The Yusho Race
Kakuryu (11-1) leads by one over Kaisei and by two over Takayasu, Goeido, Daishomaru, and Ikioi.
As I noted yesterday, the torikumi committee has given us the gift of Kakuryu vs. Kaisei on Day 13! Should the Yokozuna prevail, as he has in all 11 previous meetings between the two, the yusho is more or less his—he would lead by two with two days to go. If Kaisei somehow pulls off the upset, the race could go down to the wire. The two would be tied, and the winner of tomorrow’s Ozeki clash would be one off the pace and control his own destiny, as Kakuryu still has to face both Ozeki. There are also two dark-horse contenders lurking far down the banzuke in Daishomaru and Ikioi. Needless to say, anyone who wants to see an exciting conclusion to the basho should be cheering for the big Brazilian.
Tochinshin’s huge win over the previously undefeated Yokozuna earned him his kachi-koshi, preserved his Sekiwake rank, and kept his Ozeki hopes alive. He’s almost certain to be moving over to the East side, given how the other Sekiwake has been performing lately.
With his loss against Shodai, which dropped him to 5-7, Mitakeumi now needs to win all three of his remaining matches to stay at Sekiwake, and two of three to stay in sanyaku. The schedulers gave him a huge break by allowing him to dodge the Yokozuna tomorrow in favor of Hokutofuji, but that’s hardly a gimme, given that Mitakeumi has lost his last 5, while Hokutofuji has won 4 in a row. I assume that Mitakeumi will still have to face the two Ozeki, though with the schedulers’ new-found flexibility, who knows? [Edit: If Kaisei wins tomorrow, does he take Mitakeumi’s place in Day 14/15 matches? Or has the torikumi committee decided to swap the two already?]
With victories today, Endo and Tamawashi kept pace in the race for promotion to sanyaku. Tomorrow, Endo faces the big surprise of the basho, 6-6 Chiyomaru, while Tamawashi has the seemingly easier task of taking on the struggling Yoshikaze.
Remaining intra-sanyaku bouts (my predictions for Days 14 and 15):
Day 13: Takayasu vs. Goeido;
Kakuryu vs. Mitakeumi
Day 14: Takayasu vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Goeido
Day 15: Tochinoshin vs. Ichinojo; Goeido vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Takayasu
The Demotion Zone
Daiamami could use one more win, and Tochiozan definitely still needs one. Nishikigi needs at least one win and possibly two, while Myogiryu needs to win out. With his withdrawal, Sokokurai joins Kotoyuki and Hidenoumi in Juryo.