Aki Storylines, Day 13

The Yusho Race

We are down to 2 co-leaders with 11-2 records: Sekiwake Shodai and surprise of the tournament, maegashira 14 Tobizaru. Four additional wrestlers—Ozeki Takakeisho and Asanoyama and high-performing maegashira Wakatakakage and Onosho—are one off the pace at 10-3. Everyone else has at least 5 losses and is mathematically out of contention.

Tomorrow’s bouts could leave us with one leader, or as many as six. In any case, the yusho race will come down to the final day. The key bouts are Takakeisho vs. Tobizaru (first-ever meeting), Asanoyama vs. Shodai (4-3 edge to the Ozeki), Wakatakakage vs. Mitakeumi (first-ever meeting), and Onosho vs. Takanosho (head-to-head tied at 2-2). Should both leaders win, they seem certain to be matched up directly for the championship on senshuraku; other scenarios are too complex to analyze before we know the results of day 14 bouts.

The Named Ranks

Both Ozeki are in the chase group, and could start a Yokozuna challenge with a yusho. Co-leader Shodai has successfully defended his rank, can still hope for an Ozeki promotion and, barring that, should need at most 11 wins to finish a successful run in November. West Sekiwake Mitakeumi (7-6) will remain in san’yaku but still needs one win in the final 2 days to maintain his rank; his Ozeki run is all but over.

Shin-Sekiwake Daieisho (4-9) will drop out of san’yaku along with both Komusubi, Okinoumi and Endo. The number of open san’yaku slots is 2, unless Shodai creates a third by earning promotion, and they seem all but certain to be filled by M1e Terunofuji and M1w Takanosho, both 8-5.

Division Exchanges

With all the active demotion candidates paired up, Shimanoumi, Hoshoryu, and Ichinojo moved closer to safety, all but sealing the demotions of Shohozan, Ishiura, and Kotoshogiku.

Certain to drop to Juryo: Abi and Kyokutaisei.

Hard to see how they’d stay up, even with two wins and favorable banzuke luck: Shohozan, Ishiura.

Needs two wins and some banzuke luck: Kotoshogiku.

Safe with one more win; might already be okay depending on what happens in Juryo: Shimanoumi, Ichinojo, Hoshoryu (Hoshoryu technically needs 2 wins to absolutely guarantee safety).

Moving up to the top division: J2w Kotonowaka (9-4).

Certain to move up with another win, and has probably done enough already: J2e Kotoyuki, 8-5.

Should move up with another win, might move up anyway: J11w Chiyonokuni, 12-1, the Juryo yusho race leader.

As many as six other Juryo rikishi remain in the running for a lucky ticket to the top division.

The Makushita-Juryo exchange picture is complicated by the mandated absences and uncertain banzuke fates of J7 Azumaryu and J14 Fujiazuma, as well as the possibility of sekitori intai. There are three certain openings in Juryo, one created by Kizakiumi’s retirement and the other two by Oki’s 0-13 sekitori debut and J14 Kitaharima’s (5-8) near-record 8th demotion. J12 Daishoho (6-7) needs 1 win for safety.

In the Makushita promotion zone, Ms1e Takagenji (4-3) clinched a return to the sekitori ranks by winning the Darwin match against Ms3w Sakigake (3-4), eliminating the latter from contention. With 3 open slots, Ms1w Jokoryu (4-3) will also move up. The remaining contenders are Ms2e Chiyonoumi (4-3), Ms4w Naya, 4-2, Ms5w Ura (5-1), and Ms5e Kotodaigo (3-3). Kotodaigo will be last in the promotion queue even if he wins his final bout, and will drop out of contention with a loss. Naya visits Juryo tomorrow to take on Daishoho, will Ura presumably set for a similar visit on senshuraku.

