SS FINALS 2016 – Dubai doubles debuts due in droves

At least nine men’s doubles players look set to qualify for their first ever season-ender as the Superseries wraps up its tenth tournament. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto With the […]

At least nine men’s doubles players look set to qualify for their first ever season-ender as the wraps up its tenth tournament.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

With the French Open having concluded, still only a handful of players have clinched tickets to the in Dubai with absolute certainty.  Most of the Olympic gold medallists have taken full advantage of the new rule that automatically qualifies them for the big-money December tournament.

Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (pictured right) are the only winners from Rio who have played more than one Superseries event since and consequently, they are only ones who are currently on track to qualify for Dubai on points.

In the following analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table in bold, green italics – that entails a top 8 player having enough points to be out of reach of the 9th place player or pair even should the latter win and the former be unable to play in the first round in China or Hong Kong.  In practice, several other players may be safe if one considers that some of the players who could theoretically earn enough points in the last two tournaments to pass the top 8 player would have to play each other too early.

I have shown in bold green the 8 players and pairs who would qualify were the Superseries to end after the first 10 tournaments.  I have shown in grey the players or pairs who cannot catch one of the current 8 qualifiers or who cannot catch either of two qualified compatriots.  Finally, I have marked with one or two x’s, those who will be inactive at the China and/or Hong Kong Opens. An asterisk (*) denotes a player who can only qualify by beating out a currently qualified compatriot.  The x’s reflect the latest official participation lists and do not include those reported in the news but not reflected in BWF draws.  The numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the French Open but the official Superseries standings will be available later in the week from the BWF website.

Men’s doubles

Retirements, re-pairings, relaxation: they have all had their effect on the changing landscape of international badminton.  As far as the Superseries standings go, nowhere is it more apparent than in the men’s doubles discipline.  Of the sixteen shuttlers slated to appear in Dubai this December, already 9 are ready to make their first career appearance, with more prospective rookies waiting in the wings among the chase pack.

Goh V Shem might have tasted Superseries success before this year but he has never made the trip to the Finals.  Already 5th on the list before they took their silver medal in Rio, he and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) shot to the top last week as Tan tasted his first ever Superseries success.

Not only are they at the top, but the Malaysians are the only pair in their category, apart from Olympic gold medallists Fu/Zhang, to have mathematically clinched their ticket to Dubai.  In other words, they could hang up their racquets for the entire month of November and still be invited to the season finale, even if the 9th-placed team and everyone in between completely max out their points in the last two events.

Almost out of reach are Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (pictured top) of Japan and both of Indonesia’s top pairs.  All three are shoe-ins for first appearances in Dubai if they merely show up on court in Fuzhou and Hong Kong next month.

A combination of defunct pairs, national quota, and wild card mean that the head of the chase pack is actually current #14 Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi Lin of Chinese Taipei.  As Olympic gold medallists, Fu/Zhang qualify automatically and with two Chinese and three Indonesian pairs in the actual top 8, the final spot for Dubai is tentatively in the hands of would-be rookies Astrup/Rasmussen of Denmark.

In China, the youngest Danes will be looking to put some distance between themselves and compatriots Boe/Mogensen, who are among the five pairs who are less than 9,000 points off the pace.

Even if Wang or Ivanov/Sozonov are unable to catch up and add their names to the list of first-timers, another addition could still come in the form of China’s in-form Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (pictured).  They had barely half the points of Chai/Hong at the Olympic break but that gap has now been narrowed to less than 1,000 points.  In other words, if they can post combined results of one round better than Chai and Hong, it is the 21-year-olds who will be accompanying Fu/Zhang to Dubai.

1  Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) – 54930
2  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 47540
3  Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) – 46060
4  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) – 44390
5  Chai Biao / Hong Wei (CHN) – 43800
6  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) – 42830 *
7  Mads Conrad Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) – 36840
8  Muhammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 34790 xx
9  Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Kim Astrup Sorensen (DEN) – 34020
10  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) – 31960 xx
11  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN) – 30660 xx
12  Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) – 27480
13  Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 26830
14  Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) – 26410
15  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 26260 *
16  Bodin Issara / Nipitphon Puangpuapech (THA) – 25630
17  Lee Jhe-Huei / Lee Yang (TPE) – 21220
18  Berry Angriawan / Rian Agung Saputro (INA) – 19660 xx
19  Marcus Ellis / Chris Langridge (ENG) – 19290

Women’s doubles

As can be seen from the above men’s doubles list, team Korea will, amazingly, be without representation in what has historically been its strongest discipline.  They will send players in the other four events but the only discipline where they will maximize their participation in Dubai will be women’s doubles.

Last year, by the time the Superseries Finals kicked off, it turned out that the only Korean pair which had qualified was at the time only their fourth in the overall world rankings.  This year, neither Kim So Yeong nor Chae Yoo Jung will fly west in December but instead, Korea should send its two top pairs and half of each will be making a Dubai debut.

Chang Ye Na has qualified three times in the past but she had to withdraw from the 2012 edition, the only one for which she had qualified in both mixed and women’s doubles.  Her partner Lee So Hee will be making her first appearance, if the two can hang onto their sizeable cushion over the chase pack.  Shin Seung Chan has already clinched her ticket, along with 2014 semi-finalist Jung Kyung Eun (pictured right).

Elbowing their way into the Dubai qualifying circle this past weekend were Chinese teens Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (pictured above, with Lee So Hee).  Even before they snatched the French Open title, they had moved ahead of Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei.

Hoo and Woon are thus at the head of the chase pack and Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters are not far behind.  Denmark Open semi-finalists Supajirakul/Taerattanachai will have a tough time making up their deficit as they are not entered in the China Open.  Matsuo/Naito are also among those with a chance but they would need to catch compatriots Fukuman/Yonao to become Japan’s second pair and that 14,000-point gap is almost certainly insurmountable.

