The yusho race
The chase for the Emperor’s Cup got turned upside down for the second straight day. Takanosho (10-3), perhaps stung by the schedulers’ lack of faith in him, took care of business against his lower-ranked, yusho-leading opponent, handing Aoiyama (11-2) his second loss when the latter tried an ill-advised pull.
Hakuho (11-2) brought his A game in quickly driving out Asanoyama (10-3), and Kakuryu (11-2) patiently waited for a belt grip and then easily walked out Takakeisho (6-7).
As a result, we now have a three-way tie at the top, featuring the two Yokozuna and Aoiyama. They are trailed by Takanosho, Asanoyama, and Mitakeumi (10-3). Everyone else is mathematically out.
Hakuho is probably in the driver’s seat—tomorrow, he faces Aoiyama, whom he’s defeated in all 21 prior meetings, before the senshuraku clash with Kakuryu. Kakuryu takes on a motivated Asanoyama, with their head-to-head record standing at 1-1. And Mitakeumi and Takanosho are paired in an elimination bout.
The upper ranks
With 7 losses, Takakeisho now has no room for error—he must win out to avoid being kadoban in the next tournament. The Ozeki caught a big break in dodging a date with Hakuho (thanks, Aoiyama!), and may catch another if Asanoyama is paired with Aoiyama on senshuraku. Instead, he gets his long-time rival Onosho tomorrow (head-to-head: 2-2), and we’ll have to wait to see what the final-day schedule brings (Takanosho is not an option since they’re from the same heya, and he’s fought everyone else ranked higher, so … Takarafuji?).
Asanoyama remains at 10 wins, and may need to win his remaining pair of bouts to get the bump to sumo’s second-highest rank. Tomorrow’s bout against Kakuryu will be pivotal, as consecutive losses to the two Yokozuna won’t look good on the promotion resume.
Shodai (7-6) will remain in the named ranks, and can stay at Sekiwake with one more victory. His first try tomorrow will be against Takarafuji (head-to-head: 8-3). Endo (7-6) needs another win to continue as Komusubi; he fights Abi, who’s won 7 of their prior 9 meetings, tomorrow.
M3w Mitakeumi (10-3) is in the driver’s seat for the one currently open san’yaku slot, and only M1e Daieisho (7-6) has a mathematical shot at passing him in the promotion queue, which also contains (in current priority order) Okinoumi, Yutakayama, Onosho, Takanosho, and, some distance back, Takarafuji and Aoiyama.
- Guaranteed demotion: Tsurugisho.
- Need 2 wins + luck to stay in the top division: Tochiozan, Daiamami.
- Win out to survive: Azumaryu.
- Probably safe with one more win: Meisei.
- Need one more win for guaranteed safety: Nishikigi, Kotonowaka.
- Everyone else is safe.
- Guaranteed promotion: Kotoshoho.
- Probably in, but one more win wouldn’t hurt: Terunofuji, Kotoeko.
- One win required: Wakatakakage, Kotoyuki.
- Two wins required: Tobizaru.
- Everyone else is most likely eliminated from the promotion race.