The Yusho Race
Yokozuna Hakuho and Sekiwake Tamawashi share the lead with 10-2 records. Sekiwake Takakeisho, M8 Kaisei, and M9 Endo are one off the pace at 9-3. Tomorrow, Hakuho faces Takakeisho, Tamawashi takes on M2 Hokutofuji (7-5), while Endo and Kaisei are matched up with M5 Aoiyama (6-6) and M11 Ikioi (7-5), respectively.
After tomorrow, Hakuho still has both Ozeki on his fight card. The schedulers have quite a few options for Tamawashi’s opponents on Days 14 and 15. The only upper-ranker he hasn’t fought is Komusubi Myogiryu, who is struggling at 5-7. His most likely maegashira opponent(s) would be drawn from M4 Okinoumi (6-6), Aoiyama, Kaisei, and Endo.
Both remaining Ozeki have really helped their causes with three-bout winning streaks. Takayasu (7-5) needs to pick up one victory in three days, while Goeido (6-6) needs two. Their clash tomorrow is pivotal—Takayasu can clinch his kachi-koshi, while Goeido does not want to go into the final two days having to defeat both Hakuho and Takakeisho. Takayasu’s weekend opponents should be Mitakeumi and Hakuho.
Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run
The Sekiwake can only afford one loss in the final three days to be considered for promotion after the current basho, although two losses would still leave him in good shape to try again in Osaka. After he faces Hakuho tomorrow and whichever upper maegashira the schedulers opt to throw at him on Day 14, his Ozeki promotion may be on the line in his final-day bout with Goeido, who may be desperate for a victory himself.
There’s a question as to whether Tamawashi might be on an Ozeki run himself. His 9-6 record as maegashira 2 in Kyushu is not a great foundation for one, but if he can finish with 12 or 13 wins here, and follow it up with an equally strong performance in Osaka, it’s not out of the question. More likely, he would need two strong basho after this one to earn promotion. At 34, he would set the record for oldest rikishi to be promoted to Ozeki in the modern era by three years!
Both Tamawashi and Takakeisho have more than successfully defended their Sekiwake ranks, so the only way for a Sekiwake slot to open is if Takakeisho gets promoted. Myogiryu needs to win out to stay Komusubi, and is likely to face Kotoshogiku (tomorrow), Tamawashi, and Okinoumi. Mitakeumi needs one more victory, and will have to overcome Ichinojo, Takayasu, or (likely) Nishikigi on one leg. So with three days to go, the number of open sanyaku slots could still range from zero (Takakeisho stays Sekiwake, both Komusubi earn their kachi-koshi) to three (Takakeisho is promoted, both Komusubi are demoted).
The upper maegashira haven’t exactly been beating down the door to possible sanyaku promotion. The top three candidates at the moment are Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, and Kaisei, and the first two have yet to even clinch their kachi-koshi.
The clear demotions are Daishomaru and Daiamami. Terutsuyoshi and Ishiura have done enough to lock up a top-division debut and return, respectively. Unless Kotoyuki were to come back and manage a victory, he is in serious danger of demotion, depending on how many strong promotion candidates there are in Juryo. Chiyoshoma, Kagayaki, and Kotoeko are also still at risk. With two extra open slots in Makuuchi due to retirements, Chiyomaru can probably cement a return with another victory, and Daishoho, Toyonoshima, Shimanoumi, Tomokaze, and Tokushoryu are still in the running for the other slot, as well as any additional ones that may be opened up by poor performances from the demotion candidates above.