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Nagoya 2023 Power Rankings

The Nagoya basho begins in a matter of days, and you can sign up right now at Fantasizr for Fantasy Basho. Consider these Power Rankings both a way to sate your sumo appetite before the matches start and a way to help pick your initial lineup.


Each basho, this site publishes Power Rankings as a way to look ahead to the upcoming tournament. Generally, it does a pretty good job of identifying the top few rikishi or some who may be in a position to surprise. The Natsu Power Rankings had some hits and some misses.

They nailed that Kiribayama (now Kirishima) was an extremely strong performer heading into the basho. He was in the yusho race well into the second week, and his 10 wins and a Special Prize earned him an Ozeki promotion and a new shikona. Daieisho, Wakamotoharu, and Hoshoryu all performed well after ranking highly in the Power Rankings. Those are credits to the formula.

On the other hand, Terunofuji won the Yusho on Day Fourteen, while Asanoyama was the Jun-Yusho winner and clear second-best rikishi. Terunofuji ranked last in the Natsu Power Rankings, and Asanoyama was 38 of 42. Their dominance does not speak well to the formula's ability to say much about the future.

There were good reasons to doubt Terunofuji and Asanoyama. Terunofuji had not competed at all in the previous three basho. No one could touch him before that, but he had been missing for half a year. Asanoyama had not been listed as a Makuuchi wrestler since November 2021, and he hadn't actually wrestled in the top division since May 2021. The former Ozeki was suspended for a year and subsequently had to rise from demotion. He had dominated the lower divisions, including a 14-1, 13-2 combo in his two Juryo basho. Picking either of them to win big before the basho was a bold move.

And that's an important lesson about the Power Rankings. These are a reflection of how rikishi have done over the previous year. They don't know why a wrestler hasn't competed in Makuuchi the previous few basho or even whether they have or not. All it knows is that the input score isn't as high. This is a formula, based on the following very basic math.

  • 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.

Here are the Power Rankings for Nagoya 2023, followed by some commentary:

  • Kirishima has a new name, but the same place atop the Power Rankings. He has been the best rikishi over the last three bashos, unquestionably. That's why he is the newest Ozeki. Of course, he wasn't the best rikishi in the last basho, but that's not what these rankings are meant to show. He seems as solid a bet as anyone to get 10 wins, and that means he'll be near the yusho race.

  • The rest of the top five is rounded out by Kirishima's fellow Ozeki Takakeisho and the Sekiwake trio of Daieisho, Wakamotoharu, and Hoshoryu. The three sekiwake have all been good during 2023, and all three are on possible Ozeki runs. Still, assuming all five of these will succeed just because they've been doing well is wrong. Someone could roll an ankle, smash a pinky, or do much worse.

  • Despite that very strong top five, there are three rikiswho seemhi to be disrespected by the Power Rankings. Two are Terunofuji and Asanoyama. Everything about why they were at the bottom for Natsu's Power Rankings apply to Nagoya. Their strong May bashos simply mean they aren't as low on the Rankings as before. Importantly, caution isn't completely ridiculous. Terunofuji will be an injury worry until he retires. Asanoyama is getting a serious jump in opponent quality. I also wouldn't object to anyone calling Terunofuji and Asanoyama favorites, personally.

  • The other rikishi that the Power Rankings appear to be unnaturally pessimistic about is Hakuoho. He ranks last. The Power Rankings aren't built for someone like Hakuoho, who is in a unique spot. As Ochiai, his birth name, he came in as a 19 year old Makushita Tsukedashi in January. Let's start there, because that doesn't happen. Makushita Tsukedashi are usually 22 year old University champions. Instead, Hakuoho's background was as a high school champion who then competed in Corporate sumo for a year to become Corporate Yokozuna. Being a 19 year old entering the top of sumo's thrid division, he won the yusho. That got him to Juryo, where all he did was go 24-6 over two basho. The second was a playoff loss. Now he's in Makuuchi before turning 20, with a shikona clearly evoking his stablemaster at Miyagino-beya, the greatest Yokozuna of all time Hakuho. The hype for Hakuoho is legitimately high. He is also doing things that are completely unprecedented. 19 year olds don't often do this. Only one other rikishi has made it to Maegashira after three basho. That was Endo in 2013, and he was 22 when he did that. You can say Hakuoho should be really good now, but the Power Rankings sees three zeroes for the last three basho of 2022. If you don't look at those basho, but keep the formula the same otherwise, he winds up in the middle between Chiyoshoma and Onosho. Those are uninspiring names in some ways, but that would show Hakuoho has been performing at roughly the level of mid-Maegashira. If he gets 8 and stays as a Maegashira, that's impressive. If he gets 9 or 10, then we're talking about a truly meteoric rise.

  • Another debutant, Gonoyama, is really liked by the Power Rankings. He's had two excellent Juryo basho and got elevated to Maegashira #13 East. At 25 and with less impressive pre-Makuuchi credentials as Hakuoho (it's a big club), Gonoyama may have a lower ceiling. But he could be good right now.

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