SUPERSERIES FINALS 2013 – Qualifiers line up for a different sort of championship

With only two current Olympic gold medallists and three World Champions, next month’s Superseries Finals will feature 61 players who very deservedly will be fighting for the third biggest purse […]

With only two current Olympic gold medallists and three World Champions, next month’s will feature 61 players who very deservedly will be fighting for the third biggest purse in badminton.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The ‘regular season’ of the OSIM BWF World has ended with the Hong Kong Open providing three changes to the top eight but confirmation for over a dozen more that they will be in on the party when the BWF Finals return next month to Malaysia.  While this badminton-loving nation was the site of the first two editions, the Finals will have their first turn in the nation’s capital at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras.

It’s a smaller venue than the facility in Bukit Jalil that is home to January’s Malaysia Open but then, the field for this event is always small in number while big on talent.  The Finals are also third in prize money and second in points on the annual badminton calendar; however, since the field includes only the top 8 players from each discipline, in the 2013 Superseries rankings, each player is likely to end up with a bigger share of each of these.

Best of the best?

Theoretically, the Superseries Finals should be a truly elite field.  After all, the twelve Superseries events are the only criteria and most of these boast much tougher fields than do the Olympics or World Championships, where many strong nations’ third, fourth or fifth best players are pairs are denied entry in favour of representatives from each continent, among other qualifying rules.

With the Superseries events, being in the top 28 of the world rankings guarantees you entry into the main draw so these are generally stacked with talent in a way the Olympics never can be.  Of course, the flipside of that is that events with low prestige or inopportune placement in the tournament schedule simply won’t get the entries and this is the primary reason – rather than sub par performances – for the absence of so many Olympic and World Champions.

Still, all but three qualifiers are also currently in the world’s top 10 and one of these, Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured right), will most likely be back in the top 10 by Thursday.  The other two are world #17s from Japan who have simply only performed in Superseries events this year.

Asia dominates, but not necessarily China

The Chinese are again favoured to take at least three titles, as they did last year.  However, their contingent will be the smallest since 2009, just before the BWF began imposing penalties on qualified players not participating.  In fact, China has only 9 players total in the top 8 of the Superseries rankings – where they’ve had as many as 13 in the past – and while Wang Yihan is not eligible because of the two-entry-per-nation limit, China will have the maximum two qualifiers in only three disciplines.

China’s slightly diminished contingent comes despite the fact that the badminton superpower had an above-average year in the Superseries overall, winning exactly half of the titles for the second straight year after first becoming majority winners in 2011 with an incredible 41 of the total 60 titles.

Japan, in contrast, has matched their all-time high of 7 qualifiers for the Finals and they, along with Denmark, Indonesia, and Thailand, will be active in 4 of 5 disciplines.  Indonesia was just behind China with 7 top 8 players or pairs but Praveen Jordan and Vita Marissa are the third Indonesian mixed pair and will therefore not get the nod except in case of injury.

Christinna Pedersen (pictured right with Joachim Fischer Nielsen) of Denmark has again qualified for both women’s and mixed doubles and this year shares that distinction with China’s Ma Jin – who was eligible for two back in 2009 but did not attend – and Indonesia’s Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth the first Indonesian to do double duty at the Superseries Finals since Lilyana Natsir was a double runner-up in the first edition, in 2008.

Europe repeats its all-time low of 5 entries, as the four Danish qualifiers are joined only by Hong Kong Open mixed doubles champions Chris Adcock / Gabrielle White.  However, it was also from five entries that Europe produced its best ever showing last December, when Danish shuttlers took two gold medals and one silver home from Shenzhen.

The qualifiers

You will find below a calculation of the expected final standings for the OSIM BWF World Superseries, once the BWF adds in points won at the Hong Kong Open.  These standings are unofficial, and are merely in anticipation of the official standings, which should be available by November 28th at this link.

Men’s doubles was the first set of eight to be decided – if only by a few hours – and yet it is still among the most uncertain.  As soon as Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang (pictured below) stepped on court on Wednesday afternoon, they put sufficient distance between themselves and pursuers Adcock/Ellis to clinch the 8th spot, which they automatically usurped from China Open runners-up Hoon/Tan, who did not play in Hong Kong.

Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (pictured), winners of five Superseries titles, as well as the World Championship, are the clear favourites going into the Finals in KL, particularly because the in-form pair of the moment, Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong, came up just short of qualifying, in the #11 spot.

The big question mark remains surrounding what will happen with current world #2 Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae.  The Koreans have, in the past, temporarily reunited already disbanded pairs in order to maximize their entries at both the World Championships and the Superseries Finals and could well do the same to field Ko and Lee once again.

