The Yusho Race
Day 11 results left Sekiwake Takakeisho (10-2) as the sole leader and the first rikishi to post double-digit wins. He is being chased by a motley crew of sumotori ranging from the highest-ranked remaining man on the banzuke, O1w Goeido, to a returnee from Juryo who occupies one of the lowest rungs on the sumo ladder, M16e Yutakayama.
Standing next in the path of King Tadpole to his second Emperor’s Cup is none other than the senior Ozeki himself, freshly freed from kadoban probation. Will Goeido consider getting 8 wins “job done” and take it easy from here, or will he press on for a shot at the big prize himself?
Normally, Takakeisho would likely face Ryuden on Day 14, and then Abi as part of the kore yori san’yaku (final three bouts) on senshuraku, but given the unusual shape of the yusho race, the schedulers may decide to get creative. At the moment, there are too many possible scenarios to do them justice, but I will try to run through the possibilities tomorrow, after the Day 14 bouts have been posted and the list of contenders has been whittled down a bit.
As noted above, Goeido has succeeded in his quest to clear kadoban, and will extend his run at sumo’s second-highest rank for at least two more tournaments. Tochinoshin (5-7) stands at the brink of losing his rank for the second time in his brief and injury-marred Ozeki career. And Takakeisho will once again be Ozeki at Kyushu, picking up his 10th win much earlier and with a lot less drama than most observers anticipated.
The Lower San’yaku
Unless Tochinoshin can win out from here, the Sekiwake ranks will be occupied by him and Mitakeumi. Endo and Abi need only a victory apiece to lock down their Komusubi slots, although they likely won’t rise any higher on the banzuke (precedent suggests that it would take 11 wins to force the creation of an extra Sekiwake slot, which neither can mathematically do). Likewise, Asanoyama is probably the only rank-and-filer who can force an extra Komusubi slot, though it’s unclear whether this would take 11 or 12 wins.
Today’s loss by Takagenji removed any chance of a lucky reprieve, and he will find himself back in Juryo in November, along with Toyonoshima. Daishoho and Tochiozan may escape demotion with one more win apiece, but need two for absolute safety. The other rikishi who still need one more win to be out of danger are Terutsuyoshi, Kagayaki, Ishiura, and Azumaryu.
Down in Juryo, J2 Takanosho (8-4) has probably already done enough to return to the top division, given two definite open slots and a lack of other promotion candidates. Chiyomaru (6-5) needs two more wins to join him, while several others might have a shot at Makuuchi if they win out, depending on how His Roundness and the top-division rikishi on the bubble fare down the stretch.