Haru 2020 Day Fourteen Recap
As planned by the schedulers, Day Fourteen left us with two contenders in the yusho race. All the other questions still seem up in the air.
The Yusho Race
And in the end, only the Yokozuna were left. After over a year of surprising yusho winners and strange results, we know that either Hakuho or Kakuryu will win the Emperor's Cup in this basho. Hakuho defeated Aoiyama and Kakuryu beat Asanoyama, which meant they are the only rikishi on 12 wins. As is traditional, they get the final match of the final day. This time, it decides everything.
This was not the likeliest outcome at the beginning of the basho. Both men had retirement rumors swirling around them. Their January performances were both bad, especially for Yokozuna, before withdrawing due to odd injuries. The real reason for their kyujos felt like it was "Not really Yokozuna quality anymore." They've delivered Yokozuna quality and then some this basho.
A few words should be said for those eliminated from yusho contention on Day Fourteen. Aoiyama has looked great all basho, and he stood Hakuho up, only for Hakuho to redirect him. Asanoyama is proving his Sanyaku bonafide, although he has developed a strange pattern of fading back from competition over the last few days of a basho. He took Kakuryu all over the dohyo before coming down a fraction of a second before the Yokozuna.
The Sanyaku Ranks
Asanoyama's loss does mean he will certainly not be an Ozeki in May. He just doesn't have enough wins or other requirements for promotion, even if he beats Takakeisho on senshuraku. Shodai, meanwhile, has guaranteed he will still man the other Sekiwake spot due to beating Takarafuji for his eighth win and a kachi-koshi. (He also has a shot at an Ozeki run in May with a ninth win.)
But what about the Komusubi? Hokutofuji is going back into Maegashira, but Endo could follow him down if he loses against Takarafuji on Day Fifteen and ends up at 7-8. Mitakeumi's 10 wins at Maegashira 3 should elevate him back to Sanyaku. Except that Daieisho has 8 wins at Maegashira 1 East. This will be a much easier decision for the Banzuke Committee if Endo loses.
There have been a handful of performances that merit special prize consideration. Takanosho, already at 11 wins and with some strong wins over the final few days, seems like a lock for one. If he beats Shodai on Day Fifteen, he might get two. Aoiyama is in a similar boat with his 11 wins. Mitakeumi might need to win to get one, as he has lost two of his last three, even if he does have double-digit wins already. Onosho should probably get a shout for beating Hakuho and having 8 wins. It's also not inconceivable that Kotonowaka gets some recognition for a debut kachi-koshi at the lowest slot on the Banzuke.
Here is everyone sitting at 7 wins going into the final day:
Meisei and Kagayaki square off, Chiyomaru and Yutakayama fight each other, and Okinoumi and Kotoshogiku battle on Day Fifteen. Those are all Kachi-Koshi deciders. Meisei is close to the drop zone for Juryo, while everyone else will see either a one-rank promotion or a one-rank demotion depending on their results.
Takakeisho and Endo, as mentioned above, are fighting for a little more. If Endo wins, he gets to stay in the Sanyaku ranks. Takakeisho will be trying to avoid becoming a kadoban Ozeki. Takakeisho also faces the toughest test, as he will be facing Asanoyama.
Juryo Promotion and Demotion
The Juryo results still hang a little in the balance. Kotoshoho remains the leader with 11 wins, although he did fall to Kyokushuho on Day Fourteen. That means his stablemate Kotoeko and former Ozeki Terunofuji are one win back and could still force a playoff. Any playoff scenario is intriguing, as a Kotoshoho-Terunofuji rematch promises to be exciting and stablemates fighting in a playoff is always fun.
All three of those men also probably all deserve a promotion. But then so would Wakatakakage, who already has nine wins and is ranked ahead of that trio. Oh, and Kotoyuki is at Juryo 1 East, sitting at 7-7. His final opponent is Hoshoryu, the 20 year old Mongolian who is the nephew of former Yokozuna Asashoryu and a youngster often touted as a future star himself. The Juryo bouts will be worth watching on Day Fifteen.
As will the bottom of Makuuchi. There aren't really five demotion candidates. There are two absolute guarantees in Tsurugisho and Daiamami. Nishikigi could get 10 losses with one more defeat, and at Maegashira 14, that's probably demotion material. Meisei could, in theory, be sent down if he gets a bare losing record with a final day loss, but that seems harsh. A Maegashira 10 is usually away from a demotion, especially as this Banzuke went to Maegashira 18, but Tochiozan has just been so abysmal maybe it should be considered.
Four Juryo wrestlers should be moving up, but it remains to be seen if four Makuuchi wrestlers are going down. (And a note should be said, sadly, that we don't know the prognosis of Takayasu's elbow. He has 0 wins and will likely not be participating in May. That could make the committee decide he's demotion material for ease of certain decisions.)
Day Fifteen will have a lot going on.