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  • Fantasy Basho

Basho Flashback - Kyushu 2011

The Kyushu basho in 2011 was still under the shadow of the massive match-fixing scandal that erupted in February of that year. After cancelling March's tournament and making May a "technical examination," Kyushu 2011 was just the third official tournament held by the Sumo Association. With nineteen wrestlers being forced to retire (not all from the top division), things were still being sorted out in the makuuchi ranks.

Still, it seemed like business as usual, since Hakuho dominated for his 21st Emperor's Cup. A look at the tournament shows a fairly typical basho for the time in plenty of other ways, as well. The full banzuke as it would have been listed for Fantasy Basho purposes is here. Scroll below it to see some thoughts on what it might mean.

  • Hakuho was actually in position to get his 9th Zensho Yusho, but he lost the Senshuraku Musubi-no-Ichiban to Ozeki 1e Baruto by slapdown. Other than Hakuho's laundry list of records, it didn't actually matter. He had actually already guaranteed the title on Day 13, when he had a 3 win lead over any other rikishi. A wrestler often just has it in a tournament, and in this era that was usually Hakuho.

  • As a brand new Ozeki, Kotoshogiku held his own with 11 wins. In fact, he pipped long-time rival Kisenosato on Day Fifteen, but the Sumo Association had already announced Kisenosato would get promoted for the Hatsu 2012 basho. The two had basically announced they would be long term Ozeki with their performance in Kyushu 2011. (This is probably the biggest lesson for the moment, that if wrestlers like Takakeisho, Mitakeumi, Abi, Hokutofuji, or Asanoyama put together a few double-digit winning performances soon they could be long-serving high rankers.)

  • Kakuryu holding his own as a Sekiwake doesn't stand out against Ozeki promotions, but it was something. This would actually be the beginning of his own Ozeki run. In January, he won 10 again, while in March he got 13 and a playoff loss to countryman Hakuho. That gets a promotion to sumo's second rank.

  • Upper Maegashira was an absolute disaster. From Maegashira 1 to Maegashira 4, no one had a winning record. This is the inevitable consequence of the Sanyaku wrestlers doing what they are supposed to do. If much of Makuuchi was being sorted out, the top men were pretty obvious, with ramifications on the rest of the Banzuke.

  • The bottom of the Banzuke was also fairly ugly, with two major outliers in the newly promoted Shohozan and Aoiyama. These men are still Makuuchi mainstays in 2019, but it probably doesn't hold that successful new promotions will automatically lead to long careers. It is better than the opposite, though.

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