Natsu Storylines, Day 11

Well, Day 11 certainly shook things up!

Who will take the yusho?

Of the three co-leaders going into Day 11—Yokozuna Kakuryu, Sekiwake* Tochinoshin, and M8 Asanoyama—only the rank-and-filer managed to record a win, leaving him in sole possession of the lead. Everyone in the 2 or 3 loss group also lost, so M15 Kotoeko (8-3) is the only other remaining rikishi within two wins of the lead.

Tomorrow, the leader’s degree of difficulty goes up considerably when he is matched against M3 Tamawashi (7-4), who won their only prior meeting back in November. Kakuryu faces M5 Ryuden (7-4) in a first-time meeting. Tochinoshin will try to record his all-important 10th win, and stay in the yusho race, in another first-time bout with M7 Meisei (7-4).

The scheduling beyond Day 12 is complicated by Ichinojo’s return from kyujo. Everything was lined up for a round-robin among Kakuryu, Goeido, Takayasu, and Tochinoshin, but as the East Sekiwake, Ichinojo should technically be scheduled against the Yokozuna and Ozeki ahead of Tochinoshin, and there are not enough days left in the tournament to accommodate both. It’ll be interesting to see what the schedulers decide to do. If nothing else, they now have plenty of options for throwing high-rank obstacles in Asanoyama’s path to a yusho.

Will Tochinoshin regain his Ozeki rank?

He missed his first opportunity to clinch the needed double-digit wins, and really shouldn’t miss his second, as the fight card gets a lot tougher from there, especially with the added pressure.

Who will occupy the San’yaku ranks in July?

East Komusubi Aoiyama (5-6) upset Takayasu for his 4th win in a row. He has the chance to even his record tomorrow against returning Ichinojo, and suddenly his odds to stay in San’yaku don’t look so bad. West Komusubi Mitakeumi (6-5) dropped his second straight, and now needs to finish 2-2 or better to break Goeido’s modern-day record of 14 consecutive basho at Sekiwake/Komusubi. Ichinojo (2-6-3) can only reach a maximum of 6 wins, so he is mathematically out of the named ranks, and can only hope to limit the size of his demotion.

We could still see anywhere from one to four open San’yaku slots. Asanoyama and Tamawashi are the current frontrunners for promotion, pending the outcome of their bout tomorrow. Abi and Ryuden are next in line, followed by Daieisho (who got robbed today) and Takarafuji.

Who will be in Makuuchi in July?

Chiyoshoma and Tokushoryu continue to “lead” the demotion race, and both need to win out to reach safety. With a dearth of promotion candidates in Juryo, we may again witness a kind demotion environment, but Ishiura, Kagayaki and Terutsuyoshi each still need two victories to control their fate, while Daishoho, Sadanoumi, and Chiyomaru need one apiece.

Takagenji, who lost for the first time today, remains the class of Juryo and the only one sure to move up to the top division. Top-ranked Toyonoshima (6-5) has now dropped 4 in a row, and his re-promotion is suddenly looking a lot shakier. And our old friend Kotoyuki (J6, 8-4) got first dirt on the leader and is making a late promotion push.

Who will make the jump from upper Makushita to Juryo?

As a result of Day 11 bouts, Ms2w Takanofuji (6-0), Ms3e Ichiyamamoto (4-2), Ms3w Kizakiumi (5-1) and Ms4e Ryuko (5-1) look good for promotion. With as many as 7 slots in Juryo possibly up for grabs, I would not rule out Ms2e Kotokamatani (3-3) or even Ms4w Hoshoryu 3-3.

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