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Seiyashi

Measuring Ōzeki Quality

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Obligatory health and safety warning: This is going to be perhaps some of the longest form writing committed to a forum page. Read at your own time and peril.

Contents

1. Introduction

Natsu 2022 saw a really insipid performance from the ōzeki trio of Takakeishō, Shōdai, and Mitakeumi. Takakeishō very narrowly avoided kadoban, while Shōdai and Mitakeumi didn't; the former for the fourth time in his short ōzeki career. A bad performance once in a while might be excusable, but when two ōzeki going kadoban is already relatively uncommon (52 occurrences since 1949, when honbasho finally stayed at 15 days), the fact that two ōzeki have gone kadoban in 10 basho since 2017 is some cause for concern. In other words, 20% of the instances of two or more ōzeki going kadoban within the last 70-odd years happened within the last 5 years, which seems disproportionate, to say the least.

Handwringing about bad ōzeki performances is nothing new either - Gōeidō and Kotoshōgiku were (in)famously called the "kadoban twins" on Tachiai - but it's rarely been combined with detailed background analysis of the topic. One notable exception was in Haru 2021, when it looked like Takakeishō and Shōdai were at risk of kadoban on day 10;  @Amamaniac and @Godango put in some solid work there to provide some stats and numbers on ōzeki performance or lack thereof, with other forum members chipping in. After Natsu 2022, @Yamanashi made the further observation about Kisenosato as either "the perfect ōzeki", or a potential yokozuna who could never "pull the string", which saw the following analysis from me and a request from @Gurowake to extend it further to an ōzeki's yūshō honour strike rate during his tenure. Serendipitously, @nagorastarted a thread a few days after Natsu 2022 on a rating system of their own design, which adds a further methodological arrow to the quiver in terms of analysing ōzeki performance. 

After spelunking in a few rabbit holes, I'm proud to present what is probably the most comprehensive analysis of ōzeki performance to date. I should probably disclaim up front that I don't claim that this is the alpha and omega of such analysis, or that this is the final word on ōzeki performance. There are qualitative aspects of ōzeki performance that the following analysis does not capture, and there is at least one that I've had my eye on but decided to save for a future time. This is meant as a springboard to reflect on and possibly challenge various perspectives and narratives on ōzeki performance, and should be read in combination with the Forum's collective institutional memory on ōzeki as they were in their time, but it is hopefully the most thorough and least anecdotal springboard for a while yet.

This study encompasses all rikishi who have reached the rank of ōzeki since the rules for ōzeki demotion were changed in Nagoya 1969 to the current kadoban system, meaning that all yokozuna since Wajima (ōzeki promotion Kyūshū 1972) and all ōzeki since Kiyokuni (promoted Nagoya 1969) are included in this study. The kōshō system throws a bit of a wrench in this, but nothing that fundamentally invalidates the analysis. Also, definitionally, a zenkyu (0-0-15) will be considered the same as a make-koshi; only an actual kachi-koshi will be considered. There is room for debate about this, but I'll defend that by saying that an injured ōzeki is about as bad as an abunai ōzeki in the court of public opinion.

Naturally, SumoDB is the source of data for this project, although all transcription and scraping errors are mine - do feel free to point those out as and when you see them.

Due to its length, I'm posting this in 6 parts for safety's sake. If you see this while the rest of the posts are not up, bear with me for a bit. Also, I notice that some of the more voluminous tables are technically spilling over the borders of the post; I will reformat at a later date to deal with that but let me know if this is causing readability issues in the meantime (almost certainly on mobile, sorry!).

EDIT: And all posts are done - let fire!

Edited by Seiyashi
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2. Overview of ōzeki

Yokozuna
General W/L Kyujō/Kadoban Honours  
Ōzeki
General W/L Kyujō/Kadoban Honours
PA ŌB KK MK % KJ % KB % JY DT YS %   PA ŌB KK MK % KJ % KB % JY DT YS %
Terunofuji* 24 16 10 6 62.5 3 18.8 5 31.3 2 2 1 31.3   Mitakeumi 30 2 1 1 50.0 0 0.0 1 50.0 0 0 0 0.0
Kisenosato 26 31 30 1 96.8 0 0.0 1 3.2 11 0 1 38.7   Shōdai 29 10 6 4 60.0 1 10.0 4 40.0 1 0 0 10.0
Kakuryū 27 12 12 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 1 1 16.7   Asanoyama 26 7 4 3 57.1 3 42.9 2 28.6 2 0 0 28.6
Harumafuji 25 22 21 1 95.5 1 4.5 1 4.5 0 0 4 18.2   Takakeishō*^ 23 17 11 6 64.7 6 35.3 5 29.4 2 1 1 23.5
Hakuhō 21 7 6 1 85.7 1 14.3 1 14.3 1 0 3 57.1   Tochinoshin*^ 31 7 2 5 28.6 3 42.9 3 42.9 0 0 0 0.0
Asashōryū 22 3 3 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 2 66.7   Takayasu 27 15 11 4 73.3 5 33.3 3 20.0 3 0 0 20.0
Musashimaru 23 32 32 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 5 3 5 40.6   Gōeidō 28 33 23 10 69.7 7 21.2 9 27.3 1 1 1 9.1
Wakanohana III 22 29 24 5 82.8 5 17.2 3 10.3 4 1 4 31.0   Kotoshogiku 27 32 24 8 75.0 3 9.4 7 21.9 1 0 1 6.3
Takanohana II 21 11 10 1 90.9 0 0.0 1 9.1 2 1 5 72.7   Baruto 26 15 13 2 86.7 2 13.3 1 6.7 0 0 1 6.7
Akebono 23 4 3 1 75.0 1 25.0 1 25.0 0 0 2 50.0   Kotomitsuki 31 17 15 2 88.2 2 11.8 2 11.8 1 0 0 5.9
Asahifuji 27 17 17 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 4 2 3 52.9   Kotoōshū 23 47 39 8 83.0 8 17.0 7 14.9 1 0 1 4.3
Ōnokuni 23 13 13 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 4 0 1 38.5   Tochiazuma*^ 26 30 20 10 66.7 11 36.7 8 26.7 1 0 3 13.3
Hokutoumi 23 5 5 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 2 0 1 60.0   Kaiō 28 65 50 15 76.9 14 21.5 13 20.0 7 0 4 16.9
Futahaguro 23 4 4 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 1 1 0 50.0   Miyabiyama 23 8 4 4 50.0 1 12.5 3 37.5 0 0 0 0.0
Takanosato 30 9 9 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 3 0 2 55.6   Musōyama*^ 28 27 19 8 70.4 7 25.9 6 22.2 1 0 0 3.7
Chiyonofuji 26 3 3 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 2 0 1 100.0   Dejima 25 12 9 3 75.0 1 8.3 2 16.7 0 0 0 0.0
Mienoumi*^ 28 21 17 4 81.0 2 9.5 3 14.3 1 1 0 9.5   Chiyotaikai 23 65 46 19 70.8 13 20.0 14 21.5 6 1 2 13.8
Wakanohana II 24 8 8 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 1 2 1 50.0   Takanonami*^ 23 37 30 7 81.1 1 2.7 4 10.8 5 2 2 24.3
Kitanoumi 21 3 3 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 1 1 66.7   Kirishima 31 16 11 5 68.8 4 25.0 4 25.0 4 0 1 31.3
Wajima 24 4 4 0 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 3 0 1 100.0   Konishiki 24 39 31 8 79.5 4 10.3 7 17.9 2 2 3 17.9
                              Hokutenyū 23 44 38 6 86.4 4 9.1 5 11.4 3 0 1 9.1
                              Asashio 28 36 31 5 86.1 4 11.1 4 11.1 0 0 1 2.8
                              Wakashimazu 26 28 22 6 78.6 3 10.7 5 17.9 3 0 2 17.9
                              Kotokaze 24 22 20 2 90.9 1 4.5 1 4.5 1 0 1 9.1
                              Masuiyama 32 7 4 3 57.1 1 14.3 3 42.9 0 0 0 0.0
                              Asahikuni 29 21 17 4 81.0 3 14.3 4 19.0 1 0 0 4.8
                              Kaiketsu* 23 9 5 4 55.6 0 0.0 2 22.2 1 0 0 11.1
                              Daiju 23 5 2 3 40.0 2 40.0 2 40.0 0 0 0 0.0
                              Takanohana 22 50 44 6 88.0 4 8.0 5 10.0 2 0 2 8.0
                              Daikirin 28 25 19 6 76.0 4 16.0 6 24.0 2 0 0 8.0
                              Maenoyama 25 10 7 3 70.0 3 30.0 2 20.0 0 0 0 0.0
                              Kiyokuni 28 28 23 5 82.1 4 14.3 5 17.9 3 0 1 14.3
Max 30.0 32.0 32.0 6.0 100.0 5.0 25.0 5.0 31.3 11.0 3.0 5.0 100.0   Max 32.0 65.0 50.0 19.0 90.9 14.0 42.9 14.0 50.0 7.0 2.0 4.0 31.3
Mean 24.2 12.7 11.7 1.0 93.5 0.7 4.5 0.8 5.6 2.3 0.8 2.0 50.3   Mean 26.3 24.6 18.8 5.8 70.8 4.0 17.9 4.7 22.9 1.7 0.2 0.9 10.0
SD 2.4 9.5 8.9 1.8 10.4 1.3 7.7 1.3 9.0 2.5 0.9 1.5 23.5   SD 2.9 16.6 13.7 3.7 14.6 3.4 12.1 3.1 11.1 1.8 0.5 1.1 8.7
Median 23.5 10.0 9.5 0.0 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 0.5 1.0 50.0   Median 26.0 21.5 18.0 5.0 74.2 3.0 14.3 4.0 20.8 1.0 0.0 1.0 8.5
Min 21.0 3.0 3.0 0.0 62.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.5   Min 22.0 2.0 1.0 1.0 28.6 0.0 0.0 1.0 4.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
  PA ŌB KK MK % KJ % KB % JY DT YS %     PA ŌB KK MK % KJ % KB % JY DT YS %
  General W/L Kyujō/Kadoban Honours     General W/L Kyujō/Kadoban Honours

