Haru 2020 Draft Preview
We're at draft time for Fantasy Basho with the Haru 2020 basho. That means we should consider the factors that can change a draft.
Here's the thing, most of the the things to worry about, injuries and training reports, have been drowned out by the talks around the measures taken around the coronavirus. The spread of COVID-19 in Japan has made the entire basho scheduled to be done without spectators. Also, any wrestlers who have a high enough temperature reading will be forced to sit out. So far, that hasn't happened.
Of course, the basho is continuing apace and there are traditional things we can look at.
--The Sanyaku looks strange, because there is only one Ozeki for the first time since 1982. That one Ozeki is Takakeisho, who could take solace that this position allows him to be just below the Yokozuna and neither of them were healthy last time. Or Takakeisho could suffer from having a target on his back. It's really hard to say, because it literally hasn't happened in 38 years.
--The seven man Sanyaku also means that the joi-jin would technically extend to Maegashira 5 East, which is Ryuden. The joi-jin are the wrestlers who are the top 16, and would have to face the other top 15. But once you factor in possible injuries stablemates not facing each other, Onosho at Maegashira 5 West and Kagayaki at Maegashira 6 East could see the higher-ranked wrestlers quite a bit. There are a lot of people in that top group who have not been here much before.
--The typical "sweet spot" on the Banzuke is Maegashira 10-11-12, because they are going to face lots of wrestlers below them. That would be Sadanoumi, Tochiozan, Chiyotairyu, Terutsuyoshi, Ishiura, and Ikioi. Except the small Sanyaku means the Banzuke goes all the way to Maegashira 18 East, so the Maegashira 13 duo of Kotoshogiku and Aoiyama also should have some relatively favorable matchups.
--Although it should be said that the Banzuke shook out fairly strange, so the scheduling around stablemates will probably be weirder than usual. They just seem to be clustered at an abnormal rate. The usual rules of how a basho is scheduled are going to go off the rails quickly. Here is the full list of the 32 rikishi who have a stablemate in Makuuchi, grouped alphabetically by stable.
--If you really want, you could try and decipher which rikishi most need a crowd, but that would be pure speculation. Yet it's probably important to remember who are crowd favorites and who does little maneuvers to psych up the crowd. But everyone will be affected by the fact that the crowd will basically be the shimpan and upcoming wrestlers.