After 9 days and 5 rounds of bouts, the Makushita yusho race is down to five 5-0 rikishi. The next round, held on Day 11, will reduce the number to 2 or 3. Having more than four semifinalists is extremely unusual, and is the result of some puzzling matchmaking by the torikumi team.
Former Ozeki Asanoyama (Ms15e) remains the big favorite. 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. Asanoyama faces Ms28 Yuma next. The other semifinal features Ms36 Daiseiryu vs Ms54 Shosei.
The extra guest at this party is Shosei’s stablemate Ms56 Asonoyama, who should face Sandanme leader Wakanosho. Depending on the outcome of this bout, we will get either 2 or 3 rikishi at 6-0. If Asonoyama wins, he is likely to get yet another Sandanme opponent for his final match in regulation (or perhaps a strong 5-1 Makushita opponent), and could then end up in a playoff against Asanoyama for the yusho.
After 9 days, eight wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone are still technically in contention. Ms1w Roga (3-2) is likely a win away from a long-awaited Juryo debut. Despite losing to Asanoyama, Ms5w Shonnanoumi (4-1) is still nursing promotion hopes, but likely needs to win out. I’ll keep following the fight for salaried slots as it unfolds.