Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

After my preliminary look at what the May results mean for the July banzuke, I am going to take a shot at a more detailed banzuke prediction. These posts used to be a regular Tachiai feature, but I’ve been a bit remiss in writing them recently. In order to preserve some of the challenge for those who play Guess The Banzuke (GTB), I’ll point out the biggest question marks but won’t necessarily give my answers, at least in part because I haven’t made final decisions on some of them.

Methodology: Basic Banzuke Math

If you read my promotion/demotion posts, you often see me talking about where a rikishi should rank “by the numbers.” What do I mean? It’s not giving away any big secrets to note that banzuke movements in Makuuchi (aside from San’yaku) and Juryo roughly obey the following algorithm:

  1. Start with the rikishi’s current rank.
  2. Move the rikishi up a rank for every win, and down a rank for every loss. Or, equivalently, take the difference between the number of wins and losses and move the rikishi up or down by that number of ranks.

To give a concrete example, M4w Nishikigi (9-6) should move up 3 ranks, to M1w.

Now, if this were all there was to banzuke construction, we wouldn’t need a banzuke committee, and GTB wouldn’t be much of a game. The first problem, of course, is that we need to fill each rank with exactly one wrestler, whether or not anyone computes to that rank by the algorithm above. If you run the numbers on the current banzuke, you’ll find, for instance, that no one computes to M1e, while 3 wrestlers compute to M5e. The obvious first solution is to sort the rikishi by their computed ranks and place them on the banzuke in order, and this is basically what one does, but this still doesn’t resolve everything.

For starters, as we’ve already seen, there are ties. How do you rank-order M4e Ura (7-8), M6e Meisei (8-7), and M14e Asanoyama (12-3), who all compute to M5e? Also, a simple rank ordering can violate basic rules of banzuke construction, such as that a wrestler with a losing record should not be promoted (this problem often arises for those with 7-8 records). There are also questions about how to handle promotions/demotions for the San’yaku ranks and between Juryo and Makuuchi, what to do with extreme winning and losing records, etc. While some insights can be gleaned from past banzuke, there are no clear rules, and banzuke committee decisions can be inconsistent from one banzuke to the next and even for similar scenarios within a given banzuke, possibly in part due to subjective factors that outsiders aren’t privy to. This is the art of banzuke prediction, and the challenge of GTB.

The Named Ranks

This part is easy. Yusho winner Y1e Terunofuji (14-1) will maintain his rank as the sole (East) Yokozuna. Ozeki Takakeisho (8-7) will be joined at the rank by the newly promoted Kirishima (11-4). The other three Sekiwake—S1w Hoshoryu (11-4), S2e Daieisho (10-5), and S2w Wakamotoharu (10-5)—will remain at the third-highest rank and carry Ozeki runs into July. There are a couple of minor wrinkles in the exact placements here, which I will leave you to figure out on your own. At Komusubi, K1e Kotonowaka (8-7) will keep his rank, but absent K1w Wakatakakage and 6-9 K2e Shodai with lose theirs. There is one obvious candidate to fill the empty K1w slot: M1e Abi (8-7), who should be Komusubi by the numbers and is the highest maegashira by computed rank order.

The New Joi

These are the maegashira who fill out the top 16 round-robin along with the San’yaku ranks. Nominally, the joi will extend down to M4. These ranks should be occupied by the other two kachi-koshi survivors from the “zone of death”, M4w Nishikigi (9-6) and M3e Tobizaru (8-7), along with falling Shodai, M1w Midorifuji (6-9), and M4e Ura (7-8), rising M6 duo of Mitakeumi (9-6) and Meisei (8-7), and, last but not least, former Ozeki M14e Asanoyama (12-3), who should get a full tour of the named ranks next time. The order by the banzuke math would make the ranks M1e Nishikigi, M1w Tobizaru, M2e Shodai, M2w Mitakeumi, M3e Midorifuji, M3w-M4w Ura/Meisei/Asanoyama. Ura can’t rise above M4e, of course, so that probably leaves Meisei at M3w, and the only question is whether Ura keeps his rank with a 7-8 score or gets bumped down one spot by the much-lower ranked Asanoyama.


