Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

The Crystal Ball is back to try to guess the banzuke before the real thing is released a week from today. I took a look at some of the key points in crafting the July banzuke right after the May tournament concluded; here I post my forecast for all the top-division rankings.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the only changes in the named ranks should be some reshuffles. May champion Terunofuji will continue to be the sole Yokozuna, the Ozeki order will change to Takakeisho, Mitakeumi, Shodai based on the May results, East Sekiwake Wakatakakage and East Komusubi Hoshoryu will keep their ranks, while West Sekiwake Abi and West Komusubi Daieisho will trade spots.

Despite the logjam at the top of the maegashira ranks, I am not predicting the creation of any extra san’yaku slots. Although these are frequently speculated about by fans, they have been used very sparingly post-2006, when the shimpan department seems to have changed its approach. Extra Komusubi slots have been used on just two occasions, involving a 9-6 M1e and a 13-2 M1w with nowhere else to go, while extra Sekiwake slots have been given either to demoted Ozeki or to Komusubi with 11+ wins.

The maegashira rankings actually arrange themselves fairly clearly this time except near the top and near the bottom. Here’s my guess; scroll down for my take on those two problem areas below.

The first question is what to do with the top 4 rikishi. Kiribayama, Takanosho, and Kotonowaka all need to be promoted, and they should be ranked in that order based on their performances. The only way to accomplish this is to move Ichinojo, who sat out the basho due to COVID protocols, down a rank. Such a demotion is unprecedented in Makuuchi, but it has been used in Juryo to deal with a logjam near the top of the rankings, and Isegahama has said in the past that the rank freeze is not a hard-and-fast rule and COVID kyujo would be handled on a case-by-case basis to ensure fairness. This seems like just such an occasion. The other solution is to flip Takanosho and Ichinojo; this would place Takanosho behind Kotonowaka and give him only a 2-rank promotion as a reward for an 11-4 record, but something almost as unfair happened to Onosho just two basho ago.

After that, the rankings largely fall into place down to M14e, aside from potential half-rank swaps. I’ve given the aforementioned Onosho (2-4-9 at M5e) the M14w slot, despite Ishiura receiving harsher treatment in a very similar situation last time. After that, I have the top promotion candidate from Juryo, Tsurugisho, followed by the last barely surviving incumbents, Oho and Yutakayama. I’ve placed my remaining predicted promotion candidates—Chiyomaru, Daiamami, and Nishikifuji—in the final 3 slots. I had Daiamami and Nishikifuji in Makuuchi, with Hidenoumi and Ryuden narrowly missing out, even before Herouth’s tip that Nishikifuji is listed in the top division on the Isegahama beya wall. Of course, it’s still possible that one or both of Hidenoumi and Ryuden could make it, either in place of Daiamami or by forcing down Yutakayama and possibly Oho. Really, nothing in this section of the banzuke would surprise me.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and come back in a week to see how the Crystal Ball fares compared to what the banzuke committee has cooked up.

14 thoughts on “Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

    • Assuming my guess is correct on juryo promotions, Ryuden should be up in September with 8-9 wins in July. Hoping for Sho 🤞🏻

  1. Demoting Ichinojo makes the situation with Takanosho and Kotonowaka more acceptable. With 11 wins at M4, NOT making it to M1 or higher would be a huge snub…if not unprecedented. Then Kotonowaka not moving at all with 9 wins would be another snub. That’s one reason I started thinking an extra Komusubi slot may open but I don’t see how Takanosho could leapfrog Kiribayama.

    My banzuke made the mistake of accidentally promoting Shimanoumi. Other than that, my guess is very close to yours until the bottom of the maegashira. I’m eager to see how it shakes out.

    • Yeah Hokutofuji went from M4e to M1e after an 11-4 recently, but anything below M1 would be unprecedented—not that 11 wins at M4 has happened very many times. I think if they were interested in creating extra komusubi, they’d have to make two of them. All the guesses that have been posted so far are quite similar; not a lot of room for argument at most of the ranks.

  2. That’s my helper sheet, isn’t it? XD

    We have exact matches for M6-M10, but I have a lot of switcheroos with trios of rikishi which means that we have a lot of guesses in the right zone but in the wrong order. I considered Wakamotoharu had a stronger record than Ura because of his non-kyūjō, and I have the Isegahama trio swapped around as Terutsuyoshi, Takarafuji, and Midorifuji instead.

    The other bone of contention is the jūryō promotees: I have Hidenoumi instead of Daiamami on the logic that the yūshō is a differentiating factor to justify promoting a J6w, and Ōhō and Yutakayama are the makujiri instead.

    39 points overlap with yours, including the sanyaku.

  3. As Kiribayama, Takanosho, Kotonowaka, Ichinojo and Tamawashi would all be ranked too low with your solution, I hope and guess there will be one more sanyaku rikishi. And to make it even more fun: why not move up Hoshoryu one step?

  4. I don’t usually mention Sumo but for some reason I now forget I casually mentioned it to my friend a couple of weeks ago. He knows nothing of Sumo other than that overweight men in loin-cloths wrestle. He then asked me whether there was any difference in ability between the rikishi. That took me aback and made my jaw drop for it was to me as if one were to ask whether there were any difference in ability as between say ManU and some third division outfit. My friend and despite his lack of interest in soccer would surely never assume that. I had to put my friend right despite his indifference.

    The mention above of Ryuden and his troubles of course as he works his was back up the banzukes would have been a perfect way of showing to someone who assumed all wrestlers were equally talentless blobs of fat that such is not the case. Perhaps I should tell my friend about Asanoyama.

  5. Apart from an east-west flip at M4 my maegashira rankings are identical down to M10e. After that things diverge pretty drastically, probably because, as usual, I have placed the juryo promotees a little too high. We shall see…

  6. A few observations:

    1) This July tournament will mark exactly 51 years that I’ve been a fan and watching sumo. Man, where did the time go?
    2) Thank you guys for the Crystal Ball! Always interesting and a good read.
    3) Glad to see that we’re FINALLY rid of Kagayaki
    4) It’s a pity that Ryuden imploded in week 2 and most likely will not be back in Makuuchi
    5) Oho will hang on for one more tournament, unfortunate. He’s really not that good and his sumo skills at the moment are limited.
    6) Prediction: Some how, some way, Shodai will miraculously keep his Ozeki rank and post 8 or 9 wins. I know I’m harsh on the guy and one of his few detractors on this site but he has no business being an Ozeki and is an all around embarrassment to the rank.
    7) Mitakeumi is in a tough spot. Speaking from experience, shoulder injuries do not heal quickly and are easily reaggregated which would explain his limited keiko action right now.
    8) It’s time now for Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu to really up their game. I believe they are the future of the Ozeki rank at a minimum and both are potential Yokozuna in the making. I’ve given up on Ichinojo as the Big Itch seems content to yo-yo up and down the banzuke and collect a paycheck.
    9) It was nice to see Tochinoshin put together back-to-back kachi-koshi basho
    10) Lastly, unless a train hits him I suspect we’ll see Asanoyama back in Makuuchi by this time next year

  7. Wow – this sure looks like a very tough Banzuke!

    I always look forward to your prognostications! You always mention things that I forget to remember that may or may not be considered. I still think there are a few rikishi that should have been on that Juryo barge a LONG time ago!!!

    Thank you!


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