M9w Hokutofuji (11-2) is the sole leader, with S1e Hoshoryu, M1e Nishikigi, and Ms17w Hakuoho (!!!) in hot pursuit at 10-3. Hokutofuji and Hakuoho are matched up tomorrow, while Hoshoryu fights S2w Wakamotoharu (9-4), and Nishikigi has the best available opponent, M15e Ryuden (9-4). A win by Hokutofuji combined with losses by Hoshoryu and Nishikigi would give us yet another maegashira yusho; otherwise, it’s on to senshuraku. Day 15 would be especially exciting if Hakuoho can keep his amazing run going, giving us as many as four 11-3 contenders, as well as a couple of 10-4’s who might also be in it.
Absent Takakeisho will be kadoban at Aki, needing 8+ wins to save his rank. To avoid the same fate, shin-Ozeki Kirishima (6-5-2) must win out. S1e Hoshoryu (10-3) has to win out to reach the nominal Ozeki promotion target of 33 wins over 3 basho, while a victory by S2w Wakamotoharu (9-4) over S1w Daieisho (8-5) means that both can do no better than 32.
All three Sekiwake have done enough to at least hold their ranks, meaning that the only way for Sekiwake slots to open is via Ozeki promotion, and at this point we’re unlikely to see more than one. At the Komusubi rank, K1e Kotonowaka (9-4) has ensured a return, and could force a Sekiwake promotion by winning out to reach 11. K1w Abi (4-9) will vacate his rank, which should be occupied by M1e Nishikigi (10-3), who is a lock to make his san’yaku debut at Aki. If more than one slot needs to be filled, the best contenders are M1w Tobizaru (should he reach 8 wins) and our surprise leader, M9w Hokutofuji (11-2).
Makuuchi Men in Danger
Absent M12w Wakatakakage will drop to Juryo. M16w Bushozan (3-10) is a lock to join him, having faired no better in his second top-division stint than in his first. The other endangered incumbents are M14e Daishoho (4-9), who needs two wins for safety, and M17e Aoiyama (7-6), M13w Kotoshoho (5-8), and M11w Tsurugisho (4-9), who need one apiece.
Juryo Promotion Contenders
With two slots open, top-ranked J1e Kagayaki (8-5) has earned an immediate return to the top division, and J1w Atamifuji (10-3) will be back after 4 basho in the second division. J2e Roga (8-5) is in the best position to join them, needing one more win for a strong promotion case. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him matched head-to-head with Daishoho on senshuraku in a straight-up exchange bout. J5e Tamashoho (8-5), J5w Kitanowaka (8-5), and J9w Tomokaze (10-3) need to win out and hope for losses by the endangered incumbents to have any shot at promotion.
For the Juryo/Makushita exchange picture, please see my latest Makushita post, which also covers the Day 13 yusho decider.