The yusho race
Ozeki Terunofuji (12-1) leads by two over fellow Ozeki Takakeisho and M8 Endo. The leader faces Endo tomorrow, and presumably Takakeisho on senshuraku, and a win in either of those bouts will give him his second consecutive yusho and mark the first step in a rope run. So would a loss by Takakeisho to Shodai tomorrow and by Endo to his final-day opponent. A remote possibility of a two- or three-way playoff still remains.
I won’t speculate here on the fate of Asanoyama. Shodai (8-5) hasn’t exactly impressed, but he did clinch his 8th win today and will remain Ozeki.
The san’yaku ranks
East Sekiwake Takayasu (9-4) has locked down his rank. With 10 wins at Komusubi in March, he is arguably on an Ozeki run already, but 10 or 11 wins will both look better and give him a more reachable target in July. On the West side, Takanosho has a mirror 4-9 record that will drop him out of the named ranks after 4 basho at Sekiwake. His slot will be taken by East Komusubi Mitakeumi (8-5), who’ll be making his 15th appearance at the rank and his 25th in san’yaku, by far the most among active rikishi and high on the all-time list.
West Komusubi Daieisho (5-8) will also be vacating his rank, leaving both Komusubi slots open. One is spoken for by M1e Wakatakakage (8-5), who’ll be making his san’yaku debut. The other is a three-man race between M2e Meisei (7-6), who has yet to clinch a winning record, the aforementioned Endo, and dark-horse contender M6 Ichinojo (8-5).
Absentees Midorifuji, Ryuden, and Akiseyama will fall deep into the second division. Their spots will be claimed by Juryo yusho leader J1 Chiyonoo (11-2), chaser and Tachiai favorite J2 Ura (10-3), and veteran J2 Tokushoryu (9-4).
From there, it gets complicated. M17e Akua, with his 9 losses on the last rung of the top division, should be going down. Ishiura, one rank higher and with one fewer loss, is also in trouble. Then there’s absent M3w Chiyonokuni, whose zero wins also place him in a demotable position. But after the three promotion leaders above, there aren’t any great candidates. The two best-placed men are J4e Yutakayama and J5e Kotoshoho, both 7-6, whom I would have expected to perform better in Juryo, and who still need another win apiece to even be eligible for promotion. I expect Chiyonokuni to just hang on to Makuuchi. Ishiura can reach safety by winning out, which would still likely result in one very lucky promotion.
Three men should drop from Juryo: Chiyootori, Churanoumi, and Chiyonoumi. There are also three clear frontrunners for promotion: Ms7 Abi, the undefeated yusho winner, top-ranked Ms1e Kotokuzan (4-2), who inexplicably got passed over last time, and Ms2e Kaisho (6-1), who won his “exchange bout” against Chiyonoumi today. The other endangered incumbent is J7 Jokoryu (3-10) who needs a win for safety. Ms1w Yago (3-3) and Ms2e Tochimaru (3-3) are the leading candidates to be left on the outside looking in.