Today’s results drained some of the drama from the final day, but there are still several bouts with a lot at stake, as well as ones with high entertainment value.
At the top of the torikumi, Goeido faces Hakuho. This bout is for pride, as Goeido already has his kachi-koshi and Hakuho has clinched the Emperor’s Cup. Goeido is fighting to reach double-digit wins, and seeks to improve on his 6-35 lifetime record against Hakuho, while the Boss surely wants to punctuate his unprecedented 40th yusho with a victory on senshuraku.
Given today’s results, Mitakeumi–Yoshikaze is not the “there can be only one (Sekiwake)” clash it might have been, as Mitakeumi earned his kachi-koshi and will remain S1e, while Yoshikaze was handed his make-koshi and will give up his rank after two tournaments. What’s at stake? With a win, Yoshikaze should only be demoted to Komusubi, while with a loss, he’ll drop out of San’yaku altogether.
Kotoshogiku–Ichinojo could be a great bout from an entertainment standpoint, but there’s not a lot at stake. Even with an 11-4 record, Ichinojo is unlikely to get a San’yaku promotion, something that has never happened before to an M4 rikishi with that record, but the logjam ahead of him is also unprecedented.
Onosho, on the other hand, probably has the most at stake of any rikishi tomorrow when he faces Takarafuji. Both men are 7-7, so it’s a straight kachi/make-koshi playoff. For Onosho, the difference between outcomes is stark: win, and he probably gets Yoshikaze’s vacated Sekiwake slot; lose, and he drops out of San’yaku altogether.
San’yaku promotion supremacy comes down to two bouts: Tamawashi–Hokutofuji and Okinoumi–Takakeisho. Right now, Tamawashi, Takakeisho, and Hokutofuji are essentially tied, and their pecking order is determined by their current rank. With a win, Tamawashi will claim the highest promotion slot. If Hokutofuji wins, then Takakeisho needs to win to stay ahead of him. However things play out, all three should be in San’yaku for Hatsu.
In addition to Onosho and Takarafuji, 3 others will have their make/kachi-koshi fate determined on the final day. Takekaze will look to earn his kachi-koshi against Chiyonokuni, while Chiyoshoma and Aminishiki go head-to-head. I hope Uncle Sumo has one last good trick left for this bout.
In what can’t have happened very often, Endo goes from his cameo at the very top of the torikumi to the very bottom, where he will try to achieve double-digit wins against Kagayaki.
The battle for Makuuchi remains a muddle, and may do so even after tomorrow’s matches. Nishikigi (against Daishomaru) and Daiamami (against Shodai) are fighting to avoid demotion; to a lesser extent, so is Asanoyama (against Chiyomaru). Their fate rests partly on the men down in Juryo, where Ryuden, Ishiura, and Yutakayama each need a senshuraku win to have a credible promotion case.