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Seiyashi

Yusho or Rank?

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With Shodai's promotion, Mitakeumi has seen yet another person pass by him to Ozeki. I'm not quiet about my dislike for him for talking relatively big, but then it occurred to me - Mitakeumi still has got 2 yusho, nothing to sneeze at, and has held down junior sanyaku for quite a while. Compared to someone like say, Takayasu or the other one-time maegashira yusho winners, you could argue his career is more successful, whether monetarily or reputationally.

So, if it were you, which would you prefer and why? To win a yusho once but not to break sanyaku, or to reach ozeki, hold it for a while, but not win a yusho?

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Ozeki.

Gives you a whole different status when you retire and makes it easier to stay in the NSK. In the long run, it may be not much difference, both for the career as shisho and in the administration: Futagoyama (Miyabiyama) vs. Nishikido (Mitoizumi)

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I think this really depends on the rikishi. For some, e.g. Tokushoryu, a yusho is a career highlight that will ensure his name goes down forever in sumo history. Without it, he’d be forgotten within a few years by all but a few fans. For other rikishi, then yusho may serve only as a reminder of the potential they didn’t fully reach. I have argued elsewhere that a Sekiwake peak is a great career, particularly if the rikishi reaches the rank multiple times and/or and manages a long streak of KKs. But there are Sekiwake with the talent and ambition to step up but don’t make it. Perhaps guys like that don’t feel sated by yusho, though as fans we can of course still judge them to have had successful careers.

If it were me, since that was your question, I think I’d take a yusho, because I fully expect that I’d suck. Frankly, if I made it out of maezumo that would be something, so I’d take a makuuchi yusho and run.

P.S. Since you mentioned Shodai passing Mitakeumi, I think the former can now be said to have had the more successful career in a straight comparison between them, since he’s got a yusho and made Ozeki. It’s tight, but I’d just put Ozeki ahead of a second yusho in terms of weighting. Takayasu is the guy I feel most for; he’s seen several guys get their first trophy since he made Ozeki: Tokushoryu, Tamawashi, Shodai, Asanoyama, Takakeisho, Terunofuji (again), Mitakeumi (twice). Always the bridesmaid is poor Takayasu.

Edited by Eikokurai
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6 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

I think this really depends on the rikishi. For some, e.g. Tokushoryu, a yusho is a career highlight that will ensure his name goes down forever in sumo history. Without it, he’d be forgotten within a few years by all but a few fans. For other rikishi, then yusho may serve only as a reminder of the potential they didn’t fully reach. I have argued elsewhere that a Sekiwake peak is a great career, particularly if the rikishi reaches the rank multiple times and/or and manages a long streak of KKs. But there are Sekiwake with the talent and ambition to step up but don’t make it. Perhaps guys like that don’t feel sated by yusho, though as fans we can of course still judge them to have had successful careers.

Sometimes I turn on the "Highest rank" tag and view old banzuke.  It's amazing how many Makuuchi have Sekiwake as their high-water mark.  Example: Natsu 2017 has 15 out of 36 non-Y/O who were or had been as high a Sekiwake in their career.

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18 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

I think this really depends on the rikishi. For some, e.g. Tokushoryu, a yusho is a career highlight that will ensure his name goes down forever in sumo history. Without it, he’d be forgotten within a few years by all but a few fans. For other rikishi, then yusho may serve only as a reminder of the potential they didn’t fully reach. I have argued elsewhere that a Sekiwake peak is a great career, particularly if the rikishi reaches the rank multiple times and/or and manages a long streak of KKs. But there are Sekiwake with the talent and ambition to step up but don’t make it. Perhaps guys like that don’t feel sated by yusho, though as fans we can of course still judge them to have had successful careers.

If it were me, since that was your question, I think I’d take a yusho, because I fully expect that I’d suck. Frankly, if I made it out of maezumo that would be something, so I’d take a makuuchi yusho and run.

