Haru 2022 Kensho-kin Roundup

Thanks to Herouth’s kensho data, I’ve been working to update my kensho dashboard. The great story of this tournament has been the rising star, Wakatakakage. His largest bounty collected so far was that claimed with the scalp of Ozeki Takakeisho. He had a chance at even more, and the outright yusho, on Senshuraku but Shodai played an effective spoiler. This March, Shodai’s was fighting at a significant discount to Takakeisho and shin-Ozeki Mitakeumi, fighting for .75 cents for every dollar, on average, of the other Ozeki. Given the performance of both wrestlers, and the shift in venue back to Tokyo, I hope both will see larger sponsorship pledges for the upcoming Natsu basho.

One concern is obviously the health of Yokozuna Terunofuji. If he’s questionable for the tournament, that may impact viewership and sponsorship numbers. But with so many new story lines, we obviously won’t know for a few weeks. I have enjoyed seeing bounty pledges “trickle down” to wrestlers in the lower ranks. Again, there were more than 1,100 envelopes pledged for the bouts leading up to the musubi-ichiban. Takayasu was another wrestler who saw a bump in his usual sponsorship and I definitely loved watching him as a factor in the yusho race. Let’s hope for a repeat in May!

It was a bit of a surprise to me that Abi’s bouts actually had more kensho pledges than Wakatakakage’s. However, his peak bout was earlier in the tournament against Mitakeumi on Day 11. Wakamotoharu, brother and stablemate of the yusho winner, did not see quite as many pledges as in January without the big outlay made by Nintendo on the hiramaku bouts. But, he did fight for his two largest bounties so far. The first, 8 envelopes he lost to Takayasu and 10 envelopes he won against Endo.

Among the hiramaku, Kiribayama and Hoshoryu continue to have consistent sponsorship, though Endo is clearly still the kensho king in the mid-maegashira, claiming larger pledges than virtually everyone except the Ozeki. There’s an interesting interplay here with stablemates that I will dig into for next tournament. Takakeisho gets huge sponsorship while Takanosho sometimes doesn’t get any pledges at all, even when ranked in sanyaku. However, Kokonoe-beya wrestlers seem to have a few envelopes spread out among each…though sometimes Chiyoshoma seems to be left out on occasion. (Could it be that the henka reputation hurts his popularity enough to impact his sponsorships?)

Hatsu 2022: Kensho Update

Thanks again to Herouth for the tracking the kensho data, but I love this data. Nintendo’s sponsorship helped make this tournament the biggest as far as kensho payouts go since we started tracking it, with 22% higher payouts than Wacky-Aki and 44% more kensho than Kyushu. The increased sponsorship of hiramaku bouts made for a dramatic increase as the non-musubi total haul surged past 1,000 envelopes to 1,260. The musubi-no-ichiban bouts added another 414 envelopes to the tally. Each envelope contains 30,000 yen, with an equal portion going to the rikishi’s retirement. Adding in the Association’s fee, the sponsorship is 70,000 yen per kensho banner/envelope. This means the envelopes handed out contained 50 Million yen in cash.

*And thank you, Joe S, for pointing out that my numbers about the amount of yen were off by a factor of 10. I have fixed it. [facepalm]

Total Kensho Pledges

Despite losing the yusho, Terunofuji was yet again the Kensho King, walking away with 282 envelopes. If you do the math with me, that’s $73,600. Mitakeumi walked away with just under $50,000. I expect his bouts with Takakeisho and Terunofuji to be good paydays for whomever wins. (As Ozeki, he won’t have to fight Shodai again. Just kidding, I think.) Third place in the kensho race actually went to Abi, who pipped Shodai and Endo with a little help from his gold-star win against Terunofuji. The great news is that every Makuuchi wrestler walked away with some sponsorship money, and even a few Juryo visitors did, too. My biggest pain point with this is that Takayasu couldn’t share in the bounty.

The coolest thing is that I am starting to see some trends in the aggregate where wrestlers appear to win more bouts when there’s more money on the line. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I think if there’s a few thousand dollars on the line, I’d be more motivated to win. There’s also quite a bit of variability among wrestlers so far but I’m still early in doing that analysis because I need to properly control for rank and strength of opponent.

