A brief update on yesterday’s longer post.
Who will lift the Emperor’s Cup?
No changes today, since everyone with 3 or fewer losses posted a win on Day 10. We continue to have two contenders, M4 Shodai (9-1) and Ozeki Takakeisho (8-2), and several lower-ranked pretenders.
How many Ozeki will we have in Osaka?
At this point, the answer is almost certainly one. After ending Sekiwake Takayasu’s quest to reclaim the rank yesterday, Takarafuji pushed Goeido’s attempt to retain it to the brink, handing the kadoban Ozeki his 7th loss. Goeido now needs a prefect 5-0 finish to avoid demotion to Sekiwake, which in his current form seems exceedingly unlikely.
Takakeisho locked down his rank for at least the next two tournaments by recording his 8th win. But I’m now declaring Sekiwake Asanoyama’s (6-4) hopes of March promotion dead after his loss to Tochinoshin. At this point, he needs to finish 4-1 or better just to keep the run going into the Haru basho.
Who will fill the Sekiwake and Komusubi ranks at Haru?
First, the incumbents. Asanoyama needs 2 victories in the remaining 5 days to remain the East Sekiwake. Takayasu (4-6) needs 4 to keep the West Sekiwake slot, and 3 to limit his demotion to Komusubi. Abi (5-5) needs 3 wins to hold down the East Komusubi slot for the 5th straight tournament, and can no longer reach the 11-4 record needed to force the creation of an extra Sekiwake slot. Finally, West Komusubi Daieisho is now one loss away from demotion.
As to the contenders, we have, in rough order of current strength of claim, M4 Shodai (9-1), M2 Hokutofuji (7-3), M1 Endo (6-4), and M2 Mitakeumi (6-4). It’s not yet clear how many (if any) open slots they’re vying for, and whether any will finish with a strong enough record to force san’yaku promotion even without an open slot.
Who could be fighting in Juryo in March?
Ishiura removed himself from any danger of demotion with his defeat of Ryuden today, as did Tochiozan with his win over Shimanoumi. M13 Kotoeko (2-8) is now the sole most-endangered rikishi, needing 4 victories in 5 days to stay in Makuuchi. M15 Ikioi (4-6) and M14 Shimanoumi (3-7) need 3. M17 Kiribayama, M11 Chiyotairyu, M12 Tsurugisho, M13 Kotoshogiku, and M15 Azumaryu are still looking for 2 wins apiece. Finally, one more win will do it for M12 Chiyomaru and M16 Kaisei.
Down in Juryo, J5 Daishoho (8-2) is the leading promotion contender, and can lock down a return to the top division with 2 more wins. I’d say 9 additional Juryo men are still mathematically in the promotion race, but each needs between 3 and 5 wins to stake a serious claim. Heading that group are the J2 duo of Kotonowaka and Hidenoumi (both 5-5), J4 Nishikigi (6-4), and J6 Daiamami (7-3). Honorable mention goes to the Juryo yusho leader, undefeated former Ozeki Terunofuji (10-0 at J13).