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Haru 2024 Power Rankings

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With a matter of days left before the Haru basho, the Fantasy Basho Power Rankings are here again. As usual, I like to look at the last version of the Power Rankings. This isn't great. The Power Rankings for the Hatsu basho had the Emperor's Cup winner on the very bottom. And right above him was a debutant who got 11-4 and a special prize.


Although looking at the commentary, there was an acknowledgement of the flaws. I would highlight closing with "Or take this as a guarantee that Terunofuji will compete for all fifteen days and boss everyone." He did just that. Of course, Terunofuji gets a special advantage over the field. As the sole Yokozuna, he can pull out of a basho, or never even begin, and not lose rank. So when he is feeling good enough to compete, he can come back to dominate.


Dominate he has as a Yokozuna, when competing. He has a 89-16 record with 5 Yusho and a Jun-Yusho in the 7 basho where he finished all 15 days. On the other hand, he missed 5 basho outright, while pulling out of 3 more with a combined 7-8 on-dohyo record. The basic fact of Terunofuji right now is he is either the overwhelming Yusho favorite or not competing on Day Fifteen. There is no in-between.


But on the Power Rankings, he is in-between. He is ranked 11th on these rankings, shooting way up after his yusho. He will not hold the 11th best record. If he loses 3 or 4 before Day Ten, he's gone. Even more possible is that he never gets on the dohyo. All the noises are positive, but his recent track record says he is unlikely to be healthy enough to go for fifteen days. That's the value of a metric like this. Terunofuji just went 13-2 and beat all his nearest competition. Yet no one should be 100% confident he'll win this one. Looking at the last six basho means remembering he has only finished two of them.


Below are the Power Rankings followed by some notes. Here is how these Power Rankings are figured:

  • 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.




NOTES:

  • Kotonowaka tops the list. If Kotonowaka does break through with a yusho finally, that wouldn't be surprising. Being a new Ozeki is often tough and he is still acclimatizing to the top of the Banzuke. On the other hand, he feels like the safest best to get 10 wins among the Sanyaku. He's coming into his prime, riding his best career performance.

  • Kirishima is right behind him. His worst performance was 7 wins in an injury-marred Nagoya basho. That was also his Ozeki debut. He didn't make Yokozuna after January, but he did prove he is a solid Ozeki.

  • After Kirishima, there is a drop-off to Hoshoryu. Then there is a similar gap to Atamifuji. Daieisho and Wakamotoharu are a little after him, with another gap between them and Asanoyama. That cluster from Hoshoryu to Wakamotoharu basically contains the people who have either been consistently above average or notched a few large win totals of late. They are well ahead of the competition.

  • Someone who may start making a claim to be in this top group is Onosato. Right now, we have one Makuuchi basho of evidence on Onosato. Admittedly, he won 11, earned a Special Prize, and passed the look test with flying colors. Onosato is a future star. He is also someone who has been in professional sumo less than a year. He doesn't even have a top knot of any kind yet. He got a huge promotion this time because of performance AND banzuke luck. His range of outcomes is huge, but he has a chance at doing something special.

  • The very bottom of these rankings finds Takerufuji. Takerufuji is an odd case, although with the recent success of Hakuoho, Atamifuji, and Onosato, it may not feel like it. Like those three, Tajerufuji makes it to Makuuchi after blasting aside Juryo. Unlike them or many rikishi, he got promoted after one Juryo basho. He's been dominating the lower divisions after a University career. In fact, he shares a record with Jokoryu for the fastest climb from Jonokuchi to Makuuchi. But he's also had one basho as a sekitori. Confidence about his Haru performance is warranted but does also need a grain of salt. The Power Rankings are providing an entire salt block.


Sumo begins on Sunday. We'll see how well these rankings hold up.

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