7 still chasing 4 Guangzhou spots

All but 4 tickets to the 2019 World Tour Finals have already been booked but seven singles players and one doubles pair are still giving chase and Busanan Ongbamrungphan is […]

All but 4 tickets to the 2019 have already been booked but seven singles players and one doubles pair are still giving chase and Busanan Ongbamrungphan is one of many closing in on a first appearance in a season finale.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The World Tour heads into its final point-yielding leg with 36 of the total 40 spots clinched for the season-ending World Tour Finals.  World #18 Busanan Ongbamrungphan (pictured top) – who beat reigning World Champion Pusarla Venkata Sindhu for the first time this week – is the most probable next qualifier as she is literally one point away from Guangzhou.

The 23-year-old Thai is certainly not the only rookie hopeful bound for the World Tour Finals.  In fact, three others have some wins to record in Gwangju next week if they want to hold onto their tentative tickets to the big-money season-ending event.

Women’s singles is clearly the next Guangzhou roster to be fully written, after women’s and mixed doubles.  Busanan Ongbamrungphan need only step on court in Gwangju and play a minimum of one rally and she will collect the 1670 points that will see her safely past Macau Open winner Michelle Li.

Both Michelle Li and Zhang Beiwen (pictured above) are skipping the Korea Masters so the Canadian can do nothing at this point to defend the 7th spot she was in possession of as of the end of the Hong Kong Open.  Nor will Zhang have the opportunity to make up the few hundred points that separate her from her Pan Am rival.

The only other player who has not yet been mathematically eliminated is Korea’s own Sung Ji Hyun (pictured below).  To catch Michelle Li, Sung would need to win the title in Gwangju, something she has done on 3 occasions in the past.  However, this would only be of use if Ongbamrungphan were to decide to withdraw from the event at the last minute, as even a first-round loss for the Thai would put her past Li and out of reach for Sung.

Women’s singles was the softest hit by the eleventh-hour withdrawals at the Gwangju Korea Masters. Top players like He Bingjiao, Akane Yamaguchi, and Carolina Marin are still entered in the event, along with Ongbamrungphan, her compatriot Jindapol, as well as a full-strength Korean contingent and several other strong Japanese players.

1  Chen Yufei (CHN) – 106760
2  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 104060
3  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 94060
4  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 92910
5  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 89550
6  He Bingjiao (CHN) – 80230
7  Michelle Li (CAN) – 77040
8  Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) – 76480
9  Zhang Beiwen (USA) – 76280
10  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 70890
11  Nitchaon Jindapol (THA) – 69010
12  Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 68820
13  Kim Ga Eun (KOR) – 68190
14  P. V. Sindhu (IND) – 67850
15  An Se Young (KOR) – 66930

Men’s doubles is similarly close to wrapping things up.   In this case, however, Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han are tentatively qualifed but they will need at least one win to be certain they will not be caught by 2016 Finals winners Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured above).

Lu and Yang are slated to play the home pairing of Kang Min Hyuk and Kim Jae Hwan, who troubled the Chinese Taipei #3s at the Canada Open this year.  If the Chinese Taipei pair get their win, Goh and Tan will only have a chance of reeling in compatriots Aaron Chia / Soh Wooi Yik (pictured right) but they will have to finish at least 3 rounds ahead of their younger team-mates.  If Goh/Tan fail to catch up, the men’s doubles draw in Guangzhou will feature four players who have never before competed in a season finale.  Lee/Wang have clinched a spot as a new pair but they have competed in different pairings in the past.

Goh/Tan benefited the most from the rash of withdrawals that hit the Gwangju Masters on Monday night.  The top pairs in their quarter and their half of the draw have both backed out.  Chia/Soh, meanwhile, still have the formidable Lee/Wang and Han/Zhou to contend with this week, as well as some dangerous Korean duos.

