The Yusho Race
Undefeated Yokozuna Kakuryu has a one-win lead over fellow Yokozuna Hakuho (9-1). The 8-2 hunt group contains one-armed Ozeki Takayasu and three rank-and-filers: M7e Myogiryu, M7w Tomokaze, and M16w Terutsuyoshi. On Day 11, the leader will face M5e Kotoshogiku (5-5). The two have met on the dohyo a remarkable 50 times, with Kakuryu holding a 29-21 edge.
If Takayasu is reckless enough to show up tomorrow, he will face none other than the Dai-Yokozuna. Schedulers, what are you thinking? It can’t be a good feeling for Hakuho, himself not 100%, to have to try to defeat an obviously seriously injured opponent while attempting to avoid aggravating his condition. The 8-2 maegashira are all fighting typical maegashira opponents tomorrow, but their fight cards might get tougher starting on Day 12.
The Lower San’yaku
Sekiwake Tamawashi, who I’m sure can’t wait to get out of Nagoya, dropped to 1-9 and will be back in the maegashira ranks in September. Fellow Sekiwake Mitakeumi (6-4) has, as is often the case for him, hit the second-week wall, dropping two in a row to lower-ranked opponents. The good news for him is that one more win will keep him in san’yaku, two will save his rank, and he is up against hapless Meisei tomorrow, who only has one victory in the ring (the other coming by default) and who today couldn’t beat a man literally fighting with one arm.
Since my last update, the two Komusubi have gone in opposite direction, with Abi evening his score to 5-5 and Ryuden dropping to 3-7, one loss away from losing his rank. At this point, one open san’yaku slot seems the most likely option after accounting for Takakeisho’s drop to Sekiwake, and M1w Hokutofuji (7-3) has emerged as the clear favorite to fill it.
In addition to absent Yoshikaze, M15w Kaisei (1-9) has pretty much punched his ticket to Juryo—he would need to win his last 5 and be on the receiving end of remarkable banzuke luck to survive. M15e Yago (3-7) is in only slightly better shape—he needs 4 wins, or 3 and rare banzuke luck. Others needing more than one victory to stay in the top division are M14e Toyonoshima (4-6), M12e Tochiozan (3-7), M13e Chiyomaru (4-6), and M11w Nishikigi (3-7).
The Juryo promotion queue, in order, consists of Ishiura, Tsurugisho, Azumaryu, Chiyoshoma, Yutakayama, and Takanosho, all of whom still need 3-4 victories in the remaining 5 days to stake a real promotion claim.