Hatsu Storylines, Day 14

The Yusho Race

The two Sekiwake both won today, meaning that Tamawashi kept his lead with 12 victories, followed by Takakeisho with 11 apiece. Everyone else is out of contention. The schedulers opted to pass over the one sanyaku opponent Tamawashi hasn’t faced, struggling soon-to-be ex-Komusubi Myogiryu (5-9), and instead matched up the leader with fan favorite M9 Endo (10-4), who is, remarkably, in contention for sanyaku promotion (see below). The two have met 15 times, with Endo taking the first 6 bouts and Tamawashi prevailing in the last 9. Takakeisho will meet Goeido in the final match of the tournament (which, unusually, will not feature the highest-ranked rikishi, O1e Takayasu). The career series favors the Ozeki 5-3. The scenario is simple—a loss by Tamawashi and a win by Takakeisho force a playoff between the two; any other combination of outcomes gives the 34-year old Mongolian veteran his first yusho.

Kadoban Watch

Both remaining Ozeki picked up their 8th victories against opponents who either weren’t there (Hakuho) or might as well not have been there (Mitakeumi). That leaves Tochinoshin (0-5-9) as the only kadoban Ozeki for Haru.

Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run

Today’s victory was the Sekiwake’s 33rd in the last three basho, meeting the usual criterion for Ozeki promotion. He is also guaranteed at least a share of the jun-yusho. Various statements have been made by members of the sumo association as to whether the current total of 11 wins, or even 12, will be enough for promotion in Takakeisho’s first tournament as Sekiwake, and a special meeting will be held tomorrow after the bouts to decide. Personally, I think he is a lock with 12 wins and likely to be promoted even with 11, but the shimpan department has been known to surprise me.

The Sanyaku

Today’s bouts have finally produced some clarity in the race for promotion to the named ranks. M2 Hokutofuji (8-6), the only member of the joi with a winning record, has locked up the one Komusubi slot we know will open for sure. This will mark Hokutofuji’s long-awaited sanyaku debut. His two consecutive forfeit victories over Kakuryu and Mitakeumi loom large here.

Assuming a second slot is opened by Takakeisho’s promotion, there are four rikishi in contention. Kaisei will claim the slot with a victory over Takayasu, while Endo could grab it with an upset against the tournament leader and a loss by Kaisei. The two face tough opposition, and losses by both would open the door for the M6 duo of Chiyotairyu and Onosho, each of whom could claim the slot with a victory, with the tiebreaker going to Chiyotairyu by virtue of his more prestigious East-side rank.

The 7-7 Club

For four rikishi, final-day bouts will determine whether they end the basho with winning or losing records (kachi-koshi and make-koshi, respectively). Somewhat unusually, the schedulers have opted against “Darwin matches” pitting these wrestlers against each other, so they could all succeed (or fail) in their quest for the all-important 8th victory. M15 Kotoeko (7-7) will go against M7 Ryuden (5-9), M12 Meisei (7-7) takes on Onosho (8-6), M8 Asanoyama (7-7) is paired with M11 Ikioi (9-5), and M5 Aoiyama (7-7) faces Hokutofuji.

Makuuchi Turnover

We know that Daishomaru, Daiamami, and Kotoyuki will be dropping to Juryo. Their demotions, plus the two retirements, open up 5 promotion slots. One should go to Terutsuyoshi by virtue of his kachi-koshi at the top rung of the Juryo ladder. There are six contenders for the other 4 slots, and only two of them are matched up on the final day, so this could get crowded. There are also three Makuuchi rikishi who are not completely safe from demotion—Kagayaki and Yutakayama, who are matched up, and Chiyoshoma—though recent decisions by the banzuke committee make me think that all will get to stay in the top division.

The six Juryo promotion contenders are Ishiura, Toyonoshima, Chiyomaru, Tomokaze, Daishoho, and Shimanoumi. One will likely be eliminated when Chiyomaru meets Shimanoumi. Daishoho (7-7) must win to remain in the running. Ishiura, Tomokaze, and Toyonoshima control their destinies, while the others need help. The promotion picture may clear up tomorrow, or may remain messy until the banzuke announcement.

