SUPER SERIES FINALS 2010 – Top 8 to Taipei?

The Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s Super Series has finished for 2010.  We are now accustomed to the Series ending with a finale but will 2010 be the year when it […]

The Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s Super Series has finished for 2010.  We are now accustomed to the Series ending with a finale but will 2010 be the year when it is finally super?  Let’s take a look at who should qualify and how likely it is that the qualifiers will participate.  Let the speculation begin!

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Super Series Finals will see a lot of changes for 2010.  It will move overseas from Malaysia, for starters and it has a new title sponsor.  It also will move out of the calendar year of the Series whose climax it will hope to be. However, the key question is whether the Super Series Finals will finally attract the top performing badminton stars of the Super Series.

Several of the aforementioned changes reflect a concerted effort by the BWF to make playing in the Super Series Finals a much more attractive option.  This is not to say that there were any problems with the venue or the sponsor in the two years previous.  Rather, this year, these little details were announced when the Super Series was only halfway through, whereas the 2008 and 2009 editions both looked destined for a 2007-style cancellation until the venue and sponsor stepped up at the last minute, looking eerily like an afterthought.  This year, the BWF has done its homework and everyone has known since July when and where the Series would wrap up.

The move to January 2011, of course, reflects another issue with the Super Series Finals: namely, that the 2010 calendar has already had its share of chances for the world’s top shuttlers to prove they are the best.  The World Championships had only a few big names missing while the Asian Games is, sadly perhaps, never likely to exclude more than a dozen or so contenders.

Against this backdrop, the BWF has its work cut out to convince the top athletes to come to Taipei.  However, the world body has done more than simply be better organized.  The Finals will offer world points for the first time ever.  This might help, even though the Olympic qualifying period won’t start for another five months, and the world’s top eight are rarely the ones who suffer from the ills of having low , such as being required to play qualifying rounds in Super Series events.

The prize money is still attractive on paper but so far that hasn’t helped to attract the top Asian players, most of whom are financially supported by their associations.  This time, in fact, the Super Series Finals prize purse will be almost equalled by the Malaysia Open 2 weeks later and will be more than doubled by the Korea Open one week after that.

Super Series best = World’s best?

As in 2009, there will be very little difference between the world’s top 8 and the top 8 finishers in the Super Series.  Last year, the men’s doubles showed the biggest differences with two SSF qualifiers coming from outside the world’s top 8.  This year, men’s singles shows the biggest ranking gap as Du Pengyu, Jan Jorgensen, and Nguyen Tien Minh have bumped out arguably China’s three best players, Lin Dan, Chen Jin, and Bao Chunlai.  The other four disciplines have only one or two substitutions.

Of course, this leaves aside the issue of whether either ranking is truly representative of the world’s top players (for more on that, SEE HERE).  Certainly, any time the name of Lin Dan is more than one spot out of first, there is cause for eye-rolling so having him at 11th spot in the Super Series is even further out of touch with reality than the #6 spot he’ll likely fall on when the world rankings come out on Thursday.  World #14 Yao Jie also figures into the Super Series top eight, replacing Juliane Schenk, who will slip to only #7 in the world on Thursday.  Schenk reached six international finals this year, while Yao had a less than mediocre 2010 but the German’s moments of glory – including her victory at home over the then-soon-to-be World Champion – simply did not fall on Super Series occasions.

On the other hand, the Super Series rankings have their bright spots.  For Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (pictured), who seem all but unbeatable at present, their third Super Series title (see Hong Kong Open article HERE) will see them only barely sneak into the world’s top 30 but will earn them a ticket to Taipei, should they choose to accept it.  The flipside of their inclusion is world #6 Vislova/Sorokina, who stand only 14th in the Super Series rankings despite a solid year overall.  This brings us to the real question mark hanging over Taiwan…

It’s not who’s invited, it’s whether China’s interested

Any talk of Super Series Finals would become moot, of course, if China were once again to give it a miss.  China skipped the Finals altogether in 2008, insisting that the last-minute invitation to Sabah was less important than a national badminton training camp, which also kept them from the first two legs of the 2009 Series.  The training camp did not materialize last December but the skeletal Chinese contingent played havoc with the women’s draws, contributing to the eventual inclusion of players not even ranked in the top 20.

Actually, preliminary signs suggest that the event might finally get some respect from the top echelon.  China has given some positive signs of its willingness to participate.  Korea, which has been plagued by everything from injuries to university exams the last two times, should be free to make the trip south and sponsor wishes might provide even more impetus.  Also, with more and more professionals on top of the rankings, both in Europe and Asia, the prize money should finally be kicking in and doing its job as an incentive.

So who qualifies?

Below is a prediction of what players and pairs should be standing for qualification for the Super Series Finals when the rankings are published this week.  The standings published here are not official and are based on the qualification regulations as we understand them but only the BWF standings are official.

Men’s Singles

No one will be surprised to see Lee Chong Wei at the top on Thursday.  Chen Long and Du Pengyu are China’s two inclusions.  China could likely leave one of these out if they really wanted to send #9 Chen Jin but sending Lin Dan (pictured) would mean China would have only one participant, unless there were other absences.