Legend:
PA - Promotion Age
ŌB - Ōzeki basho

* - denotes ōzeki who held the rank over two or more disjunct periods
^ - denotes demoted ōzeki who immediately re-earned promotion with 10 wins at sekiwake

This set of tables provides a high-level overview of ōzeki performance before we dive into the details.

Promotion age

In general, rikishi who peak at yokozuna are promoted to ōzeki earlier than those who peak at ōzeki. This makes sense, since rikishi with the eventual ability to reach yokozuna should find ōzeki promotion easier than rikishi who cap out at ōzeki. Most yokozuna are promoted to ōzeki slightly under the age of 24, although we have a large outlier in Takanosato, with Mienoumi not far behind - neither eventually amounted to much as yokozuna, although Takanosato had a relatively good showing as an ōzeki. Also unsurprisingly, there is a good overlap between the youngest promotees to ōzeki and the ichidai-class yokozuna; the only discrepancies are Wakanohana III, promoted at the same age as Asashōryū but who remains one of two yokozuna never to win a yūshō as yokozuna, and Chiyonofuji, who was promoted to ōzeki remarkably late but wasted no time getting to yokozuna and down to business.

The list of ōzeki is a bit more varied here, with the recent collegiate trio of Mitakeumi, Shōdai and Asanoyama pushing up the average. Nonetheless, most ōzeki are promoted around the age of 26, with a bit more variance compared to the yokozuna. The youngest ōzeki promotees are a bit more of a mixed bunch relative to their yokozuna counterparts, though. You have Takanohana I who was fondly remembered as a strong ōzeki, you have Takanonami, Chiyotaikai and Kotoōshū, some of the longer serving ōzeki of the 90s and 00s, and you also have Takakeishō, whose youth is often forgotten considering how long he feels like he's been a makuuchi fixture. But on the other hand, you have Daiju, infamous for the shortest ōzeki tenure, Kaiketsu, more notable for being the first person to be repromoted to ōzeki the hard way than for anything done during his tenure, and Miyabiyama, who infamously failed to earn repromotion the hard way.

Flipping it around, it's probably not surprising that the older ōzeki promotees probably reached it more as an achievement, pinnacle rank as a final hurrah at the end of their careers. That probably aptly describes Kotomitsuki, Tochinoshi, and Masuiyama, although Kirishima alone of those four proved to be surprisingly decent at the rank (more on that later).

Ōzeki basho

The ōzeki tenure of rikishi who reach yokozuna can be roughly split into two camps; those who make it there in a hurry and those who don't. That's sort of exemplified by a slightly disparate mean vs median; the median basho spent at ōzeki is 10, but Kisenosato and Musashimaru, "languishing" at ōzeki for more than 30 basho, massively drive up the average relative to the rest of their peers (Wakanohana III is a close third). That same distribution pattern shows up in the list of ōzeki, with a couple of outliers driving up the mean relative to the median (looking at you, Chiyotaikai and Kaiō).

KK/MK percentages (KK/(KK+MK))

This is where the yokozuna really distinguish themselves relative to those who remain at ōzeki. Of the 20 yokozuna covered, 12 preserved a perfect 100% KK record while at ōzeki, and 5 only committed one MK, with 2 7-8s and 3 kyujos (so no howler double-digit MKs). The three exceptions are Mienoumi, who had such a bad initial tenure at ōzeki that he wanted to retire, Wakanohana III, who spent the longer part of his career as an ōzeki, and Terunofuji, whose injury-plagued initial tenure was outdone only by the speed of his reascent. The stats bear this out; the median KK percentage is 100%, with a mean of 93.5%.

The ōzeki corps, on the other hand, are a much more mixed bag, running the whole gamut from 28% KK to 90% KK, with means and medians around 70%. That sort of implies that your average ōzeki will be kadoban a quarter of the time during his tenure as an ōzeki, which is a useful stat to keep in mind. It's probably no coincidence that the worst howlers belong to Daiju and Tochinoshin, the two shortest-lived ōzeki (although Tochinoshin managed to re-earn the rank only to lose it immediately). On the other hand, the best scorer is Kotokaze, followed by Kotomitsuki and Takanohana I with a motley crew of 3 more at 86% chasing them.

Kyujō/Kadoban ((KJ or KB)/ŌB)

The KK/MK percentages might be slightly muddled up by the fact that in my methodology, going kyujō counts as an MK. That is slightly disambiguated by this next bunch of stats, where logically the number of MK actually committed over 15 days should be MK - KJ: so for instance, Terunofuji has committed 3 actual MK. This might vary a bit as some rikishi have gone kyujō with a KK, but it does help somewhat at this stage. However, there is an additional confounding factor in the form of the kōshō seidō or public injury system; a partial kyujō followed by a zenkyu counts as 2 MK/kyujō but really forms part of the same "injury incidence", if you will; the actual number of times going kadoban therefore helps disambiguate this too. 