P.S. Since you mentioned Shodai passing Mitakeumi, I think the former can now be said to have had the more successful career in a straight comparison between them, since he’s got a yusho and made Ozeki. It’s tight, but I’d just put Ozeki ahead of a second yusho in terms of weighting. Takayasu is the guy I feel most for; he’s seen several guys get their first trophy since he made Ozeki: Tokushoryu, Tamawashi, Shodai, Asanoyama, Takakeisho, Terunofuji (again), Mitakeumi (twice). Always the bridesmaid is poor Takayasu.

Tochinoshin also got his yusho in that time, right? That's a career to compare, Takayasu and Tochinoshin. A yusho and ozeki for Tochi is a bloody good run; even though the ozeki career was remarkably short.

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2 hours ago, Yamanashi said:

Sometimes I turn on the "Highest rank" tag and view old banzuke.  It's amazing how many Makuuchi have Sekiwake as their high-water mark.  Example: Natsu 2017 has 15 out of 36 non-Y/O who were or had been as high a Sekiwake in their career.

This is actually a fairly recent phenomenon and has a lot to do with the period around the time where there were 3 straight basho where there were 2 Sekiwake debuts.  From Natsu 2016 to Nagoya 2016: Kotoyuki, Ikioi; Kaisei, Tochinoshin; Takayasu, Takarafuji.  Only two of those became Ozeki.  There also around that time period were the debuts of Tamawashi, Yoshikaze and Takekaze (despite them being much older) as well as many of the young guns now, like Mitakeumi and Shodai.  There wasn't a Sekiwake debut that didn't go on to Ozeki already between Mitakeumi (3 years ago) and Daieisho.  Why was the 2014-2017 period so prolific in creating Sekiwake?  Because there were some very dominant Yokozuna and Ozeki that made sure it was very hard to get a winning record at the top of the banzuke, meaning there was more turnover at the rank, and in a few cases they had to go pretty far down the banzuke (see Takekaze and Okinoumi) to get someone to fill the spot.  Currently it's comparatively easy for Sekiwake to maintain their rank, and when they don't, it's likely filled by someone who's already been there given the great concentration of them.  Note that the only new Sekiwake debut not to go on to Ozeki since Mitakeumi had to force his way in as opposed to getting an open slot, and the two that went on to Ozeki also had 11 wins or more for their promotion as well.

For those with rank debuts since 1960, if I did the math right, there are 90 who topped out at Sekiwake (not including Shodai).  11 of those Sekiwake had their debut in 2014-2017, 4 years out of the 61 being looked at, which is very roughly twice the density as expected.

Edited by Gurowake
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4 hours ago, Houmanumi said:

Tochinoshin also got his yusho in that time, right? That's a career to compare, Takayasu and Tochinoshin. A yusho and ozeki for Tochi is a bloody good run; even though the ozeki career was remarkably short.

Yes, I knew I was missing someone and my 4G was too slow to work the database to check.

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5 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

Yes, I knew I was missing someone and my 4G was too slow to work the database to check.

Admirable job from memory, if it wasn't for Tochi's win being early in my sumo fandom I doubt I'd have noticed.

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5 hours ago, Houmanumi said:

Tochinoshin also got his yusho in that time, right? That's a career to compare, Takayasu and Tochinoshin. A yusho and ozeki for Tochi is a bloody good run; even though the ozeki career was remarkably short.

Yeah, before Terunofuji, Tochinoshin pretty much was the poster rikishi for comeback story. It was a shame to see the way his ozeki career played out, but he basically has got it all as far as my question is concerrned.

6 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

I think this really depends on the rikishi. For some, e.g. Tokushoryu, a yusho is a career highlight that will ensure his name goes down forever in sumo history. Without it, he’d be forgotten within a few years by all but a few fans. For other rikishi, then yusho may serve only as a reminder of the potential they didn’t fully reach.

