Mitakeumi (8-2) will remain East Sekiwake in January. West Sekiwake Meisei (5-5) needs 3 more wins to retain his rank, and 2 to limit his fall to Komusubi. Of the two incumbents at the 4th rank, Ichinojo (4-6) is in slightly better shape than Kiribayama (3-7), but both will most likely drop into the rank-and-file.
It’s a close race for any open promotion slots among M2w Takanosho (6-4), M6w Tamawashi (8-2), and M7e Ura (8-2).
We should have at least three open slots in the top division: one due to Hakuho’s retirement, one due to Asanoyama’s suspension, and one to be vacated by the lowest man on the banzuke, M17w Shohozan (2-8). M17e Kaisei (4-6) needs to win 4 of 5 to reach safety, while M14e Kagayaki, M13w Tochinoshin, and M13e Yutakayama, all (3-7), each need 3 wins for safety. Several other rikishi still need 1 or 2 wins to guarantee a return. However, it’s not clear that there will be many Juryo men with strong promotion cases, so we may see some lenient stays.
Who is in contention down in the second division? J1w Wakamotoharu (7-3) is probably one win away from joining his brother in Makuuchi. The next best promotion cases belong to J7e Oho (9-1) and J4w Ichiyamamoto (8-2). J1e Tsurugisho (5-5) needs 3 wins to return to the top division, while J6e Kotoshoho (7-3) probably needs 4. Beyond that, the list of contenders is pretty thin.
Two slots are already open in Juryo, one also due to Hakuho’s retirement and the other due to his protege Hokuseiho’s disappointing early withdrawal in his long-awaited sekitori debut. J14e Kyokushuho (4-6) is in the worst shape of those participating, so we may see only one or two other slots open up, though both J9w Kyokutaisei (2-8) and J10e Yago (3-7) have not looked good and may drop from relatively high ranks.
Eight of the ten wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone can still finish with a winning record, but only two have already clinched it: veteran Ms2w Shiba and former high school Yokozuna Ms3e Kitanowaka, both 4-1. I don’t think either is quite guaranteed a sekitori promotion yet though. Kitanowaka visits Juryo tomorrow to take on somewhat endangered J13w Hiradoumi (5-5). Also in contention is Ms13e Roga (5-0), the only undefeated man in the extended promotion zone, who can only earn promotion by going 7-0. He faces recent Juryo regular Ms33e Chiyonoumi (5-0) in one of the Makushita semifinals. The other matches former Komusubi Ms47w Ryuden (5-0) and Ms57e Makushita veteran Aozora (5-0), whom I’d never heard of but who does have two Sandanme yusho to his name.