Aki banzuke crystal ball


My Nagoya banzuke predictions turned out to be reasonably accurate. This last basho created quite a mess, and a less predictable banzuke––I don’t envy the guys who have to make the real thing, which we will get to see on August 28. I’m going to take a crack at it anyway.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu
O1 Takayasu Goeido
O2 Terunofuji  

No change in the Yokozuna pecking order after Nagoya. The real question is whether we will have more than one Yokozuna start, much less finish, the next basho. Takayasu takes over the top Ozeki spot after putting up the only reasonably solid Ozeki performance at Nagoya. Goeido and Terunofuji are both kadoban, and I hope Terunofuji can recover from his persistent injuries.

Lower San’yaku

Usually, this part of the banzuke is relatively predictable. Not so this time. Kotoshogiku drops out of San’yaku for the first time since 2010. The only certainties are that Mitakeumi will hold the S1e slot, and that Yoshikaze will remain in San’yaku after going 9-6 at Komusubi. Otherwise, there’s quite a logjam for the remaining slots, and a lot of uncertainty as to who will end up where. The contenders:

Tamawashi, who went 7-8 at Sekiwake and will drop at least to Komusubi after four tournaments at the higher rank.

Tochiozan, who had a great tournament at 12-3 as maegashira 5, defeating an Ozeki and both Sekiwake along the way.

Aoiyama, the Jun-Yusho and special prize winner, who went an amazing 13-2 as maegashira 8, but didn’t beat or even fight anyone of note until his defeat of a fading Yoshikaze on the final day.

Tochinoshin, who more than held his own in the meat grinder as maegashira 2, fighting all the big guns and defeating a Yokozuna, an Ozeki, both Sekiwake and a Komusubi on his way to a 9-6 record.

By the numbers, I would rank-order the 5 contenders for the 3 slots behind Mitakeumi as  Tochiozan, Yoshikaze, Aoiyama, Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, placing Tochiozan in the S1w slot, Yoshikaze and Aoiyama in the Komusubi slots, and leaving Tochinoshin and Tamawashi out in the cold. However, being in San’yaku confers certain privileges: Yoshikaze probably gets first dibs on the Sekiwake slot, and Tamawashi is unlikely to drop lower than Komusubi despite coming in last on the list above. Judging by past history, none of the performances were sufficiently strong to “force” the creation of extra San’yaku slots. So I’m going to go with the prediction below, much as it pains me to leave out Tochinoshin.

S Mitakeumi Yoshikaze
K Tochiozan Tamawashi

The Meat Grinder

I’m going to include the M1-M4e ranks here. Along with the San’yaku, this group makes up the “joi” or upper ranks, and regularly faces San’yaku competition (as we saw in Nagoya, the exact “joi” boundary is fuzzy, and changes during the tournament after withdrawals and, to some extent, based on performances to that point).

The meat grinder ranks actually acquitted themselves relatively well in Nagoya, unlike the disasters of the previous two basho. Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji both earned their kachi-koshi, and each deserves to be one rank higher up the banzuke, but there isn’t room. Onosho should find himself at M3 after two extremely impressive 10-5 tournaments following his Makuuchi debut. He seems unintimidated by anyone, and may hold his own despite his lack of experience. Chiyotairyu and Shohozan put up the only other solid records in the mid-maegashira ranks, and find themselves vaulting up the banzuke from M10.

M1 Tochinoshin Aoiyama
M2 Hokutofuji Kotoshogiku
M3 Onosho Chiyotairyu
M4 Shohozan


The rest of Makuuchi was a mess of of make-koshi records, ranging from bad to worse, and some weak kachi-koshi performances among the lower ranks. This makes it difficult to come up with a fair and consistent rank order. Rikishi with 7-8 records in a weak field are especially hard to place, as their computed rank may suggest a promotion, which as far as I know is never done for kachi-koshi records. One can start by dividing the rikishi into groups of similar projected rank, and then worry about the order within each group.

Group 1, M4w-M5w: Ura, Shodai, Takakeisho.

Everyone’s favorite Ura managed a 7-8 record at M4e despite being thrown into the meat grinder prematurely and getting injured as a result. Shodai and Takakeisho each went 5-10 at M1. It would be reasonable either to place Ura at M4w, with the other two at M5, or to flip this order. Given that Ura went make-koshi, that he was under-ranked last basho, and that Shodai tends to get over-ranked, I have a feeling NSK will do the latter, despite Ura’s slightly higher computed rank.

