The official November rankings are out! Let’s see how they compare to the Crystal Ball. TLDR: No big surprises.
Yokozuna, Ozeki, and Sekiwake
There are no surprises in the top three ranks. Terunofuji, the sole Yokozuna, occupies Y1e for the 7th straight time, although he is all but certain to miss the basho after his recent knee surgery. Takakeisho is the top-ranked East Ozeki, and he is joined on the West side by Shodai, who needs 8 wins to keep his rank. Mitakeumi fell to Sekiwake, and as is traditional for a demoted Ozeki, he is in the lowest spot at that rank, which, to balance Terunofuji on the banzuke, is S2w. He has a one-time opportunity to regain Ozeki with 10 wins at Kyushu. The regular East and West Sekiwake slots continue to be occupied by Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu, respectively, as they both finished Aki with winning records.
And as predicted, there are four Komusubi: Tamawashi, Kiribayama, Tobizaru, and Daieisho. The only thing the Crystal Ball got wrong is the order of Tamawashi and Kiribayama.
This is the first time that the “Christmas tree” banzuke pattern of 1 Y, 2 O, 3 S and 4 K has ever happened. The last time lower san’yaku contained 7 rikishi was 1992, with 4 S and 3 K. You have to go back even further, to 1974, to find 3 S and 4 K, with only one other instance in 1960. In all, 7 S/K has happened only 7 times, and it has been exceeded on only one occasion, when a 4-basho stretch in 1962 featured 4 Sekiwake and 4 Komusubi.
At the crowded top of the rankings, Aki runner-up Takayasu indeed got the M1e slot. M2e Kotonowaka, M2w Meisei (8-7), and M3w Ura each posted 8 wins at Aki and all move up by half a rank. What surprised me is that M1w Midorifuji (7-8) got a demotion by two full ranks to M3w so that falling Komusubi Ichinojo (6-9) could only drop to M2w; such a harsh demotion at his rank has only happened once before in … wait for it … 1770.
We knew that a wildcard in the middle of the rankings was the placement of Abi, who missed the entire Aki basho while ranked at Komusubi. The Crystal Ball placed him at M10w, while the banzuke committee went with one rank higher. What I did not expect was to see Takarafuji, who went 5-10 at M5e, drop only 3 ranks to M8e, where I had placed M10w Takanosho (8-7). The math favors Takanosho, and Takarafuji wasn’t in the joi, so I have to wonder if the fact that he is in Isegahama beya played a role here.
The Crystal Ball got this exactly right (in fact, it was spot-on for all ranks M11-M16). It was clear that Tsurugisho, Yutakayama, and Mitoryu had to go down, and that their places in the top division would go to Azumaryu, Kagayaki, and Atamifuji. And as predicted, Terutsuyoshi and Hiradoumi just hung on to M16e and M16w, with Tohakuryu having to settle for the top rank in Juryo.
Overall, the Crystal Ball placed 30 rikishi at the exact spot on the banzuke, and 5 more at the right rank but on the wrong side. Of the 7 misses, two were by half a rank, four by one rank, and one (Ichinojo, whom I had foolishly bumped down to M4e) by a rank and a half. I am happy with that prognostication accuracy.
Now, on to the basho!
10 thoughts on “Kyushu Banzuke Released!”
I am wondering if Midorifuji’s placement is a “prove you can stay here, Buddy” situation since he’s a newcomer to the top of the banzuke. Everyone else around those ranks has either been around that level for awhile and/or had a winning record. So, that ideology would make sense if someone had to “lose” when decisions were being made.
I think it’s sanyaku privilege for Ichinojo, but who knows how the discussion went.
The combination of Ichinojō’s 6-9 (K-2E) with Ura’s 8-7 (M-3W) and Midorifuji’s 7-8 (M-1W) was a little tricky to navigate. I’m surprised I picked that sequence out myself…
I’ve been trying to find any hint of a “strength of schedule” bias for Midorifuji’s demotion but can’t find anything. No fusen wins. He beat an Ozeki (yeah, it was Shodai) and a Sekiwake. Maybe there was something me misbehavior that’s being handled quietly? I mean 1770 is a long time.
I think they just really didn’t want to move Ichinojo any lower…maybe the fact that there was a K2 rank below him played into it.
Very impressive work by lksumo! If I were a betting man, I might start betting the farm on his prognostications.
With respect to Takarafuji, might be worth someone running the numbers on these types of situations (which is in itself a little anecdotal), but I’m curious how many times the scenarios that you describe end up favouring the senior rikishi.
This is just quasi-ignorant conjecture but in a cultural sense I do wonder whether privilege is given to the senior rikishi in a situation that’s regarded as a toss-up, especially since banzuke placement is something that can over the longer term prolong a declining veteran’s career by an extra basho or two (which is useful in a kabu shortage). In how many of those edge cases do we see the junior rikishi get the higher placement?
That’s obviously a bit of a conspiracy theory in an of itself but I might find it easier to believe than Takarafuji getting favouritism off the head of the committee for being in the heya, or Isegahama finding some kind of compromise where Takarafuji gets good treatment in exchange for Midorifuji’s harsh demotion to spare Ichinojo.
That crystal ball for this banzuke was incredibly spot on ! It’s astonishing. Congratulation !!!
I STILL think your an ex-rikishi!!!
Well done Sir!
I think this is the first time in a long time (certainly since I started watching sumo ~5 years ago), that one heya has 6 rikishi in the top division. Well done Papafuji!