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  • Fantasy Basho

Kyushu Basho Draft Preview

We're coming down to drafting. There are some general guidelines about drafting that don't change from basho to basho. Yokozuna and Ozeki are generally better choices, while rikishi on hot streaks are better than those who have lost a lot recently. Yet each basho presents its own issues as well.

First, always start with what you can glean about rikishi health leading into a tournament. Whether all 42 makuuchi wrestlers will make it through isn't the only concern a Fantasy Basho player should have. There are plenty of things to consider for the Kyushu basho, like the following:

The Joi-Jin

  • "Joi-jin" essentially means "top guys" and refers to all the top rikishi who must face each other (and more importantly must face all the Sanyaku wrestlers). That's the top 16, which for this tournament and its four Komusubi goes to Maegashira 3 East Takarafuji. However, Maegashira 4 West Tomokaze is probably not totally out of the woods. Wrestlers go kyujo, for one, and a lower guy who goes 7-0 will see some tougher competition. The real reason Tomokaze will face a handful of the guys above him is that stablemates can't face each other. That means we can't see Endo vs. Daieisho or Hokutofuji vs. Okinoumi.

The Bottom of the Banzuke

  • Similarly to the joi-jin, the bottom 16 wrestlers all typically face each other. That group begins at Maegashira 8 West Sadanoumi. Once again, these won't be a perfect grouping. Ichinojo is likely kyujo, while stablemates are also littered through this section. The lower portion also features wrestlers who are usually not this low on the Banzuke, including Chiyotairyu, Shodai, and Kotoshogiku.

The Four Komusubi

  • The most notable feature of this month's Banzuke is the fact that four wrestlers, Abi, Endo, Hokutofuji, and Asanoyama, are ranked at Komusubi. Typically, the Komusubi face the Yokozuna over the first two days. Maybe they will just see the Yokozuna in the first four days. That doesn't totally matter, because they'll all see the top ranked men, although a tough start can wreck a basho. More strikingly, there are four Komusubi because they all earned it. The round robin between them will influence the yusho race, especially if one can pull a 3-0 over their fellow Komusubi.

Playing for More than the Yusho

  • Every wrestler wants to lift the Emperor's Cup, but a few have concerns about other things than getting the most wins. The most obvious are those with Ozeki concerns. Takayasu will lose his rank if he can't achieve 8 wins. Tochinoshin can regain his Ozeki slot with 10 wins. Theoretically, Mitakeumi would hit the typical promotion requirement if he can get 12 wins once again. The four Komusubi would also really like to be Sekiwake to kick off 2020. Lower down, plenty of rikishi below Maegashira 10 need to do enough to avoid relegation. 8 wins guarantees it, but they also just need to do better than two or three of their similarly ranked opponents, making matchups more important.

All of this theorizing and guessing goes out the windows in three days. Then sumo starts again.

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