Five rounds have now been completed in the single-elimination tournament for the third-division yusho, and we are down to four remaining undefeated contenders, who should be matched up on Day 11 in a bracket that may deliver our finalists. The bouts have not been posted yet, but should be:
- Ms6 Chiyonoumi vs. Ms26 Hatooka
- Ms34 Kinbozan vs. Ms60 Chiyooga
I consider Chiyonoumi and Kinbozan to be the heavy favorites to face off for the Makushita yusho on Day 13. Oh, and a wrinkle here: Chiyonoumi and Chiyooga, as the shikona suggest, are both from Kokonoe beya, and Hatooka and Kinbozan are both from Kise, so an upset in one of the bouts (but not both) would leave us with two 6-0 rikishi who can’t face each other, bringing the one-loss rikishi back into play. In January 2021, both undefeated rikishi lost their bouts against 5-1 opponents, giving us the memorable 9-way playoff for the yusho!
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. The promotion picture in the the top 10 is as follows:
- Eliminated: absent Asanoyama and Dewanoryu
- Must win out and hope for good banzuke luck: Ms2e Kanno (2-3), Ms3e Nishikawa (2-3), Ms4e Tsushimanada (2-3), Ms4w Oshoma (2-3).
- Most likely needs to win out, and would still need luck: Ms5e Fukai (3-2).
- Should be up if he wins out, with a chance of promotion otherwise: Ms5w Hokuseiho (4-1).
- All but certain to go back up with one more win: Ms1e Chiyoarashi (3-2), Ms1w Tochimaru (4-1).
It’s not yet clear how many slots will be open in Juryo, with the last three men on the banzuke likely to go down and several others still needing multiple wins. Tochimaru seems highly likely to go up, although he could still end up as low as 4th in the promotion queue if he drops his final two and Chiyoarashi, Hokuseiho, and Chiyonoumi all win out.