This post is a complement to Bruce’s day 12 preview. With 4 days of sumo left, there is still a lot up in the air. The yusho race has a whiff of suspense after today, San’yaku and upper maegashira slots are up for grabs, as are demotions and promotions between Makuuchi and Juryo. Here are some thoughts on who has what left to fight for.
Hakuho: yusho or bust.
Harumafuji: Yokozuna pride; hang around near the top of the standings in case there are more surprises.
Goeido: avoid kadoban status.
Takayasu: Ozeki pride; hang around near the top of the standings in case there are more surprises.
Tamawashi: defend Sekiwake rank; possibly keep Ozeki run going by winning out.
Mitakeumi: get Ozeki run going with double-digit wins.
Yoshikaze: defend Komusubi rank; possibly force a third Sekiwake slot by winning out.
Kotoshogiku: last-ditch effort to defend Komusubi rank by winning out.
Although there are other scenarios, by far the most likely is that one San’yaku slot will open up: Kotoshogiku’s. With a few bright exceptions noted below, the upper maegashira are not doing well, as usual, and there are not many strong records further down the banzuke either, making it a challenge to fill out the joi-jin for Aki.
Tochinoshin: should one Komusubi slot open, it’s his to lose.
Hokutofuji: can stay in the joi with kachi koshi, and probably even at 7-8 given the carnage in the maegashira ranks.
Ura: kachi koshi to stay in the joi.
Tochiozan: will be in the joi; can challenge for the Komusubi slot.
Onosho: will be in the joi; can challenge for the Komusubi slot.
Aoiyama: will be in the joi; can challenge for the Komusubi slot.
At the other end of the banzuke, we might have a bit of a situation. As of right now, only Kotoyuki and Gagamaru look Juryo-bound. On the other hand, Kaisei, Yutakayama, and Asanoyama have equally deserving claims to promotion to Makuuchi. Yutakayama and Asanoyama in particular are both ranked Juryo 5 and co-lead the Juryo yusho race at 9-2. Of course, a few losses in the lower Makuuchi ranks (Sokokurai, Sadanoumi, Nishikigi) could open up more slots, and a few losses in Juryo could make the promotion cases weaker, but we could have a bit of a logjam, with a deserving promotion candidate potentially stuck in Juryo for Aki.
Edit: Just for the sake of completeness, I should note that Onosho and Aoiyama are technically in the thick of the yusho race, and all the rikishi with 3 and even 4 losses are mathematically still in it, at least until tomorrow. I guess especially Mitakeumi deserves the same “hang around near the top of the standings in case there are more surprises” benefit of the doubt I gave Harumafuji and Takayasu.