Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji (13-1) on a well-deserved 8th yusho, which completes the latest injury comeback in his remarkable career.
Kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho (8-6) has not looked great, but he got the 8 wins he needed to save his rank. Sekiwake Kiribayama (11-3) has exceeded the promotion target of 10 wins he was set before the basho, and a tough-fought bout against the champion can only help his chances of rising to sumo’s second-highest rank (I’ll be shocked if he isn’t promoted). Daieisho (9-5) can no longer reach the 11 wins he needed to total 33 over 3 basho, and needs one more win to reach double digits and have a convincing run going into July. Wakamotoharu (10-4) and Hoshoryu (10-4) have posted double-digit totals to keep their runs going, and will try to pad their win columns tomorrow.
All four Sekiwake will at the very least hold their ranks. But we will be looking for at least one new Komusubi. Absent K1w Wakatakakage is guaranteed to fall deep into the rank and file, and K2e Shodai (6-8) could not manage a winning record. K1e Kotonowaka (7-7) can secure his rank with a win; unlike Shodai, he could potentially slide over from K1e to K1w with a 7-8 record given the paucity of promotion candidates. M1e Abi (7-7) will take the open slot if he can win his Darwin bout against M4e Ura (7-7). If Abi loses, the promotion order is: 1. Nishikigi with a win, 2. Tobizaru with a win, 3/4. Ura or Meisei with a win, 5. Nishikigi with a loss or Mitakeumi with a win.
Makuuchi Men in Danger
M13w Ichinojo has retired. Ms16e Mitoryu (4-10) and Ms15e Ichiyamamoto (4-10) are unquestionably Juryo-bound, and M17e Kagayaki (6-8) is almost certainly so, given the strength of the promotion cases in Juryo. That’s four open slots, but we have 5 solid promotion contenders, so M12e Aoiyama (4-10) better win on the final day, and I wouldn’t count M10w Takarafuji (4-10) or even M2w Endo (0-7-7) as completely safe.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
Yusho race co-leader J1e Gonoyama (13-1) and J1w Shonannoumi (10-4) are locks for promotion. The other leader, J8w Ochiai (13-1), also has a very strong case to make his Makuuchi debut in just his 4th basho (!!!). Chaser J8e Atamifuji (12-2) and J3e Bushozan (9-5) round out the promotion cases. I am not sure what they’d do were Ochiai to lose, Atamifuji and Bushozan to win, and Aoiyama and Takarafuji to claim final-day wins. They’d have to either deny Ochiai or Bushozan despite very strong promotion cases, demote Endo, or slightly over-demote Aoiyama.
Juryo Men in Danger
J5e Tochinoshin has retired. His intai and Ichinojo’s create two openings in the second division. Winless veteran J9w Chiyonokuni (0-10-4), who may be next on the intai watch, has pulled out, and is facing certain demotion. That’s 3 open slots, and we have 3 definite promotions: Ms1e Shiden (4-3), Ms1w Kawazoe (5-2) and Ms2w Shishi (5-1). A 4th exchange will be decided tomorrow when endangered J14w Tsushimanada (7-7) takes on his direct challenger, Ms5e Yuma (5-1), with the winner claiming a sekitori slot.
After that, things are less clear. Juryo debutant J14e Tokihayate (6-8) would certainly go down with a loss, and may be doomed even with a win. The leading candidate to take his spot is Ms3w Chiyonoumi (4-3); I don’t know if that’s a strong enough case to force the exchange if Tokihayate wins tomorrow. The last case belongs to Ms4e Tochimusashi (4-3), but he’d have to replace one of J3w Enho (0-10-4), J11e Hidenoumi (5-9) with a loss, or J10e Chiyomaru (5-9) with a loss, and his rank and record may not be good enough to do so (and, presumably, neither would be Yuma’s at 5-2). Let’s see if the picture is any clearer tomorrow.