Aki Storylines, Day 13

“Who still has a shot at the yusho?”

The Yusho Race

After a loss by Day 12 leader Sekiwake Takakeisho, it looks like Bruce may get his wish of a senshuraku barnyard brawl for the cup! Takakeisho fell into a 4-way tie with fellow Sekiwake Mitakeumi, erstwhile leader M8 Okinoumi, and the surprising Makuuchi debutant M14 Tsurugisho, all 10-3. If nothing else, Tsurugisho should now be assured of a special prize.

The four leaders are pursued by a five-strong pack of 9-4 rikishi which includes Ozeki Goeido, M2 Asanoyama, M8 Takarafuji, M10 Meisei, and M16e Yutakayama. And given that none of the leaders are matched up head-to-head on Day 14, the 8-win trio of the two Komusubi (Abi and Endo) and M12 Shohozan is still mathematically in it, although I would guess that even if all the leaders lose on Day 14, the Day 15 matchups will ensure that at least one rikishi ends up with 11 or more wins.

Interestingly, only one Day 14 bout features two of the top nine rikishi, leaving open the (admittedly unlikely) possibility of nine 10-4 records going into Day 15! That one bout is the highlight of the day: Mitakeumi vs. Goeido. Will the Sekiwake stay in the lead, and knock the Ozeki out of the race, or will Goeido even the score between the two? The career record favors the Ozeki 9-5 (as always, excluding fusen), and he’s taken two of their three prior meetings this year. As for the other leaders, Takakeisho faces Ryuden, against whom he’s 2-0, Okinoumi is matched with Endo, with the Komusubi holding an 8-4 career edge, and Tsurugisho draws Kotoyuki, whom he bested in both of their prior bouts (in Juryo).

A huge number of scenarios and outcomes are still in play, which is what makes the final weekend so exciting. If we treat each match as a coin flip (obviously, a simplification), we can expect two 11-3 rikishi and four or five 10-4 rikishi going into the final day. The schedulers will have some interesting choices to make, and I’m guessing that the situation is exceptional enough that they will hold off on drawing up the Day 15 torikumi until the Day 14 matches have been completed. Depending on the number and identity of leaders and chasers, it may well be impossible to ensure a winner in regulation, and I know I am not the only one who would love to see a playoff among as many rikishi as possible!

The Ozeki

The remaining story here is Tochinoshin’s quest to defend his Ozeki rank. With his record at 6-7, he must defeat Myogiryu tomorrow and Goeido on senshuraku to do so. Let’s not forget that Mitakeumi got 9 wins as Sekiwake in Nagoya, so with his 10 secured here, he can already be considered on an Ozeki run, but he will want to push his total as high as possible not only to stay in the yusho race but also to lower his target for Kyushu.

The Lower San’yaku

With all the incumbents now having successfully defended their ranks, and with Takakeisho’s re-promotion, the scenarios here hinge on whether Tochinoshin can remain Ozeki. Should he succeed, we will have Mitakeumi at S1e, S1w occupied by whichever Komusubi has the better finish (K1 Abi holds the tiebreaker over K1w Endo), with the other holding down the K1e slot, and one lucky maegashira moving up to K1w. Asanoyama can probably clinch the top spot in the promotion queue with one more victory, and M1e Hokutofuji (7-6) is the only other realistic contender.

Should Tochinoshin lose one more bout, he will join Mitakeumi at Sekiwake, the Komusubi will stay where they are, and it becomes a question of whether Hokutofuji and/or Asanoyama can make a case for an extra Komusubi slot; given the recent decisions by the banzuke committee, we may well end up with the duo as extremely hard-luck M1e and M1w, respectively (assuming Hokutofuji can get his 8).

Demotion Danger

The only change from yesterday is that Ishiura has removed himself from danger with his henka against Terutsuyoshi. Everyone else lost, and so Daishoho and Tochiozan continue to need at least a victory and possibly two to stay out of Juryo, while Terutsuyoshi, Kagayaki, and Azumaryu need one apiece.

