As expected, former Ozeki Asanoyama will return to the salaried ranks in January. He’ll be joined by Ms1w Shonannoumi (5-2), who will make his sekitori debut. Yutakayama’s sudden retirement opened up one more slot, and the lucky beneficiary is former Juryo regular Ms5w Hakuyozan (5-2), who was expected to miss out after losing his Day 15 exchange bout to Kaisho. No one else in the Makushita promotion zone managed a winning record. I expect only one demotion—Tokushoryu—with the other two spots vacated by Yutakayama and Chiyotairyu.
Well, we needn’t have feared—former Ozeki Asanoyama, ranked Ms4e, easily defeated Ms10w Kamito to improve his record to 6-1 and stamp his return to the salaried ranks. He was helped by a combination of other results, notably a loss by Ms1e Shiden, which dropped him to 3-4 and out of the promotion picture. Ms1w Shonannoumi won and improved to 5-2, so he will certainly make his sekitori debut, but no other promotion contenders can now leapfrog Asanoyama.
One slot in Juryo is open due to Chiyotairyu’s retirement. J14e Tsushimanada (5-8) now has a demotable record, as does J12e Tokushoryu (4-9), so there will be room for both Shonannoumi and Asanoyama. J10w Kaisho (4-9), J13e Shimazuumi (6-7), and J14w Gonoyama (7-6) are not out of the woods yet, and the most endangered ones after tomorrow should face Ms2w Fujiseiun (3-3) and Ms5w Hakuyozan (5-1) in exchange bouts. The other promotion contender, Ms3e Tokihayate (3-3), must beat Tochikamiyama tomorrow and hope for a favorable combination of other results to have any shot at Juryo.
Oh, by the way, Ms23e Tamashoho is the Makushita champion after defeating Ms41w Mineyaiba. After this result, Tamawashi’s brother-in-law and attendant will move up into the promotion zone and have a shot at earning a Juryo debut at Hatsu.
Maybe we should stop looking to Ms4e Asanoyama (5-1) to stabilize the upper ranks. Dropping bouts to Makushita lifers is no way to stake a claim for a return to Ozeki. For the second straight basho, Asanoyama won his first 5 matches but dropped his semifinal bout, this time to Ms23e Tamashoho. Tamashoho must have watched the September tape, as he employed the same tactics that led to Yuma’s upset win—circle away, get Asanoyama moving laterally along the tawara, and then give a shove from the side. The kimarite were different—tsukiotoshi at Aki, hatakikomi today—but the playbook was clearly the same, and one that Asanoyama’s future opponents will surely take note of. Abi managed to clear Makushita without a loss (14-0), while Ryuden took one, but maybe Asanoyama can take comfort from Terunofuji, who went 6-1, 6-1, 7-0 in the third division on his way back up.
Tamashoho will now face Ms41w Mineyaiba for the Makushita yusho, which has no promotion implications since both are ranked below Ms15. For Asanoyama, life just got more complicated. Top-ranked Ms1e Shiden won today to go to 3-3; should he win his final bout, he is pretty much guaranteed promotion. Ms1w Shonannoumi sports a 4-2 record, and another win should also make him a shoo-in. If Asanoyama wins his final bout, he should be no worse than third in the promotion queue. If he loses, he could also end up behind Ms2e Fujiseiun (3-3) and Ms5w Hakuyozan (5-1).
We know that one slot in Juryo is open due to Chiyotairyu’s retirement. How many other openings might there be? Shimazuumi, Tsushimanada, and Tokushoryu all need to win 3 of 4 to be safe, while Gonoyama, Kaisho, and Chiyosakae need two wins, and several others need one. Asanoyama must win and hope that those potentially ahead of him in the promotion queue, as well as the endangered Juryo incumbents, lose. But after his loss today, he no longer controls his own destiny.
None of the contenders are in action on Day 12, so the next update should come after Day 13 bouts are completed.
Please see my previous posts for background on the Makushita yusho and promotion races. Key bouts in the lower divisions are usually scheduled on odd-numbered days, meaning that elimination round 5 was completed on Day 9.
Here’s how things played out:
Ms1w Shonannoumi put up a very good fight and briefly had former Ozeki Asanoyama (Ms4e) in trouble, but the latter prevailed to move on.
Ms23e Tamashoho got a belt grip, and that spelled the end for Ms15w Tanabe. Tamashoho will fight Asanoyama, who has a big advantage in size and talent, and matches up well on the belt, but will have to watch out for the smaller man’s leg trips.
Ms41w Mineyaiba blew away teenager Ms26e Setonoumi and will fight Ms49w Chiyonokatsu, who overcame Ms60e Omoto.
So on Day 11 we will have two semifinals, whose winners will fight on Day 13 for all the marbles:
Asanoyama vs. Tamashoho
Mineyaiba vs. Chiyonokatsu
With no undefeated rikishi left at Ms6-Ms15, any promotions to Juryo will come from the Ms1-Ms5 promotion zone. We know at least one spot will be open due to Chiyotairyu’s sudden retirement. It’s too early to tell how many other openings there might be. Asanoyama can guarantee promotion by winning out, and is all but certain to go up with 6 wins, but things would get a lot more dicey should he somehow end the basho 5-2. Shonannoumi is also in good shape despite his loss, but needs one more win to solidify his case. The other one-loss man is former Juryo regular Ms5w Hakuyozan, whose rank at the very bottom of the promotion zone likely means he needs to win out.
Top-ranked Ms1e Shiden (2-3) lost his first crossover bout yesterday to J14e Tsushimanada, and now he must win out. I am expecting his next bout to come against another endangered Juryo rikishi. Ms2w Fujiseiun (3-2) probably also needs to win out to have a realistic shot at promotion. The M3 duo of Tokihayate and Daiseiryu, must win out to keep chair chances alive and hope for favorable results elsewhere.
None of the contenders are in action on Day 10, so the next update should come after Day 11 bouts are completed.