Who will take the yusho?
“The situation is changing every day. We cannot even say the race is limited to those two. Kakuryu and Asanoyama may even face each other [suggesting that Kakuryu’s bout with Goeido or even but less likely Tochinoshin might be scrapped!]. Making the torikumi is tough for the shimpan division. It’s almost to the point where they’d like to see the results after day 14 to decide.”The Kyokai second highest executive Oguruma oyakata, via the Sumo Forum.
Yokozuna Kakuryu and M8 Asanoyama are your Day 12 co-leaders wth 10-2 records. Sekiwake Tochinoshin trails by one, followed by a group of six rikishi with 8-4 records who are somehow not completely out of it.
The race is set to change yet again tomorrow when Tochinoshin and Asanoyama face each other. Kakuryu won’t have an easy day either, taking on Ozeki Takayasu (7-5). While the career record favors the Yokozuna 12-8, and Takayasu has been struggling this basho, he has defeated Kakuryu in their last 4 bouts.
As the quote above suggests, the scheduling for the contenders for the final weekend may not follow the usual playbook, and we could be in for a number of unusual and exciting matchups to settle the yusho race. Buckle up!
Will Tochinoshin regain his Ozeki rank?
Going back to the previous tournament, Tochinoshin has now lost three consecutive bouts in which victories would have saved or restored his Ozeki rank. His next shot comes tomorrow against the tournament co-leader, whom he bested in their only prior meeting. Asanoyama’s yotsu style should favor Tochinoshin, but he’ll have to overcome nerves and whatever else that may have derailed him in the last two bouts. Should he fail, he will have two remaining opportunities to re-ascend to sumo’s second highest rank, but those will almost certainly be against two of the three highest-ranked men in the tournament.
Who will occupy the San’yaku ranks in July?
East Komusubi Aoiyama (5-7) needs to win out to defend his rank (or even move up). West Komusubi Mitakeumi (7-5) is one victory away from staying in San’yaku. Tochinoshin is one victory away from vacating his slot via promotion, and Ichinojo (3-6-3) will be vacating his via demotion.
Tamawashi now leads the promotion derby after his defeat of Asanoyama, who drops into a virtual tie with Abi. Others with plausible promotion chances are Kotoshogiku, who must win out, Ryuden, Shodai, and Meisei.
Who will be in Makuuchi in July?
Chiyoshoma (4-8) is now make-koshi at the last rank in the top division, and would have to benefit from remarkable banzuke luck for a third-straight basho to stay up even if he wins out; one more loss sends him down for sure. Tokushoryu (3-9) is next in line, and even three more victories may not be enough to save him. At the moment, Ishiura is the third man going down, though he can still save himself by winning all of his remaining matches. Kagayaki is right on the bubble and needs two victories to be safe, while one more should be enough for Terutsuyoshi. Everyone else should be back in Makuuchi in July.
Takagenji (11-1) will make his top-division debut in Nagoya. Top-ranked Toyonoshima (7-5) needs to win one more bout to join him in Makuuchi, while Kotoyuki (9-3) probably needs two victories. Other second-division men have only faint hopes of moving up, requiring a combination of them winning out and poor performances by all of the demotion candidates above.
Who will make the jump from upper Makushita to Juryo?
There could still be as few as three demotable records in Juryo, or as many as seven. Ms2w Takanofuji (6-0) is assured of promotion, and I would guess that so is Ms3w Kizakiumi (5-1). The other open slots should go to some combination of Ms2e Kotokamatani (4-3), Ms3e Ichiyamamoto (4-2), Ms4e Ryuko (5-1), and Ms4w Hoshoryu (3-3), depending on how they fare in the closing days.