Top tens going to California, not Dubai?

Ko Sung Hyun and Chae Yoo Jung are slated to play six straight weeks of badminton, including a scheduling conflict with the Superseries Finals in Dubai next month. The United […]

Ko Sung Hyun and Chae Yoo Jung are slated to play six straight weeks of badminton, including a scheduling conflict with the in Dubai next month.

The United States will get an unexpected influx of top Asian badminton players in early December.  Both current and former top ten players from the mighty teams of Korea and Japan will be descending on Orange County for the U.S. , with most of the Koreans also entered in the International Challenge event in Florida the previous week.

For many of the Korean players, it will mean a gruelling string of six straight weeks of tournaments, with both intercontinental and transcontinental travel as they go from Jeonju to Fuzhou to Hong Kong to Macau to Orlando to Los Angeles.  However, for Ko Sung Hyun and Chae Yoo Jung, among possibly many others, the sixth week could involve a detour to Dubai.

Among the entrants for the U.S. Grand Prix, a total of seven players from Korea and Japan – Ko Sung Hyun, Chae Yoo Jung, Kim Ki Jung, Kim Sa Rang, Reika Kakiiwa, Miyuki Maeda, and Nozomi Okuhara (pictured below) – will be tentatively qualified for the Superseries Finals in Dubai when this week’s China Open concludes.  Another seven – Shin Baek Cheol, Go Ah Ra / Yoo Hae Won, Minatsu Mitani, Son Wan Ho, and Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao – have the chance to snatch a ticket to Dubai in Hong Kong next week.  Dozens more players from the Grand Prix entry list had a mathematical chance of making it to Dubai that ended in the first three days of the China Open.  However, Ko Sung Hyun has already clinched his spot in the Finals and Nozomi needs only one more win this week or next to be assured of her berth in Dubai.

It is no coincidence that 2015 is both the first year that a Grand Prix event has coincided with the Superseries Finals and the first year when potential qualifiers for the latter have been entered in an conflicting event.  As such it begs the question of what will happen.  Theoretically, if the Dubai-qualified players have not withdrawn from the Grand Prix event by this Sunday, they will be faced with a choice between a US$250 penalty for late withdrawal from a Grand Prix event and a $5,000 penalty for rejecting an invitation to the Superseries Finals.

Now the BWF may give special consideration in this case, given that the Dubai invitations won’t be issued for a few weeks yet, but from the organizers’ point of view, the culling of six seeded players will not be an insignificant inconvenience, especially considering that the draw will be done before most players have even played their first matches at the Hong Kong Open.  Presumably the worst-case scenario will not apply.  That is to say that it is unlikely that a mere invitation to Dubai would be found to constitute a violation of article 5.5 of the BWF’s General Competition Regulations, which prohibits entry in two BWF-Sanctioned events in the same week.  However, the wording of that regulation does suggest that the players in question might be prohibited from accepting their Dubai invitations.

Even without the Dubai qualifiers, the field in the U.S. Grand Prix is unusually strong, with current or former top ten players in all five disciplines.  The men’s singles draw has former world #1 Lee Hyun Il and five other former top ten players, including Boonsak Ponsana, Sho Sasaki, and Nguyen Tien Minh, and Kenichi Tago, as well as Son Wan Ho, who has only a slim chance at a Dubai ticket.  The top men’s doubles pairings from Germany, Russia, Malaysia, England, and Thailand will all be there, as will the three top Korean women’s pairs, all of whom are fairly safe from a Dubai conflict.  Mixed doubles has former Superseries winners Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam and Chan/Goh, along with Germany’s Fuchs/Michels, Chrisnanta/Neo of Singapore, and whoever is left of Korea’s top pairs once the Dubai swath has been cut.

Click here for the entry lists of the U.S. Grand Prix.  An analysis of who are likely to be Superseries Finals qualifiers can be found here.

Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto; Don Hearn

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 @