1  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 60240
2  Chen Long (CHN) – 48500
3  Boonsak Ponsana (THA) – 47340
4  Peter Gade (DEN) – 46320
5  Taufik Hidayat (INA) – 45680
6  Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE) – 43800
7  Du Pengyu (CHN) – 41760
8  Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 41180
9  Chen Jin (CHN) – 40760
10  Hu Yun (HKG) – 39780
11  Lin Dan (CHN) – 37160
12  Bao Chunlai (CHN) – 34320

Women’s Singles

Like the world rankings, the Super Series top 8 will include three Wangs and a Jiang from China.  Once China is limited to its maximum of two, that should give Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin and Salakjit Ponsana (pictured) of Thailand, whose young, promising compatriots have not seen enough of their success at the Super Series level.  Hong Kong Open champion Saina Nehwal will be the late addition to the group.  Her focus on the Commonwealth and Asian Games kept her out of most of the last half of the Super Series.

1 Wang Yihan (CHN) – 52660
2 Wang Shixian (CHN) – 52660
3 Wang Xin (CHN) – 49060
4 Jiang Yanjiao (CHN) – 46360

5 Bae Youn Joo (KOR) – 44520
6 Tine Baun (DEN) – 39260
7 Saina Nehwal (IND) – 39060
8 Yao Jie (NED) – 38460
9 Yip Pui Yin (HKG) – 37620
10 Salakjit Ponsana (THA) – 36120
11 Petya Nedelcheva (BUL) – 35520
12 Juliane Schenk (GER) – 34500

Men’s Doubles

Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong top the list here and their compatriots Shin/Kim will be bumped out of the top 8 by Asian Games champions Kido/Setiawan so barring injuries or the like, Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (pictured) may see the other 7 top pairs travel to Taipei to challenge them for the big payout.

1 Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 54340
2 Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 49960
3 Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) – 44320
4 Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 44300
5 Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (TPE) – 42280
6 Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (CHN) – 41320
7 Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 40680
8 Chai Biao / Zhang Nan (CHN) – 36480
9 Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan (INA) – 35400
10 Songphon Anugritayawon / Sudket Prapakamol (THA) – 33300
11 Kim Ki Jung / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) – 33180
12 Howard Bach / Tony Gunawan (USA) – 33180

Women’s Doubles

Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin are well out on top but given their track record, they will need to make the most of the home-court advantage to come out on top as China has managed to place their two top pairs into the top eight qualifiers.  The other major change to expect on Thursday will be the inclusion of Jauhari/Polii, although even without their points from Hong Kong, the Indonesians would still have been entitled to a bump past Japan’s third and fourth pairs.  Their single win in Hong Kong did, however, keep them ahead of the highest placing Korean pair and so Ha Jung Eun / Jung Kyung Eun will only make it if there is a cancellation.

1 Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (TPE) – 51360
2 Cheng Shu / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 44020
3 Petya Nedelcheva / Anastasia Russkikh (BUL/RUS) – 43200
4 Duang Anong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) – 41840
5 Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa (JPN) – 38700
6 Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna (JPN) – 38480
7 Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 29820
8 Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii (INA) – 28740
9 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 28380
10 Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) – 28080
11 Ha Jung Eun / Jung Kyung Eun (KOR) – 27360
12 Kim Min Jung / Lee Hyo Jung (KOR) – 27080

Mixed Doubles

Mixed is the only discipline with only a single entry from China, where partnership changes have taken their toll.  Meanwhile, the retirement of Lee Hyo Jung means only one Korean pair has qualified and the replacement of Nova Widianto will likely mean the ninth place pair will qualify, in this case, England’s Robertson/Wallwork.  The English pair also make this, predictably, the discipline with the most potential European participation as the list is topped by the current world #1’s Thomas Laybourn / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured) of Denmark, followed by Poland’s Mateusiak/Zieba, who also had their moment at the top this past summer.  Local pair Lee Sheng Mu / Chien Yu Chin will be waiting for a cancellation while Thailand is the only team with two pairs qualifying in mixed.

1 Thomas Laybourn / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 57760
2 Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) – 43820
3 Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba (POL) – 47420
4 Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 38440
5 Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) – 37620
6 Hendra Aprida Gunawan / Vita Marissa (INA) – 35220
7 Ko Sung Hyun / Ha Jung Eun (KOR) – 34620
8 Nathan Robertson / Jenny Wallwork (ENG) – 34560
9 Nova Widianto / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 32880
10 Lee Sheng Mu / Chien Yu Chin (TPE) – 31080
11 Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing (CHN) – 29800
12 Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 29300

And so we head into the holiday season anticipating not only the New Year and all it normally has in store but also the whims of the cream of the world badminton crop as they signal their intent, or lack thereof to play for the big money in Taiwan.  Either way, Badzine will be on site in Taipei to bring you all the action with live reports and photos from Badmintonphoto.  See you in 2011 for the end of the 2010!

For the official BWF Super Series standings, CLICK HERE

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 @