Who will take the yusho?
With both of the frontrunners taking their first losses on Day 8, nothing has really changed in the yusho race. Only two rikishi in the modern era (since 1958) won the yusho after starting 5-3: Kyokutenho in 2012 and Harumafuji in 2017. Couple that with the rarity of maegashira yusho, and the fact that all of the pursuers are rank-and-filers (M8 Asanoyama, 7-1, and M4 Abi, M5 Ryuden, M14 Enho, and M15 Kotoeko, all 6-2), and Yokozuna Kakuryu and Sekiwake* Tochinoshin remain overwhelming favorites.
Will Tochinoshin regain his Ozeki rank?
With 7 victories in 8 days, Tochinoshin’s chances look good. He only needs to find 3 victories in the remaining 7 days, albeit against tougher competition. It would seem that his biggest challenge tomorrow is escorting out an obviously injured Takakeisho, who shouldn’t be anywhere near a dohyo, without hurting him further but also without letting up too much and reprising Mitakeumi vs. Hakuho at Hatsu. Edit: it seems that Takakeisho will do the sensible thing and sit out, giving Tochinoshin his 8th win by default.
Who will occupy the San’yaku ranks in July?
At this point, it looks likely that three slots will open up: Tochinoshin’s via promotion and Ichinojo and Aoiyama’s via demotion (Ichinojo has pulled out after recording only two victories, and Aoiyama would need to reverse his 2-6 start with a 6-1 finish to remain in San’yaku). Despite his hard-luck loss today, Mitakeumi (5-3) is in good shape if he can avoid a second-week fade, and he is through the meat of his schedule, with only Tochinoshin left to face in the upper ranks. Record 3 more wins, and he can return to Sekiwake.
The current frontrunners to occupy the open slots are the aforementioned Abi, Ryuden, and Asanoyama, along with M2 Daieisho (4-4). M1 Hokutofuji (3-5), M1 Kotoshogiku (3-5), M2 Endo (3-5), and M3 Tamawashi remain within striking distance if they can finish the basho with more wins than losses.
Who will be in Makuuchi in July?
If the tournament ended today, only two rikishi would be headed down to Juryo, and they are the last two on the banzuke: M16w Ishiura and M17e Chiyoshoma, both 3-5. It’s unlikely that either would survive again with a losing record, so they have their work cut out for them to go 5-2 or better the rest of the way. The others with the most work to do to reach safety are M14 Tokushoryu (2-6) and M15 Terutsuyoshi (3-5).
Down in Juryo, J2e Takagenji (8-0) is threatening to run away with the yusho, and is almost certain to make his top-division debut in July. J1e Toyonoshima (6-2) needs only two more victories to secure a quick return to Makuuchi. Former Makuuchi regular Kyokushuho ( J3e; 5-3) is the best of the rest in a weak promotion race.
Who could make the jump from upper Makushita to Juryo?
As has been noted on a number of occasions, upper Makushita is loaded with exciting prospects looking to cross the “heaven/hell” boundary into the salaried ranks. Fortunately for them, two slots in Juryo are guaranteed to be opened via demotion of the absent Chiyonokuni and Hakuyozan, and several additional slots are likely to be made available via poor performances by those attending, depending on how the final week plays out.
Promotion usually requires a strong winning record in the top 5 ranks of Makushita, or an undefeated record in the top 15. Only M15w Bushozan (4-0) could still qualify via the second route, and tomorrow he faces fellow undefeated man Takanofuji (Ms2w), who may have already done enough for an immediate return to the second division. With both Ms1’s holding 1-3 records and needing to win out to qualify for promotion, the leading candidates behind Takanofuji are Ms2e Kotokamatani (3-1), Ms3w Kizakiumi (4-1), and Ms4e Ryuko (3-1). “Ones to watch” Ms3e Ichiyamamoto and Ms4w Hoshoryu, both 2-2, need to win out to stake a real claim, and only one of them will still be in a position to do so after they face off tomorrow.