The Yusho Race
Well, well, well. Tochinoshin did not display his usual patience and went down in defeat to, of all people, Shodai! This result means that the yusho will come down to the final bouts on senshuraku. Kakuryu won, matching Tochinoshin at 12-1, and Hakuho also won, moving to one off the lead at 11-2. With the two leaders meeting tomorrow, we know that the winner will go into the final day with 13 victories. Thus, the yusho will be won with either a 14-1 or a 13-2 record. This means that Hakuho can’t win it outright, and must defeat Ichinojo tomorrow and Kakuryu on senshuraku to have a chance of getting into a playoff.
The winner of tomorrow’s clash between Tochinoshin and Kakuryu is guaranteed at least a spot in the playoff, and can clinch the yusho with a final-day victory. The loser needs the winner to lose on senshuraku to have a chance at a playoff. So the possible scenarios still include a Tochinoshin outright yusho, a Kakuryu outright yusho, a playoff between any pair of the three contenders, or every fan’s dream, a three-way playoff. Four matches, with 16 possible outcomes, will determine which we get, and Herouth has put together a handy spreadsheet to track the possibilities.
Day 14: Tochinoshin vs. Kakuryu, Hakuho vs. Ichinojo
Day 15: Tochinoshin vs. Ikioi (?), Hakuho vs. Kakuryu
Mitakeumi won today to clinch a San’yaku slot and a promotion back up to Sekiwake. Ichinojo lost, and needs one more win to ensure that he remains Sekiwake.
With his upset victory, Shodai is in the pole position for promotion to San’yaku. He takes on Mitakeumi tomorrow, and, I am going to predict, Tamawashi on senshuraku. The winner of Tamawashi-Ikioi tomorrow will take the lead in the race for the second open slot. Shohozan, Abi, and Kotoshogiku all still have a chance at promotion, and even M11 Chiyonokuni, the only rikishi outside the Big Three to earn double-digit victories, is on the outskirts of the San’yaku picture.
The Line Between Makuuchi and Juryo
If the tournament ended today, the men going down would be Aminishiki, Ishiura, and Takekaze. The latter two may save themselves by winning both of their remaining matches. Arawashi, Daiamami and Ryuden need one win apiece for safety, and the latter two might need two. Given that three men in Juryo have clearly earned promotion, absent Hokutofuji is looking less than 100% safe.
Kotoeko, Onosho and Meisei should all be in the top division in Nagoya. J5 Akiseyama has a slim chance to join them if he wins his final two matches and things really go south for the men above trying to hang on to Makuuchi.