The Yusho Race
We are down to 4 co-leaders with 9-2 records, ranging in rank from Ozeki to maegashira 14. Three additional wrestlers—pre-tournament favorites Asanoyama and Terunofuji and surprising Onosho—are one off the pace at 8-3. The lead group will be reduced to at most 3 on day 12, when the schedulers have matched up Wakatakakage and Tobizaru in what promises to be a high-voltage battle of the lightweights. Tobizaru holds a 3-2 career edge, with all prior bouts taking place in Juryo. And someone will drop two off the pace, as Terunofuji goes up against Onosho.
The Named Ranks
Ozeki Takakeisho is in the lead group, and a second career title would be the start of a Yokozuna challenge for him. Also in the lead group is East Sekiwake Shodai, who has successfully defended his rank, can still hope for an Ozeki promotion and, barring that, is in a strong position to carry the run forward into the November tournament. West Sekiwake Mitakeumi (7-4) has his first three-bout winning streak of the basho; he will remain in san’yaku and needs one win in the final 4 days to maintain his rank and 3 to continue an Ozeki run into November.
Shin-Sekiwake Daieisho (4-7) is one loss away from losing his rank, and two away from dropping out of san’yaku altogether. Both Komusubi, Okinoumi and Endo, are 3-8, and will be back in the rank-and-file on the next banzuke. With at least one san’yaku slot now guaranteed to open, M1e Terunofuji (8-3) should be set for a triumphant return to the named ranks for the first time in three years. M1w Takanosho (7-4) also continues to mount a strong promotion case.
Certain to drop to Juryo: Abi and Kyokutaisei. The following win totals are needed for other endangered Makuuchi men to stay in the top division, barring favorable banzuke luck due to a lack of promotion contenders in Juryo and/or even worse performances by other demotion candidates:
4 wins: Shohozan, Ishiura.
3 wins: Shimanoumi, Kotoshogiku.
2 wins: Ichinojo, Hoshoryu*. *3 if everything breaks against him.
1 win: Enho (Kaisei could also use one more if everything breaks against him).
J2w Kotonowaka (9-2) will be back in the top-division after a one-basho absence. Fellow Sadagotake beya J2e Kotoyuki, 7-4, still needs a win to secure his kachi-koshi, which would be almost certain to see him promoted. J11w Chiyonokuni, 10-1, continues to lead the yusho race and mount a dark-horse promotion campaign from near the bottom of the rankings. Given the likely imbalance between strong demotion and promotion cases, a number of Juryo rikishi remain in the running for a lucky ticket to Makuuchi.
As noted previously, the Makushita-Juryo exchange picture is complicated by the mandated absences and uncertain banzuke fates of J7 Azumaryu and J14 Fujiazuma. There are already two certain openings in Juryo, one created by Kizakiumi’s retirement and the other by Oki’s 0-10 sekitori debut. Of the rest, J14 Kitaharima (5-6) needs 3 more wins to survive, and J12 Daishoho (5-6) likely needs 2. Of the 10 rikishi in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone, one is absent, and two are already make-koshi. That leaves 7 in the hunt: 4 with 3-3 records, Ms2 Chiyonoumi and Ms4 Naya with 4-2, and the last man in the promotion zone, fan favorite Ura (Ms5w), whose first loss today dropped him to 5-1 and out of the Makushita yusho race. Ura’s chances of promotion will depend on the outcome of his final bout and on how those ahead of him in the rankings fare in theirs.