Kyushu Storylines, Day 13

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.

Demotion danger

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.

13 thoughts on “Kyushu Storylines, Day 13

  1. Come on Asanoyama! Sumo needs fresh blood in the higher ranks. Seriously though, I am working up the day 14 preview right now, and the vast number of Darwin bouts that seem to be in the offering have me planning a trip to get more sake. I say if sumo is going to be brutal on senshuraku, let’s have a full measure!

    • We desperately need a credible new ozeki and this basho suggests that Asanoyama is the best candidate. Mitakeumi has the charm and charisma and you can’t help rooting for him but Asanoyama has that “hinkaku” thing by the bucketload. In fact he has a team of grateful underlings who follow him around to sweep up the excess hinkaku that falls from his mighty frame at every step.

    • And there’s solid potential for a senshuraku barnyard brawl for the Juryo yusho! We have two 10-3 leaders and 6 9-3 chasers.

    • Asanoyama has always looked light to me up there on the dohyo. Not anymore. He’s strong now. But is he ozeki strong? Not sure if Mitakeumi stepped up and defended the belt today or if Asanoyama still needs a little experience.

      • “Ozeki strong” is kinda a function of the available competition, no? Can he get 8-10 wins on a regular basis against the other rikishi in the top 16, and be in contention for the yusho with some frequency? I’d say yes, and the only other Ozeki we have are Takakeisho and aging kadoban Goeido…

  2. If Abi gets a winning record, he would as (or even more) deserving of Sekiwake promotion than Asanoyama. He would have held the Komosubi rank for 3 consecutive tournaments. It would not be fair to promote Asanoyama in his stead just because he got double digits in his Komosubi debut. And let’s not forget that Asanoyama is K2W, so promoting him to K1E would not be unfair treatment, especially since this basho was depleted of most of the top wrestlers. I remember when Asanoyama won the basho in May; people were all about promoting him to Sanyaku. It wasn’t the right thing to do and the association saw that. I’m hoping they would see this too.

  3. I agree with other posters, asanoyama needs to make ozeki as soon as possible. Him and Takakeisho are very reliable as long as they are healthy and there is no doubt they will be the two top dogs in the future.
    Abi could perhaps join them too sometime in the future but he needs to develope his sumo to be more dominant. Mitakeumi has other issues to work out first it seems…

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