State of Play, Day 13

Two days remain.

Yusho Race

M1e Takayasu leads with 11 wins, followed by O1e Takakeisho, S1w Hoshoryu, M9w Abi, and M13w Oho with 10. Still in it mathematically are M15e Kagayaki and M16w Hiradoumi with 9 wins. The leader, having faced (and beaten) everyone else except Abi (and Hiradoumi), gets Kagayaki tomorrow, and likely Abi on Sunday. He controls his own destiny. The chasers are paired up: Takakeisho with Oho and Hoshoryu with Abi, while Hiradoumi fights Nishikifuji. A win by Takayasu would leave him in the lead, with only two chasers, while a big upset by Kagayaki would open the race up significantly going into the final day, with the possibility of an epic multi-way playoff.

San’yaku

We have two confirmed Sekiwake for January: S1w Hoshoryu (10-3) and O1w Shodai (5-8), who will have the customary one shot to regain his rank with 10 wins. S1e Wakatakakage (7-6) can join them with one more win, and will be ranked no lower than Komusubi. For S2w Mitakeumi (6-7), two wins save his rank, one loss drops him to Komusubi, and two drop him to maegashira.

K1e Tamawashi (4-9) and and K2e Tobizaru (5-8) will both lose their ranks, while K1w Kiribayama (8-5) will keep his. K2w Daieisho (6-7) must win out to stay Komusubi. Tournament leader M1e Takayasu (11-2) will return to san’yaku.

For those who are counting, that’s at least 5 lower san’yaku rikishi for Hatsu: Hoshoryu, Shodai, Wakatakakage, Kiribayama, and Takayasu. Mitakeumi and Daieisho have a chance of joining them. That probably means that M1w Kotonowaka (8-5) is out of luck, and will once again receive only a half-rank-promotion despite deserving better, although there are scenarios that could see him at Komusubi.

Makuuchi to Juryo

Chiyotairyu’s retirement opens up one slot in the top division. M16e Terutsuyoshi (0-13) and M15w Atamifuji (3-10) will be vacating two more. M8e Takarafuji (2-11) still needs at least one more win to stay, and probably two, depending on the strength of the promotion cases. So we’ll have at least three promotions, and possibly four, as all other incumbents are safe. The current ranked list of promotion contenders is as follows: 1. Tsurugisho, 2. Hokuseiho, 3. Chiyomaru. 4. Mitoryu, 5. Akua, 6. Bushozan. Wouldn’t it be something to see Hokuseiho make his top-division debut?

Demotion Watch, Day 12

Three days remain.

San’yaku

O1e Takakeisho (9-3) is kachi-koshi; his rank is safe at least through March.

O1w Shodai (5-7) must win out to save his rank; otherwise, he’ll be Sekiwake.

S1e Wakatakakage (6-6) needs two more wins to hold rank; his Ozeki run is on life support.

S1w Hoshoryu (10-2) will be Sekiwake in January and has started his own Ozeki run.

S2w Mitakeumi (5-7) needs to win out to stay Sekiwake and can only afford one loss to avoid dropping into the rank and file.

Among the Komusubi quartet, Tamawashi (3-9) will lose his rank, while Kiribayama (8-4) will keep his (or move up). Daieisho (6-6) needs two more wins, and Tobizaru (5-7) must win out. M1e Takayasu (10-2) is set to return to san’yaku; if there’s additional room, M1w Kotonowaka (7-5) is next in line.

Makuuchi to Juryo

Chiyotairyu’s retirement opens up one slot in the top division. M16e Terutsuyoshi (0-12) will be vacating another, as will newcomer M15w Atamifuji (3-9) unless he wins out and gets a very favorable combination of results elsewhere. M8e Takarafuji (2-10) still needs at least one more win and probably two. The current ranked list of promotion contenders is as follows: 1. Tsurugisho, 2. Mitoryu, 3. Akua, 4. Bushozan, 5. Hokuseiho, 6. Chiyomaru.

Demotion Watch, Day 11

Four days remain.

San’yaku

O1e Takakeisho (8-3) is kachi-koshi; his rank is safe at least through March.

O1w Shodai (5-6) needs 3 wins to save his rank; anything less and he’ll be Sekiwake.

S1e Wakatakakage (6-5) needs two more wins to hold rank, and 3-4 to carry over his Ozeki run.

S1w Hoshoryu (10-1) will be Sekiwake in January and has started his own Ozeki run.

S2w Mitakeumi (4-7) will not be returning to Ozeki and is in danger of dropping to maegashira unless he wins at least 3 more bouts.

Among the Komusubi quartet, Tamawashi (3-8) will lose his rank, Daieisho and Tobizaru (5-6) need 3 wins, while Kiribayama (7-4) needs one. M1e Takayasu (9-2) is set to return to san’yaku; if there’s additional room, M1w Kotonowaka 7-4 is next in line.

Makuuchi to Juryo

Chiyotairyu’s retirement opens up one slot in the top division. M16e Terutsuyoshi (0-11) will be vacating another. M15w Atamifuji (3-8) cannot afford another loss, while M8e Takarafuji (1-10), no longer winless after today, still needs at least 2 more wins. The current ranked list of promotion contenders is as follows: 1. Tsurugisho, 2. Akua, 3. Mitoryu, 4. Bushozan, 5. Hokuseiho, 6. Chiyomaru.

Makushita Day 11: Asanoyama Blinks Again

Maybe we should stop looking to Ms4e Asanoyama (5-1) to stabilize the upper ranks. Dropping bouts to Makushita lifers is no way to stake a claim for a return to Ozeki. For the second straight basho, Asanoyama won his first 5 matches but dropped his semifinal bout, this time to Ms23e Tamashoho. Tamashoho must have watched the September tape, as he employed the same tactics that led to Yuma’s upset win—circle away, get Asanoyama moving laterally along the tawara, and then give a shove from the side. The kimarite were different—tsukiotoshi at Aki, hatakikomi today—but the playbook was clearly the same, and one that Asanoyama’s future opponents will surely take note of. Abi managed to clear Makushita without a loss (14-0), while Ryuden took one, but maybe Asanoyama can take comfort from Terunofuji, who went 6-1, 6-1, 7-0 in the third division on his way back up.

Tamashoho will now face Ms41w Mineyaiba for the Makushita yusho, which has no promotion implications since both are ranked below Ms15. For Asanoyama, life just got more complicated. Top-ranked Ms1e Shiden won today to go to 3-3; should he win his final bout, he is pretty much guaranteed promotion. Ms1w Shonannoumi sports a 4-2 record, and another win should also make him a shoo-in. If Asanoyama wins his final bout, he should be no worse than third in the promotion queue. If he loses, he could also end up behind Ms2e Fujiseiun (3-3) and Ms5w Hakuyozan (5-1).

We know that one slot in Juryo is open due to Chiyotairyu’s retirement. How many other openings might there be? Shimazuumi, Tsushimanada, and Tokushoryu all need to win 3 of 4 to be safe, while Gonoyama, Kaisho, and Chiyosakae need two wins, and several others need one. Asanoyama must win and hope that those potentially ahead of him in the promotion queue, as well as the endangered Juryo incumbents, lose. But after his loss today, he no longer controls his own destiny.

None of the contenders are in action on Day 12, so the next update should come after Day 13 bouts are completed.