Makushita Spiffy Six

Please see my previous post for background on the Makushita yusho and promotion races. After 8 days and 4 rounds of bouts, we are left with 6 undefeated wrestlers. The next round, unfolding on Day 9, will reduce the number to 3. You’ll note that neither 6 nor 3 are powers of 2, which is what you’d like in a knockout tournament. I expect the lowest-ranked of the 3 semifinalists to face the highest-ranked undefeated Sandanme wrestler, and there are multiple complications on the road to a Makushita champion.

Heading the undefeated group is top Isegahama prospect Ms6e Takerufuji, whose record in his 6th career basho is 36-3, with Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name. He will next face former hot prospect Ms21e Asashiyu, on the comeback trail after injury. The second quarterfinal is similar: strong newcomer Ms27w Asahakuryu (24-1 after starting in March) vs. former prospect and injury victim Ms39e Oshoryu. As the “Asa” prefix suggests, both Asashiyu and Asahakuryu hail from Takasago beya, which means that should they win, they can’t face each other. And they might be ranked too high to face a Sandanme rikishi, so the schedulers might give one (or both) of them a 4-1 opponent, potentially opening the way to a massive 6-1 playoff for the title.

The other half (third?) of the bracket features veteran Ms47w Chiyoarashi against Arashio beya’s somewhat less heralded prospect, Ms50e Daiseizan. The winner is likely to be matched with the winner of the Sandanme bout between Makushita veteran and occasional Juryo visitor Sd2w Kitaharima and yet another Isegahama prospect, Sd6w Satorufji (4th career basho, 22-3 record, Jonidan yusho).

After 4 rounds of bouts, 7 wrestlers in the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone are still mathematically in contention for a Juryo spot. Ms3w Hitoshi and Ms5w Kiryuko are 3-1, Ms1w Yuma, Ms2e Hidenoumi, and Ms3e Kaisho are all 2-2, while Ms2w Tsushimanada and Ms4e Chiyonoumi are teetering on the edge at 1-3. Kiryuko, who might have to win out given his low rank, will try his luck in Juryo tomorrow against J14w Tenshoho (6-2). Other relevant Day 9 bouts match Kaisho with Yuma and Tsushimanada with Chiyonoumi (which will eliminate one), while Hitoshi will look for his kachi-koshi against Ms7w Tochimusashi and Hidenoumi takes on Ms7e Nabatame.

Look for the next update tomorrow.

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