8 thoughts on “Aki Storylines, Day 13

  1. So what bouts are even available for day 15? The three makuuchi rikishi have fought one another. Onosho will have yet to fight any of the current sanyaku contenders, and likewise for Wakatakakage; Tobizaru will have fought Takakeisho. Shodai will have faced the two ozeki, who may or may not be facing one another on the final day.

    As mentioned in the post, if both Tobizaru and Shodai win, they’ll face each other for all the marbles; in that case I’d expect the ozeki would face off for pride (and possibly a share of the jun-yusho).

    If Shodai loses and Tobizaru wins on Day 14 then I’d expect that Tobizaru would face Asanoyama on Day 14 — beating two double-digit ozeki will justify a hiramaku yusho. If only one of Wakatakakage and Onosho wins on Day 14 then on Day 15 Shodai would be against that one, and a Tobizaru loss would lead to a three-man playoff. If both win, then Shodai would face Wakatakage, Onosho would face Mitakeumi, and a Tobizaru loss would lead to a three- or four-man playoff: the winner of Shodai vs. Wakatakakage, Asanoyama, Tobizaru, and maybe Onosho. If both Onosho and Wakatakage lose on Day 14 then Shodai fights… Kiribayama I guess? Hard to say. But again a Tobizaru loss leads to a playoff, two- or three-man depending on if Shodai wins his Day 15 match.

    If Shodai wins and Tobizaru loses on Day 14 then, let’s see, probably Shodai vs. Wakatakage unless the latter loses on Day 14, in which case Onosho unless he also loses on Day 14, in which case Tobizaru. (If both Wakatakage and Onosho win on Day 14 then Onosho faces Mitakeumi as in the previous paragraph and Tobizaru gets, oh my goodness, Terunofuji.) Takakeisho will fight Asanoyama. A Shodai victory on Day 15 is an outright yusho; if Shodai loses then it’s playoff time: Shodai and whoever he lost to for sure, Takakeisho if he beats Asanoyama, and Tobizaru if he was fighting Terunofuji and won. (I’m not 100% on this scenario because it leads to the possibility of Tobizaru winning the yusho without beating an ozeki, but if Tobizaru fights Asanoyama then, perhaps worse, Takakeisho has a chance to win the yusho — and start a yokozuna run — without facing Asanoyama.)

    If both Shodai and Tobizaru lose on Day 14 then I think all the matches are as in the previous paragraph. The difference is that both ozeki are in contention and Shodai is simply out if he loses in regulation play on Day 15. The playoff is between the winner of the ozeki bout, the winner of Shodai’s bout, and, if Tobizaru if he fought Terunofuji instead of Shodai and won.

    • Nice analysis, although Terunofuji is not available after going kyujo. The bouts simplified this a fair bit, and we get the Ozeki matchup in the musubi-no-ichiban, which is nice to see, as well as Shodai-Tobizaru.

      • Whoops, somehow forgot or overlooked Terunofuji going kyujo! So if Takakeisho loses and Shodai loses to Tobizaru twice then Tobizaru gets the yusho. I suppose beating a rampant ozeki-trashing Shodai twice in a row would justify a yusho too (although I really don’t expect to see it).

  2. A few years ago I remarked on how a perhaps surprising number of fighters in the ranks had made sekiwake at one time or another; now I feel like that about former ozeki, what with four of them rattling around the banzuke.

  3. Bear in mind also that the promotion/relegation picture may be further complicated (or uncomplicated as the case may be) by what I would predict/consider as an extremely likely forthcoming intai of Kotoshogiku.

    • Yes, I think I mentioned that. It only affects the Juryo/Makushita exchange though, since demotion/intai are equivalent in their effect on Makuuchi.

  4. How you think about Nishikifuji? GIven no intais, he is sneaking from a near early lock for kachikoshi to a by now probable makekoshi from J13. Could he get in the demotion picture still? Especially if they decide not to touch Fujiazuma?

    • 7-8 at J13 is almost always safe in recent times, and the promotion cases beyond the 3-4 available slots don’t seem strong enough to force him down…

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