The Yusho Race
Yokozuna Kakuryu (11-0) retained his one-win lead over Yokozuna Hakuho (10-1). Each day increases the chances that the two could meet on senshuraku with the title on the line. On Day 12, Kakuryu will face M6 Chiyotairyu (6-5), who on paper offers little opposition, coming in to the match having never defeated the Yokozuna in 11 tries and after two consecutive losses to lower-ranked rikishi. Hakuho faces a much stiffer test, facing Sekiwake Mitakeumi, who has two victories (plus one by default) over the Dai-Yokozuna in their 11 prior meetings.
Kakuryu has yet to face Mitakeumi, and will likely do so on Day 14. His Day 13 opponent would normally be the other Sekiwake, Tamawashi, but given the latter’s deep make-koshi record, the schedulers could opt for a well-performing maegashira (Tomokaze?) instead. Hakuho is out of san’yaku opponents for Days 13 and 14, and will face the best available rank-and-filers, likely Kotoshogiku and perhaps Chiyotairyu.
Of the four 8-2 pursuers on Day 10, one withdrew (Ozeki Takayasu) and one lost (M7 Myoigiryu) so we’re down to a two-man 9-2 hunt group: M7 Tomokaze and the last man on the banzuke, M16w Terutsuyoshi. Both will see their fight cards get harder on Day 12, with Tomokaze pitted against M4 Ichinojo (7-4) and Terutsuyoshi fighting a man 9 ranks higher on the banzuke, Myogiryu.
The Lower San’yaku
Two important developments today: Mitakeumi’s 7th win ensured that he will be ranked no lower than Komusubi in September, extending his san’yaku streak to 16, the second-longest on record. And Ryuden’s 8th loss cemented his return to the rank-and-file alongside Tamawashi. So that’s one slot secured by an incumbent and two vacated, one of which will be occupied by Takakeisho. That leaves one open slot, and Hokutofuji is still in pole position to move up to it despite today’s loss to Asanoyama. The only remaining question is whether Abi (5-6) can find the 3 victories in 4 days needed to secure his rank (it is possible for him to survive with 2, depending on the strength of the second-best promotion case).
Two demotions from Makuuchi to Juryo are now certain: Kaisei and Yoshikaze. One more loss is likely to seal Yago’s fate, and two will do so for sure. The two best promotion cases in Juryo belong to Ishiura and yusho leader Tsurugisho, although even they still need two wins apiece for these cases to be solid. We could once again have more demotable top-division riskishi than promotable second-division ones, and a lot of banzuke luck to go around.
At the other end of Juryo, Aminishiki and Akiseyama are slated to drop to Makushita, although the former has opted for retirement instead. Up to four others could join them depending on how the final days play out, including recent Makuuchi mainstay Ikioi. It’s not clear how many Makushita rikishi will get to rise from hell to heaven: at the moment, only Ms1e Seiro (4-2) has done enough. Ms5w Wakamotoharu is in good shape at 5-1, but at his rank may still need another victory to not have to rely on banzuke luck. Five rikishi ranked between Ms1w and Ms4w, including Tachiai favorite Hoshoryu, will go into their final bouts with 3-3 records, and each has a chance to be promoted with a win. I’m sure the schedulers will pair up as many of them as possible in “Darwin bouts.”