Makushita Sweet 16

After 6 days and 3 rounds of bouts, let’s take a look at the action in Makushita, where exciting newcomers mix it up with veterans for a shot at the salaried ranks.

As a reminder, the Makushita yusho race is essentially a seven-round single-elimination tournament, with the 120 or so rikishi reduced by half over two-day rounds, until one man with a 7-0 record takes the title (occasionally, same-heya rikishi and other wrinkles throw a wrench into the works, and we end up with a playoff and a 6-1 champion). Three rounds have been completed so far, and we are left with 15 undefeated wrestlers with 3-0 records. The next round, unfolding over Days 7 and 8, will reduce the number to 7 or 8.

I won’t mention all 15 rikishi with unblemished records, but the highest-ranked quartet consists of Ms1w Kinbozan, Ms4e Kamito, Ms10w Oshoryu, and Ms15e Shonannoumi. The 15 rikishi should be paired up in rank order, with the lowest-ranked Ms60e Asakoki likely to face Sd3w Tokinohira. I have Kinbozan vs. Kamito circled on Day 7.

If a wrestler in the Ms1-Ms15 ranks can go 7-0, they receive a near-automatic promotion to Juryo. The other way to stake a promotion claim is to finish with a winning record from Ms1-Ms5. After only 3 rounds of bouts, all 9 active members of this group are still technically in contention (the 10th, Ms5w Shohozan, retired before the basho). It’s too early to speculate on the ultimate outcome, but Kinbozan and Kamito are certainly off to great starts, and one more win should be enough for the former. Also doing well are Ms2e Roga and Ms2w Kanno, both 2-1. Surprisingly, none of these four have sekitori experience, while the five rikishi who do have struggled. This includes Ms3e Tomokaze (1-2; career-high rank M3), who does not look like he is back to his old self in his comeback from injury.

I’ll try to keep these reports coming every two days or so, as additional rounds of bouts are completed.

4 thoughts on “Makushita Sweet 16

  1. By happy chance, or smart matchmaking, we have 64 wrestlers with 3-0 records in divisions 3 to 6 so things should work out smoothly.

    Kinbozan looks too good for makushita… actually he looks too good for juryo on current form. If he gets through tomorrow he faces the winner of Oshoryu vs Shonannoumi (tossup) which will be a decent test but one I can’t see him failing. Next up could well be Chiyonoo, who will be a real threat if he is back to full fitness. Then it’s a yusho decider against a much lower ranked opponent: I may as well throw in a long range prediction and guess that it will Arauma.

    • Arauma debuted together with Atamifuji at Hatsu 2021, losing their playoff for the jonokuchi yusho. It’s fair to say Atami has since outpaced him, but he’s been on a pretty steady upward march.

      • Yup. They met twice in that one with Arauma winning on Day 1 and Atamafuji taking the playoff. I remember thinking that both of them looked like future sekitori and have been following their progress ever since. Unfortunately for my crystal ball rep, Chiyonoo lost a match today which he looked to be winning so hey-ho.

        Looking forward to see Arauma square off against the wonderboy Yoshii in the quarter finals.

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