Nagoya 2019 Day Thirteen Recap
Day Thirteen saw a massive upset in the musubi no ichiban, as Tomokaze out-Kakuryu-ed Kakuryu and gained his first kinboshi with a well timed hatakikomi. There are just two matches left for each wrestler, but lots of scenarios can change any Fantasy Basho league's leaderboard over the weekend.
Let's go over what can happen with different groups of wrestlers.
The Yusho Race
Just three wrestlers are mathematically in the hunt still, the two Yokozuna, Kakuryu and Hakuho, and the Maegashira 16 West, Terutsuyoshi. After Tomokaze's win, Kakuryu dropped to 12-1 and even with Hakuho. They get each other on the final day, so if they both win on Day Fourteen, that match decides the championship.
Losses tomorrow by either or both make things much more complicated. If they both lose, Terutsuyoshi can guarantee a playoff by winning out. He gets tough competition on the final weekend, including Hokutofuji on Day 14, so don't assume he'll win twice. If only one of the Yokozuna loses on Day 14, but beats the other on Day 15, plus Terutsuyoshi wins out, we get a three-way playoff. (And yes, playoff wins count like other wins for Fantasy Basho.)
The other "extra points" in Fantasy Basho that show up on Day 15 are the single points for winning one of the three Special Prizes--the Fighting Spirit, Technique, and Outstanding Performance Prizes. Generally speaking, these are for Maegashira who achieve 10 wins or more, but there are no hard and fast rules.
Terutsuyoshi has already gathered 11 wins, while Tomokaze has 10 and a kinboshi. Those two are almost certainly getting some special prize. (Terutsuyoshi for Fighting Spirit and Tomokaze for Technique, say.) The complicating factor is that a rikishi could win any or all of the three in one basho, and two or more rikishi can both get an award. Tomokaze and Terutsuyoshi could both get two prizes, splitting the Outstanding Performance. Kotoeko and Kotoyuki are both at 9 wins, and could fight their way into this conversation.
The Kachi-Koshi/Make-Koshi Line
While every sekitori is looking for the yusho, the first and most common goal for every wrestler each basho is a kachi-koshi, or winning record. You get that, and you move up the rankings for the next tournament. Get a losing record, a make-koshi, and you go down the rankings.
There are thirteen wrestlers who could still go either way with two days remaining. Aoiyama, Daieisho, Chiyotairyu, Shimanoumi, and Enho are all sitting on 7 wins. They need just one win. Abi, Shodai, Kotoshogiku, Onosho, Okinoumi, Daishoho, Kagayaki, and Toyonoshima all have 6 wins, and they must win out to finish with a winning record.
That is the list of wrestlers most likely to go all out. That's not to say anything is fixed, but rather that everyone else is less inclined to risk or injury with a really crazy throw or tawara dance. Toyonoshima has the added incentive that he probably needs to get to 8 wins to make sure he doesn't drop back into Juryo.
An important note on scheduling: Day 15 usually features as many matches as possible with two wrestlers at 7-7. Do NOT bet that everyone who needs to win out will, because logistically that is probably not going to be able to happen.
The other thing left to fight for is the Sanyaku slots in September. The Aki basho will feature the two Yokozuna and three Ozeki (Takayasu and the kadoban duo of Goeido and Tochinoshin). That's because Takakeisho is dropping back to Sekiwake after being unable to compete in Nagoya.
With Mitakeumi gaining his 8th win, he has secured staying at Sekiwake. Hokutofuji's eighth win while being Maegashira 1 West means he is almost certainly at Komusubi. So who is the last Sanyaku wrestler?
Good question. Current Komusubi Abi has 6 wins and could be 8-7 with two more victories, giving him the spot. Aoiyama is two ranks lower but has 7 wins. Endo is one slot behind Aoiyama with eight wins in the book. They have all faced each other already, so they could all win out. That would give Abi the slight advantage, but not one to bank on. They probably all should be looking to win out.
Of course, any of the above predictions could be completely and totally wrong. Such is sumo.