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Hatsu 2024 Power Rankings

We're a matter of days away from the first tournament of 2024. Sign up on Fantasizr before Sunday to play.

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Ah, yes, Power Rankings. They have come around again. For Kyushu, they provided a good, but not ideal view of who would perform well in that basho. Hoshoryu and Kirishima led the way, and Atamifuji far surpassed his spot on the Banzuke. The formula also seemed to know Roga, Kitanowaka, and Nishikifuji would struggle. Those were the good calls. The bad calls included bullish takes on Asanoyama and Wakamotoharu and a bearish stance on Ichiyamamoto.


But this is simply a formula, and a rather crude one at that. It does not know about Onosato's amateur dominance or Terunofuji's performance in practice matches of late. It can't. It's just a formula. It just knows those two have some zeroes on their recent ledger. Every sumo fan can use that little reminder. Very few rikishi make Makuuchi after four professional tournaments. Competing all 15 days just once in the last year is not a sign of health and strength. Remember that what the Power Rankings should show in an ideal world is how everyone looks coming in to the basho. And a simple formula will not be ideal.


The power rankings are below, with notes to follow. The Power Rankings formula is as follows.

  • 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:

  • A check that this does know what it's doing is placing Kirishima on top by a decent margin. The Ozeki has just won a yusho, with another one earlier in the year. He can also make Yokozuna. You don't need a formula to tell you he's been good.

  • The top five rikishi form an interesting group. Kirishima and Hoshoryu are the top two wrestlers, and they both made Ozeki and won yusho in the last year. Right behind them is Atamifuji, who is a 21 year old at a career high rank of Maegashira #1. He is also coming off two consecutive Jun-Yusho. Kotonowaka and Daieisho have held on to their Sekiwake ranks by right. None of these men dominated sumo in the last year, but they've clearly been the top five overall rikishi of late. The safest bets for Yusho and Jun-Yusho are in this group.

  • Then there's a small drop off to Takakeisho, who is immediately followed by Gonoyama and Wakamotoharu. There are reasons to be excited about any of them, but there is also a lot of reason to wonder about them. Takakeisho has both a Yusho (but an 11-win playoff one) and a missed basho in the last three tournaments. Gonoyama is a recent Makuuchi debutant who has consistently gotten his kachi-koshi and now is facing a full Sanyaku slate. Wakamotoharu was a recent Sekiwake who never really threatened Ozeki and just crashed out after a 6 win basho. I would trust no predictions about how these men will fight in Hatsu, good or bad.

  • Ichiyamamoto and Asanoyama are even bigger wild cards. Considering Ichiyamamoto's career until the last basho and Asanoyama's recent performance against his career means both have had a range of possibilities in 2023. Who can say what that will mean for 2024?

  • At the very bottom are Onosato and Terunofuji. Very, very few sumo fans would think these are the two worst rikishi in Makuuchi coming into Hatsu. Onosato has only been in pro sumo for four tournaments, but won 13 amateur titles before that. His career so far has shown he could have been competing at a high level before turning pro. Terunofuji is the lone Yokozuna, who destroyed all comers when he last competed for fifteen days. All the formula can see is zeroes.

  • If you want to just consider the last three tournaments, Onosato would jump to the 26th spot. Playing this game for others, Kirishima is still on top, but is then immediately followed by Atamifuji, Kotonowaka, Hoshoryu, Kotonowaka, Takakeisho, and Ichiyamamoto. That probably is too excited for Atamifuji and Ichiyamamoto, but is worth considering. Terunofuji is also at the bottom of that version, if you care.

  • The bottom of the rankings above Onosato and Terunofuji is highly clustered, which shows how the Sanyaku and even upper Maegashira are well ahead of the lower Maegashira. This makes sense. If all people are on a bell curve for sumo talent, the far right end of the curve would be Makuuchi. And that means the shape of Makuuchi's ability would be a sharp slope with the top ranked wrestlers to the right.


Or take this as a guarantee that Terunofuji will compete for all fifteen days and boss everyone. See you for previews on Sunday.

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