Kensho Dashboard Update (Aki 2022)

Once again, a huge thank you to Herouth for putting together and tracking the Kensho data from Aki Basho. As someone who is intimately familiar with data entry and data collection processes, I must say, it’s a huge effort. In my little rail world, some of our data collections are nice and automated but others remain a challenge. For one of my favorite data collection projects, I was the guy receiving forms for railroad retro-reflectorization. (People sometimes drive into the side of trains at night because they don’t see them, so railcar owners were required to put reflective tape on the railcars and then submit a form indicating the railcar mark and tallying their fleets.) THANK YOU!

Thankfully, that 10-year implementation period is over so the data collection period has ended. As with that, I am very interested in automation so I would love to see if the Kyokai would be willing to set up an API or share their data in a machine-readable format, rather than the current one, below.

Aki Kensho Performance Summary

Overall, this tournament offered slightly more kensho money to wrestlers than Hatsu. It looks like sponsorship money is finally coming out of the Covid downturn! I expect to see a dip in Kyushu before another peak in January. Hopefully the Pokemon will make their presence known again. There were more bouts with kensho pledged this past January, but Aki had thicker envelopes, on average.

Tamawashi, our yusho winner, had quite the tournament. The biggest prize will be the yusho and all of the nice gifts that come along with it, like the macarons, the beef, rice, gas, beer, etc. He also picked up a special prize, the Outstanding Performance Prize, which comes with its own financial award.

In addition to all of that, Tamawashi’s 13 wins earned him a pretty good chunk of kensho-kin, including the big one over Terunofuji (20 envelopes) which also earned him a kinboshi — yet another monetary prize. Interestingly, more money was pledged on Tamawashi’s bouts in March (when he was ranked slightly higher at M2W) but he actually won three times more money at this tournament by nearly doubling his win total from 7 to 13. In the spring, he had lost some pretty lucrative bouts to Takakeisho (14), Mitakeumi (22) and Endo (14). His big win in that tournament was again over Terunofuji (another 20) — whom he is mining this year for gold stars with four.

This brings up a little tweak I will make to my data model as I try to merge this data set with my others. Right now, I don’t have kinboshi tallied in either so I’m working to include it. That won’t be a challenge since it’s a pretty simple rule: if someone ranked among the Maegashira beats someone ranked Yokozuna, they get a gold star (kinboshi).

When we look at overall winners for Aki, Takakensho takes the top prize with more than 200 envelopes. See what I did there? I make myself crack up sometimes. He lost more than 100, though, especially after his losses to Ichinojo and Wakatakakage. Beating Shodai on senshuraku almost made up for it, though, with 57 envelopes up for grabs in that bout, alone. Terunofuji (139) limped away in second place after withdrawing early, followed by Wakatakakage (95), Shodai (94), and Takayasu (89).

The biggest kensho losers were the three Ozeki: Mitakeumi (-181), Shodai (-171), and Takakeisho (-109). They were followed by Terunofuji (-86) and Nishikigi (-85). Please play around with the visualization above and see how your favorite wrestler did. Has he been on an upward trend, like Kiribayama and Hoshoryu?

Tune in this November when we turn our eyes to Kyushu. If Terunofuji is kyujo, expect an even bigger dip in sponsorship money than what we’ve been seeing from tournaments outside Tokyo. If he’s out, the remaining Ozeki will enjoy taking turns with the musubi-no-ichiban since the prize money usually peaks on the last bout of the day. Will that be enough to motivate Shodai to pick up 8 wins? We shall see!

Kensho Dashboard Update

I’m sorry I’m late with the kensho dashboard update. I’ve been working on another one, having to do with the banzuke, and I forgot to publish my kensho update. It’s great to see Terunofuji’s senshuraku bouts regularly surpassing the highwater mark set in the first month of Herouth’s data collection. That month, Takakeisho took on Asanoyama in a bout that had 44 kensho envelopes, which Takakeisho won. Takakeisho walked away with almost 60 this past month when he sealed Ichinojo’s yusho by beating Terunofuji.

Overall this tournament was a bit thriftier than the others this year. That doesn’t seem to be unusual with a lot more hype and excitement around the first tournament of the year back in Tokyo and noticeably less in Nagoya. 1466 bounties were pledged this July, though I bet it would have been quite a bit higher if Mitakeumi and Endo had been able to stay the entire tournament, though I figure a lot of the envelopes were just shuffled around to other bouts, later in the tournament. It may have actually helped Takakeisho walk away with that huge stack on senshuraku.

Over this past two years, Terutsuyoshi claims the top spot with the most bouts with bounties pledged (180), followed by Kiribayama and Hoshoryu (178). This has more to do with staying healthy though. Other top wrestlers have missed more days kyujo. Terunofuji has clearly taken the most cash, though, with almost 2400 envelopes won. That’s 143,820,000 yen or a little over $1 Million in sponsorship money. I think I did the math correctly this time. 600,000 yen x 2397 bounties. A half million dollars in cash with most of the rest going to retirement after the Kyokai takes its cut.

Ichinojo made it into the Top 5 Kensho Winners with this yusho, after Terunofuji, Takakeisho, Shodai, and Abi. He’s been claiming much more kensho lately, and there’s been more sponsorship of his bouts, so I’m hopeful that the increase in ice cream funds spurs him on to the next level. It’s good to see Shodai back near the top. He had won three fewer envelopes in May than Wakamotoharu. Mitakeumi had still managed to be fourth. Here’s hoping Shodai sees the benefits to warming up before bouts!

As always, feedback is greatly appreciated — positive or negative — so long as it’s not personal. I already know I smell and have been wearing the same pajamas for three weeks. I get to work from home now.

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.