Group 2, M6: Ichinojo, Kagayaki.

Ichinojo put up another lackluster performance, going 7-8. He should drop in rank, but there are no other reasonable contenders for M6e. Kagayaki has the best claim of the rest to M6w.

Group 3, M7-M9: Ishiura, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Takanoiwa, Chiyonokuni, Takarafuji.

A mix of poor records higher up the banzuke and better records quite far down the banzuke. Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, and Takanoiwa deserve bigger drops in rank, but Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji did not earn this much of a promotion. Ishiura actually has the best computed rank, and deserves the M7e slot, but since he went make-koshi (7-8) at M8w, he can’t be ranked any higher than that. The main question in this group is whether to place him at M8w, or move him below the two kachi-koshi guys, Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji. As with Ura, I’m opting for the lower rank.

Group 4, M10: Arawashi, Takekaze.

This is straightforward: M12 guys both went 8-7 and move up to M10.

Group 5, M11-M12: Daieisho, Chiyomaru, Daishomaru, Kaisei.

This order drops Daishomaru (M11w, 7-8) below Chiyomaru (M15w, 9-6), but keeps him above Kaisei, the top Juryo escapee.

M4 Shodai
M5 Takakeisho Ura
M6 Ichinojo Kagayaki
M7 Ikioi Chiyoshoma
M8 Takanoiwa Chiyonokuni
M9 Takarafuji Ishiura
M10 Arawashi Takekaze
M11 Daieisho Chiyomaru
M12 Daishomaru Kaisei

Lower maegashira, promotions, and demotions

Sadanoumi and Nishigiki earned Makuuchi stays by going kachi-koshi. Endo and Okinoumi suffer big drops but should be safe. Gagamaru earned a quick return to Juryo and should fall far down the Juryo banzuke, while Kotoyuki also definitely earned a demotion. Yutakayama and Asanoyama should definitely join Kaisei in Makuuchi, one of them at the expense of Sokokurai. This would mark a Makuuchi debut for Asanoyama. I think that Myogiryu will claim the last promotion slot, which will be vacated by Tokushoryu, and that Aminishiki will just miss out on promotion.

M13 Sadanoumi Endo
M14 Okinoumi Nishikigi
M15 Yutakayama Asanoyama
M16 Myogiryu
J1 Aminishiki Tokushoryu
J2 Sokokurai

Aki Juryo banzuke forecast

The promotions from Makushita to Juryo have been announced, and four rikishi will be moving up: Kizenryu, Kataharima, Daiseido, and the yusho winner Yago. Using highly complex mathematical algorithms and hours of CPU time, I have determined that this means that four guys will also be dropping out of Juryo, losing their sekitori status and going back to doing stable chores. It’s not hard to see that based on the Nagoya results, these four will be Satoyama, Rikishin, Tobizaru, and Kitataiki.

When I posted my Makuuchi banzuke forecast for Nagoya, Josh asked if the same prediction system would work for Juryo. The answer is largely yes (see the caveats below), so here is that forecast for Aki.

  East West
J1 Aminishiki Tokushoryu
J2 Sokokurai Daiamami
J3 Azumaryu Kotoyuki
J4 Toyohibiki Kyokutaisei
J5 Ryuden Kyokushuho
J6 Yamaguchi Hidenoumi
J7 Homarefuji Amakaze
J8 Kotoeko Tsurugisho
J9 Meisei Gagamaru
J10 Chiyoo Osunaarashi
J11 Chiyootori Kataharima
J12 Yago Seiro
J13 Terutsuyoshi Abi
J14 Kizenryu Daiseido

In red are the Makuuchi guys dropping down to Juryo, while the guys coming up from Makushita are in green. I still don’t see the logic in the Kaisei/Gagamaru swap for Nagoya, and Gagamaru would likely have ended up in a better spot for Aki had he stayed in Juryo.

Now the aforementioned caveats. I don’t have a great sense for how to place the newly promoted sekitori relative to either each other or the holdovers. Comments welcome.

