Now we come to the group which I’ve been quietly thinking to skip: Group C.
The elephant in the room is Kisenosato. Not going to advance. As we’ve heard from Bruce, may not compete. Let’s move on.
Chiyonokuni. He’s been this high before. It did not end well, 2-13. He did pick up a kinboshi…against an injured Kakuryu who went kyujo. He’s not really ready for sanyaku competition and will get eaten alive Week One. Becoming a solid middle maegashira, he picked up his first double-digit win tournament at M11. He beat Group-mate Okinoumi and tadpole Takakeisho, before Takakeisho went on an absolute tear. Another group-mate, Nishikigi, accounted for one of his three losses. He could finish with a decent 3 or 4 wins. If there’s a group where that could advance, I think this is it. However, I think it will take 6 wins to get out of this group. Too many for Chiyonokuni.
I have Chiyonokuni’s stablemate, Chiyotairyu, taking second in this group. The spirit of Chiyonofuji will be with Mr. Mutton Chops as he picks up a kachi-koshi and escapes with a spot in the round of 16. Nishikigi will be on his tail with 7 wins. I’ve got Okinoumi winning this group on 9, possibly 10 wins. Okinoumi’s rough injury won’t go away and it seems to sap him for stretches of a few tournaments at a time. But he’s a solid sekitori and should clean up at this level.
Lastly, Takagenji. He’s at his highest rank ever and will be facing a heap of grizzled, determined veterans…a few of whom beat him last tournament. He’ll also likely peak his head into makuuchi, to get whack-a-moled back quickly. He’s been finding his groove in Juryo but when I look at the names around him in the banzuke, it seems like he’ll have a rough time. I’m hopeful for kachi-koshi and possible promotion but for some reason 7 wins feels more likely.