The banzuke has constraints to it in terms of accurately ranking best-to-worst performing rikishi. Makekoshi is automatic demotion; kachikoshi is automatic promotion. Ozeki don’t easily fall out of their rank, and sub-ozeki don’t easily join the rank. Being a fan of college football as well as sumo, I’ve decided to start ranking rikishi based upon their performances and strength-of-schedule after each basho. Below is the Virgil Valentine Nagoya Basho Top 10 Plus.
1. OW Harumafuji (14-1)
2. YE Hakuho (12-3)
3. OE Baruto (11-4)
4. SE Kotoshogiku (11-4)
5. SW Kisenosato (10-5)
6. SW Kakuryu (10-5)
7. OW Kotooshu (9-6)
8. M2W Toyonoshima (9-6)
9. M4E Okinoumi (8-7)
10. M1W Yoshikaze (7-8)
Harumafuji proved he is the top rikishi of July 2011. Easy. Ranks 2 through 6 should make sense to anyone. Kotooshu did not perform better than any of the top six. Toyonoshima and Okinoumi were the only rikishi to give some trouble to guys in the sanyaku. Yoshikaze might have makekoshi-ed, but look at his schedule and who he lost to (seven of his eight losses are to men ranked higher than him on my list). Notably absent is Homasho, who we all (except Briton-Meyer) know would double-digit makekoshi if he was in joi. Also no room for Takekaze, Wakanosato, or Aran who kk-ed, but with poor sumo and slightly out of reach from the joi meat grinder.
OW Harumafuji (14-1) I don’t have to assign anyone to the “Good” in every basho, but Haruma earned it. I saw Ama; I saw Asa; I even saw flickers of the old Chiyonofuji. He brought back the spirit, and that’s why he won. He’s an exciting rikishi, who is old school when it comes to hard work and training…and it’s paying off. I look forward to September. Hard to say now he’s yokozuna-material, but if he performs in September like he did from Day 1 to Day 14 in July, there’s no denying he’s got what it takes.
KE Goeido (5-10) Another basho where this “next Japanese hopeful” proved he can’t handle joi. Bring something to the table, buddy. Anything.
OE Kaio (3-8-4) Bow out gracefully, my harry ass! More like bow out with an ego. Rob the great Chiyonofuji of the great wins record, and leave sumo right after because truthfully, without the buddy-system you’d kill yourself out there. Like Michael Jackson, you left us well too late to save your legacy. I will remember Kaio for this.