Makushita Day 11: Asanoyama Blinks Again

Maybe we should stop looking to Ms4e Asanoyama (5-1) to stabilize the upper ranks. Dropping bouts to Makushita lifers is no way to stake a claim for a return to Ozeki. For the second straight basho, Asanoyama won his first 5 matches but dropped his semifinal bout, this time to Ms23e Tamashoho. Tamashoho must have watched the September tape, as he employed the same tactics that led to Yuma’s upset win—circle away, get Asanoyama moving laterally along the tawara, and then give a shove from the side. The kimarite were different—tsukiotoshi at Aki, hatakikomi today—but the playbook was clearly the same, and one that Asanoyama’s future opponents will surely take note of. Abi managed to clear Makushita without a loss (14-0), while Ryuden took one, but maybe Asanoyama can take comfort from Terunofuji, who went 6-1, 6-1, 7-0 in the third division on his way back up.

Tamashoho will now face Ms41w Mineyaiba for the Makushita yusho, which has no promotion implications since both are ranked below Ms15. For Asanoyama, life just got more complicated. Top-ranked Ms1e Shiden won today to go to 3-3; should he win his final bout, he is pretty much guaranteed promotion. Ms1w Shonannoumi sports a 4-2 record, and another win should also make him a shoo-in. If Asanoyama wins his final bout, he should be no worse than third in the promotion queue. If he loses, he could also end up behind Ms2e Fujiseiun (3-3) and Ms5w Hakuyozan (5-1).

We know that one slot in Juryo is open due to Chiyotairyu’s retirement. How many other openings might there be? Shimazuumi, Tsushimanada, and Tokushoryu all need to win 3 of 4 to be safe, while Gonoyama, Kaisho, and Chiyosakae need two wins, and several others need one. Asanoyama must win and hope that those potentially ahead of him in the promotion queue, as well as the endangered Juryo incumbents, lose. But after his loss today, he no longer controls his own destiny.

None of the contenders are in action on Day 12, so the next update should come after Day 13 bouts are completed.


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