The winner of O1w Takakeisho vs. M13e Kotoshoho, both 11-3, takes the cup. Everyone else is out of contention.
S1e Wakatakakage (8-6) holds his rank. S1w Hoshoryu (7-7) must win to do likewise, and will drop to komusubi with a loss.
S2e Takayasu (1-5-8) will fall to mid-maegashira. S2w Shodai (6-8) must win to limit his fall to komusubi.
K1e Kiribayama (10-4) will become sekiwake with a win or a Hoshoryu loss. It’s been suggested he might get bumped up anyway.
K1w Kotonowaka (7-7) must win to keep his rank. K2e Meisei (4-10) will fall down the ranks. K2w Wakamotoharu (8-6) will remain komusubi.
So that’s 4 san’yaku slots accounted for by Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, and Wakamotoharu. If Shodai and Kotonowaka lose, Hoshoryu wins, and Kiribayama gets promoted, one regular komusubi slot will open. Otherwise, all regular slots will be full, and Shodai and Kotonowaka can guarantee two more komusubi slots by winning.
Should a regular komusubi slot open, M1w Daieisho (9-5) is currently the leading contender. It’s not clear if he’ll get an extra slot if he loses, or even necessarily if he wins. M2w Tamawashi (8-6) is probably out of luck even with a win. A potential fly in the ointment here is M1e Tobizaru (7-7). It seems like we’ve established that the banzuke committee promote any kachi-koshi M1e, but if he goes up with a win, it would be tough to leave out Daieisho with a better score at the same rank.
Depending on how this all shakes out, we could end up with the minimal 4-person junior san’yaku (though that could make the joi impossible like last time) or with as many sekiwake/komusubi as the current 8.
Makuuchi <-> Juryo:
Three spots in the top division are being vacated by the absences of Ichinojo, Tochinoshin, and Okinoumi due to suspension, injury, and retirement, respectively. A 4th slot is open by dropping M16w Chiyomaru (3-11), who’ll be making the trip to juryo for the 7th time, the most among active rikishi.
Two incumbents are at least somewhat endangered, and could drop with a loss: M15w Mitoryu (6-8) and M8w Oho (3-11). After Takarafuji’s non-demotion last time, it’s hard to see Oho going down; with Mitoryu, it depends on the strength of the promotion pressure.
With 4 slots open, J5e Kinbozan (11-3) and J2e Hokuseiho (9-5) should definitely be making their eagerly awaited top-division debuts. J6w Daishoho (11-3) should also be in makuuchi for the first time since dropping out after Kyushu 2019, with even a stint in makushita in there. J1w Bushozan (8-6) is a lock to make his debut with a win, and is likely to do so even with a loss.
J12w Asanoyama (13-1) and J7e Chiyonokuni (who, at 10-4, is having his best basho in years) must win to stake a real promotion claim; should they do so, it’ll come down to whether Mitoryu and Oho lose, and how the banzuke committee judges their relative merits, although a loss by Bushozan could add him to the bubble conversation.
Juryo <-> Makushita:
Three Juryo spots are open: one as a result of Okinoumi’s retirement plus two due to the performances of J13w Kaisho (4-10) and J11e Chiyosakae (4-10). Two incumbents are in danger: J10w Terutsuyoshi (5-9) and J12e Takakento (6-8). They’ve been matched up with two promotion contenders from makushita in what sure look like direct exchange bouts: Ms1e Tamashoho (3-3) and Ms5e Tsukahara (5-1), respectively. The outcomes of these bouts will determine which two of the four rikishi will receive a salary in March.
As for the 3 open spots, one should be filled by Ms2w Tokushoryu (4-2), regardless of the outcome of his bout against Ms5w Fujiseiun (4-2), who is probably out of luck. Another should go to the winner of the bout between Ms2e Tomokaze (3-3) and Ms3w Tochikamiyama (3-3). And that leaves the third spot for the makushita champion, Ms15TD Ochiai (7-0), who for my money has been the most exciting wrestler of this tournament.
Tune in tomorrow to see which questions have been answered, and which will be left in the hands of the banzuke committee.