At the top, J4e Myogiryu and J4w Aminishiki have nearly identical cases for promotion with 10-5 records. They should both be promotable over Tokushoryu, and there isn’t a great case to be made for demoting anyone else to Juryo. I opted for the by-the-numbers scenario of promoting Myogiryu and leaving Aminishiki at J1e, where he can hopefully get his kachi koshi at Aki to essentially guarantee promotion. The NSK could leave them both in Juryo and keep Tokushoryu (or, less likely, Sokokurai) in Makuuchi. Alternatively, they could demote Endo or Okinoumi and bring them both up, though this would be harsh and seems unlikely.

Sumo forum

A very short post while we are dealing with sumo withdrawal symptoms 🙂 I’m guessing many regular readers of Tachiai are aware of the sumo forum. For those who are not, I’d like to draw their attention to this masterful update on likely post-Nagoya promotions and demotions by our frequent commenter Asashosakari. This is the latest in a must-read series of posts during the latter stages of each basho.


Nagoya senshuraku update (spoilers)

Yesterday, I previewed the rikishi who had something to fight for on the last day. How did they do?

Hakuho: never a doubt! How did he ever lose to Mitakeumi?

Goeido, desperate for a win, was easily handled by “no gifts” Takayasu, who finally had his game face on again.

Tamawashi, desperate for a win, also seems to have lost his mojo, and will drop from his Sekiwake rank after 4 basho, and possibly (likely?) out of san’yaku altogether. He lost to Tochiozan, who should by all rights find himself in san’yaku, but as discussed in my previous post, there’s quite a logjam.

Mitakeumi beat Onosho in the battle for a special prize. Mitakeumi moves over to the East side, and Onosho joins the joi.

Aoiyama did what he needed to do, but so did Hakuho. If the schedulers have a sense of humor, these two will face each other on day 1 at Aki. Aoiyama joins the san’yaku hopefuls logjam. Yoshikaze is guaranteed a san’yaku slot, along with Mitakeumi, and most probably moves up to Sekiwake.

Tochinoshin’s loss may improbably keep him out of san’yaku despite an extremely impressive tournament at M2. Ichinojo reverted to poor form and missed a golden opportunity to move up from the mid-maegashira ranks. Ura broke his losing streak and should more or less keep his rank. M10e Chiyotairyu and M10w Shohozan both improved to 10-5 and will float way up the banzuke. Finally, Tokushoryu lost the “winner stays in Makuuchi” playoff to Nishikigi.

First peek at the likely Aki banzuke

This assumes no retirements.

Yokozuna ranks: no change. Hakuho 1e, Harumafuji 1w, Kisenosato 2e, Kakaryu 2w.

Ozeki ranks: “No gifts” Takayasu 1e, kadoban twin #1 Goeido 1w, kadoban twin #2 Terunofuji 2e.

Sekiwake: special prize winner Mitakeumi 1e, “extracurriculars” Yoshikaze 1w.

Komusubi: Tochiozan 1e/ “The Mountain” Aoiyama 1w.

I don’t think they’ll do it, but by the numbers alone, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Tochiozan to jump over Yoshikaze for the Sekiwake slot.

Conveniently, there are exactly 5 good candidates to round out the “joi for sure” ranks, M1e-M3e: Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, KotoshogikuHokutofuji, and Onosho. Yes, I do see Tamawashi falling all the way out of san’yaku alongside Kotoshogiku. Tochiozan and Aoiyama’s cases for promotion are just too strong to ignore. This is certainly controversial, as 7-8 Sekiwake have tended to only be demoted to Komusubi. So is jumping Tochiozan and Aoiyama ahead of Tochinoshin, who accumulated a less shiny record against a much tougher schedule. Will there be one open san’yaku slot or two, and who will fill them? This is much less straightforward for Aki than it usually is, and the banzuke may be less “by the numbers.”

From there, it’s slim pickings, with the next 3, quite likely to be pressed into at least some joi duty again given recent history, being Chiyotairyu and Shohozan, all the way up from M10, and everyone’s favorite new face, Ura, probably just moving over to the West side at M4w.

Down at the other end of the banzuke, Kaisei will be back in Makuuchi, and may jump as high as M12. He should be joined by Yutakayama, Asanoyama, and Myogiryu, with Aminishiki just missing out on promotion, who should be joined at the top of Juryo by the yusho winner Daiamami. I’m looking forward to Asanoyama’s Makuuchi debut. Dropping down to Juryo to make room should be Tokushoryu, Sokokurai, Kotoyuki, and  Gagamaru.

