Hatsu Banzuke Forecast Postmortem

With the January banzuke posted, it’s time to review how my forecast fared. This time around, the crystal ball was clear on the big picture, but cloudy on some of the details.

The banzuke committee decided, against [edit: what this Westerner would consider] common sense, to move Kisenosato up into the top East Yokozuna slot, despite his 0-5-10 record. Perhaps he can retire at the top. This dropped Hakuho and Kakuryu to Y1w and Y2e, respectively.

Following his 12-3 jun-yusho, Takayasu takes over the top East Ozeki slot from Goeido, who slides over to the West side. You might think the same “losses are better than absences” logic might move 8-7 Tochinoshin ahead of 8-4-3 Goeido, but the Georgian continues to occupy the O2w rank to balance out the two East-side Yokozuna.

As predicted, the Sekiwake ranks are manned by yusho winner Takakeisho (new career high rank) and by Tamawashi, who last held this rank exactly a year ago. I correctly forecast that the Komusubi slots would be held by Mitakeumi and Myogiryu, although in a surprising departure from past practice, Myogiryu (M1, 8-7) is ranked ahead of the former East Sekiwake (7-8).

In the maegashira ranks, my forecast tended to err in favor of rikishi with strong winning records. I correctly had Tochiozan, Ichinojo, and Nishikigi in the top three ranks, but I thought Shohozan’s 10-5 record would be good enough to jump him ahead of Hokutofuji and Shodai; the banzuke committee disagreed. I also had 11-4 Okinoumi ahead of 10-5 Kotoshogiku, 9-6 Daieisho ahead of the make-koshi duo of Chiyotairyu and Ryuden, and 9-6 Endo ahead of 6-9 Takanoiwa.

Toward the bottom of the banzuke, Kotoyuki and Kotoeko return from Juryo in higher positions than is typical. And Daishomaru gets to stay in Makuuchi despite a record poor enough to warrant demotion. Terutsuyoshi, who put up Kyushu numbers that should have been good enough for promotion, has to settle for the top rank in Juryo, to the disappointment of his many fans here at Tachiai. We’ll console ourselves with the fact that a winning record in Hatsu should definitely translate into a top-division debut for the diminutive rikishi who wrestles like a much bigger man.

In all, of the 42 Makuuchi ranks, I called 31 correctly, and in 20 of these, also got the East/West side right. Of the 11 misses, 6 were by half a rank, 4 by one rank, and one by a rank-and-a-half. That’s right, my biggest miss of the entire forecast was ranking Chiyotairyu at M7w vs. M6e.

With the official rankings now in the books, and hopefully more forecasting lessons learned by yours truly, it’s on to the basho!

January Basho – Just Around The Corner

dec-random-jungyo

While the winter Jungyo works to wrap up this week, sumo fans in Okinawa prepare for a special mini tournament in the next few days in Ginowan. It’s sort of a Jungyo stop with a bunch of fun extras added.

Better yet – can you believe that we are less than two weeks away from the January Basho banzuke being release the day after Christmas? Sumo-Santa will deliver this year, boys and girls. With all of the action in Kyushu, the banzuke for Hatsu will be quite the shuffle.

As always, Tachiai will be ramping up coverage as we begin anticipating the action in Tokyo starting Sunday January 8th. That’s a bit more than 3 weeks away.

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 14

Marking Position for Water Break
Marking Position for Water Break

I’ve never seen a water break in the middle of a match. Today, Ichinojo and Terunofuji’s marathon bout was a long stalemate for most of the match. It was really interesting to see how at 4 minutes in, they stopped the match and then the gyoji marked each wrestler’s position and allowed the combatants to get some water. After the break, they started back where they left off but it wasn’t long before Ichinojo finally overpowered Terunofuji, dragging him over the straw bales.

In the yokozuna bouts, Kisenosato assured himself of jun yusho hy beating Kakuryu. He was very aggressive and just too powerful today for the yokozuna, who fell to 10-4. Harumafuji also fell to 10-4, as he had nothing to counter Hakuho. He basically held on for dear life as Hak dragged him around the ring, and forced him out. Tomorrow, Kisenosato takes on Harumafuji with a share of the jun yusho on the line while Hakuho faces Kakuryu with a chance at sealing this tournament with a dominant undefeated zensho yusho.

Endo picked up an impressive quick win against Kotoshogiku while Goeido gave himself a chance to save his ozeki ranking with a nice throw victory over Aoiyama. Oosunaarashi and Okinoumi both picked up their all-important 8th wins. Down in Juryo, Kitataiki has the yusho wrapped up while Gagamaru’s 10 wins will hopefully be enough to ensure both wrestlers make it back to makuuchi.