Nagoya Demotion Watch, Day 14

With two days to go, here’s where things stand.

Yusho Race

The top 3 all lost on Day 14, so the leaderboard is unchanged: Yokozuna Terunofuji and M2 Ichinojo are at 11-3, followed by Ozeki Takakeisho at 10-4. Takakeisho squares off with Terunofuji tomorrow, needing a win, as well as a loss by Ichinojo, to force a playoff. Ichinojo faces 7-7 M3w Ura, the highest-ranked available opponent with a kachi-koshi on the line. Depending on the results of these two bouts, we could have a sole winner, a two-way playoff, or a 3-way playoff.

Ozeki

O1e Takakeisho (10-4) is kachi-koshi, as is O2w Shodai (9-5) who has cleared kadoban. O1w Mitakeumi‘s (2-4*) fate is unknown.

Lower San’yaku

S1e Wakatakakage (8-6), K1e Hoshoryu (9-5), and K1w Abi (8-6) are all kachi-koshi and will at least hold rank. S1w Daieisho (6-6*) has joined the ranks of COVID-kyujo rikishi, and his fate is unknown. The obvious promotion candidate, should a slot open, is M2w Ichinojo (11-3), whose score is getting strong enough that extra san’yaku slots may be a possibility, especially if top-ranked maegashira M1e Kiribayama (7-7) manages to fight his way back from 4-7 to kachi-koshi. Depending on what they decide to do with Mitakeumi, we could have anywhere from the usual 4 to the much more unusual 7 rikishi in these ranks at Aki.

Juryo Danger

The records of M16w Daiamami (2-8-2*), M17w Chiyomaru (5-9) and M9e Shimanoumi (1-13) are beyond salvaging, and they should be going down to Juryo even if rikishi with weak promotion cases need to be brought up to replace them. Juryo yusho winner J1e Ryuden (12-2) has reclaimed his spot in the top division in emphatic fashion. The other best-placed Juryo contenders are J4w Mitoryu (8-6), J3e Kagayaki (7-7) if he wins, and J5e Chiyonokuni (8-5).

And here’s a brief final update on the Juryo/Makushita exchange picture. Absent J10w Ishiura is facing certain demotion. Ms1w Kinbozan (6-1) will replace him and make his Juryo debut. Ms1e Takakento (4-3) will be trading divisions with J12w Yago (4-10). Ms2w Kanno (5-2) henka’d his way to a win over J11e Kaisei (4-10) and will take his place in the second division, ending the Brazilian’s 12-year run in the sekitori ranks and likely his career. Ms2e Roga (4-3) lost his own “exchange bout” against J11w Tochimaru (6-8), who should now be safe, while Roga will have to try for promotion again in September from the top of Makushita. 

Nagoya Demotion Watch, Day 13

With two days to go, here’s where things stand. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the role that the COVID-related withdrawals are playing in all aspects of this tournament.

Yusho Race

We have two leaders, Yokozuna Terunofuji and M2 Ichinojo at 11-2, followed by Ozeki Takakeisho (10-3), with M14 Myogiryu and M17 Nishikifuji still mathematically in the race with 9 wins. Realistically it should come down to the top 3. Tomorrow’s key bouts are as follows. One of these is clearly not like the others, but it’s getting increasingly challenging to find credible opponents for Ichinojo, who has faced everyone in the upper ranks.

  • Terunofuji vs. Ozeki Shodai
  • Takakeisho vs. Sekiwake Wakatakakage
  • Ichinojo vs. M10 Meisei

Ozeki

O1e Takakeisho (10-3) is kachi-koshi, as is O2w Shodai (8-5) who has cleared kadoban. O1w Mitakeumi‘s (2-4*) fate is unknown.

Lower San’yaku

S1e Wakatakakage (7-6) will stay in the named ranks, but still needs a win to stay Sekiwake. S1w Daieisho (6-6*) has now joined the ranks of COVID-kyujo rikishi, and his fate is unknown. K1e Hoshoryu (8-5) will stay in san’yaku and possibly move higher. K1w Abi (7-6) needs one more win to hold rank. The obvious promotion candidate, should a slot open, is M2w Ichinojo (11-2), whose score is getting strong enough that an extra san’yaku slot may be a possibility, especially if top-ranked maegashira M1e Kiribayama (6-7) manages to fight his way back from 4-7 to kachi-koshi.

