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Aki 2023 Power Rankings

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It’s that time again. With a basho around the horizon, Fantasy Basho’s Power Rankings are here.

I will once again issue the caveat that these are not predictive, but a look back at who has been doing well coming into a basho. There are many reasons for this–from the ups and downs of performance to the effect of significant promotions or demotions. The biggest reason is injuries, and injuries have already cropped up for Aki. Nishikigi, the story of the first week in Nagoya, hurt his calf at the Sumo Association’s public practice. Hakuoho, the story of sumo in 2023, has undergone shoulder surgery. Nishikigi’s time-table is unclear, while Hakuoho is said to be out for the rest of the year.

Either way, those two rikishi are out for the September tournament. There are other injury worries among top rikishi. Terunofuji had to pull out during Week One, Takakeisho never mounted the dohyo, and Kirishima missed the first three days for the last basho. The only thing the Power Rankings know is how many wins someone collected, being a rather basic mathematical formula.

The value of a basic formula comes from its limited knowledge. Additional adjustments for different absences or win quality add in the assumptions of how those adjustments are built. Seeking more precision simply brings more complexity. Injuries, flukes, and career basho (Nishikigi and Hokutofuji certainly had them in Nagoya) happen. Accounting for all of that would be too much for any formula. Anything attempting to change the formula would likely add more information without making it more predictive.

And it would show something quite different than what the Power Rankings were meant to do. This is showing how a rikishi has performed coming into the basho. It is reflective, not prescriptive. It is meant to take away biases. Take Hokutofuji, who is coming off a playoff loss Jun-Yusho. That was also his first winning record since Aki 2022. He’s not the second-best rikishi coming into Aki. Below, he is listed 7th. That may be generous, especially as it most heavily weights the best tournament of his career.

The Power Rankings for Aki are below. Under those are some notes on the rankings. Here is the formula used to create them:

  • Take the Fantasy Basho score (2 points for each win, 1 point for a kinboshi, 1 point for a Special Prize) for a tournament, adding 10 points for a yusho and 5 for a Jun-Yusho.

  • Add up the last five scores with a modifier. Multiply the most recent basho score by 5, the next most recent by 4, the third most recent by 3, the fourth most recent by 2, and the fifth most recent by 1.

  • For basho in Juryo, take the win total for that tournament and multiply by 1.5. For basho below Juryo, take the win total from that basho.

  • Add a bonus score, which is the budget number for that rikishi in the upcoming basho.

  • Hoshoryu has the top spot after his Yusho and elevation to Ozeki. That's no surprise, and considering the health issues around every other top rikishi he is probably the best rikishi heading in to Aki. Still, a repeat yusho is rare for a reason. That may be the only good reason to think Hoshoryu isn't the best bet for Aki.

  • Kirishima is the only other rikishi in shouting distance of Hoshoryu by these rankings. He is only blemished by his odd three day absence in Nagoya. In addition to recent Ozeki promotions, Hoshoryu and Kirishima have also both been extremely consistent over the past year. The only losing record was Kirishima's Nagoya.

  • SImilarly consistent have been Daieisho and Wakamotoharu, who are still at Sekiwake. That is a remarkable achievement, and their performances place them in 3rd and 4th on the rankings. Shin-Sekiwake Kotonowaka and former Ozeki Asanoyama are not far behind. They got their rankings in different ways. Kotonowaka has been a conistent performer in upper Maegashira and the lower Sanyaku. His 11 wins at Nagoya shot him up. The once suspended Asanoyama is making his way back towards Sanyaku, and he's been fantastic when on the dohyo. He did miss a few days in Nagoya, but a 15 match slate should have him around the yusho race.

  • Like Asanoyama, Gonoyama, Shonnanoumi, and Hakuoho are carrying lower level basho which can't be worth as many points. Hakuoho actually has zeroes, because he only joined sumo in January. These men should all be considered strong rikishi who can obviously compete in Makuuchi. The Power Rankings placing them behind the very top rikishi by this method shows that we do not have the evidence to know what their ceiling may be. Asanoyama is nearing thirty, while Gonoyama and Shonnanoumi are recent debutants at 25. Hakuoho has been spectacular, but is getting surgery. Those aren't reasons to think they're crash, but they are all good reasons to hold back on Ozeki or Yokozuna projections.

  • The bottom of the rankings have two very familiar names in Terunofuji and Mitakeumi. In May, Terunofuji was the Yusho winner. Otherwise, he hasn't completed all 15 days in the last year. Mitakeumi has been getting on the dohyo. He just hasn't been very effective. Let them be a reminder that however a rikishi has performed recently, things can change quickly.

Live sumo starts in two days. Let's hope we have a good one.

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1 Comment

Eyup Cetin
Eyup Cetin
Sep 09, 2023

I don’t understand how these numbers come with your formula. Hoshoryu had 12 wins, times 2 makes 24. +1 for special price and +10 for Yusho makes 35, not 37. Nishikigi would be 10x2+1=21, not 22. Gonoyama 10x2+1=21, not 20. I didn’t check everybody, there might be others. Am I misunderstanding something?

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