The banzuke for the November tournament has been posted. And, in what has to count as a big surprise, the committee actually went with four Komusubi. As discussed in my banzuke forecast, this follows the most recent closest precedent we had, all the way back in 2006, but deviates from recent practice of not creating extra slots unless there is no other choice. Moreover, the two new Komusubi are in what I would consider the “wrong” order, with M1e Hokutofuji (9-6) on the East side, and M2w Asanoyama (10-5) on the West. Usually, an extra win counts for more than a one-rank difference.
I did make (but didn’t post) a draft of the banzuke for the four-Komusubi scenario, and it was largely correct down to M10, with only Meisei ahead of Takarafuji and Kotoyuki ahead of Aoiyama differing from my prediction. Meisei and Takarafuji are two of the biggest beneficiaries of the extra san’yaku slots, getting promoted way higher than they otherwise would simply because there’s no one else available to fill those M2-M3 ranks. Enho (rising from M11 to M6) and Tsurugisho (M14 to M7) will be fighting at by far their highest career ranks. Shodai limits his demotion to M10, but it will still be his first tournament as a double-digit maegashira since he made his top-division debut at M12 at Hatsu 2016.
Below M10, placements got increasingly chaotic, as it was difficult simply to fill the available ranks without promoting make-koshi rikishi. As a result, Ishiura jumps four full ranks, from M15e to M11e, despite finishing with only an 8-7 record. I was surprised to see him ranked above Chiyotairyu and Ichinojo, and even more suprised to see Chiyotairyu ahead of Ichinojo, as he recorded only one more victory at three full ranks lower on the banzuke. Also oddly, Terutsuyoshi is ranked between Kagayaki and Nishikigi, despite the fact that the latter duo posted identical 6-9 records at M13e and M13w, respectively. The four promotions from Juryo (and the corresponding Makuuchi demotions) are as predicted, but Chiyomaru gets a very generous placement at M13e for someone who finished 8-7. Wakatakakage makes his top-division debut at the new lowest rank in Makuuchi, M16e, with M16w and M17e going away to compensate for the two extra san’yaku slots.
Why do rikishi care so much about getting to 8 wins? The four rikishi ranked 7-8 (M3w Tomokaze, M4e Tamawashi, M5w Ryuden, and M7w Kotoeko) got the most lenient treatment possible this time, keeping their Aki ranks for Kyushu. But the 8-7 quartet (Daieisho, Myogiryu, Sadanoumi, Ishiura) jumps anywhere between 2 and 4 ranks!
Do you have thoughts on the rankings? Let us know in the comments!