Juryo Danger

The record of M16w Daiamami (2-8-2*) is beyond salvaging, and he will be making an immediate return to the second division. With M17w Chiyomaru‘s (5-8) defeat of M9e Shimanoumi (1-12), both are now in demotable territory, and must win out and hope for losses by Juryo contenders. Juryo leader J1e Ryuden (11-2) is still the only one with a strong promotion case, and he will take Daiamami’s place in the top division. The other best-placed Juryo contenders are J4w Mitoryu and J5e Chiyonokuni, both 8-5.

I’ve covered the Juryo/Makushita exchange picture in my previous post.

Makushita Yusho!

The deciding bout between heavy favorite Ms1w Kinbozan and Ms38 Yoshii did not go to form. The underdog shifted at the tachiai, used this to get a grip, and employed that grip to pull a throw, which Kinbozan attempted to counter. The gumbai went to Kinbozan, a monoii ensued, and the replay showed Yoshii landing a split second later than his opponent, giving him the match and the title. Yoshii is just 18, but he has already spent 3 years in professional sumo, most of it in Makushita, after turning pro straight from middle school. This is by far his best tournament, and will vault him all the way up into the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone. Despite the loss, Kinbozan’s promotion to Juryo should be assured, barring COVID-related banzuke weirdness.

In other promotion zone action, Ms1e Takakento (4-3) won his crossover bout with J12w Yago (4-9), and the two are likely to trade divisions next time. Tomorrow, Ms2e Roga and Ms2w Kanno, both 4-2, will try to join him in their own “exchange bouts” against J11w Tochimaru (5-8) and J11e Kaisei (4-9), respectively.

In Juryo, the absent Ishiura is facing certain demotion. Yago now seems set to join him, while Kaisei and Tochimaru’s fates hang in the balance. Everyone else should be safe, leaving no room for additional promotions from Makushita, again barring COVID-related banzuke weirdness.

Oh, and down in Sandamne, former Ozeki Asanoyma did not blink in clinching his expected 7-0 yusho. He should be ranked in or near the extended Ms1-Ms15 promotion zone in September, and will start the Aki basho as the heavy favorite for the Makushita yusho.

Nagoya Demotion Watch, Day 12

With three days to go, here’s where things stand. For the purposes of this discussion, I will leave out the COVID-kyujo rikishi until the NSK gives us more of an idea of how they’ll handle that mess.

Yusho Race

We have two leaders, Yokozuna Terunofuji and M2 Ichinojo at 10-2, followed by Ozeki Takakeisho (9-3) and a motley crew of five rikishi (from Ozeki Shodai to M17 Nishikifuji) with 8 wins. Mathematically, a large group with 7-5 records is still in it, but realistically it should come down to the top 3. Tomorrow’s key bouts:

  • Terunofuji vs. Wakatakakage
  • Takakeisho vs. Shodai
  • Ichinojo vs. Nishikigi

Ozeki

O1e Takakeisho (9-3) is kachi-koshi, as is O2w Shodai (8-4) who has cleared kadoban. O1w Mitakeumi’s fate is unknown.

Lower San’yaku

S1e Wakatakakage (7-5) will stay in the named ranks, but still needs a win to stay Sekiwake, and three to keep any Ozeki conversation going. S1w Daieisho (6-6) needs a win to stay in the named ranks and two to hold rank. K1e Hoshoryu (7-5) needs one more win to stay in san’yaku and possibly move higher should one of the Sekiwake falter. K1w Abi (6-6) needs to win 2 of 3 to hold rank. The obvious promotion candidate, should a slot open, is M2w Ichinojo (10-2).

Juryo Danger

The record of M16w Daiamami (2-8-2 wins) is now beyond salvaging, and he will be making an immediate return to the second division. M17w Chiyomaru (4-8) is in only slightly better shape, and will be joining Daiamami unless he wins out and gets some remarkable banzuke luck. Hapless newlywed M9e Shimanoumi (1-11) needs 3 more wins for safety; everyone else is probably okay, especially since Juryo leader J1e Ryuden (10-2) is still the only one with a strong promotion case, and anyone hoping to join him now needs to win out.

Makushita Danger

Absent J10w Ishiura will be dropping to the third division. Among those still participating, those most likely to join him are J11e Kaisei (3-9) and J12w Yago (4-8), who need to win out to be safe. J11w Tochimaru (4-8) is looking for two more wins. Tomorrow, Yago will face Ms1e Takakento (3-3) in the first of what should be a series of exchange bouts over the final days between rikishi looking to switch places across the “heaven/hell” boundary.