J2 Takanosho (9-4) has clinched a return to the top division. J1 Chiyomaru (7-6) can do so with one more victory. J3 Wakatakakage (7-6) and J5 Daishomaru (8-5) are the best of the rest in such a weak field that even J2 Chiyoshoma (6-7) and yusho leader J12 Ikioi (11-2) cannot be considered out of it yet.

16 thoughts on “Aki Storylines, Day 13

  1. If Ikioi goes 13-2, do you think they may look on his promotion credentials more favourably as a makuuchi mainstay?

    • It’s possible that this would be taken into account if it’s a close call…would probably take real carnage among both the Makuuchi demotion candidates and other Juryo promotion contenders for this to come into play.

  2. Man – a lot of basho over the past couple years (particularly Mitakeumi, Asanoyama, and Takakeisho’s yusho wins) have had exciting, unpredictable finishes, but I doubt I’m alone in saying I can’t remember a basho quite as crazy as this. And it feels like there’s a good chance that over the next couple years, as Hakuho and Kakuryu continue to struggle to compete at 100% every basho, that this is just the beginning. It’s an exciting time!

    Wild as it’s been, I have no confidence in any prediction I could make… so I’ll just cross my fingers and hope we get a Day 15 playoff between Takakeisho and Mitakeumi for the Yusho, which I think would be the most exciting/dramatic ending to what has already been an awesome tournament. Probably not likely to happen with Mitakeumi still needing to get past both Goeido and Endo (not to mention Takakeisho going up against Abi and Ryuden, who ain’t pushovers either), but you never know!

  3. Ensuring a winner without playoff should already be impossible under the normal scheduling constraints. That would require exactly two leaders who can also be matched up for senshuraku. Mitakeumi-Takakeisho and Okinoumi-Tsurugisho have both already happened, so only a scenario with one sekiwake and one lower-ranker co-leading would work, and then they’d have to break up a regularly planned match (Mitakeumi-Endo or Takakeisho-Abi) to make it happen.

    • In that scenario, would they do that, though, in order to make sure that a lower-ranker doesn’t “back into” a title? It’s not like they have spare upper-rankers left to throw at them.

      • I think if that scenario were to occur (say, Tsugurisho and Takakeisho win tomorrow, Okinoumi and Mitakeumi lose), there’s a solid chance they’d make Tsugurisho vs Takakeisho on senshuraku to ensure Tsugurisho doesn’t win the tournament without facing a single opponent in the san’yaku.

        They’ve done it before – for example, in Ichinojo’s first basho when he went 13-2 from Maegashira 10. When he was 9-1 and tied for the lead, they put him up against both Ozeki, then both Yokozuna on days 11-14. Each Yokozuna only faced 1 Sekiwake that tournament because of the mixed up schedule.

        But that time it was way easier, because it was just Ichinojo up there with Hakuho. The 4-way tie this time makes things weird, and I’m sure it’s giving the matchmakers headaches. Like, if Mitakeumi and Takakeisho both lose tomorrow (totally plausible, both Goeido and Ryuden are formidable opponents) and Tsugurisho and Okinoumi win, what will they do? It’s a screwy situation. Just need to wait and see how it all shakes out I guess.

      • Hokutofuji and Asanoyama reporting for duty. ;)

        Seriously though, that’s the big question. I’m inclined to think they would just keep the sekiwake-komusubi matchups, considering Abi/Endo are performing well – is it really a worse look if a low-ranker falls into a 12-3 yusho because none of the big guns managed to get that (rather modest) win total, compared to the questionable spectacle of a sekiwake vs. M10 winner-takes-all bout?

        • So they went with Takakeisho vs. Okinoumi instead of Abi after all, thereby eliminating all the 10-4’s from contention and ensuring that the winner will come from among the 3 front-runners.


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