Fantasy football is a multi-billion dollar business with millions of participants.
The sumo version? Not so much, though the world champion does get a trophy.
The present holder of that title is a British native whose shikona (ring name) is Pandaazuma.
Currently about 200 players from around the world participate in a few dozen online games.
Twenty or so of those games are combined into the “Super Banzuke” which, like its real world counterpart, ranks the top players in the world.
The rankings are updated after each tournament and following the March meet, Pandaazuma occupies the highest (yokozuna east) slot with the rest of the top 10 made up of players from Germany, the United States, Japan, Denmark, Switzerland and Taiwan.
The Super Banzuke has been around since 2002 and its constituent games fall into two main categories.
Pre-Basho games as the name suggests, involves choosing a lineup of rikishi prior to a tournament and accumulating points based on their performance. There are varying restrictions with one game having a salary cap and another restricted to the second-tier juryo division.
Daily games require you to enter picks prior to each day’s action. In most of them, how well you do depends solely on your selected wrestler’s wins or losses, but in a couple of them you face off against another player and the order of your lineup comes into play.
There is a hardcore element that takes its gaming very seriously, even going so far as to use prediction software loaded with past history, head-to-head records, heights, weights, winning streaks and other data, but the community as a whole is friendly and welcoming to casual players.
The games themselves, while being simple to enter and understand, are surprisingly tricky to do well in. Players scan the media prior to tournaments for anything that hints at injury or lack of form, but predicting individual bout outcomes or eventual tournament champions is far from easy.