The Yusho Race
Sekiwake Tamawashi is the sole leader with 11 victories, followed by Yokozuna Hakuho and Sekiwake Takakeisho with 10 apiece. The four 9-win rikishi—M8 Kaisei, M9 Endo, M10 Abi, and M11 Sadanoumi—are still in the race mathematically, but would need two losses by the leader and at least one by both Hakuho and Takakeisho just to get into a playoff, so the yusho will almost certainly be decided among the leading trio.
If Tamawashi can win out, he will claim his first yusho at the age of 34. He faces M5 Aoiyama (7-6) tomorrow, and the big Bulgarian, who has a similar style, leads the series 5-4, but none of those meetings were recent, and Tamawashi took the last three bouts. Tamawashi’s likely senshuraku opponent is Komusubi Myogiryu (5-8), who has a 5-3 head-to-head edge, but once again, most of those bouts took place years ago, and Tamawashi prevailed when the two met in Kyushu.
Hakuho has the toughest remaining schedule, facing Goeido tomorrow and Takayasu on senshuraku. Takakeisho should get Goeido on the last day, and takes on M4 Okinoumi (6-7) tomorrow.
Goeido easily won today’s Ozeki duel, leaving both men with 7-6 records that will have them seeking a victory apiece during the final weekend. As noted above, Goeido will have to find it against Hakuho or Takakeisho, while Takayasu needs to beat Mitakeumi or Hakuho. [A theory: Takayasu knew that Mitakeumi had picked up his 8th win earlier, and figured that with his rank secured, the injured Komusubi would either pull out or protect his leg in their bout tomorrow, giving the Ozeki an easy 8th win. He therefore opted not to expend too much effort today. Or Goeido just had a better day.]
Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run
The Sekiwake took a big step toward sumo’s second-highest rank with his defeat of Hakuho. A victory tomorrow against Okinoumi could seal the deal (Takakeisho has taken 2 of their 3 previous bouts); winning both of his remaining matches should do it for sure.
Two sanyaku slots in Osaka are spoken for by Tamawashi and Mitakeumi, who overcame his injury and Ichinojo to pick up his 8th win. Kotoshogiku opened a Komusubi slot today by handing Myogiryu his 8th loss. It’s seeming increasingly likely that Takakeisho will open a Sekiwake slot by earning promotion.
Most of upper maegashira with promotion hopes lost today, and the race remains wide-open. M2 Hokutofuji (7-6) is in the best shape to secure a slot with one more victory. M1 Ichinojo (6-7) is well-positioned by virtue of his rank, but must win both of his remaining bouts. Stumbles by these two would open the door for a long list of unlikely contenders, including M2 Nishikigi (who faces Hokutofuji tomorrow and has never lost to him), Kaisei, Aoiyama, and Endo.
Today’s victories by Daishomaru and Daiamami were much too little, too late to save them from a trip to Juryo. Injured Kotoyuki now looks set to join them. Kagayaki, Yutakayama, and Kotoeko each need a victory to reach safety, while Chiyoshoma might need two.
Moving up to the top division will be Terutsuyoshi and Ishiura. Toyonoshima should be a lock to join them with one more win, Chiyomaru and Tomokaze may need one or two, while Daishoho and Shimanoumi must win out. Tokushoryu has an outside chance with two victories.