Let’s check in on the third division. Here, wrestlers fight only 7 bouts, and the bouts in the division are typically spread over 2 days, which means that after six days of the basho, 3 full rounds of Makushita bouts have been completed.
Unlike in Makuuchi and Juryo, the scheduling in Makushita and the other lower divisions follows a Swiss system in which rikishi are matched with those with the same record. The division has 120 slots, so barring withdrawals, there are 60 rikishi with 1-0 records after the first round of bouts. These are paired up, leaving 30 undefeated wrestlers after the second round, 15 after the 3rd, up to 8 after the 4th, and then down to 4, 2, and finally the sole 7-0 yusho winner. There are circumstances (e.g., wrestlers from the same heya) that can lead to playoffs, such as the massive 9-way battle royale a year ago, but they are rare.
Which brings us to today. With the quirks of scheduling, 14 undefeated 3-0 rikishi remain. The frontrunner has to be the highest-ranked: Ms5 Ryuden. Also ranked in the extended promotion zone, where a 7-0 record is a shortcut to Juryo, are Ms8 Fukai, Ms11 Tsushimanada, and Ms15 Tomokaze. Other notable names include Ms24 Fujiseiun, Ms30 Akiseyama, Ms35 Nishikawa, and Ms59 Kinbozan, whose record now stands at 10-0 after his undefeated debut at Sd100 in Kyushu. These 14 wrestlers should be paired up in rank order over the weekend, leaving us with 7 undefeated contenders by Monday.
In the regular Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone, the leading contenders for a jump to sekitori are Ms1 Atamifuji and Ms2 Shimazuumi, both 2-1, who are matched up tomorrow. Ms3 Takakento (3-1) is also looking good for a return to Juryo. I’ll take a closer look at the division exchange picture later in the tournament.