Haru 2018 Preview with Tachiai’s Bruce H

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The long drought is over and we finally have more sumo! To mark the occasion we tricked Tachiai.org’s Bruce into giving us the secrets to the lower divisions of sumo that we don’t know much about. If you want to skip our nonsense, you can find the interview in between ads from our sponsors at 39:00 and 69:47. As always we want to know what you think, so leave us a voice mail at our Google voice number, 805-613-SUMO (7866)!

Music by David Hall and Soundotcom via SoundCloud


Bonus Episode 7: Shinto and Sumo

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The sport of sumo is a reflection of Japanese culture, and a lot of that culture comes from Japan’s national religion: Shinto. Well, it’s kind of a religion. Kind of not. Well, maybe. We needed our friend Katie to help us figure it out.

Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Hatsu 2018 Recap

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The first basho of 2018 has come and gone. We laughed, we cried, we got a crazy surprise winner. The GSB crew covers all the big stories with special guests Robot Mak and Depression Flyric. Check out an ad for sumo’s next big event at 42:08 and let us know what you think!

Fantasy Sumo Page

Power Rankings Page

Theme music by David Hall and commercial music by bXmMusic via SoundCloud

Hatsu 2018 Midway

*Spoilers through day 8*

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There have been a couple of high-profile injuries, but it kinda feels like there are fewer than normal, doesn’t it? Either way we have an ad from our health sponsor at 17:49. We cover the current standings, surprises, storylines, and more in our Hatsu midway episode!

Theme music by David Hall and commercial music by Jarkko Sulasalmi via SoundCloud

Hatsu 2018 Preview

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The best way to start a new year is always with sumo, and the first basho breakdown arrives just in time for the Hatsu tournament. We have a word from our legal sponsor at 36:13 and a special guest appearance in the background from Piper the puppy! Despite being completely supervised and having all her needs met, she tried her best impression of a screaming banshee. Piper the puppy has been dismissed from Grand Sumo Breakdown.



Theme music by David Hall via SoundCloud

Fantasy Sumo League: Hatsu 2018


A new year, a new opportunity to embarrass ourselves at something we thought we could be good at. Last basho we got our butts kicked by our guest participant Amy, so we kicked her right out. I would say we learned our lesson, but joining and probably destroying us this time is Eric. Eric gave us the winning name for our sumo mascot: Chikara-kun!


Check out the link above for our spreadsheet with rules and updated scores. The only change from last basho is that we added a sixth pick. This sixth pick scores the same way as the others but is selected from the juryo division. Here are the lineups for Hatsu 2018:

Our new likely champ Eric leads Team You Do It To Yourself, And That’s What Really Hurts: Hakuho, Chiyoshoma, Kaisei, Sokokurai, Aminishiki, and Osunaarashi.

Next, Ryan gives us The Fat Five (it’s six now, so he should probably work on that name): Hokutofuji, Onosho, Okinoumi, Shohozan, Chiyonokuni, Miyogiryu.

The Yokozuna Abides is led by Flyric: Kakuryu, Goeido, Yoshikaze, Asanoyama, Arawashi, Mitoryu.

Mak brings us The Chankonabe Chompers: Kisenosato, Tamawashi, Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Chiyomaru, Amakaze.

Bringing up the rear is Team Abi’s Well that Endo’s Well led by Jake: Mitakeumi, Takayasu, Abi, Endo, Ikioi, Aoiyama.

Check in during the basho for scores!

Bonus Episode 4: Year-End Award Show

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Just in time for the holidays, check out GSB’s first annual Year-End Award Show! This episode was recorded in front of a live stadium audience that totally wasn’t added in post. Let us know who we missed or how wrong our picks were! Scroll down all the way for spoilers on who won what.

Music by Cj Aist via SoundCloud

Continue reading “Bonus Episode 4: Year-End Award Show”

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!