21 thoughts on “Hatsu Storylines, Day 14

  1. A Tamawashi win would be a fantastic result for him but I really want to see the sumo world come to grips with a rikishi winning two consecutive yusho while being ineligible for promotion to yokozuna.

    • I don’t know, it seems appropriate that (as the guidelines require) one should reach Ozeki first and prove one’s merit there.

      • The rules are what they are; I don’t have an opinion on that one way or the other. The system is set up so that the skill level needed to earn promotion to ozeki is below what one needs to win a single yusho much less to be winning yusho on the regular. I’m just entertained by the prospect of someone leapfrogging the standard.

  2. Although the 33 win criterion has been denied by the NSK several times (there have been rikishi who were promoted with 32 and ones who were not promoted with 34), I believe Takakeisho has a good chance because he has quality wins (two Yokozuna, several Ozeki). And a yusho + (at least) jun-yusho.

    They may not like the fact that he is a new sekiwake. Then again, his oyakata is a member of the shimpan department.

    • Here’s a scenario: let’s say he doesn’t get promoted, and Tamawashi wins the yusho. Do they then move Tamawashi ahead of him to the East side, like they did when Mitakeumi won the yusho from S1w? Imagine the outcry! :O

    • I completely agree with Herouth, while there are rumours he may be ruled out due to only 9 wins in the first of his three Ozeki run basho, a yusho followed by jun-yusho must surely be enough.

      If they’re worried about Ozeki quality maybe they would be better looking at the demotion criteria given Goeido and, I’m sad to say, Tochinoshin are a long way off the standard that would be required for promotion to Ozeki.

        • Absolutely but is it too easy to keep the rank? I think they should add an additional criteria such as having to get 10 wins every 3 basho. Still easier to keep the rank than get promoted but would ensure they are capable of performing above and beyond a standard kachikoshi

    • Now that he actually lost day 15, it will be interesting. He has beaten the injured Hakuho and Tochinoshin this basho, but lost to bother other Ozeki (not that genki) and Mitakeumi.
      Last Basho he beat Kisenosato (don’t think that counts for anything), Goeido and Tochinoshin, but lost to Mitakeumi and Takayasu with no other Yokozuna present.
      In September he lost to all Ozeki+Yokozuna other than Tochinoshin and to Mitakeumi as well. If you want to challenge his promotion case you could say that of his 33 wins only 6 were against Ozeki/Yokozuna and half of that was against injured opponents. It wouldn’t be totally shocking, if they decide to wait for another double digit basho in march to finalize his promotion.
      I have no clear opinion, but I think he will be Ozeki after the march basho either way (baring injury).

        • I hope he can deal with the dissapointment and doesn’t let it distract him, but rather gain extra motivation. I would be shocked if he doesn’t reach double digits again next basho. Both Yokozuna might be out, whether Mitakeumi is really healed or not remains to be seen, Tochinoshin … not genki since a number of tournaments … It’s better to have a party in march anyways, than in cold January ;)

  3. I wouldn’t call Hokutofuji a lock on the Komusubi spot. If everything goes against him (He loses, Takakeisho is not promoted, Kaisei wins), I can see them giving the spot to Kaisei as he would have a theoretically better rank/record combo, he has experience as a Sekiwake while Hokutofuji has no sanyaku experience, and Hokutofuji would have a makekoshi if you ignore the fusensho.

    • I feel like the combo is even for an 8-7 M2 and an 11-4 M8 (unless you take into account east/west), and I’d think they’d go with the joi rikishi with wins vs. all 3 Ozeki over someone that far down the banzuke who hasn’t faced anyone above M4 until the final day, but you make good points, and maybe “lock” is too strong.

  4. This last day has to be an absolute nightmare for the banzuke committe. Everyone one completely safe from demotion in Makuuchi has lost (Kotoeko, Yutakayama, Chiyoshoma), while every promotion candidate in Juryo other than Chiyomaru has lost and the Juryo records gradually improving the further down you go …
    That will be a nightmare for banzuke predictions ;)

    • Starting to work on mine now. Other than Hokutofuji at komusubi, the upper maegashira ranks are looking messy too, with all the borderline MK records.

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