Four rounds have now been completed in the single-elimination tournament for the third-division yusho. And this time, we are down to precisely eight remaining undefeated contenders, who are matched up on Day 9 in a bracket that will deliver our Final Four. We have:
- Ms1 Tochimaru vs. Ms6 Chiyonoumi
- Ms22 Tsukahara vs. Ms26 Hatooka
- Ms34 Kinbozan vs. Ms42 Tochinobori
- Ms51 Diakisho vs. Ms60 Chiyooga
I’d have to rate Tochimaru, Chiyonoumi, and Kinbozan as the favorites, but I don’t know much about the other five. While this round is straightforward, with rikishi paired in order of rank, the next one could get complicated, as Tochimaru, Tsukahara, and Tochinobori are all from Kasugano beya and can’t face each other outside a playoff. If all three win, two of them would have to face other opponents, messing up the bracket and opening the door to the possibility of the kind of multi-way title playoff we last saw in January 2021.
To be considered for promotion to Juryo, a rikishi needs either a winning record at Ms1-Ms5 or an undefeated record at Ms15 or higher. Chiyonoumi is still in a position to do the latter. Tochimaru has done enough for a promotable record, and one more win would guarantee a top-division debut. The promotion picture in the rest of the top 10 is as follows:
- Eliminated: absent Asanoyama and Dewanoryu
- Need to win out and hope for good banzuke luck: Ms2e Kanno (1-3) and Ms3e Nishikawa (2-3, one win against a Juryo opponent).
- Most likely need to win out, could luck out with two wins given enough demotion candidates: Ms4e Tsushimanada (2-2), Ms4w Oshoma (2-2), Ms5e Fukai (2-2).
- Should be up if he wins out, a chance of promotion with 1 or 2 more wins: Ms5w Hokuseiho (3-1).
- All but certain to go back up with one more win: Ms1e Chiyoarashi (3-1).
Key bouts tomorrow match Hokuseiho with Chiyoarashi and Tsushimanada with Fukai, while Kanno pays a visit to Juryo to face Atamifuji, who I hope will be on the lookout for a desperation henka by his opponent.