Hatsu 2020 Day Thirteen Recap
Two days are left in the Hatsu basho for 2020. That means we can think clearly about the possibilities for how everything will shake out. Let's consider the outcomes for different wrestlers.
The Yusho Race
There are four rikishi with a mathematical chance of winning the basho: Shodai and Tokushoryu, who both have 12 wins; Takakeisho, who has 11 wins; and Hokutofuji, who has 10 wins. Except scratch Hokutofuji, because Shodai and Tokushoryu face each other on Day 14, meaning one will get 13 wins.
Still, Hokutofuji could be within an outside chance of the jun-yusho. That's because lots can happen. If Shodai beats Tokushoryu, he has already faced Takakeisho and his final day matchup is unclear (he hasn't faced either Maegashira 1, somehow.) If Tokushoryu wins, he would almost be guaranteed a match with Takakeisho. Takakeisho faces Asanoyama on Day 14, and he certainly is favored but could lose that match. Traditionally, he would face fellow Ozeki Goeido on Day 15, but Goeido's down at a 5-8 record. So if Hokutofuji wins out, he'd be at 12 wins and chaos could reign elsewhere.
The Sanyaku for Haru
Here is what we know the top of the Banzuke will look like for the Haru basho. Hakuho and Kakuryu will be in the Yokozuna slots. Takakeisho will be the lone Ozeki. Asanoyama will be in his Sekiwake East slot once again since he guaranteed a kachi-koshi on Day 13. Goeido will drop to the Sekiwake West spot after his demotion from Ozeki.
What will happen with the Komusubi slots is completely unclear. Abi and Daieisho won't stay, since they have already lost 8 times. The Maegashira 1 East Endo has 8 wins already, which means he deserves one of them. Then again, so do Hokutofuji and Shodai. Mitakeumi could also still get a kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2 West. Shodai being at Maegashira 4 means he could get screwed here, except he also could be a 14-1 yusho winner. And he's guaranteed himself a 12-3 jun-yusho at worse.
13 rikishi have either 7 or 6 wins after thirteen days, meaning they could still get either a kachi-koshi or a make-koshi. When possible, the Sumo Association likes squaring off these wrestlers. Of course, many of them have already faced each other, plus stablemates Chiyomaru and Chiyotairyu both have six wins and can't face each other.
For completely non-nefarious reasons, an 8 win rikishi will fight much less passionately on Day 15 than a 7 win rikishi. If someone faces a risky maneuver that could threaten injury, already knowing you're promoted means you might not risk it. Everything is about promotion and demotion in sumo, especially for these 13 wrestlers over the next two days.
The question of who will be in the second division in March is maybe the toughest one to answer. Of the bottom eight rikishi on the Makuuchi banzuke, none have gotten a make-koshi yet and four have guaranteed kachi-koshi. If Shimanoumi, Azumaryu, Ikioi, and Kaisei get winning records, those going down to Juryo have to come from relatively lofty positions.
There are some candidates in the mid-Maegashira range. Kotoeko at Maegashira 13 West has just 2 wins, so he is probably the best demotion candidate. His stablemate Kotoyuki has missed the entire tournament with injury from Maegashira 3, which is broderline for a fall to Juryo. Meisei's 1 win before pulling out at Maegashira 5 is similarly problematic.
Complicating this picture even more is that the top of Juryo doesn't have many obvious promotion candidates. No one ranked Juryo 3 or above has yet secured a winning record. Nishikigi has 9 wins at Juryo 4 East, which is probably promotion material. The Juryo 5 pair of Wakatakakage and Daishoho each have got kachi-koshi for Hatsu.
The real story of Juryo for this basho is ex-Ozeki Terunofuji, who is on his way back from devastating injuries that befell him in 2017. After fighting back up from the second lowest Jonidan division, he made it back to the salaried ranks as Juryo 13 West for Hatsu. All he's done there is go undefeated. Typically, Juryo 13 is a spot no one gets promoted from. However, typically no one gets a zensho yusho in Juryo. It's worth watching over the last two days.