Heading into the final week of the basho, here’s where things stand.
The yusho race
Mitakeumi leads with 8 wins, followed by Endo and Asanoyama with 7 apiece and Takayasu, Chiyotairyu, and Tochiozan with 6. With seven days to go and no proven winners, it’s anyone’s game, and I wouldn’t even rule out the nine-strong 5-win group.
The upper ranks
Given the decimation of the upper ranks, 6-2 Takayasu and 5-3 Goeido seem very likely to pick up the 8 wins they need to clear their kadoban status. Sadly, injured Tochinoshin will be kadoban at Aki, although a healthy Tochinoshin should have little trouble achieving kachi-koshi in September.
With Mitakeumi driving for the yusho and the start of an Ozeki run, he has already met his basic goal of 8 wins, thereby ensuring that he will remain Sekiwake at Aki. At 5-3 and with only one tough opponent left to face (Takayasu tomorrow), Tamawashi is in good shape to defend his Komusubi rank, and possibly move up to Sekiwake. On the other hand, Shohozan, even with easier bouts coming up, seems unlikely to go 7-0 after starting 1-7, which is what it would take for him to remain in San’yaku. And 3-5 Ichinojo better wake up fast if he is to pick up the 5 wins required to remain Sekiwake, or even the 4 he needs to only get demoted to Komusubi. And he’ll have to do it against the toughest part of his schedule.
Endo is currently in the best position to take advantage of any San’yaku openings, with Takakeisho, Chiyonokuni, Kaisei and Chiyotairyu also in the mix.
The demotion danger zone
The two newcomers to Makuuchi are in serious trouble, having managed only 2 wins apiece. M16w Meisei, ranked at the very bottom of the top division, need to go 6-1 to avoid an immediate return to Juryo, while M14e Kotoeko has a little more breathing room, needing 5 more victories.
The rest of the M14-M16 crew is in decent shape, all having gone 4-4 so far, but because of their low rank, Hokutofuji, Ryuden, Ishiura and Okinoumi can’t rest on their laurels, and need 3-4 more wins to reach safe harbor. Joining them in this position are 3-5 Arawashi and 1-7 Kyokutaisei, while Chiyomaru, Sadanoumi and Aoiyama need two apiece, as does winless :( Yoshikaze, who sadly seems to have really hit a wall this basho.
Four men down in Juryo are currently in the best position to move up to the top division in September: Makuuchi regulars Takanoiwa, Aminishiki and Kotoyuki, as well as possible newcomer Takanosho.