After 9 days and 5 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. Five rounds have been completed so far, and we are left with 4 undefeated wrestlers. The next round, held on Day 11, will give us the two finalists.
This was the quarterfinal bracket:
- Ms2w Shishi vs. Ms13e Takahashi
- Ms18w Hitoshi vs. Ms26w Kiryuko
- Ms29w Wakatakamoto vs. Ms42e Daishomaru
- Ms49e Otani vs. Ms58e Okinohama
Shishi prevailed in a tough match against Takahashi, going to 5-0 and all-but-assuring a Juryo debut. This also eliminated the last promotion contender from the Ms6-Ms15 extended zone. Shishi’s next opponent will be Kiryuko, who bested Hitoshi. Wakatakamoto, the oldest brother of Wakatakakage and Wakamotoharu, got taken out of the race by former maegashira Daishomaru, who will next meet Okinohama, the lowest-ranked and least distinguished of the quarterfinalists.
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. In addition to 5-0 Shishi, the top-ranked Ms1e Shiden (4-1) should be a lock for promotion following today’s defeat of Ms6e Mukainakano (3-2). I for one will be happy to see him make a proper sekitori debut after his one previous appearance on the Juryo banzuke was derailed by the Hidenoumi gambling nano-scandal. The other Ms1, Kawazoe (3-2), who’s been fighting hurt, lost to Ms5e Yuma (4-1), who ruthlessly targeted Kawazoe’s injured ankle with a “sweep the leg” move straight out of Karate Kid. Both still have decent promotion chances. Ms2e Kotokuzan (2-3), Ms3w Chiyonoumi (2-3), and Ms4w Hayatefuji (2-2) must win out just to have a chance. Ms4e Tochimusashi (2-3) and Ms5w Terutsuyoshi (2-3) are mathematically alive but will need a lot of help even if they win out. Look for the next update on Day 11.