The Yusho Race
Others have amply discussed the crazy state of the yusho arasoi on Nakabi. Let’s see if there’s any more clarity in the race for the Emperor’s Cup in a couple of days.
Goeido needs 3 wins to clear kadoban, Tochinoshin needs 5, while Sekiwake* Takakeisho needs 4 to regain his Ozeki rank. The good news for this group is that the only upper-rank competition they have left is each other, plus the occasional bout against Mitakeumi, Abi, and Endo. The bad news? None is a sure bet against rank-and-file opponents. I’m just crossing my fingers that we don’t get a déjà vu desperation bout between a 7-7 Tochinoshin and a 9-5 Takakeisho on senshuraku.
The Lower San’yaku
So far all the incumbents are holding serve, racking up 5 or 6 wins in the first 8 days. Even if all four end the basho kachi-koshi, a slot could open if Takakeisho gets his 10, unless Tochinoshin fails to get his 8. The only rikishi with a good shot of forcing his way into an extra slot at the moment is M2w Asanoyama (6-2). Mitakeumi, Abi, Endo, and Asanoyma all still have the opportunity to launch an Ozeki run with double-digit wins, and Mitakeumi and Endo could even be looking to earn promotion in Kyushu if they can pile up enough victories here after going 9-6 at Sekiwake and 10-5 at M2 in Nagoya, respectively.
Takagenji (2-6) and Toyonoshima (1-7) are in deep trouble, probably needing to win 6 of 7 to stay in the top division. Tochiozan (3-5) is faring only a little better. Everyone ranked M8 and higher is safe from demotion, as are Meisei, Enho, and probably Sadanoumi, Shohozan, and Tsurugisho, while Ishiura and Kotoyuki can join them with a victory apiece. Juryo yusho co-leader Takanosho (6-2) has staked out the strongest claim so far for a return to Makuuchi.