The Yusho Race
I should be delighted that with two days to go, one of my favorite rikishi, Asanoyama, is the sole leader and in strong position to claim an improbable hiramaku championship. But I can’t be, because after today’s decision, the yusho race is a travesty. We should have three deserving rikishi tied with 10-3 records going into the final weekend, with an exciting series of decisive bouts to look forward to. Instead, we have an 11-2 leader with a giant asterisk, a 10-3 chaser (Kakuryu), and four rikishi in the hunt at 9-4 (Tochinoshin, Goeido, Tamawashi, and Meisei).
Tomorrow, Tochinoshin, who can’t help but wonder along with his fans if Hanlon’s razor is a sufficient explanation for today’s events, faces Kakuryu, while Asanoyama has a date with Goeido. I’m hoping for the only outcome that would restore some fairness to the proceedings: Tochinoshin defeats Kakuryu and Goeido bests Asanoyama. We won’t know the Day 15 schedule until around the time of Day 14 bouts, and possibly later, but we should see Kakuryu vs. Asanoyama and Tochinoshin vs. Takayasu, with the possibility of a playoff involving anywhere from two to six rikishi. The latter would be a fitting ending to this mess of a basho.
Tochinoshin’s Ozeki Chances
I can’t even.
The San’yaku Ranks
Between Aoiyama’s revival, Mitakeumi’s customary late fade, and the Tochinoshin debacle, it is still anyone’s guess how many potential open slots there will be—anything between one and four is still quite possible. Tamawashi is in the lead for the first slot that opens, followed by Asanoyama, Abi, Ryuden, Meisei, and Takarafuji.
The Demotion/Promotion Race
Chiyoshoma (M17e, 4-9) is out of lives and should be going down no matter what after today’s loss. There’s also little chance that they’ll keep Tokushoryu (M14e, 3-10) in the top division with double-digit losses. And the only question with Takagenji (J2e, 12-1) is how high up the maegashira ranks he’ll debut.
Beyond that, nothing is certain. Ishiura (5-8) is now guaranteed a make-koshi record at M16w, but it’s possible he can survive by winning his final two bouts. He seems certain to go down with another loss. Kagayaki (M10e, 3-10) and Terutsuyoshi (M15e, 6-7) should each be safe with another victory, and might be safe anyway given the dearth of legitimate promotion candidates in Juryo.
After Takagenji, the best promotion case belongs to Kotoyuki (J6e, 10-3), the only man still with a chance to deny Takagenji the Juryo yusho. He needs one more victory to clinch a record that normally warrants promotion, but it seems probable that he’ll return to Makuuchi anyway given the high likelihood of at least three demotions. Toyonoshima (J1e, 7-6), who has followed up a 6-1 start with a 1-5 fade, can clinch his own promotion and ensure Ishiura’s demotion when the two meet tomorrow. Finally, Wakatakakage (J2w, 6-7) is still hanging around the outskirts of the promotion race, hoping that a combination of him winning out and others losing might allow him to sneak into the top division with a record that would normally fall short, a la Tokushoryu and Enho last basho.