The yusho race
Yokozuna Hakuho held serve to move to 11-1. His closest pursuer, Asanoyama, ran into Sekiwake Mitakeumi, who reminded us that he hasn’t logged 17 consecutive san’yaku appearances by accident, defeating the Komusubi and dropping him to 9-3, two off the pace. Asanoyama and M10w Shodai, the other man with 9 wins, now have to win out, hope that Hakuho drops two of his final three bouts against Abi, Mitakeumi, and Takakeisho, and then defeat the Dai-Yokozuna in a playoff in order to keep him from picking up his 43rd top-division championship.
The San’yaku ranks
Mitakeumi (6-6) needs 2 wins to prolong his stay at Sekiwake for a 4th consecutive basho, and 1 win to extend his san’yaku streak to 18 tournaments, one short of Wakanosato’s record. He’ll have to do it against Takakeisho, Hakuho, and Abi.
Asanoyama has already clinched a san’yaku stay; for him to move up to Sekiwake will take either two more wins or a failure to retain the rank by Mitakeumi. Abi (7-5) needs another victory to extend his reign at Komusubi, but faces a tough slate of bouts: Hakuho, Takakeisho, and Mitakeumi. Finally, Endo and Hokutofuji, both (5-7), have their backs to the wall and cannot afford any more losses if they want to avoid a drop into the rank-and-file.
It remains to be seen whether any regular Komusubi slots open up, and there are currently no winning records among the joi maegashira, but M1e Daieisho (6-6) is the leading candidate to claim an open slot or possibly even force the creation of an extra one.
Among the absentees, we know that Ichinojo and Wakatakakage will be demoted to Juryo, while Tomokaze’s banzuke fate depends on how the rest of the demotion/promotion scenarios play out. M15w Daishoho (3-9) is the first among those competing to clinch demotion; today M14w Nishikigi (3-9) probably joined him, and M15e Daishomary (4-8) is right on the brink. M9e Kotoshogiku (4-8) and M14e Terutshuyoshi (7-5) picked up the wins they needed for safety, leaving only M10e Shimanoumi (4-8) needing one more victory.
For those keeping count, that’s at least 4 open slots in the top division—likely 5, and possibly as many as 7. Two of them are now set to be filled by J1e Azumaryu (8-4) and J3e Ikioi (9-3). J2e Tochiozan (8-7) and J5e Kaisei (9-3) are good bets to join them. J5w Kiribayama (8-4) and J7w Kotonowaka (9-3) need to win two out of three to stake a promotion claim, and a couple of others could make the banzuke committee’s task more difficult by winning out.