In addition, the last time a disbanded pair qualified for the Finals was before the BWF instituted its policy of fining qualified players for not attending – a policy it has even extended to include injured players who refuse to show up for press conferences – so it is not yet known whether the world body will treat dissolved partnerships as an excuse for missing the season-ender.

1  Muhammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 67390
2  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) – 64070
3  Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (CHN) – 62420
4  Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) – 55610
5  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata (JPN) – 48430
6  Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR) – 45730
7  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 43190
8  Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 43150

9  Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) – 38660
10  Chris Adcock / Andrew Ellis (ENG) – 37360
11  Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 36240

The top 8 women’s doubles players were known as of the loss, on Wednesday evening, by Hong Kong’s Poon Lok Yan / Tse Yin Suet.  However, here too there are some unknowns.

Among the qualifiers are Ma Jin and Kim Ha Na, both of whom dropped out of the China Open last week and gave Hong Kong a miss.  On top of this, Ma and Tang Jinhua (pictured) are an on-again-off-again pair who have played only three tournaments since the World Championships.

For Korea, should Kim Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun be unable to participate, their spot would go to compatriots Jang Ye Na / Kim So Young.  The Universiade gold medallists have, incidentally, been much more successful this autumn while Jung/Kim have struggled since winning the Chinese Taipei Open.

Either way, the overwhelming favourites are still 3-time defending champions Wang/Yu, who just recently lost only their second ever match to a non-Chinese pair, Polii/Maheswari, who are third alternates for the Superseries Finals.

1  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 73450
2  Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 67680
3  Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 60520
4  Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) – 56440
5  Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth / Rizki Amelia Pradipta (INA) – 52080
6  Duang Anong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) – 48250
7  Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 40390
8  Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 39450

9  Jang Ye Na / Kim So Young (KOR) – 38110
10  Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 37780
11  Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Gresya Polii (INA) – 34340

When the Hong Kong Open commenced last Wednesday, the men’s singles still had nearly a score of players with a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Finals and there was a brief moment when Chen Long’s withdrawal fulfilled one major condition for three of them.  Seven of the ten chasers lost in the first round, however, and when the other three lost on Day 2, Hu Yun, who had a head start on the other two, ended up as 8th.

Lee Chong Wei (pictured) is the overwhelming favourite, of course.  Not only will he be playing at home but of the six players who have beaten Lee in the past two years, only one will be among his seven challengers in Kuala Lumpur.

1  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 83920
2  Kenichi Tago (JPN) – 61780
3  Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 56290
4  Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 54590
5  Boonsak Ponsana (THA) – 50410
6  Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA) – 49860
7  Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 47530
8  Hu Yun (HKG) – 43180

9  Takuma Ueda (JPN) – 41410
10  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) – 41100
11  Chen Long (CHN) – 40540

The last women’s singles qualifier, Tai Tzu Ying (pictured), had to rely on Wang Shixian to secure her spot in the Superseries Finals.  Wang’s win over Germany’s Juliane Schenk was the only thing that stopped the Chinese Taipei shuttler from being overtaken.

Even without current World Champion Ratchanok Intanon and Hong Kong Open winner Wang Yihan, the field for the Superseries Finals is still teeming with strong shuttlers.  China Open finalists Li Xuerui and Wang Shixian, ranked #1 and #3 in the world respectively, are obvious frontrunners but as they are accompanied by six upset specialists, anything can happen next month in Kuala Lumpur.

1  Wang Shixian (CHN) – 62190
2  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 54080
3  Bae Youn Joo (KOR) – 53870
4  Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) – 53450
5  Li Xuerui (CHN) – 52630
6  Minatsu Mitani (JPN) – 52340
7  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 52000

8  Wang Yihan (CHN) – 49850
9  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 47650
10  Eriko Hirose (JPN) – 47000
11  Juliane Schenk (GER) – 46740
12  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 43600

The last big question about mixed doubles qualifiers was answered on Wednesday afternoon when 2010 runners-up Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam showed up for their first round match at the Hong Kong Open.  The only remaining spot to be clinched concerned a dual between the 2nd and 3rd Indonesian pairs and this was decided on Friday when Jordan and Marissa lost in the same round as Kido and Zebadiah, marking the last piece in the KL qualifying puzzle.

Mixed doubles is perhaps the most difficult to call as Kido and Zebadiah are the only ones to qualify who are not also in the current top 8 of the world rankings.  It is also the only discipline that should feature the current All England and World Champions – Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (pictured) – as well as the current Olympic gold medallists and the defending champions at the Finals themselves.

1  Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 87670
2  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 68540
3  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle White (ENG) – 55810
4  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 54600
5  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 52450
6  Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) – 51580
7  Markis Kido / Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth (INA) – 51250

8  Praveen Jordan / Vita Marissa (INA) – 47960
9  Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) – 43830
10  Kenichi Hayakawa / Misaki Matsutomo (JPN) – 37740
11  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 36460
12  Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto (INA) – 32970

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @