Thanks to Herouth’s kensho data, I’ve been working to update my kensho dashboard. The great story of this tournament has been the rising star, Wakatakakage. His largest bounty collected so far was that claimed with the scalp of Ozeki Takakeisho. He had a chance at even more, and the outright yusho, on Senshuraku but Shodai played an effective spoiler. This March, Shodai’s was fighting at a significant discount to Takakeisho and shin-Ozeki Mitakeumi, fighting for .75 cents for every dollar, on average, of the other Ozeki. Given the performance of both wrestlers, and the shift in venue back to Tokyo, I hope both will see larger sponsorship pledges for the upcoming Natsu basho.
One concern is obviously the health of Yokozuna Terunofuji. If he’s questionable for the tournament, that may impact viewership and sponsorship numbers. But with so many new story lines, we obviously won’t know for a few weeks. I have enjoyed seeing bounty pledges “trickle down” to wrestlers in the lower ranks. Again, there were more than 1,100 envelopes pledged for the bouts leading up to the musubi-ichiban. Takayasu was another wrestler who saw a bump in his usual sponsorship and I definitely loved watching him as a factor in the yusho race. Let’s hope for a repeat in May!
It was a bit of a surprise to me that Abi’s bouts actually had more kensho pledges than Wakatakakage’s. However, his peak bout was earlier in the tournament against Mitakeumi on Day 11. Wakamotoharu, brother and stablemate of the yusho winner, did not see quite as many pledges as in January without the big outlay made by Nintendo on the hiramaku bouts. But, he did fight for his two largest bounties so far. The first, 8 envelopes he lost to Takayasu and 10 envelopes he won against Endo.
Among the hiramaku, Kiribayama and Hoshoryu continue to have consistent sponsorship, though Endo is clearly still the kensho king in the mid-maegashira, claiming larger pledges than virtually everyone except the Ozeki. There’s an interesting interplay here with stablemates that I will dig into for next tournament. Takakeisho gets huge sponsorship while Takanosho sometimes doesn’t get any pledges at all, even when ranked in sanyaku. However, Kokonoe-beya wrestlers seem to have a few envelopes spread out among each…though sometimes Chiyoshoma seems to be left out on occasion. (Could it be that the henka reputation hurts his popularity enough to impact his sponsorships?)