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Natsu 2024 Power Rankings

The Natsu basho starts on Sunday, but you can still sign up to play Fantasy Basho on Fantasizr.


The Power Rankings are here once again. Largely, they got things pretty dead on for Natsu. Kotonowaka, Kirishima, and Hoshoryu were pipped as potential yusho candidates. Kirishima struggled, but he was also clearly battling injuries. A formula can't know that if it happens between basho. On the other end, the Power Rankings foresaw that Kitanowaka, Ryuden, and Endo would struggle. Things aren't perfect, but generally the Power Rankings gave a view of how rikishi were as they approached Haru. Then the results were close enough.

Except for Takerufuji. If you hadn't heard, Takerufuji gave an historic performance. He won his Makuuchi debut basho, something no one had done since 1914. The Power Rankings not flagging the potential for a first-in-110-years occurrence isn't wild. It did put him dead last going into Haru, but that also speaks to Takerufuji's amazing performance. He also came into that basho after just one (1!) Juryo basho. That, too, was rather historic.

Takerufuji's unbelievable yusho was predicted by no one. That's not the issue, it's placing him at the bottom of the rankings. This is because he had a lot of lower-division, and especially sub-Juryo basho in the previous year. The "fix" would be to inflate Juryo and Makushita win totals in the formula. The Power Rankings count Makushita wins as worth 1 point, essentially, with Juryo at 1.5 and Makuuchi at 2 points per win. Those numerical inputs can't catch a dominant performer who may carry their dominance into Makuuchi.

That also isn't so common, and Takerufuji spending only one basho in Juryo made him a particular outlier. Typically, the Power Rankings do show Juryo promotees will have a tough time getting a winning record as a Maegashira. What they are intended to do is overcome recency bias by incorporating how a rikishi performed over the last year. Their current rank, something achieved through excellent performance for Sanyaku wrestlers and especially Ozeki and Yokozuna, also matters.

But at the end of the day, it is just a formula. It gives insights, but they always should be taken with a grain of salt. The Power Rankings for Natsu are listed below, followed by some commentary. First, a reminder of how these 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.

  • The newly rechristened Kotozakura leads this chart. He has, without question, had the best last six Bashos. He has not had a losing record in the last year, and in the last four he has put together an Ozeki run followed by a 10 win debut Ozeki basho. He feels as solid a bet to be around the yusho race as anyone.

  • Kotozakura is also not well ahead of the field by this reckoning. Hoshoryu is right there with him. He too, is a recently promoted Ozeki who has not had a losing record in the last year. Neither of them have dominated, but these are two guys who are already stand-out rikishi early in their prime. They are certainly in a better position than anyone else.

  • But then a little bit behind them are Onosato and Kirishima. A small gap then goes to Atamifuji, Takerufuji, and Wakamotoharu. These are all wrestlers with arguments for a yusho shout, but who all also have reasons they may not be contenders. Onosato is making his Sanyaku debut and will have a tough opening week. Kirishima and Takerufuji may still be hurt from injuries suffered in March. Atamifuji is still figuring out facing the strongest competitors. Wakamotoharu has never dominated, but is holding onto a Sanyaku place. They're good, they just all have reasons to doubt their ability to win the yusho.

  • On the other hand, if you did this with just the last three basho, Onosato would be second behind Kotozakura. He's only had two Makuuchi basho. The Power Rankings, at least, think he's legitimate. He would be followed in this alternate version of the rankings by Takerufuji. Remember that the formula doesn't know about Takerufuji's injury.

  • What this shows at the bottom is that there aren't great candidates for breakouts from the Juryo promotion group. Mitoryu did get 12 wins in Juryo, but his previous time in Makuuchi did not go too well. Oshoma got 11 wins after a series of middling performances in the second division. Tomokaze won 9 matches in Haru, while Takarafuji and Tokihayate got 8. Let the Power Rankings be a reminder that no one is storming up to Maegashira on the back of a series of excellent lower division records.

Sumo is almost here. But this is how everyone looks going into the basho.

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