Here we hit a bit of a hole in the banzuke, as the falling rikishi yet to be placed had atrocious records, and there weren’t many winning scores in this part of the banzuke. Pulling up M9w Hiradoumi (9-6) to M5e is not too much of a stretch, but after that we should see some very lucky promotions. I don’t see a better candidate than M9e Onosho (8-7) for M5w, even though this is an over-promotion by 2.5 ranks. And M11e Hokuseiho (8-7) and M16w Oho (11-4) are the best remaining choices to occupy M6. M2e Takayasu’s late entry, which garnered him 3 wins, allows us to fill M7e by giving him a gentle demotion, after which we can stop the bleeding by keeping the 7-8 trio of M7w Tamawashi, M8e Sadanoumi, and M8w Takanosho at their ranks, and dropping M7e Hokutofuji (6-9) to M9e.

Bottom Half of the Maegashira Ranks

Everything to this point has been fairly clear-cut, aside from possible slight rearrangements. But now we have wrestlers with vastly different ranks and records vying for spots. Strictly by the math, Juryo champion J1e Gonoyama (14-1) should already have been placed, but the treatment of Asanoyama and Ichinojo suggests that promotions from Juryo never make it that high. We also have to decide where to slot in J1w Shonannoumi (11-4) and regulation co-leader J8w Ochiai (14-1), who will appear on the next banzuke under his new shikona Hakuoho. Among the incumbents, we have four rikishi with winning records still to place: M12w Kotoeko (8-7), M14w Myogiryu (9-6), M13e Chiyoshoma (8-7) and M15 Tsurugisho (9-6). Then there are the highly ranked rikishi without a lot of wins: M3w Nishikifuji (3-12), M5e Kinbozan (4-11), K1w Wakatakakage (0-0-15), M5w Kotoshoho (2-13), and M2w Endo (0-7-8). There’s also M11w Daishoho (6-9) and the M10 duo of Ryuden and Takarafuji, both 5-10. Finally, who gets the final two spots in the division? It’s between M12e Aoiyama (5-10), who won on the final day to be just safe by the numbers, and J8e Atamifuji (13-2) and J3e Bushozan (10-5), who’ve both done more than enough to earn promotion. Endo could technically be considered demotable, but this would be extremely unusual given his rank.

So how will this all shake out? Honestly, I have no idea, but here’s one possible draft:

9e Hokutofuji9w Kinbozan
10e Nishikifuji10w Wakatakakage
11e Myogiryu11w Kotoeko
12e Chiyoshoma12w Tsurugisho
13e Kotoshoho13w Endo
14e Gonoyama14w Daishoho
15e Ryuden 15w Takarafuji
16e Shonannoumi16w Ochiai
17e Aoiyama17w Atamifuji

Have a better idea? What do you think I got wrong, in big ways or small? Let me know in the comments!

Who Is Leaving Makuuchi?

M13w Ichinojo has retired. Ms16e Mitoryu (5-10) and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-11) will without a doubt be ranked in Juryo, and M17e Kagayaki (7-8) is all-but-certain to join them. We know that he’s benefited from extremely lenient treatment in the past, and it’s possible to survive with a borderline make-koshi from the last rank, especially with M17w reappearing on the next banzuke due to the shrinking San’yaku, but the promotion cases of Atamifuji and Bushozan ought to be strong enough to push down someone with a demotable record.

20 thoughts on “Nagoya Banzuke Crystal Ball

  1. Thanks for this great explanation of the banzuke mechanics.
    If one applied your maths strictly, Bushozan should also rise from Juryo and Endo should lose his place in Makuuchi. But I guess that wouldn’t consider that he was placed among the joi.
    In recent history similar results from similar positions usually resulted in a demotion of more than ten ranks but only once in a fall to Juryo: Kotoyuki fell from M3w to J1e after a 0-0-15 in Hatsu 2020.

    • Funnily enough in the basho before Hatsu 2020 Tomokaze had a 0-3-12 result and was also demoted from M3w to J1e…

      • At least on that banzuke the top division only went down to 16e, but when Kotoyuki fell, there was 17w. Hmm, maybe Endo is not as safe as I’m assuming.

