It’s too early to start analyzing the yusho race in earnest, and a lot can change in the standings throughout the banzuke in the remaining 6 days, but we can take a quick first look at who might be trading divisions come July.
Makuuchi Men in Danger
M13w Ichinojo has retired. Bottom-ranked M17e Kagayaki (3-6) is two losses away from punching his ticket to Juryo. Others who need to start winning in a hurry are Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (3-6) and Ms16e Mitoryu (4-5). Oho, Aoiyama, Daishoho, and a few others are not out of the woods yet.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
Unlike Makuuchi, Juryo actually features two undefeated rikishi on Day 9—J1e Gonoyama and wunderkind J8w Ochiai, whose escape move today against veteran Hidenoumi was positively Hakuho-like. Gonoyama is definitely coming up. Ochiai, by virtue of his low rank, needs a few more wins and some banzuke luck on his side. Two wins back in the yusho race at 7-2 are J1w Shonannoumi, J3e Bushozan, and J8e Atamifuji; the first two are strong promotion contenders. Rounding out the list of those with realistic top-division hopes is the J4 duo of Oshoma and Roga, both 6-4. Plenty of exciting bouts matching up these contenders are yet to come, starting on Day 10 with Gonoyama vs. Atamifuji (who took their one prior bout) and Ochiai vs. Bushozan, who’ve never met.
Juryo Men in Danger
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni, who may be next on the intai watch, needs 5 wins to stay sekitori, as does last tournament’s lucky escapee, J14w Tsushimanada (3-6). There is a long list of others still in danger: injured J11e Hidenoumi (3-6), J14e Tokihayate (5-4), J12e Tomokaze (4-5), J10w Kitanowaka (3-6), J10e Chiyomaru (3-6), J13e Fujiseiun (5-4), and even higher-ranked J5w Akua (1-8) and winless J3w Enho. As for who is vying to replace them, see my Makushita post. I expect quite a few cross-division “exchange bouts” down the stretch, starting tomorrow with Hayatefuji vs. Tokihayate.