Promotion/Demotion and Yusho Picture, Day 12

With three days to go, it’s time for a quick look at where the various storylines stand.

Yusho Race

Young M15e Atamifuji (10-2), the story of this basho, leads the race, one win ahead of O1w Takakeisho and M7e Takayasu. A motley crew of 7 rikishi is two back at 8-4, and eight more 7-5 rikishi are not mathematically out of it yet. Tomorrow, they’re throwing the Ozeki contender at the kid, while Takayasu faces promotion-seeking M1e Hokutofuji (7-5). A victory by Atamifuji would give him a two-win cushion against everyone except possibly Takayasu, whom he’s beaten already. A loss would tie him with Takakeisho (and possibly Takayasu) for the lead, and bring those who end up in the 9-win group after Day 13 into realistic contention.

Ozeki Status

Takakeisho has cleared kadoban. Kirishima (7-5) needs to win one of his remaining three bouts to save his rank, while Hoshoryu (6-6) needs two wins to avoid being kadoban in November.

San’yaku Exchanges

S1e Daieisho (8-4) will keep his rank. S1w Wakamotoharu (7-5) needs one more win to join him, and won’t fall any lower than Komusubi even if he loses out. Shin-sekiwake S2w Kotonowaka (6-6) needs two more wins to maintain his career-high rank, and one to stay in san’yaku. Both Komusubi, Nishikigi and Tobizaru, have their backs to the wall after picking up their 7th losses today, and must win out to hold rank. The lead contenders to replace them are M2e Abi (8-4) and M1e Hokutofuji (7-5), with M2w Asanoyama (7-5) and M7e Takayasu (9-3) also in the picture.

Makuuchi/Juryo Exchanges

We have three rock-solid demotions: absent M9w Hakuoho, lowest-ranked M17e Daishoho (3-9), and M15w Chiyoshoma (2-10), who’ll be in Juryo for the first time in three years. M16e Kagayaki (4-8) and M14e Aoiyama (3-9) probably have to win out to avoid joining them; Aoiyama has had a near-continuous run of 12 years in the top division, with only a one-basho interruption in 2018. M13w Nishikifuji (4-8) and M14w Kotoshoho (5-7) still need a win or two for safety, and M12w Sadanoumi (5-7) could use one more. Everyone else is safe.

There’s quite a logjam in Juryo for any open slots, with about 10 rikishi in contention and no definitive promotion cases yet. The closest is the yusho leader J7w Ichiyamamoto (11-1), who should be a lock with one more win. The next day or two of bouts will clarify this picture significantly.

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