Makushita Sweet … 12?!

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 12 undefeated wrestlers. The unusually low number is a consequence of (a) 10 absences and (b) no undefeated rikishi in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone because of defeats at the hands of Juryo opponents. The next round, unfolding over Days 7 and 8, will reduce the number to 6.

Heading the undefeated group is top Isegahama prospect Ms6e Takerufuji, whose record in his 6th career basho is 35-3, with Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name. Other notable names include long-time prospect Ms17e Otsuji and newcomer Ms27w Asahakuryu (23-1 after starting in March), as well as several rikishi on the comeback trail after injuries: Ms21e Asashiyu, Ms39e Oshoryu, and veteran Ms44w Kyokutaisei.

After only 3 rounds of bouts, all 9 active wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone are still mathematically in contention for a Juryo spot. Ms3w Hitoshi (3-1) is in the best shape of the bunch after today’s defeat of hapless J12e Shimanoumi (1-5). I’ll try to keep these reports coming every two days or so, as additional rounds of bouts are completed.

11 thoughts on “Makushita Sweet … 12?!

  1. Thanks for your interesting Makushita postings.
    Are Takerufuji and Asahakuryu as promising as Hokuseiho (was?), Kinbozan, Hakuoho, Gonoyama, Atamifuji, Tenshoho and Onosato?

    Speaking of Onosato, the best ever results from J14 seem to have been two 13-2 in the 1940s bringing the sekitori to J1w/J2e. Therefore I guess a zensho jusho or even a 14-1 would promote Onosato to Makuuchi?

    • Takerufuji is certainly a top-tier prospect, maybe not as high as Hakuoho and Onosato, but up there with the others. I hadn’t paid attention to Asahakuryu until this basho, but the track record and the performance so far are promising.

      We don’t really know. 14-1 from J14 would not quite be a promotable record, 15-0 would be, and then it depends on how many makuuchi slots open up and what the promotion cases above him look like. I’ll post on the promotion/demotion scenarios as things start to get a little clearer (usually start those posts around day 10/11).

      • My pick, going into the middle weekend, for Juryo barge captain is Daishoho, with Chiyoshoma as his first officer. But I will defer to your prognosis once you come to it, sir.

        • Those two are certainly head of the queue right now, with Kotoshoho and Aoiyama not far behind, but it’s still early.

    • When I made my above queries, I found out that there were only five zensho yusho in Juryo ever, but 78 in Makuuchi. Isn‘t that strange? Or has anyone a good explanation for those numbers? (My best idea is I made some mistake, but I can‘t find it.)

      • Most of those were won by a yokozuna, with Hakuho alone accounting for 16. Throw in a few others and you get to 47. The talent gap between a dominant yokozuna and the rest of makuuchi just tends to be much wider than between whoever happens to be the best in juryo in any one tournament; anyone good enough do go undefeated in juryo isn’t going to be there long.

        • That‘s true. If someone dominates a sport he (or she) does it on top and not in the second division! Of the 78 zensho yusho in Makuuchi only five have been by rikishi who never reached the rank of Yokozuna. Riddle solved, thanks a lot.

  2. I’m excited for still undefeated Tokunomusashi, Musashigawa beya doesn’t have a sekitori and he’s their highest ranked. The former musashimaru is deserving of such and I’m always hopeful one of his Rikishi will be up to it.

  3. Have been very impressed with Takerufuji since he debuted in the J’s and with his 3rd ⚪️ yesterday he continues as he started.

    Also doing my Kyokutaisei happy dance (u can take the girl out of Hokkaido but u can’t – – – 🧡

  4. Takerufuji looked a bit of a bully in the lowest divisions: extra shoves, cocky demeanor etc, but he has the physique and the talent to make it into maku’uchi. Asahakuryu looks like his main obstacle and I rather hope that he wins, but there is a big ole shark in the kiddies swimming pool and it’s name is Kyokutaisei.


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