Kensho Roundup 2020

Thanks to Herouth, we’ve got some great data on kensho again for the November basho. With the hype around a new Ozeki, I was expecting a bump in the number of fat stacks being handed out. However, overall pledges were down 10% from September’s tournament. This was true from Day 1, not something easily explained by Asanoyama and Shodai’s injury withdrawals.

The middle weekend of the September tournament was a holiday, but the bump in pledges in that tournament may have been because of the Endo/Terunofuji bout. There were also huge pledges made for his Day One bout against Asanoyama and his scheduled Day 12 bout with Takakeisho. Takakeisho’s matches saw slightly fewer envelopes, despite being the only “top dog” for much of the tournament. As we see from the chart above, senshuraku again had the most pledges but the bounties placed on Takakeisho vs Asanoyama was higher than Takakeisho vs Terunofuji.

Terunofuji was the most effective wrestler at winning envelopes. He won 87% of the bounty envelopes from his matches while Takakeisho only won 83%, the difference there being Terunofuji’s big win on senshuraku to force a playoff.

Mitakeumi unfortunately came out of this tournament as the biggest loser, letting 79 envelopes slip from his grasp, while last basho, Asanoyama lost the most “fusen-adjusted” envelopes. (For this metric, I took out the envelopes pledged in fusen matches.) Second place for this dubious distinction goes to Enho (-65) and third goes to Takayasu (-61). Takayasu still won 41% of bounties from his bouts while Mitakeumi only won 35% and Enho won 22%. Endo actually had more pledge money up-for-grabs than anyone but Takakeisho in this last tournament.

As with last tournament, I’ll publish the visualizations for you all to play with but I’m going to take a little more time to make it look nice before publishing it. I already think there may be more interesting views than what I’ve got here, so we’ll see what I can do. Anyway, it will only get more exciting when there’s more data to track performance through time.

Aki Kensho Summary

Herouth has been keeping fantastic stats on kensho-kin. I wanted to make use of that data and present it in a more visual fashion and see if we could define any interesting metrics. The most straight-forward is to count the number of envelopes won. Takakeisho won that contest handily. As Herouth mentioned on senshuraku below, Takakeisho walked away with 44 envelopes in that one victory over Asanoyama. That one bout provided nearly a fifth of his total haul.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Asanoyama who lost more envelopes than any other wrestler; 121 envelopes were handed to his opponents from his five losses. He overtook Terutsuyoshi on senshuraku by losing that stack to T-Rex. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible tournament for Asanoyama, though. His ten wins provided 144 envelopes. He won’t even need to spend any on tissues to cry into since they hand them out like business cards. Click the link below to see the visualizations. I don’t want them to bog down your machines if you just scroll and don’t want to see them. But I am interested in which visuals y’all find most interesting.

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Katsuya Takasu, Sumo Super Fan

Japan watchers are likely already familiar with Katsuya Takasu, likely from his ubiquitous “Yes, Takasu Clinic” commercials. The cosmetic clinic mogul is a colorful figure in the Japanese business world and is a big fan of sumo. Ever the believer in cosmetic surgery, the company site lets you see how he, himself, has been transformed via cosmetic surgery.

As a sumo fan, he has been seen sitting ringside during many tournaments. He puts his money into the sport as well, something this blog is a big proponent of. Eagle-eyed kensho banner watchers will notice his “高須クリニック” and the same text appears below his cartoon advertisements on several kessho mawashi – including Nishikigi and Ikioi.

During Week 1 of this current tournament, there was a bit of drama in the sumo world as the sumo kyokai accidentally forgot his banners for the Nishikigi bout. He’d paid for three during Nishikigi’s bout, five for Ikioi, and 3 during the final bout. If you go back to Day 2 footage, you’ll see him in bright yellow sitting on the very edge of the first row. In some instances, you’ll notice him on his phone, presumably tweeting his displeasure at the Sumo Kyokai. The Kyokai got apologized and made up for it by adding banners to Ikioi.

 

The Hanamichi Life

If a sumo fan needs more of a reason to learn Japanese, it’s this. There’s a whole world of entertainment gossip that surrounds every pop culture topic, and sumo is no exception. We miss out on so much detail when we’re not able to follow along in the Japanese press and on social media. Given the increasing coverage of sumo in the Japanese press, and the always colorful Japanese Sumo Twitter, yours truly will re-double efforts to open these doors. Google Translate is just about the worst when it comes to meaningful translation of Japanese so it is important that sumo fans have somewhere to turn to get information. This blog post by Dr Takasu about “BannerGate” is a great example of the stuff we miss out on. It’s also wonderful because he uses a casual form of Japanese that many of us are not exposed to in our “Business Japanese” courses.

 

And by the way, when I say that the guy sits in the front row, I mean the FRONT ROW. This is one of the pictures of Ikioi he took from his seat. I think this seat is even better than being in the center because wrestlers fall on those poor chaps all the time. From this seat he can strike up a conversation with a wrestler, greet them as they come and go, and pop out to the bathroom without having to climb over everyone else. Anyway, Katchan was very happy when Ikioi won, thus getting his kenshokin.

Kenshokin (懸賞金) a.k.a. bounties

Nikkan-Gendai posted a brief but interesting article about kenshokin/bounties that are handed to some of the top-wrestlers after they win their matches. According to the article, each envelope contains 30,000 yen. At recent exchange rates, we’re talking less than $250. It still boggles my mind that there aren’t more bounties and that you get some top maegashira, guys as high up as Tochinoshin, not receiving bounties after every match.

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