I'd wholly agree - I've said somewhere else that Tokushoryu was the surprise winner as far as makujiri go because he is the only makujiri winner who wasn't, or wouldn't go on to be, sanyaku material. His career is technically not over yet, but I highly doubt he'll be surprising us with an appearance in sanyaku anytime soon. For him, the yusho really was a smash and grab kind of thing which absolutely no one saw coming, and because of his makujiri status at the time it will be doubly memorable. Twenty years from now, when the next makujiri goes on a yusho run, the broadcasts will be going "since Tokushoryu in 2020".

6 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

Since you mentioned Shodai passing Mitakeumi, I think the former can now be said to have had the more successful career in a straight comparison between them, since he’s got a yusho and made Ozeki. It’s tight, but I’d just put Ozeki ahead of a second yusho in terms of weighting. Takayasu is the guy I feel most for; he’s seen several guys get their first trophy since he made Ozeki: Tokushoryu, Tamawashi, Shodai, Asanoyama, Takakeisho, Terunofuji (again), Mitakeumi (twice). Always the bridesmaid is poor Takayasu.

It appears that ozeki without a yusho during their tenure or promotion run are a bit of a rarity, because you'd expect that rikishi with the quality of sumo necessary to get there would chalk up a yusho at some point. So I guess when I asked the question, the comparison really was between Takayasu (being the only ozeki with no yusho in recent memory) and Mitakeumi. I'd agree Shodai's career is now more successful than Mitakeumi's.

That said, since all three ozeki have yet to win another yusho, I'll modify my question a bit. How meaningful is an ozeki career without an ozeki yusho, even if the person in question won a yusho otherwise? This is sort of inspired by Wakanohana III, who goes down in history as the only yokozuna not to win a championship as yokozuna (winning as ozeki; cf Futahaguro who won none at all), and who would have been remembered as a great ozeki like Takanohana I had he not been promoted. I see some elements of the same kind of talk around Takakeisho, especially back when he was blighted by repeated injuries. Then there's also Tochinoshin and Terunofuji, who went on great runs to get promoted to ozeki but didn't really do much with the rank.

It's an interesting contrast when you consider that ozeki is (titularly) the best rank on the banzuke since yokozuna were historically ozeki as well, but my perception of them have always been "flakier yokozuna wannabes". It appears that the default expectation for an ok ozeki is to win at least one yusho, and the benchmark for the best ozeki career seems to be five yusho (Kaio and Wakanohana III), but even from there it's a great jump to the dai-yokozuna mark of 10 yusho. The historical prestige of the rank seems to be a bit lost with the modern yokozuna system, especially with one as strong as Hakuho (and two other junior yokozuna reaching significant yusho levels during his tenure - Harumafuji and Kakuryu).

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On the one hand, you will always be called EX-sekiwake (for example), even after retirement and even for one tournament in this rank.
on the other hand, there are a little more than 100 cup holders, and your portrait will hang over the kokugikan for several years.
Hmm ...
For me, the choice is obvious - the cup! 

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1 hour ago, Seiyashi said:

I'd wholly agree - I've said somewhere else that Tokushoryu was the surprise winner as far as makujiri go because he is the only makujiri winner who wasn't, or wouldn't go on to be, sanyaku material. His career is technically not over yet, but I highly doubt he'll be surprising us with an appearance in sanyaku anytime soon. For him, the yusho really was a smash and grab kind of thing which absolutely no one saw coming, and because of his makujiri status at the time it will be doubly memorable. Twenty years from now, when the next makujiri goes on a yusho run, the broadcasts will be going "since Tokushoryu in 2020".

Tokushoryu's story is the epitome of a Cinderella story in sumo. Nobody, and I think nobody even on this forum could have predicted he would win the yusho. He's also in strange company as he still doesn't have sanyaku experience. There actually is one other person who won the yusho and never made sanyaku, but he remains largely forgotten.

http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=3705

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2 minutes ago, WAKATAKE said:

. He's also in strange company as he still doesn't have sanyaku experience.

