Natsu Banzuke Postmortem

The May banzuke just dropped. Let’s take a look at how the committee reshuffled the rankings, and how my prediction fared (spoiler: not very well).

The named ranks seemed straightforward, and so they proved, with my prediction going 8 for 8. Atop the banzuke is East Yokozuna Terunofuji, followed in order by East Ozeki Mitakeumi, West Ozeki Shodai, West Ozeki 2 Takakeisho, East Sekiwake Wakatakakage, West Sekiwake Abi, East Komusubi Hoshoryu, and the only newcomer, West Komusubi Daieisho.

The first mild surprise comes at M1e, where we find March runner-up, Takayasu. He deserves to be here “by the numbers”, but I thought that his edge was small enough that joi members Ichinojo and Kiribayama would be ranked at M1 ahead of him; as it is, they are half a rank lower than I predicted, at M1w and M2e, respectively. As expected, Kotonowaka is next at M2w.

Takayasu’s placement ahead of Ichinojo signals the theme of this banzuke. Whereas recently, and especially in March, preference was given to prior rank over record, sometimes to an unprecedented extent, this time the pattern is almost exactly the opposite, and this banzuke strongly favors over-promotion vs. under-demotion. Since my prediction tried to take the recent committee approach into account, this led to many disparities. In almost all cases, my prediction differs from the rankings by half a rank or a full rank, but there are a few eye-brow-raising exceptions.

It was a bit surprising to see M6e Hokutofuji (9-6) ranked at M3e, a full rank ahead of M4w Endo (8-7), who was in the joi; on any recent banzuke, this would have gone the other way. I’m also not sure why M1w Ura (4-11) took the M6e rank ahead of M9w Wakamotoharu (9-6), who deserved to be two full ranks above Ura, especially when this meant splitting Wakamotoharu from M9e Tobizaru (9-6), who occupies M5w.

Things get more puzzling in the lower maegashira ranks. How did M15w Tochinoshin (9-6) end up ahead of M7w Okinoumi (5-10) given equal projected ranks and an 8-rung difference in starting position? But the biggest surprise to me, and the biggest difference with my prediction, is promoting M16e Nishikigi (9-6) all the way up to M10w, ahead of M10w Aoiyama (7-8). Aoiyama deserved to be two ranks above Nishikigi, and the only rationale here appears to be a desire to make sure those with a 7-8 record experience at least some demotion, in sharp contrast with recent banzuke, which typically left them at their rank. Of course, even this wasn’t done consistently, with Yutakayama getting to stay at M14w, despite plenty of other options.

I could go on, but I’ll close with just a couple of other cases. M3w Meisei (1-14) and M5w Ishiura (2-7-6) deserved the same rank, yet the former finds himself at M13w and the latter at M16e, in what has to be the biggest snub on the banzuke and looks like a punishment for his withdrawal with a neck injury. In breaking another pattern, juryo promotees Oho and Azumaryu are placed above Ichiyamamoto, despite the fact that the latter got a winning record in Makuuchi. Finally, as many readers of the blog pointed out, the banzuke committee’s love for Kagayaki is undiminished, and so despite going 7-8 at M17, he gets to stay in the top division, with Chiyomaru dropping instead.

10 thoughts on “Natsu Banzuke Postmortem

  1. You knocked it out of the park again. I was surprised by the Hokutofuji/Endo swap but that was just the start of a pattern of 20 or so 1-rank misses on my end, with a few howlers (like Chiyoshoma and Okinoumi) thrown in for good measure.

  2. Did you guys see Kagayaki’s reaction upon seeing another strike of his “banzuke luck”? What a freak!
    Here’s a translation:

    “I don’t have 30 days and 30 nights to show you why all the sumo fans say there’s nothing finer than Kagayaki’s banzuke luck, but all I need is one night to have your wife call me for the rest of her life, the big banzuke luck daddy, so this goes to all my freaks out there, Big Banzuke Luck Kagayaki is your hook up!

    Holler if you hear me!!”

    • In March Makuuchi, there were 7 instances of rikishi next to each other on the banzuke having identical records (ex. Okinoumi > Chiyoshoma > Sadanoumi). This banzuke split 6 out of 7 of those pairings, the only one not split… Kagayaki! Hmm!

  3. All hail to the Banzuke committee. That said I was curious as to where Asanoyama had been dropped. He is at Makushita 42. He starts to fight again this May?

  4. There really is no honest way to explain Kagayaki staying in the top division with a losing record at M-17. With emphasis on the word “honest”.

    • 7-8 can stay at their rank. TBH, I think it comes down to how many promotion candidates there are.

  5. I had Takayasu, Hokutouji and Endo right and was correct in keeping Kagayaki up.

    There are good banzuke reasons to keep Kagayaki. He was just a demotable as Chiymoaru, but Chiyonokuni’s 5 wins at the same rank as Chiyomaru probably did the Eternal Sphere no favours. It looks more right to demote both of the Kokonoe wrestlers at that point.

    Also, Kagayaki has Nishikigi like luck.

  6. Unrelated to the Makuuchi, but does anyone know why Sandanme got reduced to 180 rikishi only? Pretty sure since I follow Sumo it has been down to Sandanme 100 (200 rikishi).

    • Not enough new recruits to keep jonidan/jonokuchi a decent size. Apparently it’s been changed in the past.

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