Again, no surprise that the three MK yokozuna stars lead the kyujō stakes here, although that was perhaps to be expected on the weight of the numbers. The ōzeki corps are again a lot more varied, with Asanoyama making a surprise appearance in the kyujō rankings on par with Tochinoshin, and Kaiketsu being the only ōzeki who never went kyujō (Mitakeumi, being only 2 basho old as an ōzeki, doesn't count for obvious reasons related to sample size). The mean and median for kadoban basho for ōzeki is around 20%, which sort of bears out the intuition earlier that an ōzeki will be kadoban about a quarter of the time. Again discounting Mitakeumi, the kadoban stars are Tochinoshin and Masuiyama, with Daiju and Shōdai coming in third. Surprisingly, while the kadoban twins of Gōeidō and Kotoshōgiku did go kadoban fairly frequently, all(!) the modern ozeki from Takakeishō onward beat them out in kadoban frequency to an extent not seen since Masuiyama, Daiju, and Miyabiyama! Perhaps that's what's driving a lot of the crabbing about the current ōzeki, especially considering they've had relatively shorter than average tenures so far.

Honours ((Y+D+J)/ŌB)

The previous section might have covered the lows of an ōzeki tenure that they might be lambasted for, but this next section would be the highs which ōzeki are expected to achieve in the absence of yokozuna. In general, the yokozuna all do pretty well with the possible exceptions of Mienoumi, Kakuryū, and Harumafuji, who achieved a yūshō honour of some sort only about 10-15% of the time during their tenure at ōzeki; Kakuryū is arguably the most "efficient" as his two honours are also the ones that got him promoted in the first place. Special mention must go to Chiyonofuji and Wajima, who during their short ōzeki tenures clocked a yūshō honour in every basho. In contrast, where the worst yokozuna as ōzeki only clocked an honour 10-15% of the time, that's unfortunately still better than the average ōzeki, who clocked a yūshō honour only about 10% of the time. Funnily enough, Shodai is bang on average. That's probably because there are a number of ōzeki who "burnt out" reaching the rank and never quite recaptured the same form; notable obvious examples would be Tochinoshin (again), Daiju (again), Dejima, Miyabiyama, Masuiyama, and Maenoyama (more on him later).

Somewhat surprisingly, the "legendary" ōzeki pair of Kaiō and Chiyotaikai only achieved an honour about 13-15% of the time, on par with Kakuryū and Harumafuji's strike rates, although obviously spread out over a much longer career. The honourable mentions here are Kirishima, Asanoyama, Takanonami, and Takakeishō; while Kirishima, Asanoyama, and Takakeishō could be said to have benefitted from sengoku periods, Takanonami achieved his during the heyday of his more illustrious stablemate Takanohana II. That said, the infamous Fujishima-Futagoyama dominance of that period might have helped Takanonami avoid a number of the stronger wrestlers, which would have naturally helped him run up the score a bit. So I'm not sure it's a good thing that the top four all have some sort of a question mark next to their honour records. 

Naturally, it has to be some kind of cosmic joke that the fifth best ōzeki after the aforementioned is Takayasu, and who is still continuing to run up his tally of jun-yūshō in the maegashira ranks.

Edited by Seiyashi
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3. Kunroku

Yokozuna
ŌB
ŌQ KK KK MK Percentages  
Ōzeki
ŌB
ŌQ KK KK MK Percentages
15-0 14-1 13-2 12-3 11-4 10-5 KR MK DDMK ŌQ KK KR KK MK   15-0 14-1 13-2 12-3 11-4 10-5 KR MK DDMK ŌQ KK KR KK MK
Terunofuji* 16 0 1 1 3 1 0 4 0 6 38 25 38   Mitakeumi 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 50 0 50
Kisenosato 31 0 1 5 2 8 8 6 1 0 77 19 3   Shōdai 10 0 0 0 0 1 0 5 2 2 10 50 40
Kakuryū 12 0 2 0 0 1 2 7 0 0 42 58 0   Asanoyama 7 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 1 2 57 0 43
Harumafuji 22 2 2 0 0 2 5 10 0 1 50 45 5   Takakeishō*^ 17 0 0 1 3 1 1 5 1 5 35 29 35
Hakuhō 7 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 71 14 14   Tochinoshin*^ 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 0 29 71
Asashōryū 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 100 0 0   Takayasu 15 0 0 0 3 1 1 6 0 4 33 40 27
Musashimaru 32 1 0 4 10 5 5 7 0 0 78 22 0   Gōeidō 33 1 0 0 3 1 2 16 3 7 21 48 30
Wakanohana III 29 0 3 0 9 4 4 4 5 0 69 14 17   Kotoshogiku 32 0 1 0 1 3 4 15 2 6 28 47 25
Takanohana II 11 2 3 1 1 3 0 0 1 0 91 0 9   Baruto 15 0 1 0 0 3 4 5 0 2 53 33 13
Akebono 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 50 25 25   Kotomitsuki 17 0 0 0 1 2 2 10 0 2 29 59 12
Asahifuji 17 0 4 2 4 2 0 5 0 0 71 29 0   Kotoōshū 47 0 1 1 0 0 12 25 0 8 30 53 17
Ōnokuni 13 1 0 1 3 2 1 5 0 0 62 38 0   Tochiazuma*^ 30 0 1 2 2 0 6 7 1 11 37 23 40
Hokutoumi 5 0 0 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 80 20 0   Kaiō 65 0 0 4 5 5 11 25 2 13 38 38 23
Futahaguro 4 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 100 0 0   Miyabiyama 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 1 0 50 50
Takanosato 9 1 1 1 1 3 1 1 0 0 89 11 0   Musōyama*^ 27 0 0 0 1 0 6 11 1 8 26 41 33
Chiyonofuji 3 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 100 0 0   Dejima 12 0 0 0 0 1 4 4 1 2 42 33 25
Mienoumi*^ 21 0 1 1 0 2 4 9 1 3 38 43 19   Chiyotaikai 65 0 1 2 2 8 14 19 5 14 42 29 29
Wakanohana II 8 0 1 3 0 0 3 1 0 0 88 13 0   Takanonami*^ 37 0 2 0 8 5 3 12 6 1 49 32 19
Kitanoumi 3 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 100 0 0   Kirishima 16 0 1 1 2 2 3 2 2 3 56 13 31
Wajima 4 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 100 0 0   Konishiki 39 0 2 4 4 1 7 13 2 6 46 33 21
                              Hokutenyū 44 0 0 1 3 3 9 22 1 5 36 50 14
                              Asashio 36 0 0 1 0 2 4 24 1 4 19 67 14
                              Wakashimazu 28 1 1 2 1 5 2 10 1 5 43 36 21
                              Kotokaze 22 0 1 0 1 7 4 7 0 2 59 32 9
                              Masuiyama 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 3 14 43 43
                              Asahikuni 21 0 1 0 0 0 4 12 0 4 24 57 19
                              Kaiketsu* 9 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 3 1 22 33 44
                              Daiju 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 40 60
                              Takanohana 50 0 0 2 2 1 11 28 1 5 32 56 12
                              Daikirin 25 0 0 0 0 3 6 10 0 6 36 40 24
                              Maenoyama 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 1 2 0 70 30
                              Kiyokuni 28 0 0 1 2 3 5 12 1 4 39 43 18
Max 32.0 2.0 4.0 5.0 10.0 8.0 8.0 10.0 5.0 6.0 100.0 58.3 37.5   Max 65.0 1.0 2.0 4.0 8.0 8.0 14.0 28.0 6.0 14.0 59.1 70.0 71.4
Mean 12.7 0.5 1.3 1.4 1.8 1.9 1.9 3.1 0.4 0.6 74.6 18.9 6.5   Mean 24.6 0.1 0.4 0.7 1.4 1.9 4.0 10.2 1.4 4.5 31.5 39.0 29.5
SD 9.5 0.7 1.1 1.3 2.8 2.0 2.2 3.2 1.1 1.4 21.4 16.9 10.4   SD 16.6 0.2 0.6 1.1 1.8 2.1 3.8 7.8 1.4 3.3 16.8 15.8 14.7
Median 10.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 0.5 1.5 1.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 77.8 16.8 0.0   Median 21.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 3.5 8.5 1.0 4.0 34.3 40.0 25.8
Min 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 37.5 0.0 0.0   Min 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.1
    15-0 14-1 13-2 12-3 11-4 10-5 KR MK DDMK ŌQ KK KR KK MK       15-0 14-1 13-2 12-3 11-4 10-5 KR MK DDMK ŌQ KK KR KK MK
    ŌQ KK KK MK Percentages       ŌQ KK KK MK Percentages

