The Makushita yusho race is in full swing. Four rounds of bouts have whittled down the 120 or so rikishi to 7 undefeated wrestlers with 4-0 records. Tomorrow, they’ll face each other (and the highest-ranked undefeated Sandanme man) to give us our semifinalists.
In the highlight bout, M8e Oshoma takes on M10w Tomokaze in a first-time meeting. The former is only in his 4th tournament, having started at Ms15TD in November and gone 16-9 in upper Makushita. The latter is on his way back up after a horrific injury sent him from a career high of M3 all the way down to Jonidan. If one of these two can go 7-0, they get fast-tracked to Juryo.
The undercard bouts feature Nionoumi vs. Tochiseryu, veteran Kitaharima vs. Asonoyama (not Asanoyama), and the dark-horse bottom-of-the-division contender, M59e Kanzaki, vs. Sd2w Yuma. Kanzaki is appearing in only his second basho after starting at Sd100TD in March and taking the 4th division title; he’s won his first 11 professional bouts.
Outside the yusho race, nothing has yet been decided in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone, but the picture is starting to get clearer. Ms2e Hokuseiho (3-1) would probably all but clinch promotion if he can best Ms3e Chiyosakae (3-1), who would also be in a good position with a win. The Ms1 duo of Chiyonoumi and Nishikawa sports matching 2-2 records, and each needs two more wins to taste salaried status. Ms4w Kinbozan (3-1), the March champion with a 22-3 career record, likewise likely needs 2 wins, while everyone else probably needs to win out and hope for good banzuke luck. I’ll try to keep the reports coming as additional rounds of bouts are completed.