Hatsu Storylines, Day 11

The Ozeki Mess

We’re in danger of running out of Ozeki. Takakeisho (1-3-7) will be kadoban in March, and Shodai (4-7) is one loss away from joining him. Should both fail to reach 8 wins in Osaka, we would not have the obligatory 2 Ozeki on the Natsu banzuke, even with Terunofuji filling a Yokozuna/Ozeki role, unless someone is promoted in the meantime. Conveniently, we have a serviceable candidate in long-serving san’yaku regular Sekiwake Mitakeumi (10-1), who’s already reached 30 wins over the past 3 basho. The only other rikishi who can mount a remotely plausible run is fellow Sekiwake Takanosho (6-5), who’d need to win at least 3 of his remaining 4 bouts and follow that up with a really strong performance in Osaka. I suppose M3e Tamawashi (7-4) is ranked just high enough that double-digit wins could count as the start of a run in a pinch, but even then he could not reach sumo’s second-highest rank until July. Anyone else would have to start from scratch in March.

The San’yaku

K1w Daieisho (3-8) has opened up the first san’yaku slot. K1e Meisei (4-7) is within one loss of opening a second, and faces the Yokozuna tomorrow. With S1e Mitakeumi at 10-1 and S1w Takanosho at 6-5 with some tough bouts to come, the possibility of all four slots coming open through a combination of promotion and demotion is still alive, although one more win by Takanosho will see him ranked no lower than Komusubi. M6w Abi (9-2) is the leading promotion contender, and he faces Takanosho tomorrow. Tamawashi is currently second in the promotion queue.

Juryo

J2e Kotoshoho (9-2) is the first to stake a real claim for a return to the top division. J1e Kagayaki (7-4) is one win away from joining him and would of course have top priority with a KK. Absent Hidenoumi’s Makuuchi slot is the only one available at the moment, but Tsurugisho, Kaisei and perhaps Chiyonokuni all need more wins than losses from here on out to be safe.

EDIT: Kaisei’s withdrawal with an ankle injury gives the freebie to Kagayaki, who’ll be back in Makuuchi, and in all likelihood sends Kaisei to Juryo.

Since Bruce asked, the following rikishi need two more wins for safety: Ichiyamamoto, Tochinoshin, Yutakayama. And several need one more: Oho, Aoiyama, Chiyotairyu, Akua, and possibly Wakamotoharu. With everyone in Juryo (except Kotoshoho and Kagayaki) at least 3 wins away from a promotion claim, many of the incumbents may well survive with less.

I’ve covered the Juryo/Makushita exchange picture elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Hatsu Storylines, Day 11

  1. Kotoshoho is looking a lot better and it’s notable that he has added a ton of weight from the last time we saw him in the top division.

  2. Double commenting to add that I think we’re going to see Mitakeumi going up after this basho no matter what, but I think there will be a lot of umming and hmming by the various protagonists and antagonists of sumo internet and sumo kyokai in the meantime and possibly for some time after.

  3. Bold prediction of the day: Abi’s gonna surprise both Mitakeumi and Terunofuji and steal the yusho.

    Afterwards, in the award ceremony, he’s going to scream “the NSK is my bitch”, smash the Emperor’s cup on the dohyo, then turn 360º and moonwalk out of the Kokugikan.

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