I’ll post full banzuke predictions for Makuuchi and Juryo as we get closer to Aki.

Nagoya—what’s on the line on senshuraku

One day left!

Hakuho wins his 39th yusho with a win over Harumafuji, an Aoiyama loss, or a playoff win over Aoiyama.

Harumafuji is playing spoiler/fighting for Yokozuna pride.

Goeido is facing Takayasu with kadoban status on the line. Will Takayasu take it easy, or fight for Ozeki pride?

Tamawashi faces Tochiozan with his Sekiwake rank on the line. Tochiozan is first in line for the Komusubi slot vacated by Kotoshogiku but needs a win to lock it down, so there’s plenty of incentive on both sides.

Mitakeumi faces Onosho. Not too much on the line for either guy: Mitakeumi has defended his Sekiwake rank, isn’t starting an Ozeki run, and can at best move to the East side. Onosho probably can’t jump Tochiozan, Tochinoshin, and Aoiyama for a san’yaku slot, and may have already have locked down a special prize for the second basho in a row. Still, I expect a spirited battle between these two.

Aoiyama finally draws a real opponent in Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze has defended his Komusubi rank, and should move up to Sekiwake with a Tamawashi loss. Aoiyama will likely be at M1 in Aki win or lose, but obviously has lots of incentive to win.

If Tamawashi loses, he may drop all the way out of san’yaku, with Yoshikaze taking his place and opening up a second Komusubi slot. This slot would be Tochinoshin’s to lose, although Aoiyama is a contender win a win.

Kotoshogiku will complete his fall into the upper maegashira ranks, if he doesn’t retire. Of those not already mentioned, only Hokutofuji has earned a place in the joi. This still leaves some upper maegashira ranks to fill, and the best contenders are Ura (despite the losing streak), Ichinojo (who can still get his kachi koshi against Sadanoumi tomorrow), Chiyotairyu, and Shohozan.

Sokokurai looks Juryo-bound, with Asanoyama and Yutakayama currently on track to join Kaisei in promotion to Makuuchi. Tokushoryu and Nishikigi are on the bubble, and fight each other, with Myogiryu and Aminishiki vying to displace the loser in Makuuchi. How cool would it be to see Aminishiki back in the top division at age 38, after more than a year in Juryo?

Nagoya—who’s fighting for what with 2 days to go

Here’s where we are after day 13.

Hakuho still leads the yusho race with one loss. Aoiyama, despite stepping out first, got the decision today and is one loss back. Inexplicably, the schedulers have not brought him up to fight tougher opposition on day 14—he gets M12 Takekaze. Harumafuji and Tochiozan are still mathematically in it with 3 losses each.

Goeido still needs a win to avoid kadoban status, though with the way Takayasu is fighting, this now seems easier than it did a couple of days ago. Takayasu seems happy to rest on his kachi koshi.

Tamawashi is in real trouble, and needs to win out to stay at Sekiwake. Ura in his current state shouldn’t be too much of a challenge tomorrow, though he’s nothing if not unpredictable. The day 15 opponent (Tochiozan?) should provide a stiffer challenge.

Mitakeumi now needs to win out (again Tochiozan tomorrow and perhaps Onosho Sunday) to barely initiate an Ozeki run.

Yoshikaze needs to win out to control his destiny for a Sekiwake slot without having to depend on Tamawashi losing. He has Onosho and (likely) Ura.

Kotoshogiku needs to win out to stay in san’yaku; Tochinoshin should pose a stiff challenge tomorrow, as would Hokutofuji on Sunday.

If a san’yaku slot or two open up, Tochiozan is in the pole position, followed by Tochinoshin and Aoiyama, with Hokutofuhi and Onosho within striking distance. Other than these 5, it’s slim pickings for the upper maegashira ranks at Aki; amazingly, the M10 pair of Chiotairyu and Shohozan are the next-highest-ranked rikishi to make kachi koshi or even have a winning record, although Ura, Ichinojo, and Ishiura can still get there by winning out.

Kotoyuki and Gagamaru are headed down to Juryo, Kaisei is headed back up, and as of now Asanoyama would join him. Several others down in Juryo may end up promotion-worthy, but will slots be opened up for them through demotion? Sokokurai probably needs to win out to avoid demotion, and Tokushoryu, Okinoumi, and Nishikigi probably need a win; none have easy match-ups on day 14.