The Yusho Race
After today’s action, Yokozuna Hakuho (9-0) remains the sole leader. The 8-1 chase group is down to four men: Yokozuna Kakuryu, Ozeki Takayasu, M4 Ichinojo, and M7 Aoiyama. His hard-fought loss to Ichinojo dropped Ozeki Goeido into the 7-2 hunt group, which also contains Sekiwake Takakeisho and M8 Kotoshogiku.
Much to our delight, we’re entering the part of the basho when multiple bouts have major implications for the yusho race. On Day 10, we will be treated to the heavyweight clash between Takayasu and Ichinojo (6-5 head-to-head) and, in the musubi no ichiban, to Takakeisho vs. Kakuryu. Hakuho’s lead is on the line against Tamawashi, who bested the Yokozuna last basho for the first time in 14 tries. Lower down the torikumi, Aoiyama takes on Shohozan, against whom he is 14-6.
Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin
Shodai didn’t make it easy, but the Georgian picked up an important W, wrapping up the easy part of his schedule with a 6-3 record and needing 2 more victories to defend his rank. The hard part of his fight card starts tomorrow with Goeido, who holds a 16-10 career advantage. How much did the Shodai bout take out of Tochinoshin? Will Goeido be off his game following his loss today? Will either man try a henka? Tune in tomorrow to find out!
The Ozeki Runs
With his 5th loss today, Tamawashi’s run is officially over, at least for now. Takakeisho’s is going strong, but he needs to find at least 3 victories in the 6 remaining bouts against both Yokozuna, all three Ozeki, and a maegashira to be named later. It starts tomorrow with his attempt to beat Kakuryu for the first time in 4 tries.
The San’yaku Ranks
Takakeisho moved one step closer to vacating his East Sekiwake slot via promotion, while West Sekiwake Tamawashi and the Komusubi duo of Mitakeumi and Hokutofuji need strong finishes to stay in the named ranks (the latter two can only afford one more loss). Ichinojo and Aoiyama have a substantial lead in the promotion derby.
The Makuuchi <-> Juryo Exchange
Dropping out of the top division: Chiyonokuni. Locked up his Makuuchi debut today: Shimanoumi (J1e, 8-1).
Demotion danger level red (need 4-5 wins): Yutakayama (M16w, 3-6), Toyonoshima (M14w, 2-7), Terutsuyoshi (M14e, 2-7).
Demotion danger level orange (need 3 wins): Daishoho (M16e, 4-5), Ikioi (M9w, 1-8), Chiyoshoma (M17e, 5-4).
Demotion danger level yellow (need 1-2 wins): Yago, Kotoeko, Kagayaki, Shodai (!!!), Ishiura, Tomokaze, Sadanoumi. Everyone else should already be safe.
Fortunately for those in the red and orange zones, there are only two additional legitimate promotion contenders in Juryo at the moment: the rotund one, Chiyomaru (J1w, 6-3), and the amazing escape artist, Enho (J2w, 6-3). Both probably need to split their remaining 6 bouts to make it to the top division in May.