2020 Popularity Poll Results

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Check out our results from our second annual popularity poll. Big thank you to everyone who responded and helped spread the word, we got way more responses than last year! Let us know if there are any particular comparisons or results you’d like to hear more about.

Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Sumo Fitness #1: Shiko

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Ever wanted to learn a little bit more about what sumo wrestlers do to work out? Join Jake and Mak as we chat with the Unites States Sumo Federation’s Ed and decide that every day is now leg day. New episodes will be roughly every other week. If you want to follow along with the workout, start with at least 50 shiko every day until next episode.

*Bonus musical treat from MrJWags at the end*

Theme music by David Hall via Soundcloud

2019 Sumo Popularity Poll Results

After more than two months of compiling data, collating, and going through our hybridized synergistic analytical models we are finally ready… Ok. We may have just gotten a little busy and this kept getting pushed to the back burner, but nonetheless we are ready to present the results of our first Bi-Annual Popularity Poll. As you may remember, after the Kyushu Basho we sent out a survey to determine how popular and unpopular different rikishi are, at least among English speaking fans. We had a great response to this poll and received over 600 responses. We plan to send out this survey again after the Natsu Basho to see what changes have occurred in rikishi popularity after the events of 3 more basho. That being said, lets find out who everyone liked and disliked following the Kyushu Basho in 2019 and after that, a quick look at the demographics of the English-speaking sumo community.

The most popular rikishi in the top division goes to exciting newcomer Enho. Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho follows him in second place. Tochinoshin, riding a surge from his Ozeki run in 2018, ranks 3rd. And young yusho winners Asanoyama and Takakeisho round out the top 5. See table below for full list of votes rikishi received. Note that this is only for rikishi that were ranked in Makuuchi for Kyushu 2019. Out of 42 rikishi, only 34 made it to this list. The 8 rikishi to not receive a single vote for favorite rikishi are: Tamawashi, Kotoyuki, Sadanoumi, Chiyotairyu, Takanosho, Daishomaru, Wakatakakage, Daishoho

Favorite Count %
Enho 132 21.85%
Hakuho 91 15.07%
Tochinoshin 67 11.09%
Asanoyama 61 10.10%
Takakeisho 44 7.28%
Takayasu 35 5.79%
Mitakeumi 24 3.97%
Hokutofuji 23 3.81%
Ichinojo 16 2.65%
Abi 13 2.15%
Chiyomaru 13 2.15%
Ishiura 12 1.99%
Kakuryu 10 1.66%
Kotoshogiku 9 1.49%
Goeido 8 1.32%
Endo 7 1.16%
Shohozan 5 0.83%
Ryuden 5 0.83%
Terutsuyoshi 4 0.66%
Aoiyama 4 0.66%
Tomokaze 3 0.50%
Shodai 3 0.50%
Meisei 2 0.33%
Onosho 2 0.33%
Myogiryu 2 0.33%
Nishikigi 1 0.17%
Shimanoumi 1 0.17%
Kotoeko 1 0.17%
Yutakayama 1 0.17%
Kagayaki 1 0.17%
Daieisho 1 0.17%
Tsurugisho 1 0.17%
Takarafuji 1 0.17%
Okinoumi 1 0.17%

The list of least favorite Makuuchi wrestlers contains a lot of different names at the top of the list, with one exception. The least favorite rikishi, surprisingly to us at least, was Abi. None was the second most popular response. Hakuho comes in third in the least favorite list, making him the most polarizing rikishi in Makuuchi. Goeido and Aoiyama round out the top 5. See below for a full list of the least favorite rikishi. There is only one rikishi that did not receive a single vote for least favorite, and that is the injured Tomokaze.

