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Welcome back to the second edition of The Fight Library Sumo Power Rankings. Today, we have a few changes in how things were done. This post concerns the January 2021 Hatsu Basho. Let’s dive in to a few housekeeping notes.
If you recall our debut power rankings, we used a simple point scale that didn’t correctly weigh the wins over higher rikishi and losing to lower. The thought behind it is if Hakuho defeats a Maegashiera 7, it shouldn’t be worth the same amount of points should a Maegashiera 16 defeat the same fighter. The M16 is expected to lose and when victorious, he should be rewarded more points than a Yokozuna, who is expected to win. The same goes for if Hakuho loses to the M7. It should cost him more points. But the M16 shouldn’t be penalized as much.
Our fix was suggested by a member of the Sumosumosumo Facebook group (sorry I don’t remember your name, I can’t find the old post. Reach out if it was you so I can properly credit you!) In chess, they have a rating system called the ELO system, which is exactly this. There’s some math involved, but luckily for me, I found an online calculator so I could save some time and brainpower.
I went back and updated the November 2020 basho with this rating system in anticipation for this month’s. The next challenge was giving every rikish a proper rating that values where they sit on the banzuke. I settled on 25 point increments for now. Juryo rikishi coming into the top tournament for the top time will be given 1000 as a rating. The rikishi in the east were given more points for their position over the equivalent west rankings. The Maegasheira 17 was given 1100 as a rating. Then from there, we went up by 25 points for each rikishi in successive order until we reached Hakuho who was given an ELO ranking of 2150. So that’s were our starting point was.
The rankings are rated on the banzuke specifically, which this is designed to test. In just one tournament, I have seen discrepancies between our rankings and the banzuke. One example was Kiribayama who had a +11 differential, which means the rankings had him 11 spots higher than the official banzuke. Alternatively, Tochinoshin was at a -6 which means he was ranked too high in the banzuke according to the power rankings.
January 2021 Hatsu Basho Power Rankings
Daieisho won the yusho, compiling a best record of 13-2. But, with his wins, he came in at a power ranking of 1932, ranking him 6th overall. He moved up two spots from 8th in the November 2020 basho. It was a great showing from Daieisho.
At the top of the rankings, Shodai held a firm lead on the top spot for most of the basho until he dropped a couple matches at the end. Going into day 15, Shodai had a 1.9 lead over number two ranked Asanoyama. The two ozeki battled it out on day 15, determining the top spot in the sumo power rankings. That bout went Asanoyama’s way, crowning a new king.
The last king, Takakeisho, was forced to pull out of the basho. He lost 130.7 points, dropping his ranking from number one to fourth.
Big winners and growers of the basho included Meisei, who moved up 11 rankings and gained 67.3 points. Shimanoumi also moved up 9 spots and added 97 points to the score. But when it came to adding points, the bottom two ranked rikishi took the cake. Midroifuji added 122.7 points and Akiseyama added 110.4.
Big movers in the opposite direction was Koteko. He went down seven spots in the rankings and lost 32.9 points from the previous basho. Takakeisho losing 130.7 points was the largest move downward. Other big losers include Tobizaru (-89.1), Kotoshoho (-83.8), and Tokushoryu (-80.5).
Check out the spreadsheet with the complete rankings, including day to day changes, below. How long until March gets here?