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 in which the 120 or so rikishi are 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). A 7-0 record from Ms1-Ms15 is a near-guarantee of promotion to Juryo, which otherwise usually requires a winning record from Ms1-Ms5. Three rounds have been completed so far, and we are left with 15 undefeated wrestlers. The next round, unfolding over Days 7 and 8, should reduce the number to 8.
The obvious headliner among the undefeated rikishi is former Ozeki Asanoyama (Ms4e). He fought a bonus bout today as the Juryo visitor and easily defeated Tokushoryu to move to 4-0 and into the final eight. Asanoyama should next face the winner of tomorrow’s bout between Ms1w Shononnoumi, who is seeking to clinch a Juryo debut, and former sekitori Ms11e Chiyonoumi. Other notable names in the 3-0 bracket include Ms13e Kawazoe from Miyagino beya, who entered ozumo at Ms15TD in September, teenagers Otsuji and Setonoumi, ex-Kisenosato’s protege Kayo, and comeback kid Oshoumi, the September Sandanme champion.
After only 3 rounds of bouts, all 10 active wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone are still technically in contention for a Juryo spot, but it’s already a long shot for Ms2e Tsukahara (0-3) and an even longer one for Ms4w Asanowaka (0-3), who still seems to be suffering from long-term COVID aftereffects that kept him out of Aki. The winner of tomorrow’s bout between Ms1e Shiden and Ms2w Fujiseiun in the 2-1 bracket will find himself in excellent shape going into round 5.
I’ll try to keep these reports coming every two days or so, as additional rounds of bouts are completed.