Sumo World Cup Group B

My prediction for this group is based largely on the fact that only two of them are likely healthy, Abi & Takarafuji. I see them fighting hard for the second slot.

The first qualification slot from this group will go to Hakuho. At full capacity, the GOAT is capable of 14-15 wins and a cinch for the yusho. Lately, it’s been rare to see him compete at that dominant level from Day 1 through Day 15 but when he’s able to compete he adapts his style and finds a way to win. We won’t really know the actual state of his conditioning until he mounts the dohyo but for this article, I think he will walk up there and find a way to win 11 or 12 bouts.

Takarafuji is a solid mid-makuuchi wrestler and should be good for kachi-koshi. I’m picking him to sneak into the second spot with 9 wins, though 8 could be enough. Unfortunately, I think that’s all one will need to qualify from this group. Abi is still in the joi and that will hurt his chances of advancing. The level of competition and risk of injury is so high, as we’ve seen as our tadpoles attempt to mature. He’s not the only one with the ambition and motivation to shoot for a position in the lower reaches of sanyaku.

Ishiura is at a low enough level, competing with banged up veterans to where he should be able to pick up 8-9 wins. However, his own condition has been questionable of late and I think he’ll be struggling to stay in makuuchi. Aoiyama and Kotoyuki have been in worse shape the last few tournaments, with apparent serious knee issues. Aoiyama has been scraping by with 8 wins but has not been looking good doing it. It seems these three are likely in the 6-7 win category.

I have a feeling this is the group where tie-breakers will be the deciding factor. My first tie-breaker will be the wrestler’s rank with the second tie-breaker being the average rank of his wins. Thus, beating a yokozuna will help while losing to a low level maegashira will hurt.

Introducing the Sumo World Cup

This year, the final week of the World Cup will overlap with the first week of the Nagoya basho. In honor of the World Cup I’ve decided to introduce the Sumo World Cup as a “meta-basho”. This tournament will equate to the “Group Stage” with the top 2 finishers in each group moving on to the next round in September. I’ve had to institute a few key differences. Mainly, there are 6 rikishi in the groups instead of four. This is because there are 42 wrestlers in makuuchi. I’ve also added the 6 top wrestlers from Juryo to round out the groups at 48.

If this doesn’t work out, we will never speak of it again. Rather than head-to-head matchups, this only makes sense to take the wrestlers’ overall records instead. I have got to say, my Group A favorites are Kakuryu and Onosho. In September, the winner from Group A would face the second place survivor of Group B (Takarafuji?) and the winner of that match-up would continue to the Group of 8 and so on. The ultimate winner would be crowned in March…if this doesn’t end up as pointless as the CONCACAF Champion’s League.