The Yusho Race
After avenging the second of his three losses at Hatsu, Yokozuna Hakuho (10-0) remains the sole leader. Tomorrow, he will try to avenge the third against Takakeisho. The 9-1 chase group is down to two men. Quick, who thought that the big yusho race showdown on Day 11 would be M4 Ichinojo (9-1) vs. M7 Aoiyama (9-1)? Losses by Yokozuna Kakuryu and Ozeki Takayasu drop them into the two-off-the pace hunt group, which also includes Ozeki Goeido, Sekiwake Takakeisho and M8 Kotoshogiku.
The other Day 11 bouts with yusho race implications see Kakuryu facing Sekiwake Tamawashi (4-6), with the head-to-head record favoring the Yokozuna 9-4, Goeido taking on M5 Chiyotairyu (6-4), with the head-to-head nearly even at 7-6, Takayasu battling Ozeki Tochinoshin (6-4), whom he’s defeated 9 times in 17 encounters, and Kotoshogiku in an apparent mismatch against M15 Ishiura (6-4). The two have never met. I would fully expect Ishiura to pull out a henka against a much larger and higher-ranked opponent, and shame on Kotoshogiku if he doesn’t see it coming.
Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin
Despite surviving the initial charge and getting into a yotsu bout with Goeido, Tochinoshin could not notch his 7th win, and now needs 2 from 5 bouts to clear kadoban. He will try again tomorrow against another tough opponent trying to stay in the yusho race, Takayasu.
Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run
Takakeisho took a big step toward promotion today, notching his 8th victory and defeating a Yokozuna in doing so. Tomorrow, he goes up against The Boss, whom he bested for the first time in four tries last basho. After that, his fight card includes three Ozeki and a maegashira to be named later.
The San’yaku Ranks
West Sekiwake Tamawashi needs to record 4 victories in his remaining 5 bouts to maintain his rank, and 3 to limit his demotion to Komusubi. East Komusubi Mitakeumi won today and also needs 4 victories to defend his rank, while West Komusubi Hokutofuji lost and cannot afford even a single additional defeat if he is to extend his first San’yaku appearance beyond a single basho. Ichinojo and Aoiyama continue to lead the promotion race, and an Ichinojo win tomorrow would come close to locking up a return to the San’yaku ranks.
The Makuuchi <-> Juryo Exchange
Dropping out of the top division: Chiyonokuni. Taking his spot: Shimanoumi (J1e, 9-1).
Demotion danger level red (likely need to go 5 for 5): Yutakayama (M16w, 3-7), Terutsuyoshi (M14e, 2-7).
Demotion danger level orange (need at least 3 wins): Toyonoshima (M14w, 3-8), Daishoho (M16e, 4-6), Ikioi (M9w, 1-9).
Demotion danger level yellow (need 1-2 wins): , Chiyoshoma, Yago, Kotoeko, Ishiura, Tomokaze, Sadanoumi. Reaching safety today: Kagayaki and Shodai.
Chiyomaru (J1w, 7-3) should lock up a return to the top division with one more victory. Enho (J2w, 6-4) needs at least two and likely three to assure a Makuuchi debut. Sokokurai is a dark-horse promotion candidate with a 7-3 record down at J7w; he may need to win out to return to the top division, and his hopes will be on the line against Chiyomaru tomorrow.