Haru 2020 Day Thirteen Recap
The yusho race tightened on Day Thirteen, plus many other rikishi had consequential matches to help shape results. Everything is still to be determined.
The Yusho Race
The big result of the day was Takanosho defeating Aoiyama. Not only did the youngster beat the veteran, but he did it quickly and convincingly. Now, six rikishi are in a cluster at 11 or 10 wins with two days remaining. That looks like this:
And on Day Fourteen, Mitakeumi will face Takanosho, Aoiyama squares off with Hakuho, and Asanoyama fights Kakuryu. Someone will enter Day Fifteen on 12 wins, but it's possible both Yokozuna could. Yet don't discount anyone here. Aoiyama has been fighting extraordinarily well all basho. Mitakeumi will have faced all of his direct competitors after Day Fourteen, giving him perhaps the best odds of finishing with two straight wins. Takanosho has looked better than he ever has.
Most intriguingly, this basho is set up to get a winner take all Yokozuna vs. Yokozuna battle on Day Fifteen. Even if they both lose tomorrow, they'll have a playoff shot. That's now a worst case scenario for a basho where it was widely discussed that neither Yokozuna could make it all fifteen days. Now, they control the yusho, just as the Japan Sumo Association wants.
If only the Ozeki situation looked as rosy. Takakeisho has been bad, and his loss to Kakuryu means he will not face Hakuho this tournament, That is a simple acknowledgement by the schedule makers that he has not fought in a way that is at all Ozeki worthy. Now, part of being an Ozeki is he can keep his rank with a losing record, but he would then be kadoban for May and need at least 8 wins there to stay up.
At least we know there is one Ozeki for May. Asanoyama still has an outside shot, and if he had been able to execute his last-ditch throw against Hakuho on Day Thirteen, he might be in line already. But the greatest of all time kept his balance as only he could at the tawara, robbing Asanoyama of a nice win. Now, Asanoyama needs two wins in the last two days to have a yusho chance and a possibility of an Ozeki promotion. Even the yusho wouldn't make it a guaranteed promotion.
Still, he will stay in Sanyaku no matter what, and his fellow Sekiwake Shodai sits on 7 wins and could easily keep his spot as well. Komusubi Endo also has 7 wins, so he could easily keep his rank as well (and probably slide from West to East.) That would leave one slot open, as Hokutofuji already has 10 losses. But that extra Komusubi rank is almost surely going to Mitakeumi, who has double-digit wins at Maegashira 3. Daieisho should get a word as the Maegashira 1 East with a 7-6 rank. These 7-6 records will play a huge role in the Sanyaku situation.
In fact, 13 rikishi have 7 wins after 13 days. Quite a few will see each other on Day Fourteen, guaranteeing some will secure a winning record on the penultimate day of the basho. There are also two rikishi at 6-7, Takakeisho and Meisei. Takakeisho will be desperately fighting for both wins on the last two days for his kachi-koshi.
What the Japan Sumo Association loves is a bunch of matches on the final day featuring two 7-7 rikishi. They seem to have gotten as close as possible to two days of this. While a kachi-koshi by no means makes a rikishi give up, it does put things in perspective. A wrestler who is 8-6 going into the last match of a basho is less likely to risk injury or do a desperate maneuver. They're promotion is assured, and they don't want to do anything silly. So those 7-6 matchups will make a big difference.
Juryo Promotion and Demotion
The battle for promotion and demotion between the top two divisions is still relatively unclear. The only wrestler in the bottom few ranks of Makuuchi who has been absolutely terrible is Tsurugisho, who had exactly one win before withdrawing because of injury. He is really the only guaranteed demotion at this moment. Daiamami might go down after getting his eighth loss as a Maegashira 17 on Day Thirteen. Otherwise, the kachi-koshi/make-koshi determination for Chiyomaru, Shimanoumi, Meisei, and Kotonowaka is still left to be determined.
Further complicating matters is who is in a position to be promoted. Kotoyuki is currently 7-6 at Juryo 1 East, and one more win means he has to jump up to Makuuchi. At Juryo 2 West, Wakatakakage has 8 wins already. That's a likely promotion. Similarly, former Ozeki Terunofuji is sitting on 9 wins with two days left at Juryo 3, and his return to the top division after a series of injuries looks assured.
Yet that doesn't cover the two best performers in Juryo for this basho. 20 year old Kotoshoho has 11 wins already and is sitting pretty for a yusho at Juryo 6 East. His stablemate Kotoeko is one win behind him and one rank above him. Those are usually promotion worthy performances. So there are possibly five deserving promotion candidates, and almost certainly not the same amount of demotion candidates.
Only two more matches for each rikishi, but lots can happen in those two matches.