And then there were three. Yokozuna Terunofuji (12-1) leads by one win over last basho’s champion, Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-2). Former Ozeki Asanoyama (10-3) is the only other man still mathematically in the race. Terunofuji and Kiribayama fight tomorrow; a victory by the Yokozuna would clinch the yusho on Day 14. Should the challenger prevail, the race would go down to senshuraku, with the possibility of a playoff rematch between the two, possibly joined by Asanoyama should he win both of his remaining bouts.
Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-5) did what he needed to do to save his rank, even if it did entail a henka against the lower-ranked Meisei. Kiribayama has now exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho, and should be joining Takakeisho at Ozeki. Daieisho (8-5) can no longer reach the 11 wins he needed to total 33 over 3 basho, and now needs to win out to reach double digits and have a convincing run going into July. Wakamotoharu (9-4) and Hoshoryu (9-4) will likewise be looking to post double-digit totals to keep their runs going.
All four Sekiwake will at the very least hold their ranks. But we might be looking for some new Komusubi, with absent Wakatakakage guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, while Kotonowaka (6-7) and Shodai (6-7) have no margin left for error (Kotonowaka could potentially slide over from K1e to K1w with a 7-8 record given the paucity of promotion candidates). At the moment, M1e Abi (7-6) leads the weak promotion queue, and can guarantee promotion with one more win; Ura, Nishikigi, Meisei, Mitakeumi, Tobizaru, and Tamawashi are also still in the running.
Makuuchi Men in Danger
M13w Ichinojo has retired. Ms16e Mitoryu (4-9), M17e Kagayaki (5-8), and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-9) all have demotable scores, and given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo, lucky escapes are unlikely this time. A couple of others, mainly M12e Aoiyama (4-9) and absent 1-9-3 M5w Kotoshoho, are not out of the woods yet, which probably explain’s Kotoshoho’s questionable choice to reenter and seek the one win he needs for safety.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
With four slots already coming open in the top division, yusho race co-leader J1e Gonoyama (12-1) is a lock, as is J1w Shonannoumi (9-4) will be hard to deny, though whose place he would take is still an open question. The other leader, J8w Ochiai (12-1), now also has a promotable score and should make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!) unless he is passed by J8e Atamifuji (11-2), J3e Bushozan (8-5), or J4w Roga (8-5). It would be exciting indeed to see all 6 go up!
Juryo Men in Danger
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-3), who may be next on the intai watch, has pulled out, and is facing certain demotion. The other winless rikishi, J3w Enho, is also kyujo, though his higher rank holds out some hope that he could survive, depending on the number of promotion cases in Makushita. Last tournament’s lucky escapee, J14w Tsushimanada (6-7), needs to win out for safety, as does J14e Tokihayate (6-7). The others in some danger are J11e Hidenoumi (5-8), J12e Tomokaze (6-7), and J10e Chiyomaru (5-8). As for who is vying to replace them, see yesterday’s Makushita update.