What’s At Stake On Senshuraku

The yusho race

Former Ozeki Terunofuji (M17e, 12-2) remains the sole leader. He is trailed by the three highest-ranked men retaining in the tournament, new Ozeki Asanoyama and the Sekiwake duo Shodai and Mitakeumi, all 11-3. And all the leaders are matched up in the final two bouts tomorrow, making for what could hardly be a more exciting conclusion to the tournament. First, it’s Terunofuji vs. Mitakeumi (head-to-head 4-2). If Terunofuji can prevail, he lifts the Emperor’s Cup for the second time in his career. If Mitakeumi wins, both participants enter a three-way playoff with the winner of the final bout between Asanoyama and Shodai!

Yokozuna and Ozeki runs

If Asanoyama can take the yusho, he would be on Yokozuna watch at Aki, although a 12-3 playoff win against a diminished field would likely require nothing less than a strong second yusho in September for promotion.

Both Sekiwake are in somewhat complicated situations. Shodai’s last two basho results were a 13-2 jun-yusho at M4, with a 5-1 record against san’yaku opponents, followed by 8-7 at Sekiwake. A 12-3 here would give him 33 wins in 3 tournaments, and several successful Ozeki runs have started at upper maegashira, so he could get the nod, especially if he lifts the Cup. Otherwise, he’ll probably need 13-14 wins in September to earn promotion.

Mitakeumi had a losing record in January, so he certainly can’t be promoted this time. But 10 wins at M3 in March, with a 5-2 record against san’yaku opponents, combined with at least 11 here, and his long record of consistent san’yaku performances, should put promotion within reach with 11-12 wins at Aki.

The san’yaku ranks

Unless Shodai gets promoted and/or Komusubi Daieisho (10-4) forces an extra Sekiwake slot to be created with an 11th win against Myogiryu tomorrow (not guaranteed with two of those wins being fusensho), there won’t be any open san’yaku slots. What happens in that scenario if Endo (7-7) wins tomorrow? We know from last September that 9-6 at M1e is enough to force an extra Komusubi slot to be created, but it’s less clear if 8-7 is. The last time an M1e with this record was denied promotion was in 1969, but as far as I can tell, there have only been three instances since then of an extra slot being created in this scenario, with the most recent in 1995, when this practice was much more common. M2 Takanosho (8-6) would get the potential open slot should Endo lose.

Special prizes

I’m guessing these will be dominated by the trio of Shodai, Mitakeumi, and Terunofuji, with the exact allocation determined by tomorrow’s outcomes. Daieisho could also be in line for a prize. No other performances jump out at me, but I welcome speculation in the comments.

Darwin bouts

Only 3 rikishi enter the final day with 7-7 records, meaning that their make/kachi-koshi fate hasn’t been decided yet: the aforementioned Endo, who will feature in the only “Darwin bout” against Tokushoryu, and Sadanoumi, who is matched with Nishikigi (6-8). The latter also has a lot on the line, as discussed in the next section.

The demotion picture

We have two clear demotions: M15 Chiyomaru (4-10) will be headed to Juryo along with M17 Kotoyuki (6-8). Two additional rikishi already have demotable records, but could save themselves with final-day wins if there aren’t enough strong promotion cases in Juryo: M9 Ikioi (2-12) and M13 Kotonowaka (4-5-5). Two more can reach safety by winning their final bouts: M12 Shohozan (4-10) and M16 Nishikigi (6-8).

Promotions from Juryo

J1e Meisei (9-4) has clinched a return to Makuuchi. Others still in contention, and probably in this order, are J5e Kyokutaisei (10-4), J2e Tobizaru (8-6), J5w Ichinojo (9-5), and J6e Hoshoryu (9-5). Kyokutaisei and Tobizaru can guarantee promotion by winning, while Ichinojo and Hoshoryu need victories and some losses by the Makuuchi demotion candidates. In that regard, Ichinojo controls his destiny, as he fights Shohozan in a likely “exchange bout.”

The Juryo yusho race

Strap in everyone, this could get wild. Kyokutaisei and the last man on the banzuke, J14w Mitoryu, lead the field at 10-4 (Mitoryu defeated the top man on the banzuke, Meisei, in an excellent bout today). The leading duo is chased by six strong rikishi with 9-5 records. The matchups for tomorrow are such that all eight could end up with 10-5 records! How fun would that playoff be? Amazingly, this did happen once, exactly 19 years ago. In the key bouts for forcing a playoff, Mitoryu faces Hoshoryu, who likely also has top-division promotion on the line, while former Makuuchi regular Daishomaru (7-7) gets the task of slowing down Kyokutaisei.

