The Yusho Race
For those who read yesterday’s post, we ended up with scenario 3:
- Mitakeumi wins to go to 12-2. Terunofuji loses to Abi, leaving both with 11-3 records. Terunofuji must beat Mitakeumi to force a playoff, which would be joined by the winner of the bout between Abi and Kotonowaka (11-3).
K1e Meisei (5-9) and K1w Daieisho (6-8) are both make-koshi and will drop back into the rank-and-file. S1e Mitakeumi will either stay Sekiwake or move up. S1w Takanosho (6-8) will be demoted to Komusubi if he wins tomorrow, or maegashira if he loses. So the number of open slots in the named ranks is between 2 and 4. Abi leads the promotion race by the numbers, but Wakatakakage (8-6) gets first dibs on promotion as the top-ranked maegashira, and Onosho also has a strong claim. Hoshoryu, Tamawashi, Ura and Ichinojo are still within striking distance with only one day to go!
If only one Sekiwake slot is open, it should go to Abi if he wins; otherwise, the winner of Onosho vs. Wakatakakage should get it. If there are two, one should go to the winner of that bout and the other to either Abi or Hoshoryu (if he wins and Abi loses).
J2e Kotoshoho (11-3) and J1e Kagayaki (8-6) have earned a return to the top division. They’ll be taking the spots vacated by absent Hidenoumi and Kaisei.
Will we see any other exchanges? The main promotion candidates are J2e Nishikigi (8-6) and J4w Kotokuzan (9-5), who each need a win for a strong case. The most-endangered maegashira is M14w Ichiyamamoto (4-10). A loss sends him down for sure, and even a win might not save him. M16w Tsurugisho henka’d his way to a much needed 6th win, but still needs one more, as does newcomer J18e Oho (7-7), who as the lowest-ranked man in the division has no margin for error. The key crossover bout tomorrow is Kotokuzan vs. Tsurugisho. A win by the Juryo man should guarantee promotion, but whose spot he’d take is not completely clear. Similarly, Nishikigi should earn promotion with a win. Come back tomorrow, when the picture might be clearer.
3 Juryo slots are open due to the absences of Asanoyama, Chiyonoo, and Shiden; a 4th should be vacated by J13 Chiyoarashi (5-9) even if he wins. And these spots have been claimed, in roughly the following order, by Ms1w Atamifuji (4-3), Ms5e Ryuden (6-1), Ms2w Shimazuumi (4-3) and Ms3e Takakento (4-3).
On the Juryo bubble are Hiradoumi, Hakuyozan, and Kotoyusho. Each is safe with a win. Losses among the trio may or may not open the door to Ms4w Tochimaru (4-3) and Ms4e Kairyu (3-3) if the latter can defeat Chiyoarashi.