Assuming he doesn't shoot up higher he'll also end his career with the lowest career high mark of any Emperor's Cup winner (M2).

M1 is the lowest of any retired winner. Just one rikishi I think.

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1 minute ago, John Gunning said:

Assuming he doesn't shoot up higher he'll also end his career with the lowest career high mark of any Emperor's Cup winner (M2).

M1 is the lowest of any retired winner. Just one rikishi I think.

Yes this person here http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=3705

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4 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

It's an interesting contrast when you consider that ozeki is (titularly) the best rank on the banzuke since yokozuna were historically ozeki as well, but my perception of them have always been "flakier yokozuna wannabes". It appears that the default expectation for an ok ozeki is to win at least one yusho, and the benchmark for the best ozeki career seems to be five yusho (Kaio and Wakanohana III), but even from there it's a great jump to the dai-yokozuna mark of 10 yusho. The historical prestige of the rank seems to be a bit lost with the modern yokozuna system, especially with one as strong as Hakuho (and two other junior yokozuna reaching significant yusho levels during his tenure - Harumafuji and Kakuryu).

At the risk of tootling my own trumpet, what's the odds I write this just as @John Gunning puts out an article on the exact same topic. Greatly enjoyed that article.

Edited by Seiyashi
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I can't disagree about anything in Seiyashi's long post.  It has slowly dawned on me, though, that when I read about or see bouts of some rikishi of the past, if I find they made Ozeki I think "well, that's a historic status."  Sekiwake ... nice career.

Aoiyama has a career high as Sekiwake.  Historic (other than as a Bulgarian)?

Edited by Yamanashi

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10 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

I can't disagree about anything in Seiyashi's long post.  It has slowly dawned on me, though, that when I read about or see bouts of some rikishi of the past, if I find they made Ozeki I think "well, that's a historic status."  Sekiwake ... nice career.

Aoiyama has a career high as Sekiwake.  Historic (other than as a Bulgarian)?

Yeah, I know the feeling. Especially for those "one and done" sanyaku rikishi - even though they get called "ex sekiwake" it feels a bit misleading when their only tournament at the rank is a 4-11 or something similar.

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6 hours ago, WAKATAKE said:

Who demostrates that banzuke (and match) making wasn't what it later became back then.  http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Banzuke.aspx?b=192710&heya=-1&shusshin=-1&snr=on is his highest rank--for reasons lost to history he got passed over for promotion by an MK rikishi.  Huh?

(This was also the era of East and West rikishi only fighting each other--the "joi" reaches down to #32 on the banzuke!)

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1 hour ago, Ryoshishokunin said:

Who demostrates that banzuke (and match) making wasn't what it later became back then.  http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Banzuke.aspx?b=192710&heya=-1&shusshin=-1&snr=on is his highest rank--for reasons lost to history he got passed over for promotion by an MK rikishi.  Huh?

(This was also the era of East and West rikishi only fighting each other--the "joi" reaches down to #32 on the banzuke!)

Very different times

On 20/09/2016 at 14:33, Asashosakari said:

In any case, yes, they still did the "winning side of the basho gets to be ranked on the East in the next basho" thing at the time. In addition, in the first couple of years after the 1927 Tokyo-Osaka merger they tried to maintain two distinct banzuke, for Tokyo and for non-Tokyo basho. So there's one banzuke progression that should be read 1927.01 -> 1927.05 -> 1928.01 -> 1928.05, and a separate one (with the same starting ranks) for 1927.03 -> 1927.10 -> 1928.03.

At that point they scrapped that idea, and went to a slightly less stupid alternative method, where each banzuke applied identically to the next two basho - and consequently each banzuke-making session needed to take into account the combined results from two tournaments. That lasted until 1932.

Edited by Akinomaki
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Well, even though I'm late joining this discussion, I'd have to choose a yusho, if for no other reason than I'd want to share all that wagyu and other goodies with my heya-mates. What a fun, if totally ridiculous, hypothetical question, though. Kudos, there, Seiyashi!