Legend:
ŌQ KK - Ōzeki quality kachi-koshi
KR - Kunroku kachi-koshi (8-7, 9-6)
DDMK - double-digit make-koshi (0-15 to 5-10)

* - denotes ōzeki who held the rank over two or more disjunct periods
^ - denotes demoted ōzeki who immediately re-earned promotion with 10 wins at sekiwake

The YDC meeting convened after Natsu 2022 used a somewhat rare sumo term, "kunroku". Written 九六, or with the kanji for 9 and 6, it apparently means "an ōzeki wrestler unable to live up to the expectations of his rank". (And I thought I was the odd one out for expecting ōzeki to score double digits all the time...) This gives us a bit more to chew on than simply castigating an ōzeki for failing to be in the yūshō race or for getting "bad results", because we now know what a bad result is considered to be. Note that I'm not saying at this stage what a bad result is: I'm just stating for the record that the existence of that term implies a certain expectation.

For that purpose, each rikishi's record is split into which ōzeki quality KKs he has scored and how often, how else often he scores "only" a kunroku KK, and not just how often he scores an MK, but also a double-digit MK which presumably would be compounding a felony in the eyes of the pundits. And because absolute numbers are very sensitive to short tenures at ōzeki, the best means of cross-comparison would be via percentages.

No surprises here; the yokozuna all do pretty well in scoring ōzeki quality KKs about 75% of the time. Not unexpectedly considering their overall KK/MK records, the worst outliers are Terunofuji and Mienoumi, but more surprisingly, Kakuryū, Harumafuji, and Akebono are not that far behind. Kakuryū also leads the kunroku KK stakes, so a fair assessment of his tenure at ōzeki would really be suddenly "coming alive" to get that promotion and during Hakuhō's reign to boot. As for MKs, again, no surprise that Terunofuji leads here, but Akebono's one kyujō basho costs him dearly here, putting him ahead of Wakanohana III and Mienoumi.

Now for the ōzeki.... hooo boy. Again, four ōzeki have wholly failed to score any ōzeki quality KK at all: Tochinoshin, Daiju, Maenoyama, and Miyabiyama. On the other side, Kotokaze leads with an ōzeki quality KK 59% of the time, closely followed by Asanoyama and Kirishima. The leader for kunroku KK goes to Maenoyama, with Asashio a close second. Again discounting Mitakeumi, Asanoyama has never gotten a kunroku KK, which speaks to the general sentiment that his sumo is pretty darn good when he shows up to fight. The poor leader in committing makekoshi goes to Tochinoshin (again no surprises here), but Kotokaze is turning up trumps once again in committing makekoshi the least, ahead of ōzeki considered strong like Baruto, Takanohana, and Hokutenyū. I'm beginning to understand why Kotokaze was often scathing of modern rikishi, and he as one of the better performing ōzeki of his time would definitely be well qualified to comment.

In terms of the hypothetical average ōzeki, he will only score double digits about a third of the time, go kunroku 4 in 10, and commit a makekoshi the rest of the time. so your ōzeki only really live up to expectations, at best, a third of the time

Edited by Seiyashi
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4. Quality of opposition

Yokozuna
Y/Ō S/K M S/K/M  
Ōzeki
Y/Ō S/K M S/K/M
W L % W L % W L % W L %   W L % W L % W L % W L %
Terunofuji* 16 33 33 33 21 61 74 39 65 107 60 64   Mitakeumi 2 2 50 4 4 50 11 7 61 15 11 58
Kisenosato 78 65 55 85 28 75 169 40 81 254 68 79   Shōdai 1 11 8 19 17 53 55 37 60 74 54 58
Kakuryū 19 35 35 33 15 69 67 12 85 100 27 79   Asanoyama 2 2 50 13 10 57 36 12 75 49 22 69
Harumafuji 56 41 58 57 23 71 102 41 71 159 64 71   Takakeishō*^ 8 8 50 25 25 50 93 44 68 118 69 63
Hakuhō 20 6 77 18 7 72 37 4 90 55 11 83   Tochinoshin*^ 2 9 18 9 13 41 24 21 53 33 34 49
Asashōryū 5 3 63 11 1 92 22 3 88 33 4 89   Takayasu 11 10 52 29 16 64 73 31 70 102 47 68
Musashimaru 56 57 50 72 39 65 228 34 87 300 73 80   Gōeidō 37 63 37 65 46 59 158 86 65 223 132 63
Wakanohana III 19 24 44 55 31 64 201 47 81 256 78 77   Kotoshogiku 42 85 33 72 42 63 142 65 69 214 107 67
Takanohana II 11 7 61 25 9 74 101 13 89 126 22 85   Baruto 19 35 35 41 15 73 73 19 79 114 34 77
Akebono 3 0 100 15 3 83 18 6 75 33 9 79   Kotomitsuki 24 35 41 26 29 47 91 40 69 117 69 63
Asahifuji 50 34 60 56 12 82 88 17 84 144 29 83   Kotoōshū 66 82 45 83 65 56 229 117 66 312 182 63
Ōnokuni 38 26 59 34 16 68 68 13 84 102 29 78   Tochiazuma*^ 28 39 42 50 34 60 130 52 71 180 86 68
Hokutoumi 10 11 48 17 3 85 29 5 85 46 8 85   Kaiō 96 108 47 134 99 58 294 121 71 428 220 66
Futahaguro 13 7 65 9 7 56 24 1 96 33 8 80   Miyabiyama 3 14 18 14 13 52 40 31 56 54 44 55
Takanosato 12 10 55 20 10 67 74 9 89 94 19 83   Musōyama*^ 14 36 28 13 10 57 129 71 65 142 81 64
Chiyonofuji 1 2 33 14 0 100 23 5 82 37 5 88   Dejima 10 20 33 22 19 54 68 32 68 90 51 64
Mienoumi*^ 34 58 37 48 31 61 98 35 74 146 66 69   Chiyotaikai 70 133 34 138 101 58 307 112 73 445 213 68
Wakanohana II 19 18 51 23 8 74 50 4 93 73 12 86   Takanonami*^ 24 47 34 74 59 56 259 90 74 333 149 69
Kitanoumi 5 6 45 11 2 85 20 2 91 31 4 89   Kirishima 13 19 41 36 23 61 90 34 73 126 57 69
Wajima 13 5 72 12 2 86 25 3 89 37 5 88   Konishiki 47 73 39 93 58 62 206 69 75 299 127 70
                            Hokutenyū 70 121 37 114 57 67 194 67 74 308 124 71
                            Asashio 56 92 38 63 57 53 175 54 76 238 111 68
                            Wakashimazu 44 60 42 56 48 54 150 37 80 206 85 71
                            Kotokaze 27 54 33 63 26 71 123 30 80 186 56 77
                            Masuiyama 3 12 20 13 12 52 28 20 58 41 32 56
                            Asahikuni 24 64 27 54 24 69 90 34 73 144 58 71
                            Kaiketsu* 11 18 38 14 16 47 45 31 59 59 47 56
                            Daiju 4 10 29 9 10 47 17 12 59 26 22 54
                            Takanohana 60 96 38 110 79 58 254 103 71 364 182 67
                            Daikirin 35 51 41 55 42 57 99 39 72 154 81 66
                            Maenoyama 14 26 35 15 14 52 38 16 70 53 30 64
                            Kiyokuni 39 57 41 73 43 63 122 47 72 195 90 68
Max 78.0 65.0 100.0 85.0 39.0 100.0 228.0 47.0 96.0 300.0 78.0 89.2   Max 96.0 133.0 52.4 138.0 101.0 73.2 307.0 121.0 80.4 445.0 220.0 77.0
Mean 23.9 22.4 55.0 32.4 13.4 74.5 75.9 16.7 84.0 108.3 30.1 80.8   Mean 28.3 46.6 36.1 50.0 35.2 56.8 120.1 49.4 69.0 170.1 84.6 65.0
SD 20.7 19.9 15.9 21.8 11.4 11.1 59.7 15.6 7.5 79.6 26.3 6.6   SD 24.4 36.2 9.9 37.4 25.5 7.2 81.9 31.6 6.9 117.4 55.4 6.3
Median 17.5 14.5 54.5 24.0 9.5 72.8 67.5 10.5 85.1 97.0 20.5 81.8   Median 24.0 37.5 37.4 45.5 25.5 56.5 96.0 38.0 70.6 143.0 69.0 66.4
Min 1.0 0.0 32.7 9.0 0.0 56.3 18.0 1.0 65.5 31.0 4.0 64.1   Min 1.0 2.0 8.3 4.0 4.0 40.9 11.0 7.0 53.3 15.0 11.0 49.3
  W L % W L % W L % W L %     W L % W L % W L % W L %
  Y/Ō S/K M S/K/M     Y/Ō S/K M S/K/M

