The Yusho Race
Takakeisho leads with 9 wins. Tomorrow, he faces fading Tochiozan, against whom he is 5-1. After that, the biggest test for the young Komusubi is his one remaining upper-rank opponent, Ozeki Takayasu, who is one off the pace at 8-2. Takayasu leads the head-to-head 4-2, and the two have split their two most recent matches. If the schedulers stick to the usual pattern, we should be treated to this bout on Day 12, with the Ozeki set to battle Ichinojo on Day 11. In the final three days, Takayasu should face Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi, and Goeido, probably in that order, while Takakeisho has only maegashira opponents remaining. Going by rank, he would face Tamawashi, Nishikigi, and Yoshikaze, although it’s possible that the schedulers will pit him against some of the lower-ranked yusho contenders instead.
Currently, the 8-2 chase group also includes M9 Daieisho, M12 Aoiyama, and M13 Onosho. None are matched up tomorrow. Today’s results have culled the two-off-the-pace hunters to Ozeki Goeido (no comment) and M11 Okinoumi.
The Ozeki Corps
Takayasu has secured his kachi-koshi and is looking for more. Goeido seems set to secure his by cough any means necessary. Tochinoshin got a much-needed victory today against Ichinojo to even his record to 5-5, and now needs to go 3-2 or better the rest of the way to avoid going kadoban. This seems doable against a fight card that starts with Chiyotairyu tomorrow, followed most likely by Asanoyama, his two fellow Ozeki, and Mitakeumi.
The Sanyaku Ranks
We can finally pour one out for Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run, as his loss today means he can’t mathematically get to 33 wins over three tournaments. At 5-5, he needs to worry about defending his Sekiwake rank instead, and still has to face all three Ozeki. His defense starts against Yoshikaze tomorrow, followed likely by Chiyotairyu before the Ozeki gauntlet.
Sekiwake Ichinojo’s record stands at 3-7, leaving no further room for error. It seems unlikely that he can pull off a second consecutive 5-0 escape act with two Ozeki and Kaisei still on his schedule. In fact, it’s more probable that he picks up two or more losses and relinquishes his sanyaku position after five straight basho.
Takakeisho is obviously in no danger of demotion, and is almost certain to become Sekiwake in the new year. Game but injured Kaisei has only three victories and, like Ichinojo, is highly unlikely to run the table and save his Komusubi rank.
So while nothing is set in stone yet, two sanyaku slots are likely to open up, and three wouldn’t surprise me. The leading contenders to fill these slots sit right at the top of the maegashira rankings, with M2e Tochiozan and M2w Tamawashi, both 6-4, currently holding a narrow edge over M1e Myogiryu and M1w Hokutofuji, both 5-5.
The M16 duo of Arawashi (1-9) and Chiyomaru (2-8) is already make-koshi and headed down to Juryo barring a combination of remarkable turnaround and extreme banzuke luck. As of now, they would be joined by M13 Takonosho (3-7) and M11 Chiyonokuni (2-8), who need strong finishes to avoid demotion. The next-worst position belongs to M14 Daishomaru (4-6). M15 Daiamami (5-5) and M14 Chiyoshoma (5-5) could use a couple of victories apiece, while one should be enough for M15 Meisei (6-4) and the M10 duo of Sadanoumi and Yutakayama, both 4-6.
Down in Juryo, J1e Yago (6-4) and J5w Terutsuyoshi (8-2) are currently on track to make their Makuuchi debuts, while J1w Kotoeko (6-4) and J3e Kotoyuki (7-3) are in good position for a return to the top division, but a lot can still change in the remaining five days.