Makushita Elite Eight

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. Four rounds have been completed so far, and we are left with 8 undefeated wrestlers. The next round, held on Day 9, will reduce them to our Final Four.

Here’s the bracket:

  • Ms3w Kawazoe vs. Ms6e Shiden
  • Ms19e Yoshii vs. Ms26e Ryuo
  • Ms27w Kayo vs. Ms43 Kairyu
  • Ms50e Kaizen vs. Ms59 Kainoshima

Kawazoe, from Miyagino beya, debuted at Ms15TD in September and holds an 18-7 career record with no make-koshi. Shiden is the hard-luck veteran who had to sit out his only Juryo tournament so far due to his involvement in a gambling incident with Hidenoumi, though he was later judged blameless. Yoshii, still only 19, was a hot prospect who’s stalled in Makushita; he won the 3rd-division title in July with a huge upset of Kinbozan, but then posted 3 straight losing records. Kayo is one of Nishonoseki beya’s top prospects, debuting at Sd90TD last May and going 29-10, with his only losing record being a 3-4 in January. The others are all lower-division lifers. Kayo and Ryuo are in the same heya, but they are on the opposite sides of the bracket, so this will only become an issue if both advance to 6-0, which seems a lot more likely for Kayo.

After 4 rounds of bouts, here’s a ranked list of contenders in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone.

  1. Ms3w Kawazoe (4-0)
  2. Ms2w Chiyosakae (3-1)
  3. Ms2e Fujiseiun (2-2)
  4. Ms3e Tokihayate (2-2)
  5. Ms1e Tsukahara (1-3)
  6. Ms1w Terutsuyoshi (1-3)
  7. Ms5e Chiyonoumi (2-2)
  8. Ms5w Tochikamiyama (2-2)
  9. Ms4e Mineyaiba (1-3)
  10. Ms4w Kaisho (1-3)

Very roughly, the first two could earn promotion with one more win, 3 and 4 need at least two, 5 and 6 must win out, while the rest would need a lot of help even if they win out. Tomorrow’s bouts feature 5 vs. 9 and 6 vs. 10, with the losers completely eliminated from contention. Another key bout is 3 vs. 4, while 7 vs. 8 is unlikely to be relevant. 1 and 2 fight Shiden and Ms6w Hayatefuji (3-1), respectively. Come back tomorrow, when the picture should be a fair bit clearer.

3 thoughts on “Makushita Elite Eight

  1. Shiden had a great bout the other day. I’m trying to find the footage. Looked strong. Yesterday’s bout against Shishi was a bit of a snooze. Don’t know what happened there. But I think that sets up a real highlight bout for Kawazoe/Shiden.

  2. One of the last eight doesn’t need to win the title to get promotion. Six of the other seven can’t get promoted even if they win the yusho. That leaves Shiden as the man with most to gain, so he’s my tip. Just hope he’s been behaving himself off the dohyo this time around.

    • Good shout; I like Kawazoe and Kayo as prospects, but he’s definitely the sentimental favorite.


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