- Fantasy Basho
Haru 2020 Banzuke
We're at under 2 weeks until the Haru Banzuke (Japan time, at least.) So we have a banzuke! (Some notes on the rankings are at the bottom.)
The single Ozeki sure looks strange, but perhaps even weirder is that it creates the very unusual Maegashira 18 East rank. A whole 33 Maegashira will be competing at Haru, and probably for a little bit after.
Speaking of Maegashira 18, that spot goes to debutant Kotonowaka. He is the scion of Sadogatake-beya, literally. His dad is his stablemaster, and his grandfather was the previous stablemaster. He is 22, so he could be something, but he didn't exactly storm the top division. At Hatsu, he went 8-7 from Juryo 2.
The biggest jump, unsurprisingly, is reigning Yusho winner Tokushoryu. Not only did he shoot 15 ranks up the Banzuke, but he hit a new highest rank. His previous best rank was Maegashira 4 West in May 2015. He went 6-9 then, but he probably proved last time that making guesses as to how he'll do makes people look dumb.
The other big climbers are Shodai, who went from Maegashira 4 West to Sekiwake West; Yutakayama, who went from Maegashira 9 West to Maegashira 3 East; and Kagayaki, who went from Maegashira 11 West to Maegashira 6 West. They've all been hot of late, and they all face a new level of difficulty.
Regarding difficulty, the joi-jin line hits at Ryuden down at Maegashira 5 East, although there are plenty of potential intra-stable matchups. Hakuho-Enho, Shodai-Yutakayama, Hokutofuji-Okinoumi, and Endo-Daieisho cannot take place outside of a playoff. Also, Ryuden and Kagayaki are stablemates. So some odd configurations will be in place to create a torikumi for Maegashira 5 and 6, who is Ryuden, Onosho, Myogiryu, and Kagayaki.
The opposite end of the Banzuke will theoretically feature the bottom 17 facing off. That's everyone in a double-digit Maegashira rank, as it begins with Maegashira 10 East Sadanoumi. As usual, someone gets to be the bully here, but the same issues with stablemates is in play as it is at the top. Kotoshogiku-Kotonowaka, Chiyotairyu-Chiyomaru, Aoiyama-Tochiozan, and Tsurugisho-Oitekaze all cannot happen, expanding the bottom bracket up.