Haru 2020 Recap Day Ten
Day Ten did a lot to change the yusho race. In the best news possible, Chiyomaru not only doesn't have COVID-19, but his fever has gone away. He will return to the basho, apparently. Also, Day Ten seemed to be upset day, with lots of matches going to the person who would not be favored going in. That always makes things more fun overall.
The chaos went all the way to the top of the leaderboard, as Onosho knocked off Hakuho to put him in a tie for the yusho arasoi with Aoiyama. Hakuho is still the favorite, as he is still Hakuho and he gets to face two other main contenders still. Aoiyama will now likely see an uptick in his strength of schedule. That will probably see him get a loss or two, as intended.
Just keep in mind that both Hakuho and Aoiyama have the advantage here, since they at least get a playoff if they both just win. And while their careers and current abilities are wildly different, both are veteran rikishi who know exactly what they're doing.
These are the four men who stand to benefit most from Hakuho's loss on Day Nine. Kakuryu is in the best position, as he will get both Asanoyama and Hakuho before this thing is over and stands the best chance of knocking down rivals. Asanoyama is probably the one who came into this basho fighting the best, and has shown great composure in winning some wild bouts.
The Maegashira are a bit behind the eight ball as always. Takanosho is at Maegashira 9, and he'll probably see some of his direct competition now. Mitakeumi has faced Hakuho, Kakuryu, and Asanoyama already, with his only losses against the Yokozuna. While that means he'll have a better schedule going forward, he also is more likely to find himself needing a playoff to get the yusho.
In theory, anyone with 3 losses is just two back from the leaders, but there are a lot of people to overcome and it requires being perfect to stay in the yusho race. Daieisho, at Maegashira 1, is best positioned to do that. Not only will he face easier competition than he has so far, he's on a 7 match winning streak.
Everyone else should just be very happy to stand one win away from kachi-koshi after 10 matches. In particular, these are all wrestlers who needed the boost. Takarafuji and Chiyotairyu are lower than their best ranks due to recent unfortunate records. Ishiura has been so up and down that it's good he's shown an ability to win consistently. Kotonowaka is a 23 year old making his debut at the bottom of the banzuke.
Onosho has the feather in his cap with the very nice kinboshi over Hakuho on Day Ten. Not only did he get the win, he did it in convincing style. It's the Onosho who made such a splash as a 21 year old, before his knee surgeries. He kept moving and attacking and finally hit Hakuho so hard that the Yokozuna flew off the dohyo and took out one of the shimpan.
Kagayaki has continued to show he belongs in upper Maegashira, and maybe higher. He hasn't been dominating or even looking that great, but he's winning enough. Kaisei, meanwhile, is proving in a less emphatic way than Aoiyama that size matters if you know how to use it. Supersize rikishi might put more of a pounding on their knees, but being huge isn't something that declines with age.
Other than Takakeisho and Shodai, everyone here stands a solid chance of getting a kachi-koshi, which would be a good basho for everyone in this pack from Endo down. A winning record means at least you hold your rank, and likely have a promotion.
So let's think about Takakeisho and Shodai. They, too, will like securing kachi-koshi, but they definitely wanted more. Takakeisho was considered a favorite coming into this tournament, and a yusho would have started Yokozuna promotion rumblings. Instead, he has been foundering, with a notable lack of strength in the attack. Shodai also could have started promotion whispers about going to Ozeki, but his uneven performance means he will be fighting to hold onto a Sekiwake slot.
4-6 after ten days means the kachi-koshi potential is there, but it takes a nice string of quality sumo over the final five days. None of these men have shown such sumo consistently this basho. They all could, in theory, but you wouldn't feel great about picking anyone of them to get a winning record.
These five rikishi are not yet at make-koshi, but one more loss and they secure a losing record. The way they've all been fighting, they seem guaranteed to get more than one more loss each. Maybe Enho has some surprises, but he's been bottled up pretty effectively this tournament. Perhaps people have figured out his style. He's so tricky, he'll be able to get a new one, just not in Osaka.
And here's the group who has secured make-koshi. For Hokutofuji, it will mean a massive slide down the banzuke (unless he wins out now, which fits his incredibly streaky results). Tokushoryu has followed up his yusho with a losing record, and quite likely a pretty lopsided one. Shohozan has been struggling, and looks more like an older rikishi than he ever has before.
Tsurugisho's kyujo means he is going well down into juryo for the May basho.
Takayasu snapped something in his leg on Day Five. Somehow, Tochiozan still hasn't gotten the one win needed to not be grouped with him here.