1  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 75310
2  Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 51890
3  Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Gresya Polii (INA) – 49180
4  Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao (JPN) – 48980
5  Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 48370
6  Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) – 42510
7  Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) – 34240 *
8  Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) – 34230
9  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) – 32310
10  Vivian Hoo / Woon Khe Wei (MAS) – 29420
11  Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) – 29140 x
12  Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) – 28050
13  Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek  (NED) – 27200 xx
14  Huang Yaqiong / Tang Jinhua (CHN) – 25270 *
15  Anggia Shitta Awanda / Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut (INA) – 24830
16  Maiken Fruergaard / Sara Thygesen (DEN) – 22160 xx
17  Della Destiara Haris / Rosyita Eka Putri Sari (INA) – 21940
18  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA) – 20500

Mixed doubles

The debut story in mixed doubles is mostly about China.  With the disappearance of Zhao Yunlei from the lists and the disbanding of Xu/Ma and Liu/Bao, Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong have finally gotten their due.  The Australian Open champions clinched their berth in Dubai in Paris by a combination of showing up and of their challengers coming up short.

Lu and Huang will almost certainly be joined by Japan and French Open champions Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen, who now have a 10,000-point cushion over the top chasing pair, Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying.  Chan/Goh have a more realistic shot at reeling in Japan’s Ayane Kurihara / Kenta Kazuno (pictured), who will be a third rookie pair if they can hold onto their Dubai spot.

1  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 66190
2  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 56680
3  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 54200
4  Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) – 46010
5  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) – 41630
6  Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) – 40530
7  Kenta Kazuno / Ayane Kurihara (JPN) – 39880
8  Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) – 36590
9  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 34330
10  Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) – 33960
11  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 29170 xx
12  Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) – 25550 x
13  Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin (CHN) – 25060 xx
14  Kim Ki Jung / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 24000 xx
15  Liu Yuchen / Tang Jinhua (CHN) – 23760 xx
16  Bodin Issara / Savitree Amitrapai (THA) – 22840
17  Jacco Arends / Selena Piek  (NED) – 22660 xx
18  Kim Astrup / Line Kjaersfeldt (DEN) – 21230


Women’s singles

In women’s singles, it is only China that looks set to send new representatives to the Superseries Finals.  With her French Open title, He Bingjiao has positioned herself just slightly behind compatriot Sun Yu (pictured) and the two of them have a 10,000-point cushion over the foremost challenger, Saina Nehwal of India.

By far the player in the most danger of losing her spot is defending champion Nozomi Okuhara.  She missed two of the last three Superseries events and now has not only Nehwal but also two compatriots breathing down her neck to get a repeat invitation to the season-ender in Dubai.

The actual chase pack still goes quite deep, of course.  Even #24 Nitchaon Jindapon is not mathematically out, as two titles by her and two withdrawals by Okuhara could theoretically change the qualifying list.  However, the potential 11th-hour Cinderalla stories typically start to fall very quickly as the last two weeks get underway.

1  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 62000
2  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 58020
3  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 51790
4  Sun Yu (CHN) – 46800
5  He Bingjiao (CHN) – 45980
6  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 45040
7  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 38280
8  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 35420
9  Sayaka Sato (JPN) – 34250 *
10  Carolina Marin (ESP) – 34190
11  Minatsu Mitani (JPN) – 32580 *
12  Li Xuerui (CHN) – 28910 xx
13  Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) – 27770
14  P. V. Sindhu (IND) – 27490 (pictured)
15  Cheung Ngan Yi (HKG) – 27160 x
16  Yip Pui Yin (HKG) – 26720
17  Zhang Beiwen (USA) – 26360 x
18  Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) – 24380
19  Hsu Ya Ching (TPE) – 23500
20  Pai Yu Po (TPE) – 22120 x
21  Nitchaon Jindapon (THA) – 21000

Men’s singles

In men’s singles, it is the two would-be rookies who are the least certain, but still even 8th qualifier Marc Zwiebler (pictured below) of Germany is nearly 6,000 points ahead of top challenger Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei and Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong has more than a 7,000-point cushion.

The would-be rookie with the best chance of making it out of the chase pack is Ng Ka Long’s compatriot Wong Wing Ki (pictured).  Hsu Jen Hao might have had a chance after his semi-final finish in Paris last week but he is skipping the Hong Kong Open to play Scotland and so only a China Open title and/or a couple of miracles would see him flying to Dubai to compete in December.

1  Son Wan Ho (KOR) – 54130
2  Tian Houwei (CHN) – 49140
3  Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 48020
4  Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) – 44380
5  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 43510
6  Ng Ka Long (HKG) – 40100
7  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) – 39120 * x
8  Marc Zwiebler (GER) – 38230
9  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 32860
10  Wong Wing Ki (HKG) – 32650
11  Hsu Jen Hao (TPE) – 32580
12  Hu Yun (HKG) – 31830
13  Lin Dan (CHN) – 31390 xx
14  Rajiv Ouseph (GBR) – 28500
15  Jonatan Christie (INA) – 27270 x
16  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) – 26540
17  Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA) – 25680
18  Lee Hyun Il (KOR) – 25520 x
19  K. Srikanth (IND) – 25100
20  Chen Long (CHN) – 23750
21  Wei Nan (HKG) – 23560
22  H. S. Prannoy (IND) – 23500
23  Shi Yuqi (CHN) – 22510
24  Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 21940
25  Brice Leverdez (FRA) – 21900 xx
26  Ajay Jayaram (IND) – 21340
27  Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (MAS) – 21280
28  Sho Sasaki (JPN) – 20500 xx
29  Boonsak Ponsana (THA) – 19900




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 @