The Yusho Race
All 4 rikishi who went into Day 13 with a 10-2 record lost today, so with two days to go we have a simple if somewhat unexpected two-pony race. Yokozuna Hakuho ran his record to 13-0 in pursuit of his 42nd championship. The only man with a chance to stop him is M4 Ichinojo (12-1), who continued his dominant form. Hakuho’s remaining bouts are against Ozeki Takayasu and fellow Yokozuna Kakuryu, both 10-3. He leads the head-to-head series against these opponents by 17-2 and 42-7, respectively.
In the bout of the day, Ichinojo is matched with promotion-seeking Sekiwake Takakeisho (9-4) tomorrow. Takakeisho leads the series 7-2, and can likely clinch his ascension to Ozeki with a victory, but this is not the same Ichinojo he’s faced in the past. Ichinojo’s final opponent will likely be the highest-ranked available option—the other Sekiwake, Tamawashi.
Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin
His loss today against Kakuryu dropped the Georgian to 6-7. Unless he can prevail in both of his remaining bouts, against Tamawashi and Takakeisho, he will be Sekiwake in May and will have to put up 10 wins at the Natsu basho to return to Ozeki.
Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run
Takakeisho’s win over Takayasu ran his total to 9 and added a high-quality victory to his collection. A win against Ichinojo tomorrow or against Tochinoshin on senshuraku should see him promoted. If he loses and Tochinoshin wins in tomorrow’s bouts, then their Sunday clash will decide which one will be Ozeki in May.
The San’yaku Ranks
Today’s loss by Tamawashi (5-8) ensures that he’ll vacate his Sekiwake slot; one more loss will drop him out of San’yaku altogether. East Komusubi Mitakeumi also picked up his 8th loss, and should join West Komusubi Hokutofuji (5-8) in the rank-and-file in May.
Ichinojo has locked up the number one spot in the promotion queue and will be back in the San’yaku ranks at Natsu. The other leading promotion contenders are Aoiyama (M7, 10-3), Daieisho (M2, 7-6), and Kotoshogiku (M8, 10-3).
The Makuuchi <-> Juryo Exchange
As things stand at the moment, we have 3 down and 3 up. Dropping out of the top division: Chiyonokuni (M12e, 0-0-13), Yutakayama (M16w, 3-10), and Toyonoshima (M14w, 3-10).
Coming up from Juryo: Shimanoumi (J1e, 11-2), Chiyomaru (J1w, 9-4), Enho (J2w, 8-5).
Also already demotable: Ikioi (M9w, 1-12). Nobody wants to see tomorrow’s horror show bout between the ghost of Ikioi and the walking dead Yutakayama.
Terutsuyoshi (M14e, 4-9) needs to win out to have even a marginal top-division record, while Daishoho (M16e, 6-7), Kotoeko (M15w, 6-7), Chiyoshoma (M17e, 7-6), and Ishiura (M15e, 6-7) need one apiece. Holding on to hopes of promotion in case of a sufficiently ugly lower Makuuchi finish are Tokushoryu (J4w, 7-6) and perhaps even Wakatakakage (J5e, 7-6) and Daiamami (J3w, 6-7). The fact that they’re possibly in contention at all tells you just how bad things have been near the bottom of the top division.