The Juryo-Makushita exchange

Three slots are already open in Juryo: one by Tochiozan’s retirement, and the other two by the performances of J10 Asabenkei (3-11) and J14 Chiyonoumi (6-8). These will be taken over by the Makushita yusho winner, former top-division mainstay Ms 12 Chiyonokuni (7-0), Ms2w Oki (5-2), and Ms3e Nishikifuji (5-2). The final possible exchange will be decided in the crossover bout between J13 Takagenji (6-8) and Ms3w Kitaharima (4-2). Ms5e “Prince” Naya will spend at least one more basho in Makushita despite a winning 4-3 record in the promotion zone, and Tachiai favorite Ms19 Ura (6-1) will also be looking for a return to sekitori ranks at Aki, although it’s not clear yet whether he’ll make it into the Makushita joi (Ms1-Ms5), or need a 7-0 record for promotion from below “the invisible line.”

22 thoughts on “What’s At Stake On Senshuraku

  1. Obviously, the Shodai situation is interesting but I wonder if a yusho or playoff jun-yusho will be a deciding factor. Mostly, I am interested in how the playoff wins will be tallied. A three-way playoff could result in a series of bouts before being decisive.

      • If he gets a yusho, he will have beat everyone else in contention at least once. I think it is possible that he could be promoted with a yusho, but nothing less will do given his 8-7 last basho. There’s also an argument that double jun-yushos are enough, citing Goeido’s previous example, but I don’t see the NSK agreeing to an M4w start for an ozeki run. Whatever it is, if he can beat Asanoyama, he’s guaranteed at least the junyusho, and that puts him in very good shape for a run at Aki even if he’s not promoted here.

      • For such a dark horse run, it’s rather funny. If it happened, then he would basically need to win three straight bouts tomorrow for a 14-win, 3-loss yusho. 11+8+14 = 33, with jun-yusho+yusho kicker. I know the 33 wins is a myth but it does serve as a helpful yardstick when comparing runs.

        Personally, I think a yusho should NOT bring immediate promotion. We need consistency from Ozeki. A strong 11 or 12-win run at Aki and he would be a lock. A loss and he’d be off to a good start. But consistency is so key given the state of our recent Ozekis.

          • 13?? Oh geez. I thought it was just 11 for some reason. Wow. That’s a bit stronger than I thought. So this does make me wonder if 13+8+13 with a playoff loss would be enough. Goeido was 12+8+12 with bookend jun yusho but all from Sekiwake and I bet the length of his Sekiwaki-hood factored in. 13+8+13, but starting in M4…hmm…

        • I actually don’t think consistency during an Ozeki run has much to do with long-term performance at the rank, which depends so much on health and luck.

          • No, but it’s a proxy for who is likely to be able to perform at the rank – the NSK can’t crystal ball gaze after all. And with a ranking system like sumo’s, which is not very dynamic and has a certain lag between condition and result, you’ve got to distinguish between achievement rank and fighting rank. One can put on the best result of one’s life to get to say Ozeki, but if you burnt several joints to get there you’re not going to be able to put on that level of sumo for long.

            • I don’t think burning a bunch of joints before a match is going to help much, but who knows?

  2. Dear team Tachai, I am thankful for your amazing articles. I appreciate your sincere effort and love for sumo. I am following these analysis from past few bashos and have learnt many new things.
    Is there any option in Tachiai, where I can ask questions related to sumo. As I am a lone fan of sumo here in India, I completely depend on Google, finding Tachai was a treasure.
    For instance I want to know who are the yotsu zumo rikishsis in present Makuchi. Can I please get some help from your powerful database.

    • Hm… some rikishi are comforta le doing yotsu zumo, as well as oshi zumo.
      But let’s mention Terunofuji (obviously), Tochinoshin, Kotoshogiku, Sadanoumi, Kotoeko, Okinoumi, Takarafuji, Nishikigi, Asanoyama, Endo… both yokozuna, obviously.

  3. I wonder what happens with Juryou promotion, if TAkagenji wins his final bout, but either Jokoryu or Kaisho win their last one. 6-2 at Ms4 or 6-1 at Ms6e seem to be quite strong promotion cases as well.

    • Ms6e is below the “invisible line”, and 5-2 at Ms4 isn’t strong enough for them to over-demote anyone. If Daishoho loses, Jokuryu could get that slot.

    • In Juryo, this basho, we have this situation.
      6 way play off among them 3 of the from tatsunami beya.
      Interestingly these 3 rikishis from Tatsunami defeated the other 3 in the play off.
      Now 3 rikishis from Tatsunami beya in 3 way play off.


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