The Yusho Race
Yokozuna Terunofuji (13-0) leads M15 Abi (12-1) by one win with two days to go; Ozeki Takakeisho (11-2) is two wins off the pace. Tomorrow, we get Terunofuji vs. Abi, which is a bit unusual, in that a low-ranked chaser doesn’t usually get a direct shot at a Yokozuna, but it’s great scheduling for us fans! The two have never met. A Terunofuji victory would give him the title with a day to spare. If Abi can pull off the upset, the title race will be decided on Day 15, with Takakeisho also in the picture should he prevail against fellow Ozeki Shodai (9-4). The scheduling should then be Terunofuji vs. Takakeisho and Abi vs. Shodai.
Mitakeumi (9-4) will remain East Sekiwake, but he needs to win his final two bouts to mount a credible Ozeki bid in January. Tomorrow, he faces Tamawashi, against whom he is a remarkable 24-3. West Sekiwake Meisei (5-8) will surrender his rank, and needs to win out to limit his fall to Komusubi. Tomorrow he gets Ura, who prevailed in their one previous meeting in July. Both Komusubi, Ichinojo (5-8) and Kiribayama (5-8), are now assured of a drop into the rank-and-file.
M2w Takanosho‘s (9-4) is the frontrunner to return to Sekiwake after a 3-basho absence (fun fact: he’s never been Komusubi). It’s not clear if anyone can pass him at this point even if he loses out, though M7e Ura (10-3) might if he gets to 12 wins. Ura is the current leader for the second open slot. Still in contention are M6w Tamawashi (9-4) and the M1 duo of Daieisho and Wakatakakage, both 6-7; of course, they have to win out just to be eligible for promotion, but should Daieisho pull it off, he is guaranteed promotion ahead of potentially more deserving candidates by virtue of his top M1e rank. I would not yet rule out M4w Endo (7-6) or M3e Okinoumi (6-7), though a lot would have to break just right for them, and of course the wildcard is Abi should he go 14-1.
There will be 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 (3-10). M14e Kagayaki (3-10) now needs to win out just to have a chance to be bailed out by banzuke luck. M17e Kaisei (6-7) needs two wins or one and some leniency, while M13w Tochinoshin (5-5-3) and M15e Chiyomaru (6-7) might be safe already, but can make certain with one more victory.
The first two promotion slots are spoken for by Juryo yusho frontrunner J4w Ichiyamamoto (11-2) and J1w Wakamotoharu (9-4). Top-ranked J1e Tsurugisho (7-6) can claim the third with one more win. J7e Oho (9-4), who’s now dropped 4 in a row, can still earn promotion by winning his last two, while J6e Kotoshoho (8-5) and J3w Bushozan (6-7) need to win out and hope for banzuke luck.
Two slots were 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. Today’s loss by J9w Kyokutaisei (2-11) has opened a third. J14e Kyokushuho (6-7) and J10e Yago (4-9) need to win out to guarantee a stay.
Ms4e Chiyoarashi (5-2) got a crucial 5th win and opened up a third promotion slot when he bested Kyokutaisei. He is seeking a return to Juryo after more than 8 years, but is not quite guaranteed promotion yet, as three others ranked ahead of him have 4-2 records. Tomorrow is Ms2w Shiba‘s (4-2) turn to try to lock down a sekitori debut and possibly create another opening when he takes on Yago. Ms1w Kotoyusho (4-2) should be making his Juryo debut win or lose, while the exact place of Ms3e Kitanowaka (4-2) in the pecking order won’t be decided until Day 14.
The Makushita yusho was predictably claimed by former Komusubi Ms47w Ryuden (7-0), who will be the favorite to take the title again in January, when he’ll be fighting in the upper ranks of the third division for a sekitori return. The Sandanme title went to Kazakhstani Yersin Baltagulov, making his professional debut as Kinbozan at Sd100 tsukedashi after a successful collegiate career.