Final Weekend: What’s at Stake?

The yusho race

We have two leaders with 10-3 records, followed by no fewer than five chasers at 9-4, and 6 additional rikishi who are still mathematically alive at 8-5 (although one of them, Chiyonokuni, has pulled out with injuries). The two leaders, Terunofuji and Takayasu, have already met, and the other matchups are such that a 10-win yusho is still technically possible, although this has never happened in the top division (it is, however, not uncommon in Juryo). Even an 11-4 winning score is rare, having happened only 3 times in the 6-basho era, most recently during Harumafuji’s famous comeback at Aki 2017. Should the leaders blink, two Ozeki, Asanoyama and Takakeisho, who hold matching 9-4 records, could be right back in the race, as could the winner of Aoiyama vs. Wakatakakage, as well as lowly M15w Hidenoumi. Senshuraku chaos, anyone?

The Ozeki

We should have four Ozeki in May. Whether or not one of them will be kadoban depends on whether Shodai (7-6) can best at least one of the other two other incumbents, who still nurse championship hopes, on the final weekend.

The san’yaku ranks

Currently, we have 5 rikishi occupying 2 Sekiwake and 3 Komusubi slots. One of them, East Sekiwake Terunofuji, is all but certain to move up to Ozeki, freeing up a promotion for the only other member of the quintet to clinch a winning record: his co-leader in the yusho race, East Komusubi Takayasu. West Sekiwake Takanosho (6-7) needs to win his final two bouts, including the potential yusho decider against Takayasu on Sunday, to hang on to his rank. One win would limit his demotion to Komusubi, while two losses would end his three-basho run in the named ranks. Of the other two Komusubi, Mitakeumi (6-7) must win out to remain in san’yaku for a 6th tournament, while Daieisho (7-6) only needs one win to hold rank.

So we could have as many as 3 open slots, which would take two losses by both Takanosho and Daieisho and one by Mitakuemi, and as few as none. Three maegashira have clearly separated themselves from the rest in the race for any openings: M2w Wakatakakage (9-4), M2e Hokutofuji (8-5) and M3e Meisei (8-5).

Makuuchi-Juryo exchanges

One extra slot in the top division is opened up by Kakuryu’s retirement. Two others will be vacated by Kotoshoho and Yutakayama. The M16 duo of Kaisei and Daiamami sport matching 7-6 records, and could really use another win apiece to ensure a stay in Makuuchi. The only other endangered incumbent in M10e Midorifuji, whose mere 4 wins place him at risk even at his mid-maegashira rank.

His Roundness, J3e Chiyomaru (9-4), should be assured of a return to the top division. J2e Ishiura (8-5) may also have already done enough, and another win will make promotion a certainty. Likewise, J1w Akua (7-6) should return if he can reach 8 wins in either of his remaining bouts. J4e Enho (8-5) has lost 5 of 7 after starting 6-0, and needs another victory to have a shot at promotion, and two to clinch it. One of the four could still miss out if Kaisei, Daiamami, and Midorifuji all save themselves.


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