        • It might all depend on how strong they see Bushozan‘s case. If he was to be promoted to Makuuchi, Endo could be the only one left with a demotable result by the maths. But that would be very bad banzuke luck indeed! And maybe even one of the deepest falls ever?

        • I’m inclined to say there’s a difference between Kotoyuki’s full kyujo and Endo’s 0-7-8.

          In addition, Kotoyuki was essentially exchanged with Sadogatake stablemate Kotonowaka at the time, and I’m always left wondering how much those types of cases really mean for others where that’s not a factor. One of the very few 0-0-15’s in juryo that went against the “always a demotion with any Ms top 5 KK waiting” grain was also like that, Shikoroyama-beya’s Homasho not getting sent down at the expense of stablemate Seiro after Haru 2013. It wouldn’t surprise me if these things are effectively the shisho’s call alone, the committee deferring to their judgement. (Caveat: Shikoroyama was actually on the banzuke committee at the time, Sadogatake was not.)

  2. Yaaay !!!
    Tachia’s Crystal ball Banzuke is back again !!

    I missed it a lot.
    I don’t know for other tachiai blog’s visitor, but for me, i always love reading these. Even if i am not the one making the prediction. It’s fun, amusing and interesting. Just for having an idea of who is going to “probably” be where on the next banzuke. (Because Iksumo is a god at banzuke prediction. I’m telling you, Iksumo it a real Kyokai elder ! ^_^ )

    I always also found it amusing to see and discovers how “close” Tachiai’s crystal ball was to the real banzuke when it come out. I found it like…a game. (Where there is no prize to win. Except for the amusement and satisfaction of seeing when we were right about something.)

    I hope Iksumo to see your Banzuke Crystal ball returning again in the future.

  3. Quick question. To be promoted to the rank of sekiwake, would a komusubi need eleven victories?

  4. Many thanks lksumo! Love these articles.
    (One day I will actually do my own entry for GTB…)

  5. Thanks very much for replying! And to follow up, could a maegashira “skip” the komusubi rank if they had enough wins in a basho and move up to sekiwake from the rank-and-file?

    • Wakatakakage did just that after Hatsu 2022, where he was a 9–6 East Maegashira 1. He went on to win the following Haru Basho as East Sekiwake 1.

      • Yeah it happens all the time. If there’s an open sekiwake slot, they’ll promote the best candidate by rank and record. There are actually wrestlers who held the sekiwake rank in their career but were never komusubi.

      • Abi got promoted to Sekiwake from Maegashira 6 at the same tournament…

    • Terunofuji got promoted to sekiwake from M2e with an 8-7, it can easily happen if the banzuke luck goes haywire.

      He then proceeded to pick up a 13-2JY and a 12-3Y and went directly to ozeki. And his second ozeki run started in his first match as a komusubi and ended two bashos later with an ozeki promotion. Terunofuji has made two successful ozeki runs with only five appearances in the lower sanyaku. Literally every time he fought in the K/S ranks was part of a successful ozeki run.

      Terunofuji is really, really good at sumo.

  6. I think Atamifuji may wind up at J-1E, though he could theoretically be exchanged for Aoiyama (or Endō-yikes!)

  7. Re: Endo… typically I am in the category of “they make the decisions by the numbers and that’s how it is” – with an extreme edge case like that, I do wonder if any of the committee has it in the back of their mind that in the current financial situation, it’s better to have him (and the sponsorship/kensho that he attracts) at M17W than J1E?

    I was at Kokugikan the other day and it was actually a bit shocking how many more Endo adverts there were on the hallway walls than I remembered. I’m not even sure Nagatanien was the only one buying them up.

    • If Endo keeps losing the decision for which division he’ll be in will be obvious. The main problem might not be injuries. Endo is getting older and there is a glut of talented, hungry, young rikishi who want to move up in ranks. He’s been on “cruise control” for a while now and that might have caught up with him.

      • This is a rather odd take about a guy who was ranked M2 and left the basho due to injury. “If he keeps losing”, what?


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