The 2021 November banzuke has dropped.
In sumo, the discharge of every new set of rankings invariably indicators the appearance of ultimate frenetic preparations for its related match.
Greater than that although, the banzuke, with all 650 or so wrestler’s names written in conventional calligraphy on a single giant sheet of paper, offers each a novel overview of the present state of the game and units the stage for the plotlines that may dominate the upcoming meet.
Though sumo, like every other fashionable sport, has stats on-line with constantly up to date information and clickable hyperlinks, there’s a specific tactile pleasure that comes with with the ability to maintain a bodily copy of the rankings created in a mode that has remained nearly unchanged because the 1750s.
On the day of its launch, rikishi spend hour upon hour folding the a whole lot of banzuke that their stables will mail out to supporters.
Followers, in the meantime, scan the 58 centimeter by 44 centimeter sheet to see how excessive their favourite wrestlers have climbed, or how far they’ve fallen. With the relative positions of all combatants clearly laid out, it’s additionally straightforward to identify the approaching match’s most attention-grabbing storylines.
This month, what instantly stands out is who isn’t there.
For the primary time in 14 years the title of Hakuho Sho doesn’t head up one facet or the opposite of the banzuke’s high row. Though the legendary yokozuna missed quite a few tournaments over the ultimate few years of his profession, his shikona (ring title) was all the time writ giant on the head of sumo’s rankings.
Seeing the banzuke with out his title will take some getting used to.
Within the phrases of Swedish nation music sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, although, “Time races on and also you’ve simply gotta carry on preserving on.” Hakuho could also be gone, however up and down the rankings narratives abound.
One title again on the highest row of the banzuke is for certain to evoke combined emotions.
Abi, a controversial determine who has been on the middle of some high-profile scandals over the previous few years, returns to the makuuchi division for the primary time since July 2020.
Though his three-tournament suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols ended final March, lacking these aforementioned meets dropped Abi into the game’s third tier the place, on account of the overwhelming majority of sumo protection specializing in the highest division, he was out of sight for a lot of.
Since beginning his comeback, the Shikoroyama secure man has been doing nicely within the ring and preserving his nostril clear outdoors it, however having his title as soon as once more in giant print on the banzuke with the resultant TV time that inevitably brings received’t please those that thought his disregard for the security of fellow rikishi ought to have seen him kicked out of sumo fully.
On a extra constructive notice, Kiribayama sees his title in bigger characters than ever earlier than on the banzuke because the 25-year-old makes his debut at sumo’s fourth highest rank of komusubi. The younger Mongolian had arguably his finest match to this point in September and reaps the rewards with a wage enhance and improve in status.
Because of Hakuho’s retirement, solely two males occupy greater slots than Kiribayama on the west facet of the banzuke. With Terunofuji on the east facet being the game’s sole extant yokozuna, it’s straightforward to see with only a look why many commentators really feel that the general degree of sumo has dropped in current occasions. You don’t have to return far to see banzuke with names comparable to Kisenosato, Kakuryu and Harumafuji in positions now occupied by Takakeisho, Shodai and Meisei.
With loads of younger and upcoming expertise within the decrease divisions nevertheless, it’s unlikely the newly begun Terunofuji period will stay a one man present for an prolonged time period.
Two of the lads who might rise to problem the Isegahama secure veteran are already midway up the rankings however haven’t but appeared on a banzuke.
Yersin Baltagulov and Purevsuren Delgerbayar, from Kazakhstan and Mongolia, respectively, kick off their skilled careers this month in Fukuoka after stints in Japanese collegiate sumo that had been profitable sufficient to earn the pair superior beginning factors in ozumo. These tsukedashi ranks, though listed as makushita 15 and sandanme 100, don’t exist on the bodily banzuke nevertheless, which means that neither man will see his title in conventional characters till January.
Given their measurement, confirmed talents and the historic success of their tsukedashi predecessors, it’s doubtless each Baltagulov and Delgerbayar will shortly stand up the rankings and see their new shikona in giant print earlier than lengthy.
One other attention-grabbing side of the banzuke is that it doesn’t simply comprise the names of wrestlers. Referees and ring announcers are additionally listed, as are hairdressers and sumo elders, amongst others.
Simply as with wrestlers which are altering shikona, earlier names are included for newly retired rikishi taking on elder inventory. For the November banzuke, that implies that Hakuho is listed one last time on the banzuke. In distinction to the previous decade and a half nevertheless, the place the yokozuna’s title was written bigger than everybody else on the high of the web page, for the Kyushu basho it’s in tiny script above his new Magaki oyakata title.
These barely legible characters would possibly present a pleasant piece of trivia for anybody compiling a sumo quiz sooner or later, however in addition they be sure that the title of the best rikishi the game has ever seen endures for one last banzuke.
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