Least Favorite Count %
Abi 73 12.09%
None 64 10.60%
Hakuho 53 8.77%
Goeido 50 8.28%
Aoiyama 46 7.62%
Tamawashi 31 5.13%
Kotoyuki 29 4.80%
Takakeisho 24 3.97%
Endo 18 2.98%
Shodai 17 2.81%
Shohozan 16 2.65%
Daishoho 13 2.15%
Kagayaki 13 2.15%
Daishomaru 13 2.15%
Nishikigi 13 2.15%
Mitakeumi 12 1.99%
Ichinojo 11 1.82%
Ishiura 10 1.66%
Ryuden 10 1.66%
Takayasu 9 1.49%
Tochinoshin 9 1.49%
Enho 6 0.99%
Chiyotairyu 6 0.99%
Chiyomaru 6 0.99%
Terutsuyoshi 6 0.99%
Shimanoumi 5 0.83%
Meisei 5 0.83%
Myogiryu 4 0.66%
Asanoyama 3 0.50%
Yutakayama 3 0.50%
Tsurugisho 3 0.50%
Sadanoumi 3 0.50%
Onosho 3 0.50%
Kotoeko 2 0.33%
Wakatakakage 2 0.33%
Okinoumi 2 0.33%
Kakuryu 2 0.33%
Takarafuji 2 0.33%
Daieisho 2 0.33%
Kotoshogiku 2 0.33%
Hokutofuji 2 0.33%
Takanosho 1 0.17%

The list of favorites in Juryo was a runaway win for Ikioi. Makes sense that the long time Makuuchi favorite would dominate his Juryo cohorts. Kaisei was the second most popular, another Makuuchi mainstay, followed by first time Juryo rikishi Hoshoryu in third, and Yago and Tochiozan finishing out the top 5. See below for complete list.

Juryo Count %
Ikioi 192 33.86%
Kaisei 136 23.99%
Hoshoryu 37 6.53%
Yago 37 6.53%
Tochiozan 34 6.00%
Gagamaru 15 2.65%
Toyonoshima 12 2.12%
Kiribayama 12 2.12%
Sokokurai 10 1.76%
Kotonowaka 10 1.76%
Chiyoshoma 8 1.41%
Kyokutaisei 7 1.23%
Azumaryu 7 1.23%
Wakamotoharu 7 1.23%
Akiseyama 6 1.06%
Takagenji 5 0.88%
Tobizaru 5 0.88%
Kotoshoho 5 0.88%
Akua 4 0.71%
Kizakiumi 4 0.71%
Daiamami 4 0.71%
Ichiyamamoto 3 0.53%
Tokushoryu 3 0.53%
Hidenoumi 3 0.53%
Irodori 1 0.18%

We also asked about people’s favorites in the lower divisions. This was mostly dominated again by former Makuuchi rikishi. Ura took the top spot, followed by Terunofuji at number 2. American rikishi Wakaichiro took the third spot. Another former Makuuchi rikishi, Chiyonokuni, was at number 4. Rounding out the top 5 is Jonokuchi mainstay Hattorizakura. Below is a list of all lower division favorites that received more than 1% of the responses.

Lower Div Count %
Ura 124 30.62%
Terunofuji 79 19.51%
Wakaichiro 69 17.04%
Chiyonokuni 33 8.15%
Hattorizakura 28 6.91%
Roga 12 2.96%
Motobayashi 10 2.47%
Naya 7 1.73%

So who is the most popular rikishi overall through all divisions? Unsurprisingly it matches the top of the list for the Makuuchi favorites. The only differences in the top 10 are that Ura was the 8th most popular, and recently retired Yokozuna Harumafuji also made it in at number 10.

The favorite newcomer that made their debut in 2019 was a runaway victory for Enho. No one was within 60 percentage points of him.

Favorite New Count %
Enho 424 70.20%
Tomokaze 61 10.10%
Wakatakakage 41 6.79%
Terutsuyoshi 34 5.63%
Yago 12 1.99%
Tsurugisho 12 1.99%
Shimanoumi 9 1.49%
None 7 1.16%
Takagenji 3 0.50%
Daishoho 1 0.17%

We also wanted to know if people had preferences for a favorite heya. Almost half of responders did not have a favorite heya, but among the people that did have a favorite the Miyagino stable, which houses the two most popular rikishi, Enho and Hakuho, was the most popular. Full list is below.

