The Yusho Race
Kakuryu (12-0) leads by one over Hakuho (11-1). The two Yokozuna are chased by … checks notes … M16w Terutsuyoshi (10-2). The only other rikishi with a mathematical shot is M7w Tomokaze (9-3). Not that it’s likely, but what odds could one have gotten on a Terutsuyoshi yusho at the start of the tournament? In case you’re wondering, he wouldn’t be the lowest-ranked rikishi to raise the Emperor’s cup—that honor will probably always be held by M17w Dewaminato, who triumphed in January 1939.
It’s interesting to speculate what matchups the schedulers will come up with for the final days, given the unprecedented absence of all four Ozeki. On Day 13, Kakuryu faces Tomokaze, while Hakuho fights M7e Myogiryu (8-4), whom he’s bested 18 times in 19 prior meetings. Terutsuyoshi’s challenge is not being taken all that seriously yet—his opponent is M8e Onosho (6-6). Kakuryu’s last two opponents will almost certainly be Mitakeumi and Hakuho. It’s unclear whom Hakuho will fight on Day 14—I would guess Tomokaze, but Terutsuyoshi is an interesting option. More likely, the latter will face one of the joi maegashira, one of the Komusubi, or Tamawashi, and could be the logical opponent for Mitakeumi on senshuraku (remember that the next day’s schedule is usually made before the results of the previous day’s bouts are known, although if the yusho contenders are in doubt, the schedulers can wait for Day 14 results to make the Day 15 schedule, like they did in May).
The Lower San’yaku
No real changes from yesterday, except that Abi’s loss means that he now needs to win out to secure his rank. Hokutofuji has dropped two in a row, and while he continues to lead the race for the first open san’yaku slot, he is now closely pursued by the likes of Endo, Ichinojo, Daieisho, and even Tomokaze. Daieisho can open a second slot by beating Abi tomorrow (the career record is 4-3 in favor of Daieisho), and Hokutofuji and Ichinojo go head-to-head for the lead of the promotion queue; the two have split their previous 8 bouts.
In Makuuchi, we have Kaisei and Yoshikaze dropping down to Juryo, and Yago needs 3 wins and strong banzuke luck to avoid joining them. The others still needing victories to reach safety are Toyonoshima, Tochiozan, Chiyomaru, Nishikigi, and Takagenji, but two certain demotions and a lack of strong promotion candidates in Juryo means that most or all of them could survive even they drop their last 3.
Juryo yusho leader Tsurugisho may have already done enough to make his top-division debut at Aki; one more victory will do it for sure. The other unconvincing contenders all still need two or three victories to secure promotion, although one or two of them may do it with one. The best-placed of these is our old friend Ishiura, followed by Azumaryu, Yutakayama, Wakatakakage, Takanosho, Tokushoryu, and Chiyoshoma.
Two slots will open in Juryo with Aminishiki’s retirement and Akiseyama’s demotion. Kotonowaka and Ryuko likely need to win out to avoid demotion. Others still in danger are Chiyonoumi, and possibly Arwashi and Ikioi if they lose out. The only certain promotion from Makushita at this time is Ms1e Seiro (4-2). Ms4e Chiyootori (3-4) lost his “exchange bout” with J13 Kizakiumi, postponing his return to sekitori status. Tomorrow, we’ll have another exchange bout with Ms1w Irodori (3-3) facing Ryuko. The other Makushita promotion contenders—Hoshoryu, Tamaki, Kaisho, and Wakamotoharu—won’t see action until the weekend.