatic increase as the non-musubi total haul surged past 1,000 envelopes to 1,260. The musubi-no-ichiban bouts added another 414 envelopes to the tally. Each envelope contains 30,000 yen, with an equal portion going to the rikishi’s retirement. Adding in the Association’s fee, the sponsorship is 70,000 yen per kensho banner/envelope. This means the envelopes handed out contained 50 Million yen in cash.

*And thank you, Joe S, for pointing out that my numbers about the amount of yen were off by a factor of 10. I have fixed it. [facepalm]

Total Kensho Pledges

Despite losing the yusho, Terunofuji was yet again the Kensho King, walking away with 282 envelopes. If you do the math with me, that’s $73,600. Mitakeumi walked away with just under $50,000. I expect his bouts with Takakeisho and Terunofuji to be good paydays for whomever wins. (As Ozeki, he won’t have to fight Shodai again. Just kidding, I think.) Third place in the kensho race actually went to Abi, who pipped Shodai and Endo with a little help from his gold-star win against Terunofuji. The great news is that every Makuuchi wrestler walked away with some sponsorship money, and even a few Juryo visitors did, too. My biggest pain point with this is that Takayasu couldn’t share in the bounty.

The coolest thing is that I am starting to see some trends in the aggregate where wrestlers appear to win more bouts when there’s more money on the line. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I think if there’s a few thousand dollars on the line, I’d be more motivated to win. There’s also quite a bit of variability among wrestlers so far but I’m still early in doing that analysis because I need to properly control for rank and strength of opponent.

But on a more basic level, there was an increase in funds across the board which is a great sign. I just think that extra edge helped make the fights more competitive (even on senshuraku) and helped to make for a thrilling tournament. Each day of the tournament had more pledged bouts, and more total envelopes pledged, than any previous tournament we had tracked. This represents the high-water mark of the Covid era and hopefully signals a return to normal is just around the corner.

Speaking of Covid, the news out of Tokyo this weekend was that Mitakeumi tested positive for Covid. Unfortunately, it appears he does have symptoms (headache) so we hope his case stays mild and he recovers quickly. We also hope the case does not turn into an outbreak as he was a participant in the weekend’s retirement activities.

5 thoughts on “Hatsu 2022: Kensho Update

  1. Sorry, could you unpack the statement, “wrestlers appear to win more bouts when there’s more money on the line”, given that sumo is zero-sum? For every wrestler who wins a bout when there’s lots of money on the line, isn’t there necessarily a corresponding loser when there’s lots of money on the line, such that the amount of money cannot affect aggregate winning? You might be making a really interesting observation; I’m just not following it.

    • Perhaps I need to rephrase. The bouts are zero-sum but the amount of kensho on the bouts is variable and not every wrestler will be impacted in the same way. For some, 5 kensho banners is a huge amount. The same number of banners for a headliner, though, used to maybe 10 banners is not “a lot”. So the influence is not the same on each.

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