The literal translation of ōzeki is "big barrier", and that's often the image evoked when ōzeki are asked to stop upstarts running away with a hiramaku yūshō. The relatively high number of hiramaku yūshō in the past few years has been attributed to a gap at the top of the banzuke, but it's more damning that the ōzeki are nowadays often bypassed as reasonable candidates for stopping a hiramaku yūshō attempt, defeating their whole point of being there, or so it seems.

Amongst the yokozuna, Akebono stands out for absolutely demolishing his fellow ōzeki 3-0 (no yokozuna were active during his time as ōzeki), rightfully earning him his rope. Surprisingly, other than Hakuhō and Wajima, everyone else has middling win-loss records against fellow ōzeki or yokozuna, going about 50-50, which lends some support to the idea that you don't need to beat a yokozuna to be a yokozuna. 

Against lower sanyaku and maegashira, naturally the yokozuna clean house while ōzeki, to the tune of average win rates of about 74% and 85%. The notable exceptions are Terunofuji and Futahaguro (listed as Kitao) against lower sanyaku, and Terunofuji (again) against maegashira, while Chiyonofuji deserves special mention for preserving a perfect record against lower sanyaku, and Futahaguro absolutely dominated maegashira opponents, losing only 1 bout in 25.

While the average yokozuna candidate has a slightly better than even record against other senior sanyaku wrestlers while ranked as ōzeki, the same can't be said of the ōzeki; the best ōzeki only reach that even record against their fellow senior sanyaku wrestlers, with Asanoyama, Takakeishō, and Takayasu doing quite well in this regard. Kaiō and Kotoōshū are also in the high 40+, but everyone else averages around 35% give or take, which means that they only win about 1 in 3 bouts against another ōzeki or yokozuna. This 20% deficit from the yokozuna stats carries through to bouts against other ranks of wrestlers; ōzeki only beat junior sanyaku about more than half the time, while they only beat maegashira about 70% of the time.

Special mention has to go to Baruto and Kotokaze, who boast some of the highest win rates across the board while being only "average" ōzeki against their peers; Kotokaze was slightly better against maegashira while Baruto was better against junior sanyaku. Again, it fortifies the conclusion that Kotokaze was one of the stronger ōzeki perhaps not just of his time, but maybe in modern times; a hypothesis we will test in the next section.

Edited by Seiyashi
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5. nagora's rating system