1  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) – 116990
2  Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 111440
3  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 108270
4  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) – 100650
5  Lee Yang / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) – 95030
6  Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) – 93160
7  Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (JPN) – 89520
8  Lu Ching Yao / Yang Po Han (TPE) – 83380
9  Aaron Chia / Soh Wooi Yik (MAS) – 81980

10  Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) – 78490
11  Liao Min Chun / Su Cheng Heng (TPE) – 66240

Men’s singles has by far the biggest chase pack and all four shuttlers are zeroing in on the one vulnerable spot currently occupied by first-time Guangzhou hopeful Wang Tzu Wei (pictured below).  Wang, who is hoping to attend his first ever season finale, can clinch his spot only by reaching the semi-final, but he may not need to, depending on the results of his pursuers.

Wang is slated to play against one chaser, Kantaphon Wancharoen, in the quarter-finals, but if he gets that far, the Thai will already be out of the running.  The most realistic chances lie with Ng Ka Long (pictured above) and Lin Dan, who are drawn to meet each other at the quarter-final stage.

If any of the four are left having to win the tournament to catch Wang Tzu Wei, they will be helped in that effort by the fact that the rest of the world’s top ten withdrew on the eve of the Korea Masters.  Half of them had not entered the event and four others – Anders Antonsen, Chen Long, Shi Yuqi, and Viktor Axelsen – followed suit on Monday afternoon, leaving only world #8 Ng Ka Long playing in Gwangju and vying for a spot in Guangzhou.

1  Kento Momota (JPN) – 107590
2  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 95780
3  Jonatan Christie (INA) – 94440
4  Chen Long (CHN) – 85140
5  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) – 84800
6  Anthony Ginting (INA) – 83710
7  Anders Antonsen (DEN) – 80000
8  Wang Tzu Wei (TPE) – 72490
9  Ng Ka Long (HKG) – 69400
10  Lin Dan (CHN) – 69260
11  Lee Zii Jia (MAS) – 67340
12  Kantaphon Wancharoen (THA) – 67330
13  Kanta Tsuneyama (JPN) – 65530
14  Sitthikom Thammasin (THA) – 64460

Women’s doubles was actually the first to be completely settled.  Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan (pictured right) only mathematically clinched their ticket to Guangzhou when Hsu/Hu of Chinese Taipei failed to reach the quarter-finals in Hong Kong but last year’s runners-up in the season finale would have confirmed things anyway as they won enough matches in Hong Kong.

Of the Guangzhou qualifiers, only the two Korean pairs will be in action in Gwangju this week.  The top two pairs from China and Japan withdrew on Monday, as did Thailand’s Kititharakul/Prajongjai.

1  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) – 112740
2  Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) – 109800
3  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) – 103750
4  Kim So Yeong / Kong Hee Yong (KOR) – 103720
5  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 97860
6  Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu (INA) – 85380
7  Du Yue / Li Yinhui (CHN) – 83760
8  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA) – 81810
9  Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 77480
10  Li Wenmei / Zheng Yu (CHN) – 74650
11  Liu Xuanxuan / Xia Yuting (CHN) – 73260
12  Hsu Ya Ching / Hu Ling Fang (TPE) – 67040

All along, it looked as if mixed doubles field for Guangzhou would be the first to crystallize.  However, with the impressive run by Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai in Hong Kong, they still had a mathematical chance of catching Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung (pictured right) until the time of their loss on Saturday.

The only Guangzhou qualifiers headed for the Korea Masters other than Seo/Chae are Malaysia’s Chan/Goh.

1  Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) – 101910
2  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 101220
3  Praveen Jordan / Melati Daeva Oktavianti (INA) – 100310
4  Wang Yilü / Huang Dongping (CHN) – 98920
5  Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) – 96850
6  Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (JPN) – 95200
7  Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA) – 91230
8  Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) – 83690
9  Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) – 74330

In the above analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table in bold purple, highlighted in green – 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 the last title and the former be unable to play the remaining first round matches.

I have shown in bold purple the 8 players and pairs who would qualify were the tour to end after the Hong Kong Open.  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.  The numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the Hong Kong Open but the official Race to Guangzhou standings will be available later in the week from the BWF website.




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 @ badzine.net