But on a more basic level, there was an increase in funds across the board which is a great sign. I just think that extra edge helped make the fights more competitive (even on senshuraku) and helped to make for a thrilling tournament. Each day of the tournament had more pledged bouts, and more total envelopes pledged, than any previous tournament we had tracked. This represents the high-water mark of the Covid era and hopefully signals a return to normal is just around the corner.

Speaking of Covid, the news out of Tokyo this weekend was that Mitakeumi tested positive for Covid. Unfortunately, it appears he does have symptoms (headache) so we hope his case stays mild and he recovers quickly. We also hope the case does not turn into an outbreak as he was a participant in the weekend’s retirement activities.

Aki 2021 Kensho Roundup

Once again, thank you, Herouth for providing the data on Kensho for the basho. It provides a very interesting metric which may be a bit of a proxy for commercial (possibly public) interest in particular wrestlers or even the sport as a whole, though these Covid times are not exactly comparable to “The Before Times.” That’s admittedly a rather massive caveat and hopefully normal times resume soon.

As Herouth mentioned prior to the tournament, pledges this basho were way up compared to July. In fact, they were higher than any tournament over the past year, surpassing the tally at Hatsu by 8%. The increased interest was not only for the musubi-no-ichiban, either, as more of the earlier bouts had pledges (233). The amount of envelopes pledged on those bouts was 8.25% higher than in July.

Notably, interest in the new Yokozuna led to a substantial increase in pledges made on the final bout of the day. While the musubi-no-ichiban attracted 192 banners in Nagoya, it more than doubled that tally back in Tokyo (385). Interestingly, that’s not quite as much as the amount pledged last Aki in the drama-filled showdown won by Shodai (415). In that tournament, the musubi cycled through the three Ozeki as they each took turns fighting the final (often the most lucrative) bout of the day.

Terunofuji crushed the field by taking home more than triple the kensho when compared to his closest competitor, Mitakeumi. That fat stack on senshuraku helped but it was really a story of 13 of 15 paydays. Takakeisho, on the other hand, let the most pledges slip through his fingers, followed by Shodai.

Myogiryu, the dark horse of the basho, did quite well, too. His win over Takakeisho provided him with an even fatter stack of kensho than when he beat Terunofuji in May. He also beat Shodai and scored a nice haul there, as well. That’s quite a different story than in November and March when he lost all of those big payday bouts against Ozeki.

I’ve updated the kensho-kin visualization and put it after the “read more” link to keep it from loading every time anyone visits the site. I know you love my data viz but if you’re trying to read more about Hakuho, you probably don’t want this thing rendering every time.

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Natsu Kensho Report

Hello all! I compiled the kensho data collected by Herouth into an updated dashboard. Click on the “Read More” link because I didn’t want it to bog down your devices. We can make out the clear impact of having no fans on the kensho pledges during the first three days of the tournament. The sponsored bounties were paying out at a rate lower than November’s tournament. However, pledges clearly picked up when the crowd came back and with a full set of four Ozeki. There’s no surprise, then, that pledges dropped off a bit on Day 12. Still, it was encouraging to see a few days this tournament with payouts higher than January and March, especially as the drama built on the final weekend.

The clear leader over the past five tournaments in both kensho won and lost, is Takakeisho. He won a yusho in November and then followed that up with a disastrous Hatsu, only two wins and seven kensho stacks lost in that one tournament. Still, he has won nearly 900 envelopes. If I got my math right, that’s a quarter of a million dollars in cash bounties physically handed over to him on the dohyo, with a comparable amount set aside for his retirement.

Terunofuji, on the other hand, has had a much better ratio of kensho won. However, much of this time was actually spent in the lower ranks, one each as maegashira and komusubi, two at sekiwake, and then this last one at Ozeki. Hakuho has the best win ratio, with 27 kensho won and none lost. Note: the envelopes won and lost are fusen-adjusted while “pledges” are not.

An interesting trend here is the declining Musubi-no-Ichiban payout over these 10 months. Pledges have been rising for the other bouts, from 745 in September to 919 in May but pledges on the final bouts have decreased from 415 to 284. Much may be increasing payouts to Terunofuji as well as declining pledges for Takakeisho. In September, he and Asanoyama would alternate between musubi-no-ichiban but Takakeisho’s pledges were averaging a bit more than Asanoyama. Now there are more Ozeki in the cycle. We shall see what July holds for us.

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