After all the twists and turns of Wacky Aki, form held, and the lone participating Yokozuna took the yusho. Harumafuji looked positively rejuvenated in the last few days of the basho. This yusho was hard-won and must taste sweet. The Horse is a warrior and a total class act. Omedetōgozaimasu.
We did see only the third 11-4 yusho in history, and the first in 21 years. In addition to settling the yusho race, senshuraku answered a number of other open questions, though some uncertainty remains at the bottom of the banzuke.
The muddled San’yaku situation resolved cleanly. Mitakeumi narrowly defeated Yoshikaze to earn his kachi-koshi. These two will keep their sekiwake rank, and will be joined by “ozekiwake” Terunofuji.
Tamawashi lost to Takakeisho, thereby going make-koshi and dropping out of San’yaku. With Mitakeumi staying at sekiwake, both komusubi slots are open, and there are two obvious promotion candidates who separated themselves from the rest by earning double-digit wins in the joi-jin: the old veteran ex-Ozeki Kotoshogiku, and the youngest man in Makuuchi, rising star Onosho.
It’s hard to know how far down the banzuke the joi ranks will extend in Kyushu, depending on who in the San’yaku ranks is healthy enough to participate. At Aki, the rank-and-filers all the way down to M5 faced a full (well, depleted) San’yaku slate, with M6e Ichinojo making 3 appearances. In Kyushu, the top maegashira ranks should look something like this:
At the other end of the banzuke, Nishikigi’s win should cement his place in the top division for Kyushu, while Ishiura’s loss drops him down to Juryo. He seemed to offer no resistance today, and could use some easier competition to regroup. Ishiura joins Sadanoumi, Yutakayama, and Tokushoryu in earning a trip to Juryo.
At least Yutakayama doubled his win total from his last visit to Makuuchi. (Edit: my memory was faulty. He also went 4-11 at Natsu). Their slots in Makuuchi will be occupied by Aminishiki, Kotoyuki, Myogiryu, and Daiamami. Aminishiki takes over from Takekaze as the oldest man in Makuuchi. But unlike Takekaze, he looks every bit his age, and then some. He reminds me of that old guy in a pickup basketball game, every joint taped, dressed in ratty old gym clothes and reeking of Bengay, who keeps nailing funky shots from odd angles.
The Makuuchi-Juryo bubble consists of injured Ura and Juryo runner-up Homarefuji. Had Homarefuji won the Juryo yusho, I would have been really concerned for Ura, but I’m hoping that Homarefuji’s playoff loss will keep Ura in the top division. Whether or not he’s able to participate is a different matter.