Yokozuna ŌP YP First Max Basho Min Basho Mean SD Median   Ōzeki ŌP I/DB First Max Basho Min Basho Mean SD Median
Terunofuji* 2015.07 2021.09 6195 7777 2021.07 3804 2017.03 5880 1291 5868   Mitakeumi 2022.03 - 6103 6753 2022.05 6103 2022.03 6428 324 6428
Kisenosato 2012.01 2017.03 6623 7662 2014.03 6233 2015.01 6912 319 6753   Shōdai 2020.11 - 6103 7402 2021.01 5324 2022.05 6358 734 6335
Kakuryū 2012.05 2014.05 6753 6883 2012.07 5974 2013.05 6363 355 6363   Asanoyama 2020.07 2021.09 6623 7142 2020.11 6493 2020.09 6903 236 6923
Harumafuji 2009.01 2012.11 6739 7391 2009.07 5679 2011.07 6498 451 6576   Takakeishō*^ 2019.05 - 7012 7037 2019.11 5666 2022.01 6643 336 6666
Hakuhō 2006.05 2007.07 6619 8181 2006.11 6619 2006.05 7574 507 7662   Tochinoshin*^ 2018.07 2019.11 6103 7536 2018.11 5084 2019.07 6359 864 6363
Asashōryū 2002.09 2003.03 6623 6883 2002.11 6623 2002.09 6796 122 6883   Takayasu 2017.07 2020.01 6753 7258 2019.01 6623 2017.11 6853 199 6753
Musashimaru 1994.03 1999.07 6630 8261 1995.07 6304 1996.09 7241 547 7174   Gōeidō 2014.09 2020.01 6522 6854 2019.07 4945 2016.03 5924 498 6047
Wakanohana III 1993.09 1998.07 6753 7843 1997.09 6515 1996.05 7209 358 7142   Kotoshogiku 2011.11 2017.03 6623 7272 2012.03 4935 2015.11 6048 573 6060
Takanohana II 1993.03 1995.01 6103 8051 1994.01 6103 1993.03 7461 540 7532   Baruto 2010.05 2013.01 6363 7662 2010.07 6233 2011.07 6935 436 7012
Akebono 1992.07 1993.03 5844 7096 1993.01 5844 1992.07 6592 485 6714   Kotomitsuki 2007.09 2010.07 6233 7272 2008.03 5270 2009.09 6097 595 5974
Asahifuji 1987.11 1990.09 6103 8441 1989.09 5584 1990.07 7417 813 7792   Kotoōshū 2006.01 2014.01 6363 7402 2006.05 4920 2008.07 5981 568 5974
Ōnokuni 1985.09 1987.11 6103 7532 1986.05 5974 1987.07 6713 500 6753   Tochiazuma*^ 2002.01 2007.05 6623 7532 2002.07 4285 2003.07 6332 908 6600
Hokutoumi 1986.09 1987.07 6493 7402 1987.01 6493 1986.09 7090 334 7142   Kaiō 2000.09 2011.07 6493 7792 2005.03 4920 2007.01 6200 760 6166
Futahaguro 1986.01 1986.09 6756 7272 1986.07 6756 1986.01 7020 182 7027   Miyabiyama 2000.07 2001.11 6363 6883 2000.09 5064 2001.07 6006 561 6168
Takanosato 1982.03 1983.09 6103 7662 1983.01 6103 1982.03 7099 501 7272   Musōyama*^ 2000.05 2004.11 6935 7142 2000.07 4833 2004.01 6020 657 6229
Chiyonofuji 1981.03 1981.09 5844 7272 1981.07 5844 1981.03 6580 584 6623   Dejima 1999.09 2001.09 5974 7012 2000.03 5844 2001.05 6461 414 6363
Mienoumi*^ 1976.01 1979.09 6848 6957 1979.07 4891 1977.11 5798 666 5747   Chiyotaikai 1999.03 2010.01 6103 7678 2003.07 4545 2009.11 6214 770 6290
Wakanohana II 1977.03 1978.07 6233 7402 1978.05 6233 1977.03 6899 369 6948   Takanonami*^ 1994.03 2000.07 6623 7662 1994.11 5362 2000.05 6665 711 6623
Kitanoumi 1974.03 1974.09 5454 6623 1974.07 5454 1974.03 6060 478 6103   Kirishima 1990.05 1993.01 5844 7571 1991.01 5844 1990.05 6825 453 6818
Wajima 1972.11 1973.07 6623 7272 1973.05 6623 1972.11 6948 234 6948   Konishiki 1987.07 1994.01 7096 8181 1992.05 4459 1989.05 6537 963 6666
                        Hokutenyū 1983.07 1990.09 6363 7272 1983.09 5178 1988.03 6198 600 6233
                        Asashio 1983.05 1989.03 6753 7183 1984.01 4769 1989.03 6184 552 6181
                        Wakashimazu 1983.01 1987.07 6739 8043 1984.09 4778 1987.07 6603 1172 6821
                        Kotokaze 1981.11 1985.07 5974 7792 1984.01 5974 1981.11 6800 517 6753
                        Masuiyama 1980.03 1981.03 5454 6285 1980.11 4714 1981.03 5816 512 6000
                        Asahikuni 1976.05 1979.09 6753 7012 1976.07 4647 1979.09 6135 725 6461
                        Kaiketsu* 1975.03 1977.09 6196 6739 1975.07 6196 1975.03 6449 205 6413
                        Daiju 1973.09 1974.07 6233 7012 1973.11 6233 1973.09 6592 263 6571
                        Takanohana 1972.11 1981.01 6233 7142 1977.09 4925 1979.01 6096 525 6001
                        Daikirin 1970.11 1974.11 6363 7142 1971.07 4647 1974.03 6124 721 6363
                        Maenoyama 1970.09 1972.05 5974 7096 1971.03 5324 1972.03 6218 666 6212
                        Kiyokuni 1969.07 1974.01 5584 6883 1970.01 5500 1973.11 6204 441 6233
Max     6848 8441   6756   7574 1291 7792   Max     7096 8181   6623   6935 1172 7012
Mean     6372 7493   5983   6807 482 6851   Mean     6359 7270   5301   6350 577 6397
SD     379 482   676   491 244 532   SD     383 398   629   305 222 292
Median     6556 7402   6103   6906 482 6916   Median     6363 7221   5131   6275 565 6363
Min     5454 6623   3804   5798 122 5747   Min     5454 6285   4285   5816 199 5974
  ŌP YP First Max Basho Min Basho Mean SD Median     ŌP I/DB First Max Basho Min Basho Mean SD Median

Legend
ŌP - ōzeki promotion
YP - yokozuna promotion
I/DB - intai/demotion basho

nagora's rating system is essentially a rolling average of a rikishi's win/loss records over 6 basho. A rikishi's nagora rating (NR) is most accurate when used to rate rikishi of the same era against each other, since they are the ones contributing to each others' win/loss records, but it can also be used to assess strength across rikishi of different time periods somewhat rudimentarily. Because different rikishi held ōzeki for different periods of time, it would be unwieldy to present a rikishi's NR for all basho in his tenure, so a sampling of descriptive statistics - first ōzeki basho, maximum and minimum NR, mean, standard deviation and median, will have to suffice.

The advantage of the NR is that it presents a dynamic description of a rikishi's performance over time. The weakness of the three former sections is that they collapse the dimension of time, whereas the NR preserves it. Well, a better look at the NR would have been to show a graph, but that would have been a bit impracticable within the context of a forum post, so this descriptive method will have to do. Nonetheless, it still gives us a pretty good basis of comparison. The one stat I'll focus on most is actually the standard deviation, because that to me is perhaps the best measure of the consistency of an ōzeki of all the measures presented in this thread.

Before getting down to grips, some anomalies deserve further explanation. The first basho column really is a look at the lead up to ōzeki. Because of the 33/3 criterion, all ōzeki are roughly within a certain level of performance on their promotion, so the discrepancy in this score is probably more attributable to the three basho before their ōzeki run and not too much should be drawn from this. For instance, Kitanoumi has the lowest first basho rating of all the yokozuna and ōzeki combined, yet he turned out just fine. 

The second is how repeat holders of the rank are dealt with. For those who succeeded in immediately achieving repromotion upon being first demoted to sekiwake, that sekiwake basho in which they scored 10-5 or better is included in the computation of their NR. For those who didn't (namely Terunofuji and Kaiketsu), the first basho of their second stint takes into account the 6 previous bashos as well.

Lastly, it should be noted that the yokozuna who have short tenures at the rank of ōzeki have unreliable NR for that period, since many of them didn't even spend a full rating cycle of 6 basho in the rank.

Looking at the yokozuna, it's no surprise that Terunofuji has the largest discrepancy in his peak and trough performance, as evidenced by his much larger standard deviation compared to the rest of the yokozuna. It means that his performance as ōzeki was incredibly swingy and inconsistent, which fits with what we know of his chequered first stint at the rank. The next worst ōzeki to make yokozuna in this regard was Asahifuji, who again was also someone almost doomed to end his career as an ōzeki had he not rallied against illness in his late career - perhaps that's why he managed to convince Terunofuji to stay on even after his first demotion.

Asashōryū and Futahaguro on the other hand were much more consistent, although both held the rank for very short periods of time, so it's more accurate to say that they were just performing to a higher standard for most of that time. The only other thing of note at this point is to compare Musashimaru and Kisenosato; while playing very similar roles as ōzeki in their times, their long tenures allow for much better comparisons. Both had similar trajectories to ōzeki, as reflected in their first basho scores, but while Musashimaru generally reached greater heights of good performance, Kisenosato was much more consistent with a tighter spread of results.

Turning next to the ōzeki, it's not too surprising that Konishiki holds the highest peak NR amongst ōzeki, considering he was at one point talked about as a yokozuna candidate. Quite unfortunately - or aptly, depending on how you look at it - this was in Natsu 1992, just right when that infamous comment about being yokozuna if he weren't gaijin broke, and his ōzeki career never recovered thereafter. What is more surprising is that the next highest isn't Baruto, who is pretty high if not topping most people's lists of "could have been yokozuna" on this forum; that honour goes instead to Wakashimazu about a year and a half after his promotion. Baruto did well, but not better than this thread's favourite, Kotokaze, who coincidentally shares the same max rating as Kaiō.

