Makushita Elite 8 and Promotion Race

After 8 days and 4 rounds of bouts, the action in Makushita is heating up!

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. 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 four semifinalists.

Here’s the undefeated bracket:

  • Ms2w Shishi vs. Ms13e Takahashi
  • Ms18w Hitoshi vs. Ms26w Kiryuko
  • Ms29w Wakatakamoto vs. Ms42e Daishomaru
  • Ms49e Otani vs. Ms58e Okinohama

Shishi, Takahashi, Hitoshi, Kiryuko, and Otani can all be classified as rising prospects. Wakatakamoto, the oldest brother of Wakatakakage and Wakamotoharu, has spent much of the last decade in Makushita, never rising above Ms7. Daishomaru is a former maegashira who spent a couple of years in Juryo before falling to Makushita a year ago. Okinohama is the least distinguished of the quarterfinalists, having spent a decade fighting in the lower divisions. Only Hitoshi and Daishomaru are from the same heya (Oitekaze), which could complicate the final.

Two Juryo slots are open due to the retirements of Ichinojo and Tochinoshin. At least two more seem likely to open up by the end of the basho. Shishi already has a solid promotion claim; one more win should pretty much lock it up. Takahashi can earn promotion by winning out and taking the yusho. Any other promotions should come from the Ms1-Ms5 ranks.

There, the Ms1 duo of Shiden and Kawazoe, who were very unlucky to miss out last time, are in good shape at 3-1. They have key bouts tomorrow against Ms6e Mukainakano (3-1) and Ms5e Yuma (3-1), respectively. Given his lower rank, Yuma needs at least 5 wins and more likely 6 to go up. Ms2e Kotokuzan (1-3), Ms3e Ryuo (1-3), Ms3w Chiyonoumi (2-3), Ms4e Tochimusashi (2-2) and Ms4w Hayatefuji (2-2) must win out just to have a chance. Look for the next update tomorrow.


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