Many of the storylines we’ve been following were resolved by the outcomes of today’s bouts, but for a number of rikishi, plenty is at stake on the final day. First off, congratulations to Asanoyama on a well-deserved victory! He becomes only the 19th maegashira to claim the yusho in the six-basho era, and the lowest-ranked winner in 19 years. Although he did not fight a full slate of San’yaku rikishi, Asanoyama’s fight card was by no means light and includes victories over many of the top performers of this tournament, punctuated by the clinching win against the strongest Ozeki, Goeido. Tachiai hopes that this is only the first of many big fish we see him lift.
Yesterday’s debacle prevented us from seeing the yusho come down to exciting final-day bouts, and I’m sad not to see Tochinoshin (or for that matter, Tamawashi, who improved to 10-4 under the radar) get a shot at his second top-division championship (I’m sure fans of Kakuryu feel the same way). But Tochinoshin did get his crucial 10th victory and will once again be Ozeki in Nagoya, and it’s hard to argue that any of the three jun-yusho leaders have been in championship form recently.
Today’s matches really clarified the San’yaku picture for Nagoya. Tochinoshin’s victory guarantees that he will vacate his Sekiwake West slot via promotion. Ichinojo’s demotion to the rank-and-file got even more certain with his 10th loss/absence, which removed any chance of him only dropping to Komusubi. And Mitakeumi locked down his modern-record 15th consecutive tournament in lower San’yaku when he picked up his 8th win. That’s one slot claimed, and two guaranteed to open. The remaining questions revolve around the occupants of those slots, their order, and the final Komusubi slot.
These questions should be resolved tomorrow by the outcomes of three key bouts matching up all six rikishi still in the conversation: M4 Abi (9-5) vs. M3 Tamawashi (10-4), M8 Asanoyama (12-2) vs. K Mitakeumi (8-6), and K Aoiyama (6-8) vs. M5 Ryuden (9-5). Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, and Asanoyama should be ranked in San’yaku no matter what. The final slot is Abi’s with a win. Should he lose to Tamawashi, a Ryuden victory over Aoiyama would make Ryuden West Komusubi. If Abi and Ryuden both lose, then it’s not clear whether Abi’s 9-6 record at M4 would be sufficient to relegate a 7-8 Aoiyama to the rank-and-file, or if he’d get to merely slide over to the West side a la Mitakeumi last basho.
Mitakeumi will be ranked Sekiwake with a win, and possibly with a loss and a loss by Tamawashi; otherwise, he should stay East Komusubi. Likewise, Tamawashi will be Sekiwake with a win, and possibly with a loss if Mitakeumi loses. I’ll make my predictions for the exact order after tomorrow’s results are in.
Kachi-koshi and Make-koshi
Six rikishi have left their banzuke fate until the final day. And of course, the schedulers have paired them up in “Darwin bouts,” so that three of them will fall on each side of the line between winning and losing records. It’ll be Tomokaze vs. Sadanoumi, Onosho vs. Chiyomaru, and Shohozan vs. Enho. None are involved in the promotion/demotion scenarios discussed above and below, so the biggest things at stake are Tomokaze’s record of never recording a make koshi as a professional, and Enho’s health. Take care of yourself, pixie.
Juryo Demotions and Makuuchi Promotions
After today, this looks quite clear. Toyonoshima, visiting from Juryo, got his 8th win and will be back in the top division in July. He defeated Ishiura, who sealed a trip to Juryo with his 9th loss. He joins Chiyoshoma and Tokushoryu on the down elevator. (Tochinoshin’s re-promotion means that the M17e rank will be going away along with Chiyoshoma.) Coming up with Toyonoshima will be the Juryo yusho winner, Takagenji (13-1), and Kotoyuki (10-4). Kagayaki removed himself from demotion danger with his 4th win, and while Terutsuyoshi still needs one win, he will probably survive for the second straight time even with a 6-9 record near the bottom of the division, as the next-best candidates for promotion, the J4 duo of Takanosho and Azumaryu, both 7-7, won’t have a strong enough claim even with a final-day win.
Several of tomorrow’s matchups can only be described as “bouts of sadness”: slated-for-demotion Chiyoshoma vs. Juryo visitor Ikioi, both 4-10, just-barely-safe Kagayaki (4-10) vs. slated-for-demotion Ishiura (5-9), and slated-for-demotion Tokushoryu (3-11) vs. the ghost of Yoshikaze (4-10).
Come back tomorrow for a full wrap-up of the Natsu basho and predictions for Nagoya!