There's not too much point mentioning mediocrity; it's worth noting that because of the 6 basho update cycle, the worst ozeki pair of Tochinoshin and Daiju don't actually have that bad min scores relative to their peers. The lowest min score belongs to Tochiazuma around Nagoya 2003, when he had a string of kyujō and bare minimums (holding a 8-loss streak at one point).

In terms of consistency, it's probably again another cosmic joke that the most consistent is Takayasu, taking after his anideshi in more ways than one. Among ōzeki of significant tenures, that's closely followed by Kaiketsu and Asanoyama; at least the latter name ought to be no surprise given what we do know of his performance before his unfortunate demotion. The most inconsistent ōzeki would seem to be Wakashimazu, while the best performing on average is Baruto, perhaps salvaging some of his status as yokozuna potentiate.

Again, not too surprisingly, there are three pairings of ōzeki in close proximity with pretty bad means and medians - Gōeidō and Kotoshōgiku, Kotomitsuki and Kotoōshū, and Miyabiyama and Musōyama - take from that what you will. Relative to these six, the recent ōzeki (Takayasu, Takakeishō, and Asanoyama) have acquitted themselves pretty well, actually, and even Shōdai isn't that bad (if the most inconsistent of the current batch by a country mile).

Edited by Seiyashi
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Posted (edited)

6. Conclusions

A sort of recent joke about some of these trend-noticing posts has been the "lack of a thesis". By all means I accept that as a criticism, because this wasn't so much meant to advance a particular point rather than be a basis for questions about ōzeki to be answered. That said, some sub-themes can be addressed:

Kisenosato

This goes back to @Yamanashi's question about what Kisenosato really was, given we never had time to appreciate him as a yokozuna. Consistent with my original treatment of him in the Haru 2022 thread, by his metrics, there's no doubt that he does belong in the yokozuna category (despite his lopsided JY/Y ratio, which points to a more specific problem than general performance, and that problem's name might well be Hakuhō). Compared to another ōzeki of similar tenure, like Tochiazuma, Kisenosato had double the honour strike rate, twice the ōzeki quality KK, and less kunroku KK and MK combined than Tochiazuma had kunroku KK or MK. Even his junior sanyaku and maegashira destruction stats are just ahead of Kotokaze and Baruto, probably two of the stronger ōzeki in this study, and his consistency as an ōzeki was average for those who did eventually make it to yokozuna. By the numbers alone, his performance was worthy of yokozuna; if he had never made it it would have been a great shame.

Kotokaze

I'm beginning to find a new respect for Kotokaze, who at first struck me very much as a reactionary old fart. His role as sidekick to Shibatayama in the NSK's PR machine didn't help matters either. But it seems that he does in fact know what he's talking about, with some of the better scores across the board - a consistently high KK rate and scoring ōzeki quality KK to boot, hardly going kyujō or kadoban, and regularly cleaning house against everyone ranked lower than him. I can definitely imagine him being pained to some extent about the "softness" of young rikishi today - especially with their kyujō rate, although I think we can all agree that's something on which a reactionary mindset has to move.

Tarred brushes?

There's no way to put this bluntly, the ōzeki (Gōeidō, Kotoshōgiku, Kotomitsuki, Kotoōshū, Musōyama, Miyabiyama) in the Asashōryū and early to mid Hakuhō eras were... generally bad. Kotomitsuki and Kotoōshū were still somewhat ok, with a high win/loss ratio and lower than average kyujō/kadoban rates, but the kunroku section tells the real story: all of them have lower than average ōzeki quality KK percentages, the majority of their KKs were kunrokus, and they regularly went MK at an average to above-average rate. Which sort of begs the question how three of them have some of the longer ōzeki tenures in sumo history.

I'm not going to reopen the OBSC debate by even suggesting that their stats suggest some form of collusion, because the stats alone can't say that. What the stats can say is that those 6, coming in relatively quick succession, did quite a lot to dent the prestige of the ōzeki rank with their relatively poor performance. Which makes it all the more surprising because it feels like there's a double standard when talking about ōzeki performance nowadays. The current batch (Takayasu onwards) should be an improvement over previous years, but how is it that we're still talking about them with disappointment? Because two of them (Asanoyama and Takakeishō) are destined for something better? Or because they're still not living up to ōzeki standards, which were set in a memory of Kirishima and Kotokaze? Is that still a relevant standard to hold them up to with changing attitudes towards sumo and injury? And is all this expectation screwing especially Shōdai and Asanoyama over, when they appear to have some of the slightly more fragile minds in the upper ranks?

Moving forward

If you've made it all the way here, thanks very much for reading what has to be a lot of "forum pooh-pooh", as someone once mentioned. I have been less detailed than I should be, and I've probably unfairly glossed over some stories lying just below the surface of these stats. But like I said earlier, the purpose of these stats isn't to advance an argument or agenda, but to provide a principled basis to discuss what we expect out of ōzeki, and the three sub-conclusions in this post are just  examples of some of the discussions that can be had on the basis of these stats. I hope you have fun exploring this first order construction of the SumoDB stats, and I look forward to the discussions that we can have on this topic.

Edited by Seiyashi
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And it's done! 

Apologies to purely mobile users - I've just taken a look at it myself and it's unreadable in mobile. I'll be happy to take suggestions to improve readability. 

I do have a Google Docs, if sharing the link to that makes life for everyone easier. 

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Re: the Land of Many Mediocre Ozeki

I can't explain how the 5-Ozeki scenario arises, but a little math suggests this:  With 1 Yokozuna, 5 Ozeki, 2 Sekiwake and 2 Komosubi, an average Ozeki might split his matches with the other Y/O (3-2, say) and lose only one bout against the sanyaku.  Thus the average Ozeki already has three losses before attempting to go "clean sweep" through the Maegashira.  And if you have a dominant Yokozuna (2005-2015), you're down four at that point.

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So many statistics to show what we already knew, but some like to ignore. Tochinoshin is the worst ozeki in history and Goeido and Kotoshogiku's weren't that bad after all.

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44 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

Re: the Land of Many Mediocre Ozeki

I can't explain how the 5-Ozeki scenario arises, but a little math suggests this:  With 1 Yokozuna, 5 Ozeki, 2 Sekiwake and 2 Komosubi, an average Ozeki might split his matches with the other Y/O (3-2, say) and lose only one bout against the sanyaku.  Thus the average Ozeki already has three losses before attempting to go "clean sweep" through the Maegashira.  And if you have a dominant Yokozuna (2005-2015), you're down four at that point.

Simplistically, for the era in question, it's probably spectacularly bad luck to be active at the same time as 1 dai yokozuna, 2 quite good yokozuna, and the best ōzeki of modern times. That's almost guaranteed to be 3 losses before taking into account the lower sanyaku and then you've got to deal with the maegashira who've been pepped up by the chanko.

Perhaps in hindsight it's easy to be harsh on the underperforming ōzeki, but it might just have been a complication of an era with a relatively top-heavy banzuke.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Asapedroryu said:

So many statistics to show what we already knew, but some like to ignore. Tochinoshin is the worst ozeki in history and Goeido and Kotoshogiku's weren't that bad after all.

I don't know that they were not that bad IMO, but Yamanashi's just opened an avenue of inquiry which suggests it's not entirely their fault after all.

And yes, of course the statistics shouldn't be contradicting what was obviously common knowledge like Tochinoshin's disastrous tenure at the rank. Or, well, at least if they did, then someone ought to have said something by now. It's a slightly longer perspective on older rikishi not within current memory that I'm also trying to invoke with the tables. It's also a way to actually quantify differences between rikishi who may not be the most obvious good or bad, and therefore harder to assess without a whole lot of work that some useful idiot's done... (Whistling...)

