Haru 2022 Banzuke Review
We have a Banzuke!
Since the last tournament, Mitakeumi was promoted to Ozeki, prosecutors dropped gambling charges against Hidenoumi and Shiden, and most everyone in sumo had COVID. But now the wrestling is on the horizon, with rankings published. Here is the Banzuke for Haru 2022 presented in the usual Fantasy Basho format. Comments at the bottom.
Mitakeumi makes his Ozeki debut! Crucially, that means we have eight Sanyaku wrestlers. The Maegashira #18 rank is gone for Haru, and the joi-jin line goes through the Maegashira #4 pair of Kiribayama and Endo.
The Sanyaku includes three wrestlers reaching career-high ranks. Wakatakakage takes the Sekiwake East spot for his first time at Sekiwake. Abi is not just back, but better than ever, by reaching Sekiwake. Hoshoryu will be making his Sanyaku debut for Haru after an 11 win Hatsu, all before turning 23. This is a challenge for all three men, who have never quite had this pressure on them before.
Back to the joi-jin line, that normally refers to the top 16 rikishi who, in theory, would all face each other. It doesn't work out like that in practice, mostly due to injuries and the ban on intra-beya matches. So Takarafuji, Ishiura (at his career high rank), Hokutofuji, and Kotonowaka may all see some Sanyaku opponents.
The bottom portion of the Banzuke may be the most confusing portion for Haru. From Maegashira 10 down would be a neat group of 16 rikishi to go round robin. That's less common than the top 16 all seeing each other, but even the usual patterns won't hold. A line-by-line matchup on Opening Day gets messed up because Maegashira #13 is taken by two Kokonoe-beya rikishi in Chiyomaru and Chiyonokuni. And stablemate Chiyotairyu is one spot above them at Maegashira #12 West. Matchups will be odd from Day One.
The luck of the Banzuke belongs to Shimanoumi, who fell one rank after going 5-6-4. But he's not the only one in an odd position based on the previous basho's record. Okinoumi and Chiyoshoma both had an awful 4-11 mark and went down just three lines. Most remarkably, perhaps, is that Ichiyamamoto held onto a Maegashira spot at all after going 5-10 from Maegashira #14.
The biggest risers in the Maegashira ranks include Kotonowaka, who went from Maegashira #12 to Maegashira #6 on the back of 11 wins, and Ishiura, whose 11-4 sent him from Maegashira #12 to Maegashira #5. Meanwhile, Wakamotoharu shot up from Maegashira #15 to Maegashira #9 after a solid 9-6.
The newly promoted foursome are Kagayaki, Nishikigi, Kotoshoho, and Kotokuzan. Kotokuzan is the only actual debutant to Makuuchi for Haru, and, it seems like it should be noted, is not part of Sadogatake-beya despite the name. In fact, 琴, Japanese for "harp" and the beginning of Kotonowaka, Kotoeko, and Kotoshoho, doesn't even begin the kanji in his shikona. (He is also probably the only rikishi ever with the birth name of Jasper, so there's that as well.)
Kotoshoho deserves some special mention here, because he went 11-4 for a Juryo yusho and seems primed to resume his strong record in Makuuchi after battling some injuries. With Oho being demoted, Kotoshoho will be the youngest wrestler in the top division at 22 years of age. He is three months younger than Hoshoryu.
Real, live sumo begins in just two weeks' time. The game for Haru 2022 will be live on Fantasizr and ready for sign ups in the next 24 hours. Stay alert to our social media or this website for an alert when it is up and running.
And keep checking back for more features on the site between now and the start of Haru 2022 on March 13th.