Nagoya Storylines, Day 10

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.

Demotion Danger

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.

5 thoughts on “Nagoya Storylines, Day 10

  1. Who can say how their minds work, but my thought was scheduling Hakuho vs Takayasu sooner rather than later might be a good thing.

    Both are hurt but want the title. The loser of their match-up, especially if it is the likely outcome of a Takayasu loss, will know their odds of the Yusho are slim and hopefully withdraw.

    Is Takayasu any more likely to injure himself against Hakuho than Mitakeumi, Ichinojo or Kakuryu? Because unless they give him a chase group Maegashira #7, that’s who he has left.

    If the arm is as bad as it looked today, he has no chance against Hakuho and will hopefully withdraw after a loss.

    On the off chance he wins, maybe they give him Kakuryu next with the same presumed impacts in play. And if, in that scenario, Kakuryu wins against Kotoshogiku and Takayasu, perhaps Hakuho sees the writing on the wall as well? (I think Hakuho stays to get his 10 on principal.)

    The fact that Kakuryu got his lowest possible opponent when he has yet to face Hakuho, Takayasu, Mitakeumi and Tamawashi seemed more odd to me. He has the highest ranked set remaining of the 3 as a result of today’s schedule.

    Maybe they really are trying to encourage the injured two to get out. They might want to pair Kakuryu against a M7 down the road since A) that’s only a 2 stretch below Kotoshogiku, B) less of a stretch if Takayasu and/or Hakuho withdraw and C) prevents a yusho with ‘no best records head-to-head battle.’ Perhaps they are setting up a test of Tomokaze’s mettle.

    • It’s pretty standard for the highest-ranked Yokozuna to face his remaining san’yaku opponents in ascending order of rank in the closing days. It’ll be interesting what they do with the M7s, though I don’t think they’ll face Yokozuna unless the race tightens.

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