Favorite Heya Count %
None 271 44.87%
Miyagino 114 18.87%
Kasugano 25 4.14%
Kokonoe 22 3.64%
Isegahama 22 3.64%
Naruto 18 2.98%
Musashigawa 17 2.81%
Chiganoura 15 2.48%
Tagonoura 9 1.49%
Oguruma 9 1.49%
Shikihide 8 1.32%
Shikoroyama 6 0.99%
Dewanoumi 6 0.99%
Kise 6 0.99%
Sadogatake 5 0.83%
Hakkaku 5 0.83%
Tatsunami 5 0.83%
Takasago 5 0.83%
Arashio 4 0.66%
Oitekaze 3 0.50%
Sakaigawa 3 0.50%
Minato 3 0.50%
Tokitsukaze 3 0.50%
Asakayama 3 0.50%
Otake 3 0.50%
Tomozuna 3 0.50%
Michinoku 2 0.33%
Azumazeki 2 0.33%
Fujishima 2 0.33%
Shibatayama 1 0.17%
Asahiyama 1 0.17%
Yamahibiki 1 0.17%
Nishiiwa 1 0.17%
Tamonoi 1 0.17%

And now to the demographics. Ever wonder what your fellow fans were like? Let’s take a look at location first. Not too surprisingly, the English-speaking sumo community is overwhelmingly from English-speaking countries. Full table and pie chart below:

Country Count %
USA 313 55.69%
United Kingdom 53 9.43%
Canada 25 4.45%
Australia 23 4.09%
Germany 19 3.38%
France 16 2.85%
Sweden 9 1.60%
Italy 7 1.25%
Brazil 7 1.25%
Netherlands 6 1.07%
Norway 5 0.89%
New Zealand 4 0.71%
Ireland 4 0.71%
Portugal 4 0.71%
Finland 4 0.71%
Spain 3 0.53%
Belgium 3 0.53%
Switzerland 3 0.53%
Georgia 3 0.53%
Japan 3 0.53%
Indonesia 3 0.53%
Russia 3 0.53%
Philippines 2 0.36%
Mexico 2 0.36%
Denmark 2 0.36%
Austria 2 0.36%
Scotland 2 0.36%
Poland 2 0.36%
Romania 2 0.36%
Czechia 2 0.36%
Hungary 2 0.36%
India 2 0.36%
Israel 2 0.36%
Chile 1 0.18%
Hong Kong 1 0.18%
Saudi Arabia 1 0.18%
Latvia 1 0.18%
Bulgaria 1 0.18%
Ecuador 1 0.18%
Argentina 1 0.18%
Fiji 1 0.18%
Slovakia 1 0.18%
Nicaragua 1 0.18%
Thailand 1 0.18%
Peru 1 0.18%
Mongolia 1 0.18%
Lithuania 1 0.18%
Singapore 1 0.18%
Malta 1 0.18%
Rwanda 1 0.18%
Wales 1 0.18%
Croatia 1 0.18%
South Africa 1 0.18%

Location (1).png

We also asked the age and gender of fans to help get a better picture of who follows online coverage and listens to our show. Apparently we need to #YOLO more to get those kids listening and more Enho on Insta for the ladies… and for the dudes… we all need more Enho pictures.



Our very last chart is my personal favorite. We asked how long you’ve been following sumo and the results paint a very cool picture of our little section of the internet. Nearly 80% of us have been following sumo for 5 years or less. How cool is that? That means in only 5 or so years, the online sumo community has exploded and reached hundreds of people that never followed the sport. I think that’s a very good sign for the future of the community as a whole.

Experience With Sumo.png


Thank you to everyone who participated. It means a lot to have so many people interested and excited about sumo and we hope you’ll all join us again for our next survey. As always, feel free to reach out with questions or suggestions!

GSB Bi-Annual Popularity Poll


Hey fellow sumo fans, have you ever been curious about which rikishi is the most popular? Is it Hakuho, the GOAT? Is it Asanoyama, the promising up and comer? Or could it be Enho, the acrobatic, pixie wizard? The guys of the Grand Sumo Breakdown podcast are curious as well and we need your help.

We have put together a short survey that will ask who your favorite, and least favorite, rikishi currently are. The rankings for the rikishi are based on where they were ranked for the Kyushu basho. There are also a couple of questions about your favorite heya, and some completely optional demographic questions.

