Dozen to debut in Dubai

Twelve new faces will be getting invitations to the 2015 BWF World Superseries Finals, including two twenty-year-olds, all of whom join badminton’s best in the sport’s new December retreat in […]

Twelve new faces will be getting invitations to the 2015 BWF World , including two twenty-year-olds, all of whom join badminton’s best in the sport’s new December retreat in Dubai to battle for the big money and big points.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The list of qualifiers for the 2015 edition of the BWF World Finals were set  early in the afternoon on Saturday, just as the Hong Kong Open semi-finals were getting underway.  Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao were the last hopefuls whose chance to sneak under the wire was erased when they lost to World Champions Tian/Zhao and that sealed the deal for their compatriots Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (pictured).

The winners will pocket their share of the total prize purse of US$1 million.  Perhaps more importantly, they will be competing for up to 11,000 ranking points toward their Rio Olympic account.  Even players who qualify for this elite event and end up just getting beaten by three top-flight opponents earn a respectable minimum of 4,320.

Who’s new?

Although the Hong Kong Open added no new entries to the five top 8 lists, the 2015 season as a whole has yielded plenty of new talent, accounting for twelve players making their first appearance in the lucrative season-ender. Most noteworthy among them has to be World Champion Carolina Marin.  Marin went from a lowly 15th in the Superseries rankings in 2014 to being the hands-down leader this year on the strength of five titles from the 12 events.

Five more Europeans will be making their debuts at this year’s Superseries Finals .  Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles and Mads Conrad Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding in men’s doubles have qualified for Denmark and the Netherlands can send Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek in women’s doubles.

Spain’s Carolina Marin is the only player who is also giving her nation a representative in the Finals for the first time.  However, Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah are the first mixed pair to qualify from Hong Kong and Chou Tien Chen is the first to represent Chinese Taipei in his discipline in six years.

Praveen Jordan in mixed doubles and Chae Yoo Jung in women’s doubles are debuting at the Finals but with more experienced partners, Debby Susanto and Kim So Yeong having each competed in one edition previously.  The youngest competitor in Dubai in 2015 will be Nozomi Okuhara.  She turned 20 this year just a few days after fellow rookie Chae Yoo Jung (pictured).

Who’s back?

Of course, the vast majority of the 2015 qualifiers have been to the Superseries Finals before.  Denmark’s Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen have played in all eight editions and were among the nine players headed for Dubai this December who also played in the inaugural Finals back in 2008.  The others were Hendra Setiawan, Liliyana Natsir, Greysia Polii, Kamilla Rytter Juhl, Lee Yong Dae, Saina Nehwal, and Chris Adcock.

Those keenest to avail themselves of the big ranking point payoff will be the second doubles pairs from the badminton powers.  Pairs such as Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (pictured) in mixed, Kakiiwa/Maeda and Chae/Kim in women’s, and Chai/Hong and Kim/Kim in men’s doubles are all struggling to get into the top 8 in the world rankings by the beginning of May as this is what they will have to do to be a second pair for their teams at the Rio Olympics.

Tian/Zhao may seem like major contenders for gold in Rio but they will make full use of the ranking points as so far, they have points from only four events counting tward their Olympic bid.  Boe/Mogensen also lag behind their compatriots in Rio points so far but both Danish pairs need all the help they can get to crowd into the top 8 with all the talent from China and Korea in particular sharing the same aim.

What’s new?

The players who will be invited by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) in the coming week will be, for the most part, the top eight in each of the five disciplines in terms of total ranking points accumulated in the twelve Superseries events this year.  Until this year, the exceptions to this rule have all been generated by the limit of two entries per nation.  This year, too, China has placed more than two players in the top 8 in three disciplines and this will lead to the invitations of two #10 players and one #9 from other countries.

However, 2015 is also the first year of a new rule that guarantees a spot in the BWF Superseries Finals for the reigning World Champions.  That means that unlike last year, when Carolina Marin did not go to Dubai and Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol only snuck in under the wire, this year Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei (pictured) automatically qualified.  Interestingly, without the new rule, this would have been the first time that China would have had only one pair qualified in women’s doubles.

With the women’s doubles boost, China is up to ten entries for the first time since 2011.  Denmark is next with six and they make up the bulk of the nine-qualifier strong European contingent, the largest since 2010.  In all, 12 different member associations should be sending players and that is the most diverse field since 2011 but still far below the 16 nations represented in 2010.

Another new development in 2015 is that it is the first year when players who have qualified for the Superseries Finals are already entered in a concurrent tournament.  Nozomi Okuhara (pictured top) and Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda are both top seeds at the U.S. Grand Prix event in the same week as Dubai.  There has been no official word on whether this will affect Dubai invitations but BWF rules preventing players from withdrawing from one event to play another have been enforced on at least two occasions this year.  (see more on that issue here and here)

Who’s in?

I have shown in bold the 8 players and pairs who should qualify for the Superseries Finals.  These unofficial numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the Hong Kong Open but the official Superseries standings will be available later in the week from the BWF website.

Women’s singles
Carolina Marin (ESP) – 77470
2  Wang Shixian (CHN) – 70060
3  Wang Yihan (CHN) – 67870

4  Li Xuerui (CHN) – 62370 *
5  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 61120 †
6  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 59650
7  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 57990
8  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 57750
9  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 55480

10  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 50350

Mixed doubles
1  Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 82070
2  Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin (CHN) – 73390
3  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 72010 ††

4  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 66940 *
5  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 64660
6  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 64140

7  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 60510 *
8  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) – 60430
9  Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) – 57330
10  Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) – 46320

11  Chan Yun Lung /  Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 39340
12  Kenichi Hayakawa / Misaki Matsutomo (JPN) – 33300

Men’s singles
1  Chen Long (CHN) – 79040
2  Kento Momota (JPN) – 67090
3  Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 60760
4  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) – 60160
5  Lin Dan (CHN) – 59340
6  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 58490

7  Tian Houwei (CHN) – 54390 *
8  Hu Yun (HKG) – 46930
9  Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 45920 *
10  K. Srikanth (IND) – 44940
11  Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 44750

Women’s doubles
1  Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) – 65860
2  Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 61180
3  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 58970
4  Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Gresya Polii (INA) – 58890
Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) – 46280
6  Chae Yoo Jung / Kim So Yeong (KOR) – 45860 ††
7  Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 44830 †

8  Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao (JPN) – 42440 * †
9  Go Ah Ra / Yoo Hae Won (KOR) – 38560 †
10  Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) – 35740
11  Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) – 35230 †
12  Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 33980 †
13  Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 33950

Men’s doubles
1  Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 84410
Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 67780
3  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) – 67040
4  Chai Biao / Hong Wei (CHN) – 63840
5  Muhammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 63220
6  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN) – 61160
7  Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR) – 56740 ††
8  Mads Conrad Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) – 53940

9  Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) – 47870
10  Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin (TPE) – 45680

Bold – qualified
* – can only qualify if a compatriot declines
† – Entered in U.S. Grand Prix
†† – Entered in U.S. Grand Prix, withdrawn after M&Q list published

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 @