Edited by Seiyashi

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2 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

And it's done! 

Apologies to purely mobile users - I've just taken a look at it myself and it's unreadable in mobile. I'll be happy to take suggestions to improve readability. 

I do have a Google Docs, if sharing the link to that makes life for everyone easier. 

yes please

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That does provide some food for thought.

~On the Qual of Opp it would be interesting to add columns to see what % of all bouts were against diff level opponents.

All in all a big effort, well done.

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Yes, Sum of Opponent Score (SOS) would be a good indication of the opposition.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, rhyen said:

Yes, Sum of Opponent Score (SOS) would be a good indication of the opposition.

I assume you are referring to this?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchholz_system

We can probably take the simplification of taking a rikishi's net score - e.g. +1 for a 8-7 etcetc as their actual score, although I don't know that you could score negatives in chess; perhaps taking their raw number of wins would be better since I think a Swiss-system has everyone play the same number of rounds (analogous to basho days) anyway.

So e.g. If you score 9-6 against 15 opponents who go 9-6, your score would be 9*15*9? Since we're using this to compare strength and not necessarily a tiebreak, we would need to retain the multiplier of a player's own score? Perhaps with Median Buchholz, although what happens with multiple instances of a lowest score? 

That'll take a while, though, since my script wasn't configured to extract opponent data as of yet. 

Edited by Seiyashi

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Posted (edited)

Let's keep in mind that "kunroku", by its very nature as a word denoting "9-6", is a relatively modern invention since it obviously came into being in the 15-bout era only. As I've had reason to mention a couple of times recently, the first decade and a half of those tournaments - ignoring the brief prior period in Futabayama's heyday which had its own issues - from 1949 to 1964 had significantly more restrictive match-making rules which resulted in many high-rankers of the day getting a much easier ride than high-rankers did after 1965, and even moreso than they do nowadays where almost no heya manages to put more than two rikishi into the joi concurrently anymore and the joi competition is very close to the ideal top 16 roundrobin (injuries aside).

I'm probably a broken record on this point - especially over on Reddit which is the unofficial headquarters of "all ozeki suck" sentiment - but I would contend that the reason a great number of ozeki don't actually hit 10+ wins all that often isn't that they're bad or that too many unqualified rikishi are getting promoted to the rank, it's that the double-digit expectation is 50+ years out of date, and arguably only survives because "double digits" is such an easily digested notion that people (the Kyokai brass quite possibly included) don't bother to question its meaning. It was appropriate to denigrate 8/9 wins as unsatisfactory when top-rankers were facing some selection of 15 rikishi out of the top 20 to 25, but it just doesn't match the historical evidence of what high-caliber rikishi are actually capable of achieving when the schedule is closer to the ideal top 16.

Unless people want to make the ozeki rank into a more exclusive thing than yokozuna, it's high time for it to be acknowledged that 9 wins is a perfectly acceptable result for an ozeki, both in an individual basho as well as in their career average at the rank.

Edited by Asashosakari
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

I don't know that they were not that bad IMO, but Yamanashi's just opened an avenue of inquiry which suggests it's not entirely their fault after all.

And yes, of course the statistics shouldn't be contradicting what was obviously common knowledge like Tochinoshin's disastrous tenure at the rank. Or, well, at least if they did, then someone ought to have said something by now. It's a slightly longer perspective on older rikishi not within current memory that I'm also trying to invoke with the tables. It's also a way to actually quantify differences between rikishi who may not be the most obvious good or bad, and therefore harder to assess without a whole lot of work that some useful idiot's done... (Whistling...)

I continue to slowly digest the mountain of scholarship that you have created.  I appreciate your efforts and your insights.

Oh, on the subject of Tochinoshin: it's clear that he had a late surge of relatively injury-free basho that showed what might have happened.  So his knees caught up with him -- I'm sure he'll take that ("worst Ozeki ever!") instead of another year as a streaky mid-Maegashira foreigner. [Tokushoryu was a terrible member of the joi, too, but he got there with a yusho!]

Edited by Yamanashi
somehow I got the h out of there ... so I put it back in
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5 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

I continue to slowly digest the mountain of scholarship that you have created.  I appreciate your efforts and your insights.

Oh, on the subject of Tochinoshin: it's clear that he had a late surge of relatively injury-free basho that showed what might have happened.  So his knees caught up with him -- I'm sure he'll take that ("worst Ozeki ever!") instead of another year as a streaky mid-Maegashira foreigner. [Tokushoryu was a terrible member of the joi, too, but he got there wit a yusho!]

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that just becoming an Ozeki, even the worst ever, is a remarkable achievement in the sport of sumo. 

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3 minutes ago, Kaninoyama said:

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that just becoming an Ozeki, even the worst ever, is a remarkable achievement in the sport of sumo. 

I happened across a video of the bout that caused his injury: day 5 of Nagoya 2013 against (guess who?) Tokushoryu.  The win is listed as a yorikiri, but he was lifting his opponent out when the knee popped, and Tokushoryu landed on the bales and stepped backwards.  In the video, Toku is aware that an injury just occurred.

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1 hour ago, Kaninoyama said:

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that just becoming an Ozeki, even the worst ever, is a remarkable achievement in the sport of sumo. 

I also think we should point out that *someone* has to be the worst Ozeki ever.  And it seems reasonable that it's going to be someone that ended up peaking near the end of their career for just long enough to get promoted, and then not being able to continue at that level due to accumulated injuries finally catching up.  Miyabiyama in some ways looks like a much worse Ozeki simply because he was still young when he was demoted; he had no real excuse to drop off after his promotion besides simply being too inconsistent.  That's part of the motivation to require even better results for a second promotion, which he couldn't manage.  Miyabiyama's promotion is also the only one that's been reported as not having been unanimously approved, showing that there were doubts from the beginning.  With Tochinoshin, his record over the last 3 basho was so overwhelmingly good, that even though we knew that he probably couldn't keep it up for very long, there was no hint that he didn't deserve the promotion.

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One thing that deserves a mention is just how much volatility there is to sumo results.  With the exception of the absolute worst and best in the sport, performances tend to spike up and down quite a lot.  There are a lot of rikishi who only make it to a rank or division for one basho and then get nowhere close after that.  It's pretty typical for rikishi who peak at ranks less than sanyaku to not have many tournaments near their high rank.  Given the rank protection for Ozeki, it's not surprising that when someone manages to string together their best 3-tournament performance of their life and have it be just good enough to get to Ozeki that they are going to likely stay around the rank for a couple years and put up mediocre results.  I'm sure if people were to run simulations after figuring the appropriate amount of variance, they could see that these kind of career paths are totally expected and not unusual at all.

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I also think a lot of the disappointment with Ozeki that put up results that barely keep them at the rank is, right now especially, fans really want to see new Yokozuna.  Every time an Ozeki is promoted, there's some hope that his most recent string of tournaments is no fluke and he'll continue to perform at that level long enough to string together a Yokozuna run.  Since all our Ozeki are either recently promoted or still young and thus has time for improvement, there's the hope that we might get another Yokozuna, but the results we get instead show that they're nowhere close.  Particularly with only one ailing Yokozuna left, people sorta have the right to be disappointed when no one else can step up and take the rope.  Fans want someone to be excited about and the marketers want people to put on promotional material.  It's really not all that strange to have a recent Sekiwake Yusho winner featured with the rest of the Ozeki, even if in my opinion that Yusho was something of a fluke and it's unlikely to be repeated very often.  I think they also have Ura highlighted a bit more as well, even though he's done nothing that great to deserve it.  At least they aren't defaulting to Endo.

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