This is something we plan on posting every 6 months as we want to track who the most popular rikishi is over time and use current events to figure out what drives rikishi popularity. We will follow up in a few weeks with our results. Feel free to pass this along to fellow sumo fans as we want as many responses as possible. Thank you all for your help in determining once and for all who the most popular rikishi in sumo is.


Bonus Episode: Namiyama

In our latest statistics project, Jake introduces us to a new hypothetical wrestler: Namiyama. Namiyama technically does not exist, but is going to help us sound more intelligent as we analyze the kimarite patterns of specific wrestlers. Drop us a line with requests or suggestions at 805-613-SUMO (7866) or find us on social media.

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Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Bonus Episode 20: Intro to Sumo, Take 2

*Not April Fool’s this time, we promise*

So a year and a half in, we thought it was time to re-do our very first episode, a guide for newcomers to the world of sumo. It’s a bit of an info dump in the first half, but we hope it’s something you can use as a resource if you are struggling with the rules or traditions of the sport. If that’s too boring, try skipping to 29:08 where we embarrass some very special guests with a sumo game show! Feel free to leave us a berating voice mail at 805-613-SUMO (7866) or find us on social media (now including Instagram!)

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Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Natsu 2019 Banzuke Review

Ryan and Jake go over the recently released banzuke with a fine tooth comb while comparing it to the banzuke Ryan put together right after the Haru Basho. Ryan gets a little drunk with power, but we are able to power through with a little help from Jake trying to crush his ego. Messages of congratulations to Ryan for his impeccable guessing ability can be sent to 805-613-SUMO (7866)

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Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Bonus Episode 18: Intro to Sumo, Take 2

*Sorry if we got you with this one, this was our 2019 April Fool’s gag. Check out our ACTUAL new intro to sumo episode in May*

We at GSB are a nostalgic bunch, so we thought it would be cool to edit and re-release our first episode, an introduction for newcomers to the world of sumo. Through the magic of editing, we got rid of a few errors we made and we hope you’ll enjoy!

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Music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Bonus Episode 3: Power Rankings

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As a fun little side project this winter, we put together possibly the geekiest thing we’ve done, and that’s including our fantasy sumo league. Using a variant of professional chess’s Elo ratings, we’ve created a power ranking system that we can update day-to-day to help quantify how well wrestlers are doing beyond just their record. Here’s a quick overview of how it works:


This first picture is a partial selection of our data entry system (for Kyushu 2017 to be precise). The axes are the list of rikishi in makuuchi and the chart shows which day they faced and who won. In Hakuho’s row, you see a ton of green numbers and 1 red, representing a bunch of wins and 1 loss. The number represents the day they fought and the sign (+/-) and color represent who won. With a little bit more programming this will be the only data entry we have to do and the rest will take care of itself.


This second picture is the first few days of our daily output. Within the column for each day you can see the opponent, the opponent’s ranking, the expected win chance, the change in points, and the wrestler’s new rating. For the most nerdy among you, here is our methodology. We started by assigning 1000 as a baseline value for an average wrestler. We arbitrarily assigned a starting rating based on the banzuke rating of every makuuchi rikishi in January 2017, from 1175 for yokozuna down to 825 for maegashira 16. Here are the formulas we used for the calculations:


This is how we calculated the expected win chance. We take the difference between our wrestler’s rating and his opponents’s and then use a constant, S, to calculate an expected win chance between 0 and 1. A lower value of S means the rating difference will have more effect on the expectation. For the first edition of our ratings, we used S = 200.


This formula takes the previous rating for our wrestler and adds a constant, K, times the difference between expectation and reality. The actual outcome is either 0 for a loss or 1 for a win and we compare that to the win chance previously calculated. K is effectively the max point swing. We are using K = 20 for now.


This last formula is how we regress to the mean between tournaments. We decided that everyone should be corrected 20% closer to our 1000 baseline. This corresponds to C = 0.8. By occasionally bringing everyone closer to our average value, we mitigate the effect of flukes and help nudge each rikishi’s ratings closer to a value that accurately represents their talent.

Here is a link to the full spreadsheet if you are interested. We plan to keep it updated as often as possible during each basho. Our next step is a more accessible way for everyone to follow along live. Let us know what you think or if you have any ideas for improvement!