After 8 days and 4 rounds of bouts, the Makushita yusho race is down to eight 4-0 rikishi. The next round, held on Day 9, will reduce the number to between 3 and 5 (we’ll get to why in a moment).
The obvious headliner among the undefeated rikishi is former Ozeki Asanoyama (Ms15e). A lot is at stake for him, as a wrestler in the Ms6-Ms15 ranks who goes 7-0 receives a near-automatic promotion to Juryo, while a 6-1 record merely moves him up into the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone. Tomorrow, Asanoyama faces M5w Shonannoumi, who defeated Ms7w Tokihayate on Day 8 in a highly spirited bout featuring multiple imporbable escapes.
The rest of the bracket looks as follows:
- Ms25 Ryuo vs. Ms28 Yuma
- Ms36 Daiseiryu vs. Ms43 Narutaki
- Ms54 Shosei vs. Sd13 Kototebakari
- Ms56 Asonoyama vs. Sd17 Denuma
Now, they couldn’t simply pair up Shosei and Asonoyama because they’re in the same heya, but I am scratching my head as to why they weren’t matched up against Daiseryu and Narutaki instead of getting Sandanme opponents. Should both win, we’d end up with five 5-0 rikishi instead of the requisite four, and I am not sure what would happen then. As far as I can tell, this has literally never happened before. Losses by both would leave us with three undefeated Makushita rikishi, in which case I guess the winner of Daiseryu vs. Narutaki would fight Kototebakari? For the moment, the amusing possibility of Asanoyama vs. Asonoyama in the title decider is still alive!
After 4 rounds of bouts, all 9 active wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone are still technically in contention (the 10th, Ms1e Kaisei, retired before the basho). It’s too early to speculate on the ultimate outcome, but after the aforementioned 4-0 Shonnanoumi, the best records belong to the relatively low-ranked Ms4e Tsushimanada and Ms5e Fujiseiun, both 3-1. Higher up, Ms1w Roga, Ms2e Tomokaze, and Ms3e Yoshii are all 2-2, along with Ms4w Tsukahara. Tomorrow’s bouts among this quartet will start to clarify the promotion picture.
I’ll try to keep these reports coming every couple of days, as additional rounds of bouts are completed.