Heya Power Rankings: Kyushu 18-Hatsu 19

Takakeisho & Takanosho - Takakeisho Victory Parade

It’s time for everyone’s favorite chart that just about makes it to print in time to become fully obsolete: the heya power rankings!

Before the Kyushu basho, we know that there would be one massive effect on the Power Rankings: Takanohana announced that he was dissolving his stable and all of the stable’s rikishi would be moving over to Chiganoura-beya.

Chiganoura had only recently even made an impact on the top two divisions since Takanosho’s promotion to Juryo, and subsequently Makuuchi, and so hadn’t really been a figure in this series before. However, with Takagenji, Takanoiwa (or so we thought), and budding tadpole superstar Takakeisho moving over to Chiganoura-beya, it was clear that the stable would start to put itself at least among Kokonoe, Sadogatake and other mid-level mainstays of our rankings list.

What we did not anticipate was that the stable would rocket up to the levels of powerhouse stables like Miyagino (3 sekitori including one dai-yokozuna), Kasugano (epic year with big ozeki promotion and yusho champ), and Tagonoura (perpetually injured yokozuna plus serial jun-yusho bridesmaid). How far did the stable rise? Let’s check out the big chart:

Heya Power Rankings - Kyushu 18 Hatsu 19

And now this list in the usual Top 20 format:

  1. (**) Chiganoura. 108 points (+98)
  2. (+1) Tagonoura. 95 points (+15)
  3. (+1) Kasugano. 60 points (+4)
  4. (-2) Sakaigawa. 53 points (-32)
  5. (+1) Oitekaze. 43 points (even)
  6. (-5) Miyagino. 39 points (-65)
  7. (+9) Oguruma. 35 points (+18)
  8. (-3) Izutsu. 30 points (-15)
  9. (-2) Kokonoe. 27 points (-14)
  10. (+7) Tokitsukaze. 27 points (+12)
  11. (+2) Takadagawa. 23 points (+1)
  12. (+2) Isenoumi. 23 points (+3)
  13. (+6) Sadogatake. 23 points (+8)
  14. (-4) Dewanoumi. 20 points (-5)
  15. (-4) Minato. 20 points (-5)
  16. (-4) Hakkaku. 20 points (-2)
  17. (**) Onomatsu. 20 points (+12)
  18. (+-) Kataonami. 15 points (even)
  19. (+1) Isegahama. 15 points (+1)
  20. (-5) Tomozuna. 13 points (-4)

(legend: ** = new entry, +- = no movement, tiebreaker 1: higher position in the previous chart, tiebreaker 2: highest ranked rikishi on the banzuke)


We thought Chiganoura would become a big player in these rankings, but Takakeisho‘s (somewhat) unprecedented yusho and accompanying special prizes meant that the stable vaulted straight to the top in its inaugural posting. We’d expect this to cool down next time, as it looks like a repeat from the young starlet is a big ask. However, should be continue to push for Ozeki promotion, some special prizes would certainly be on offer. Takanoiwa‘s retirement will also take a small bite out of the stable’s points tally in our listing.

Tagonoura somewhat appropriately reclaims the #2 spot as its two sekitori have done on so many occasions, with Takayasu‘s jun-yusho more than offsetting the yokozuna’s partially kyujo and kachi-koshi-less tournament. It should be said that like the banzuke committee, this chart does also give Kisenosato more credit than his fellow yokozuna just for turning up.

Sakaigawa shifts down owing to the jun-yusho switch from Goeido to Takayasu, and the former’s partially kyujo tournament (in spite of his kachi-koshi) didn’t help matters, otherwise it would have been a closer run race for #3. Oguruma meanwhile vaults up the listings owing to Juryo-debutant Tomokaze‘s yusho – but unlike in previous occasions where a juryo yusho practically guaranteed a drop in the next rankings, there’s a good reason to believe Oguruma could hold serve with Tomokaze now the favorite for the Juryo-yusho race again, and Yago making his makuuchi debut at Hatsu to complement Yoshikaze‘s somewhat fortuitous placing just outside the likely joi-line.

Otherwise, further down the listings, it’s much of a muchness. Miyagino‘s big drop of 65 points is exactly what happens when a yusho-winning (+50) yokozuna doesn’t show up (-10), never mind get a winning record (+5). Dewanoumi and Minato lose points as both sekiwake came up short of a kachi-koshi.

Kokonoe was the most disappointing stable to end 2018, with its six sekitori posting a miserable 31-59 record in the final basho. Fans of the heya’s remaining sekitori will be hoping for better results from the former powerhouse. And speaking of former big time stables, on a final curious note, this marks the first positive points movement in well over a year for Isegahama-beya (owing to Terutsuyoshi‘s kachi-koshi). Hopefully in 2019 we’ll see Nishikifuji and Midorifuji complete their push from Makushita to replenish the heya’s depleted sekitori ranks.


Hatsu ’19 Banzuke Crystal Ball


It’s that time again when I try to predict how the shimpan department will reorder the rikishi rankings based on the results of the just-completed tournament. Unlike the mess left by Aki, the Kyushu results were fairly orderly, and we shouldn’t see giant banzuke leaps and plunges with rikishi taking up slots nearly unprecedented given their prior rank and performance. Nevertheless, every banzuke forecast must grapple with some tricky puzzles. Aside from the usual uncertainty about who should be ranked on the East or the West side at a given maegashira rank, or whether someone will be M6w or M7e, here are the key question marks for Hatsu (scroll down if you just want to see the forecast).

Will they reshuffle the Yokozuna order?

To recap, Y1e Hakuho and Y1w Kakuryu sat out Kyushu from the beginning, while Y1w Kisenosato showed up, dropped his first 4 matches and handed out 3 more kinboshi to run his total to an alarming 16 in 63 Yokozuna bouts (for comparison, Hakuho has conceded 19 kinboshi—in 913 bouts!). He then withdrew, with the 5th day fusen loss making his official record 0-5-10. You’d think he wouldn’t be rewarded for this performance, but there is some question as to whether showing up at all will be viewed more favorably than sitting out the entire basho, and hence if Kisenosato will leapfrog the others on the banzuke. Precedent isn’t very helpful here, as the only parallel scenario happened in 1953, when a 0-3-12 Yokozuna switched sides with a 0-0-15 Yokozuna. In my forecast, I’m hoping sanity prevails and keeping the status quo.

What will be the composition and order of lower sanyaku?

This actually seems fairly straightforward to me. The two Komusubi put up diametrically opposed performances, which will be reflected in the their banzuke moves. Kaisei will drop into the maegashira ranks (see below), while Takakeisho will be promoted to a new career high rank of East Sekiwake. What will happen with the two current Sekiwake? History strongly suggests that a 7-8 record at Sekiwake leads to a demotion to Komusubi, while a 6-9 record means a fall from sanyaku. Exceptions to this pattern are rare and require a lack of suitable promotion candidates, which isn’t the case this time. Two upper maegashira rikishi have clear promotion cases: M2w Tamawashi (9-6) and M1e Myogiryu (8-7). While one could debate the details, I have Tamawashi at West Sekiwake, Mitakeumi at East Komusubi, and Myogiryu at West Komusubi, with Ichinojo falling to M1w.

How far will Kaisei drop?

Every basho this year has featured a Komusubi with 4 or fewer wins: Onosho (4-6-5) in January, Chiyotairyu (4-11) in March, Endo (3-10-2) in May, Shohozan (3-12) in July, Tamawashi (4-11) in September, and now Kaisei (3-9-3). The rankings of the first five in the following basho? M5, M4, M6, M7, M2. While Tamawashi’s demotion stands out as historically lenient, all saw lesser drops in rank than if they were treated as “M0”. How much of this “Komusubi bonus” will Kaisei enjoy? Unlike the case at Aki, the upper maegashira ranks generally performed well in Kyushu, and there were also several several very strong showings lower down the banzuke, leaving fewer rikishi for Kaisei to plausibly jump over. I have him at M8e, although it is conceivable that he will end up a couple of rungs higher.

Where will the Juryo promotions be ranked?

In a pattern opposite to the one considered in the previous section, the rankings for the rikishi moving up from Juryo always tend to be lower than if we simply treated J1 as M17 and so on. The countervailing force this time around is that the four worst performers in Makuuchi who aren’t at risk of demotion—Yutakayama, Chiyoshoma, Chiyonokuni, and Daiamami—were just barely good enough to stay out of Juryo themselves. So I have Yago, with a strong 10-5 record at J1e, debuting at M13e, Kotoyuki at M14e, and Kotoeko and Terutsuyoshi holding down the final two M16 slots.

Who takes the last slot in Makuuchi?

It should come down to keeping M14w Daishomaru (6-9) vs. promoting J5w Terutsuyoshi (10-5). The shimpan department has shown a recent preference for keeping borderline demotion candidates over those with marginal promotion claims. Daishomaru’s rank and record at Kyushu are identical to those of Chiyomaru at Aki, who got a one-basho reprieve from a trip to Juryo. However, Terutsuyoshi has a somewhat stronger promotion claim than Yago did last time, so I am going with a top-division debut for the pixie from Isegahama beya, who is certainly the more exciting choice!

With the preliminaries out of the way, my forecast is below (kachi-koshi records are in green; make-koshi records are in red). Please let me know what you think in the comments, and we’ll find out how the banzuke actually shakes out a little earlier than usual—on Christmas Day!

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Not All Rises Are Meteoric


I came across an interesting tidbit on the Sumo Forum: this year, no Makuuchi rikishi managed to record a kachi-koshi in all six basho for the first time since 2003. The post also noted that one Juryo rikishi managed this feat: Daishoho. This observation made me do a double-take. On the one hand, good for Daishoho. On the other hand, how do you get six winning records in one year in the second division, which only has 28 slots, and not make it to Makuuchi? No wonder the last time this happened was 1975.

So I looked up Daishoho’s stats. He started the year at J13, went 9-6, rose to J9, where another 9-6 took him to J6, and then had 4 straight 8-7 tournaments. His rank progressed to J5, J3, and J2, and his latest minimal kachi-koshi almost certainly left him one victory short of promotion. Daishoho should be ranked J1 in January, and a 7th straight Juryo kachi-koshi should finally get him to the top division.

The slow progress through Juryo isn’t uncharacteristic of Daishoho’s career. He entered sumo in 2013 and made quick work of the lower divisions, arriving in Makushita after one year and rising to the Makushita joi a year later. There, he hit the proverbial Makushita wall. Daishoho spent 8 straight tournaments ranked between Ms9 and Ms1, advanced to Juryo for one tournament, was immediately demoted, and then spent another year ranked in Makushita single digits before embarking on his recent slow rise through Juryo. Contrast that with someone like Tomokaze, who made it through Makushita in 5 total basho, got promoted to Juryo in his first try from the Ms1-9 ranks, won the Juryo yusho in his inaugural appearance, and seems likely to arrive in Makuuchi in another tournament or two. Just goes to show that sumo careers can follow very different trajectories.