The yusho race
Hakuho (12-1) is now thisclose to lifting the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time. He’d have to drop both of his final matches, against Mitakeumi and Takakeisho, and Asanoyama or Shodai (both 10-3) would have to win out just to force a playoff in which the Yokozuna would be heavily favored.
The San’yaku ranks
- Tochinoshin: will be a maegashira in January exactly two years after his yusho-winning performance that launched his Ozeki career.
- Takayasu: will either be West Sekiwake if there are two Sekiwake slots, or East Sekiwake 2 if there are three.
- Mitakeumi (6-7): has two bouts left, against Hakuho and Abi. If he can pull off two wins, he’ll stay East Sekiwake. One, and he’ll drop to Komusubi. Zero would send him back to the rank-and-file for the first time in exactly three years.
- Asanoyama (10-3): East Sekiwake if Mitakeumi loses another bout; otherwise most likely West Sekiwake win one more win and Komusubi with two losses.
- Abi (7-6): Komusubi with a victory against Takakeisho or Mitakeumi; otherwise maegashira.
- Endo (6-7): Komusubi with two victories; otherwise maegashira.
- Hokutofuji (5-8): will be a maegashira at Hatsu.
So that’s 2 san’yaku slots filled, and 3 others hanging in the balance (with one quite likely on the line in the Mitakeumi vs. Abi bout on senshuraku). We could have as many as two and as few as zero open Komusubi slots. There are still no kachi-koshi records among the upper maegashira; M1e Daieisho and M4e Tamawashi (both 7-6) are at the head of the promotion queue, but those with 6 wins (Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Kotoyuki…) are still in contention.
Four Juryo demotions are now written in ink: absentees Ichinojo and Wakatakakage and double-digit losers Daishoho and Nishikigi. Nishikigi’s high-wire act comes to an end as he finally ran out of lives, and no amount of banzuke luck will keep him from going down for the first time since May 2017. We can also pencil in M15e Daishomaru (4-9), who needs two wins and a lot of banzuke luck to hang on to the bottom rung of the top division. All of this is good news for Tomokaze, who is now 6th in the demotion queue and likely to be ranked in Makuuchi on the next banzuke; sadly, the severity of his injury means that this will only result in a slightly higher starting position, probably in Sandanme or Jonidan, for his eventual comeback bid. With his win today, Shimanoumi (5-8) is now safe.
J1e Azumaryu (9-4), J3e Ikioi (10-3), and J2e Tochiozan (9-4) have done enough to claim the first three promotion slots. J5e Kaisei (9-4), J5w Kiribayama (9-4), and J7w Kotonowaka (10-3) are looking for another win to seal the deal. The big bouts tomorrow: Tochiozan vs. Kotonowaka and Ikioi vs. Kaisei.