There’s not much to say about the yusho race that hasn’t been said already. Let’s look at what is at stake further down the banzuke.
Ozeki Shodai (6-5) needs to at least split his remaining four bouts to avoid going kadoban, and is likely to face the two leaders and Takayasu, which pretty much makes his tomorrow’s bout against Okinoumi a must-win.
In the lower san’yaku ranks, Takayasu (7-2-2) needs one more win to stay Sekiwake, and is guaranteed to fall no lower than Komusubi. Fellow Sekiwake Mitakeumi (6-5) needs two victories to hold rank, and one to stay in san’yaku. Shin-Komusubi Meisei (6-5) is looking for two wins to avoid an immediate return to the rank-and-file, while the other newcomer to the rank, Wakatakakage (3-8), has already failed to stave off demotion.
M2w Ichinojo (8-3) is a strong front-runner for the open Komusubi slot. Should he falter, or should more slots open up, the other promotion candidates include M5w Hoshoryu (8-3), M3e Hokutofuji (6-5), M2e Takanosho (5-6), and M6w Kiribayama (7-4).
At the other end of the scale, several rikishi have yet to do enough to ensure a stay in the top division. In the worst shape are M15w Tokushoryu (3-8), who probably needs to win out, and M14e Daiamami (3-8), whose slightly higher rank means he can probably survive with 3 wins. At the moment, with only J1e Yutakayama (9-2) assured of promotion, and only his Juryo co-leader J6w Mitoryu (9-2) making a strong case, there might only be a need for two demotions, but M13e Chiyomaru (4-7) still needs two wins to lock down his place in Makuuchi, while several other rikishi need one more victory before they can breathe a sigh of relief.
At the bottom of Juryo, injured Akiseyama and suspended Ryuden will be falling to Makushita, and they are all but certain to be joined by J13w Kotokuzan (2-9) after a single basho in the salaried ranks. The race for promotion from the third division to the second is still too complex to handicap, but one thing is for certain: Hakuho’s protege Ms2w Hokuseiho (6-0) will be making his much-awaited sekitori debut after only six professional tournaments (not counting the one he sat out with the rest of his stable due to the virus). Ahead of his yusho-deciding bout against collegiate sensation Ishizaki, Hokuseiho’s record in the lower divisions stands at 38-3, with 7-0 yusho in Jonokuchi, Jonidan, and Sandanme.