Hey everyone, we’ve made it to nakabi, the middle Sunday of our “unique” basho! Time to take a look at how the tournament is shaping up, and what’s at stake between now and senshuraku.
The yusho race
After 8 days, your surprise leader is M8 Ishiura (8-0)! In the past, I’ve tended to dismiss the chances of rikishi from the bottom half of the banzuke, but with 2 of the last 6 tournaments having been won from M8 and M17 ranks, an Ishiura yusho wouldn’t even be the strangest one of 2020.
One win behind the leader is 7-1 Mitakeumi, who is looking very comfortable back at his customary Sekiwake rank. And with no fewer than 8 pursuers whose records stand at 6-2, including such heavyweights as the two Yokozuna and Ozeki Asanoyama, we could be in for a wide-open race.
The Ozeki ranks
Shin-Ozeki Asanoyama is displaying few signs of a hangover at his new rank; perhaps he has the state of emergency—and the resulting decrease in promotion celebrations—to thank. On the other hand, Ozeki Takakeisho has a mirror 2-6 record, which is a serious concern given his injury history and kadoban status. Will we be down to a single Ozeki again?
At 7-1, Mitakeumi is one win away from securing another tournament at Sekiwake; with his 10-5 record at M3 in Osaka, could we be looking at the start of another Ozeki run? Fellow Sekiwake Shodai, as well as Komusubi Daieisho, have also made it through week one with winning records (5-3), placing them in good position to remain in the named ranks. The other Komusubi, Okinoumi, looks set for an immediate return to the rank and file after a dismal first week left his record at 1-7.
Endo, who is no stranger to the M1 rank, and Yutakayama, for whom this represents a career high, have both gotten crushed by the upper ranks, and sport identical 2-6 records that leave them with little hope of promotion. That leaves M2 Takanosho (5-3) as the best-placed among the joi-jin for a san’yaku push.
Sadly, M17 Terunofuji is heading back to the second division after pulling out of the tournament without a single win (though it’s hard to reconcile the recently surfaced video of his lower-body workout with the reported ACL injury).
Another former Ozeki, Tochinoshin, is also struggling, with a 1-7 record at M11. His rank does offer more of a cushion, but he still likely needs 4 wins to avoid a trip to Juryo for the first time since 2014. The likes of M15 Chiyomaru, M16 Kotoeko, and M17 Kotoyuki will also need to improve on their 3-5 showings during the first week if they want to remain in Makuuchi.