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 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).
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.