Natsu Banzuke Prediction

I am honored to be invited by Andy and Bruce to contribute this guest post. I’ve been following sumo for less than a year, and have learned so much from reading Tachiai. Judging by past basho, I believe that the banzuke for the next basho is mostly predictable based on the rikishi’s ranks and performances in the previous basho. Basically, for each rikishi, I assign a score that’s a combination of their previous rank and their win-loss record. The rikishi can then be sorted by this score and assigned to (any available) sanyaku and maegashira slots in order. The tiebreaker for rikishi with the same score is win-loss record. The main deviation from the straight score order is that rikishi with make-koshi must move down in rank, even if the formula would place them at (or above) their previous rank (indicated with *).

With these preliminaries out of the way, here are my predictions for Natsu:

Upper Sanyaku

Y1E  Kisenosato               Y1W Kakaryu

Y2E Harumafuji               Y2W Hakuho

O1E Terunofuji                 O1W Goeido

These are pretty self-explanatory. Kakaryu and Harumafuji stay in the same positions given their identical records and a head-to-head win by Kakaryu.

Lower Sanyaku

S1E Takayasu                    S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)

S2E Tamawashi

KE Mitakeumi                  KW Okinoumi

The only “open” slot is the one at Komusubi vacated by Shodai. Mitakeumi doesn’t get to move up this time, as it usually takes 11 wins to “force” an extra slot, as Takayasu did for Haru. Given the terrible performance by the lower ranks, there were no good contenders for the Komusubi slot (really, by past standards, nobody deserves to be ranked above maegashira 3 at Natsu). The 3 contenders with equal scores are Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshikaze, and Okinoumi gets the nod by virtue of his double-digit wins. I wish Yoshikaze had picked up another win; he’s definitely the sentimental candidate for this slot.

Upper Maegashira

Given the devastation in the upper maegashira ranks at Haru, there will be a lot of turnover here; all of the predicted M1-M3 rikishi were ranked lower at Haru. There are some big jumps, with Daieisho and his 11 wins coming all the way up to M2 from M11.

M1    Chiyonokuni          Yoshikaze

M2    Daieisho                 Chiyoshoma

M3    Endo                        Tochiozan


A mix of guys moving up or dropping down (in some cases, waaay up—Takakeisho—or waaay down—Shodai, Takekaze, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Shohozan, Arawashi).

M4    Takarafuji*            Aoiyama

M5    Takanoiwa             Takakeisho

M6    Hokutofuji            Takekaze

M7    Ikioi                        Shodai

M8    Shohozan             Sokokurai

M9    Ichinojo                Ura

M10  Kayagiki*             Arawashi

Lower Maegashira

A mix of Juryo escapees and guys hanging on to Makuuchi.

M11  Tochinoshin*      Toyohibiki

M12  Ishiura*                Tokushoryu

M13  Kotoyuki               Onosho

M14  Daishomaru*      Chiyotairyu

M15  Oyanagi                Osunarashi

M16  Kyokutaisei

The promotions of Osunarashi and Kyokutaisei are perhaps the most speculative bits of the whole predicted banzuke, but I think they get the nod over Miogiryu and Kaisei, the last two contenders to hang on to Makuuchi but whose performances didn’t really warrant it.

Demoted to Juryo, from least to most likely:

Miogiryu, Kaisei, Kyokushuho, Sadanoumi, Nishigiki, Chiyoo.

Promoted to Makuuchi, from most to least likely:

Toyohibiki, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Oyanagi, Osunarashi, Kyokutaisei.

Chiyomaru would be the next in line for promotion if someone retires or withdraws before Natsu. The other interesting candidate is Asanoyama, Juryo Yusho-doten along with Osunarashi, but it’s probably too big a jump all the way from J12 to Makuuchi. If he keeps performing like he has been, this young rikishi will get there soon enough.



Mock Banzuke

OK, if the NFL can have its mock draft, I can have my mock banzuke. The real one comes out in a few hours but, while I wait…

      What we know:

    • Yokozuna & Ozeki mostly unchanged
    • New Sekiwake & Komusubi
    • Tosayutaka demotion
    • Kitataiki & Gagamaru promotion

With Kotoshogiku and Goeido securing kachikoshi, the upper ranks are pretty much set. I expect both of these rikishi to stay representing the West with Giku as W1, and Goeido as W2. I do think that Harumafuji and Kakuryu will swap places as Harumafuji takes W1 and Kakuryu takes E2.

Now, the hard bit. Did Ichinojo and Aoiyama do poorly enough to drop all the way out of the sanyaku and into the maegashira? I do not see either remaining as sekiwake with 9 and 10 losses respectively. Luckily for them, the upper maegashira were pretty well decimated so I expect both to stay at komusubi, though with Ichinojo’s better record, I think he’ll represent the East while Aoiyama will be komusubi for the West.

So, who gets to grab the sekiwake spots? Well, until the last day, I thought Goeido would get one. Now, despite a losing record, I think it’s possible Tochiozan will get one of the slots. Terunofuji was the only one among the top maegashira to get a winning record and with his special prize, I think he might leapfrog into sekiwake. Personally, I don’t think they’ll advance Tochiozan. So, Okinoumi gets the call into sekiwake with his 9-6 record. He had a very strong start to the last tournament but will get rocked during this one. His first week is going to be brutal, facing all yokozuna and ozeki. So, I’m calling Terunofuji as sekiwake for East and Okinoumi as sekiwake for West.

For the top maegashira, Tamawashi will bound to M1E and Myogiryu to M1W.

For the rest, the chips will fall where they may. I look forward to seeing Gagamaru and Kitataiki back among the upper-classmen. My only real question at this point is how far will Ikioi fall? I don’t think he’ll fall into Juryo but he’ll probably be looking up from M13. With this much easier schedule, I expect to see him pull himself together and get kachikoshi. I don’t think he’s going to want 10 or more wins, though, even among these weaker wrestlers. He needs to get some serious skill improvement before he faces the sanyaku again. I always enjoy his bouts and he always seems to go full bore into every match which is more than we seem to get from most maegashira after day 10.

Also, I’m not sure if Kagamio will hang around in the makuuchi. I think he’ll fall to J1E since he had makekoshi and one of his wins came by default.