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22 hours ago, Gurowake said:

There wasn't a Sekiwake debut that didn't go on to Ozeki already between Mitakeumi (3 years ago) and Daieisho.

That's a really interesting point; it hadn't occurred to me that Daieisho's shin-Sekiwake appearance was such a rare event. Even Komusubi debuts are less frequent than I would have guessed: since Mitakeumi 4 years ago, we've only had Onosho, Endo, Hokutofuji, Abi, and Ryuden, among those who haven't gone higher.

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1 hour ago, Reonito said:

That's a really interesting point; it hadn't occurred to me that Daieisho's shin-Sekiwake appearance was such a rare event. Even Komusubi debuts are less frequent than I would have guessed: since Mitakeumi 4 years ago, we've only had Onosho, Endo, Hokutofuji, Abi, and Ryuden, among those who haven't gone higher.

Well, Asanoyama and Takakeisho debuted at Sekiwake in between. 

More stuff on this topic (which is a total derailment and I blame the person who first brought it up):

There are only 9 rikishi that have been Sekiwake since 2018 began: http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Query.aspx?show_form=0&group_by=rikishi&having=1&form1_rank=s&form1_year=2018-2020.  That's over 16 basho. 

In the 2014-2017 range for which there were 24 basho, there were 21 different Sekiwake.  http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Query.aspx?show_form=0&group_by=rikishi&having=1&form1_rank=s&form1_year=2014-2017

But if you go 4 years back before that, 2010-2013, there were only 11 (though only 23 basho), with the rank at the time being dominated mostly by those who would eventually move up to Ozeki: Kisenosato, Kakuryu, Kotoshogiku, Goeido, and sorta Baruto, though most of his appearances at Sekiwake in that time frame are after his demotion, with the "never quite made it" Tochiozan and Myogiryu also making frequent appearances.  Goeido was Sekiwake more times than the remaining 4 combined in those four years.  http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Query.aspx?show_form=0&group_by=rikishi&having=1&form1_rank=s&form1_year=2010-2013

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I should make an on topic post.

I would take the rank right now, if only for the 3 years' grace on finding a kabu on retirement.  After the mass retirement of all those "consultants" from 4 years ago, kabu will be slightly easier to pick up though.  That is, I'd rather not be in Tokushoryu's position of possibly not having a kabu (although I have no idea about his chances since I don't really follow it besides knowing who owns them, I just mean in general of a mediocre rikishi with a random Yusho) despite having a Yusho, whereas Takayasu could retire now and have plenty of time for those "consultants" to retire.

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2 hours ago, Gurowake said:

I should make an on topic post.

I would take the rank right now, if only for the 3 years' grace on finding a kabu on retirement.  After the mass retirement of all those "consultants" from 4 years ago, kabu will be slightly easier to pick up though.  That is, I'd rather not be in Tokushoryu's position of possibly not having a kabu (although I have no idea about his chances since I don't really follow it besides knowing who owns them, I just mean in general of a mediocre rikishi with a random Yusho) despite having a Yusho, whereas Takayasu could retire now and have plenty of time for those "consultants" to retire.

That's a nice take.  Maegashira yusho winners will be remembered fondly and asked to speak about their experience after they retire.  Ozeki's will be oyakata after they retire.  One gets his lunch tab picked up, the other gets a career.

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4 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

That's a nice take.  Maegashira yusho winners will be remembered fondly and asked to speak about their experience after they retire.  Ozeki's will be oyakata after they retire.  One gets his lunch tab picked up, the other gets a career.

I wonder how big a motivation this is for rikishi though. With so few kabu available, particularly in comparison to the number of rikishi, I’m sure most guys get into sumo fully expecting to leave the Kyokai when they retire, so don’t even entertain the possibility of an Oyakata post. For this reason, I imagine more rikishi dream of Yusho than a Kabu. 

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