Nagoya Banzuke Postmortem

Refreshments at the banzuke meeting, probably

By popular demand, let’s take a look at the July banzuke and how the Crystal Ball fared (spoiler: not very well). It started off strongly, getting the first 11 slots, covering the named ranks and M1, exactly right. This wasn’t exactly challenging though—most of these ranks were set in stone. At the ones that weren’t, Terunofuji’s ranking as the top Ozeki, leapfrogging the previously higher-ranked Takakeisho, confirmed the primacy of a head-to-head playoff win. Meisei, making his san’yaku debut, got the nod over Endo for the West Komusubi rank, and the incumbent Daieisho only dropped one rank to M1w after posting a 6-9 record.

I was mildly surprised to see Takanosho, 5-10 at S1w, ranked just ahead of Ichinojo (9-6 at M6w), but both men are at M2, as predicted. And the streak of correct predictions ends with Hokutofuji, who was a lock for M3e. The biggest shock came at the next position, M3w, where we find Tobizaru dropping only a single rank after going 5-10. A demotion of this leniency is virtually unprecedented. I looked at the hundreds of cases of 5-10 records in the M1-M5 ranks during the 6-basho era, and could find only a single comparable instance, back in 1967, when someone was demoted from M3e to M4e. Moreover, the banzuke committee was by no means forced into this choice—they had to over-promote Kotoeko and either Okinoumi or Chiyotairyu anyway, and it would have been much more palatable to place them ahead of Tobizaru.

The next surprise to me was the decision to dramatically over-promote all three of Kotoeko, Okinoumi, and Chiyotairyu, when only two of these were forced. I get the point about trying to treat them similarly, but none of them even remotely deserved to be ahead of Hoshoryu and Onosho, who should have retained their ranks after posting 7-8 records, as has been the custom recently and as happened lower down on this banzuke with Tamawashi and Terutsuyoshi. In a similar vein, why in the world did they feel compelled to promote Chiyoshoma 4 full ranks after an 8-7 performance, pushing down 7-8 Takarafuji in the process?

The Crystal Ball also missed Chiyomaru’s ranking by a whopping 2.5 ranks, although this is probably my fault for placing a kachi-koshi top-division rikishi below the promotions from Juryo, even if Ura deserved to be promoted 5 full ranks ahead of Chiyomaru “by the numbers.” And in a final surprise, I had Yutakayama claiming the last promotion slot instead of Ichiyamamoto. Getting to Makuuchi with an 8-7 record from J4 is rare, but not as rare as doing so from J8 with a 10-5, and on top of this, Yutakayama should have gotten the benefit of the doubt by virtue of his considerable top-division experience.

Overall, the Crystal Ball got only 17 of the 42 ranks exactly right, and placed an additional 11 rikishi at the correct rank but on the wrong side—one of my worst performances of the last two years. Of the 14 misses, 7 were by half a rank (if we count M17e/J1e), 4 by one rank, and 3 by more than a rank—the aforementioned Chiyotairyu and Chiyomaru, as well as Tokushoryu. Hopefully, some of this analysis will improve future banzuke predictions, but some of the misses can only be chalked up to the banzuke committee departing from both historical precedent and internal consistency. I often think how different things might be if they had to publicly justify their decisions, as is the case in most other contemporary sports.

An IT Project Manager’s Worst Nightmare…the Next Day Update

Oops. I forgot to include a brilliant feature that my wife had mentioned to me. It is actually that brilliant, so I’m not going to wait a week or so to implement the update. What has me so eager to get this update out early? Well, I added the websites, Instagram, and Twitter pages of all of the stables that I could find. I also included the official profile pages at Cool, no?

How to find it on the visualization?

Example: Naruto-beya website list

Step 1: Mouseover Points on Map

Find the stable you want to learn more about. You can either just randomly mouseover points on the map, or find the name of the one you’re searching for in the table. If you mouseover the stable in the table, it will highlight the corresponding point on the map (and the block in the visualization).

Step 2: Click on a Point on Map

When you find the stable you want, click on the map point. When you do that, the website links will appear below the dotted line in the Tool Tip (pop-up box). Now, you can just click on any of the links and it should take you right to that page. The “ Profile” has a lot of great information, including lists of wrestlers and staff.

I need to caveat this with the fact that I do not have a source for how I call these “official” pages for the stables. It’s based off my own judgement. In a few places, the pages seem to be rather inactive. If they were inactive for long periods or I couldn’t be confident that it was the official page, I left it off. If it seemed like it may be a fan page or just a zombie, I did not include it. That said, if you see any errors, let me know in the comments. If you know of any official pages that I have not listed, put it in the comments.

I’ve not finished going through the Facebook or Line pages yet. I plan to add those in the future. The Line page would be a QR code instead of a link. I’m not sure if I’ll add that…it may look weird but I need to get a list of those first. Again, to prevent your browser from loading the Tableau dashboard automatically, I have put it after the “more” link below. There’s also a menu item in the main menu above. Or you can click on this link.

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Oitekaze Beya’s No Good, Very Bad May

Feel free to play with the visualization.

I updated the Heya visualization. Along with a map of the stables, it’s got a table of various metrics. One key metric is the “Kachi Koshi Ratio” for the May tournament. The table at the bottom has the raw numbers. But in the visualization, we see that Makuuchi Powerhouse Oitekaze stable had a terrible tournament and lies near the bottom with a .25. Only two small stables, Kagamiyama and Kataonami had a lower ratio (0). The darkest purples come from another small stable, Nishikido. Among the bigger stables, Mitakeumi’s Dewanoumi (.6875) and Kasugano (Aoiyama/Tochinoshin) did better than .6667.

Inspired by Josh’s article about a hypothetical rikishi, hoping to select a stable, I added the “Student/Teacher” metric. As a parent, the student/teacher ratio of local school districts is always of interest when seeking a new house or when making the decision to look at private schools. With a sumo-context, Kasugano-beya has a powerhouse of 7 coaches available to help develop their 18 wrestlers, including recently retired Tochiozan (Kiyomigata-Oyakata). To keep from loading every time you view, you can find the live visualization by clicking through the link below…or clicking on the picture above.

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Asanoyama Faces 1-Year Ban and Pay Cut

Ozeki Asanoyama will be suspended for 6 tournaments and have his pay cut in half for breaking Covid restrictions and visiting a hostess club. This follows on from similar suspensions to popular rikishi, Abi, and to the hard-twerking, sorry, hard-working Ryuden. Ryuden had notably fallen from Juryo into Jonokuchi due to injury and had climbed all the way to sanyaku. Abi has likewise begun his comeback with consecutive lower-rank yusho.

Asanoyama’s drop could place him in Sandanme at the Nagoya-basho 2022, assuming no more canceled tournaments. His former oyakata, the former Ozeki Asashio, had retired from his stablemaster position at the end of 2020 but had stayed on as an advisor, Nishikijima-oyakata. However, he has now also retired from that role as he was also found to have broken Covid restrictions.

Stay tuned…I’m sure there will be more details to follow. I will also write a separate editorial on this scandal later tonight. While many details are finalized and certainly have an impact on the upcoming Nagoya basho, there are quite a few other questions as well as more context to provide…and debate over the punishment itself.