Forget Enho’s woes, as well as Terunofuji’s deadly morozashi for the moment. I was first willing to focus on the lower juryo ranks / upper makushita ranks permutations, but realized things are a bit more complicated than that.
First of all, how many maegashira ranks will be alloted in January? Actually, both yokozuna’s fate has remained quite unclear so far – we will know more at the end of the basho. Terunofuji’s performances might cause further complications, although a direct ozeki promotion after, say, a 13-2 yusho looks like a (very) long shot.
Anyway, if both yokozuna were recommended to retire, two new maegashira spots would be created – and would be filled by two juryo guys. Here, again, two juryo rikishi would be missing, and would have to be replaced by non salaried wrestlers.
For the time being, let’s consider that both Mongolian grand champions will be able to participate in a make-or-break basho in January.
Secondly, if needed, Kotoshogiku’s retirement has to be remembered. Just as it happened after Tochiozan’s retirement this year, the former ozeki’s spot will be compensated by one more makushita promotion.
Let’s move to the lower juryo scramble. Three sekitori, with just one (!) win combined between them, are certain to leave the salaried ranks: Abi (J11w, 0-0-11), Nishikifuji (J13w, 1-10) and Fujiazuma (J14e, 0-11).
Everybody else look in a good position to at least secure a place in sumo’s second division. Still, would be advised to get one more win:
- Ura (J13e, 7-4), one win away from his kashi koshi,
- Chinoyoumi (J14w, 7-4), also one win away from reprieve,
- Takagenji (J12e, 6-5). Juryo 12 rikishi have endured demotion with a 7-8 in the past (the last suffering that fate being Toyozakura, back in 1998), but the banzuke then contained twenty six juryo wrestlers, compared to the actual twenty eight. Consequently, this tends to imply that Jokoryu (J12w, 7-4) is already safe.
- and… Ikioi (J8w, 4-7)! We’ve seen demotions occurring with a 4-11 record, at juryo’s eigth rank: Wakanoshima, back in Kyushu five years ago, is the last rikishi to have suffered such a shock.
All in all, it seems that four wrestlers are not going to appear in juryo next basho. So, who is in line to take their places?
The obvious pick is Naya (Ms1w, 5-1), who unfortunately missed a juryo spot last time and who will be definitely moving up this time.
Yago (Ms2e, 4-2) also looks set for a juryo return, although one last win won’t hurt. Shiraishi (Ms2w, 3-3) could be set for an awaited juryo debut in January, but needs to win the remaining, decisive bout. He could be followed by Kitaharima (Ms3e, 4-2), who would once again take the lift – on the right direction, this time.
Should Shiraishi end up make koshi, the final spot would be wide open for grabs. Could be the lucky one: Bushozan (Ms4e, 3-3), Terasawa (Ms4w, 3-3), Kotokuzan (Ms5w, 3-3) or Ryuko (Ms15e, 6-0).
Looking further down the banzuke would be too optimistic, as Takakento (Ms6e, 4-2), Ichiyamamoto (Ms8w, 4-1) and Tochimaru’s (Ms8e, 4-1) positions seem too far down, even if they win out.