Category Archives: tournament recap

Fan Zhendong and Wang Manyu Win Second Leg of China Olympic Scrimmage

Fan Zhendong recovered from a 3-1 in games and 8-4 deficit against Xu Xin to win the men’s singles finals and Wang Manyu handed Chen Meng her first major loss since the pandemic to win the women’s singles finals at the second leg of the Chinese Olympic Scrimmages.

It is an encouraging sign for Fan, who was upset by dark horse champion Zhou Qihao in the finals of the first leg of the China Olympic Scrimmages. Fan will represent China in the men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympic alongside Ma Long. Ma was upset by Xu Chenhao in the quarter-finals, denying fans the chance to see a preview of the likely Ma vs Fan finals at the Tokyo Olympics. After suffering a series of bad losses earlier this year, Xu Xin finally put together a strong tournament performance as he rounds into form to represent China in the team event at the Olympics.

After his win, Fan noted that when losing, the most important thing to think about was not tactical adjustments per se, but to remind himself not to give up. After establishing a no-quit mentality was he able to think of tactical and technical adjustments to spark the comeback.

Wang Manyu was selected as a reserve for the Chinese Olympic team, but she defeated both of China’s women’s singles representatives at the Olympics, Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, and clearly outperformed Liu Shiwen, who will be providing a veteran presence in the women’s team event.

Wang finally put a dent on Chen’s dominant run over the past year or so. Chen was up to this point undefeated in 2021 in the first leg of the Chinese Olympic Scrimmage and won the post-pandemic World Tour Finals, World Cup, and All China National Championships in 2020. This tournament result is not necessarily a cause for alarm for Chen and Sun, as the purpose of the scrimmages is precisely for them to work out the kinks in their game.

After her win, Wang remarked that she is very happy with the results and actually did not go into the tournament with any championship expectations or thoughts and was mainly focused on playing well in preparation for the Olympics.

Final Results

Men’s Singles

Finals

Fan Zhendong defeats Xu Xin 4-3 (5, -10, -8, -9, 9, 7, 8)

Semi-Finals

Fan Zhendong defeats Wang Chuqin 4-2 (-10, 10, 6, -6, 9, 10)

Xu Xin defeats Xu Chenhao 4-1 (6, 8, 9, -9, 7)

Quarter-Finals

Fan Zhendong defeats Lin Gaoyuan 4-1(3, -7, 8, 9, 10)

Wang Chuqin defeats Zhou Qihao 4-2 (6, -12, 10, -9, 4, 4)

Xu Xin defeats Liang Jingkun 4-0 (9, 6, 5, 10)

Xu Chenhao defeats Ma Long 4-2 (5, 9, 10, -6, -5, 8)

Women’s Singles

Finals

Wang Manyu defeats Chen Meng 4-2 (-7, 8, 11, 12, -4 8)

Semi-Finals

Wang Manyu defeats Sun Yingsha 4-1 (7, 4, 12, -11, 5)

Chen Meng defeats He Zhuojia 4-1 (-9, 10, 4, 3, 5)

Quarter-Finals

Wang Manyu defeats Chen Xintong 4-1 (8, -7, 5, 7, 7)

Sun Yingsha defeats Gu Yuting 4-3 (5, -10, -8, 7, -5, 7, 5)

Chen Meng defeats Wang Yidi 4-2 (10, 9, 10, -11, -8, 6)

He Zhoujia defeats Liu Shiwen 4-0 (4, 14, 6, 8)

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Feng Tianwei Was The Biggest Winner At WTT Doha

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Mima Ito walked away from WTT Doha with 40,000 USD in prize money. Ruwen Filus walked away a fan favorite. Dimitrij Ovtcharov notched three signature wins under his belt. So who was Edges and Nets’ top pick for the biggest winner at WTT Doha? Feng Tianwei.

Why? In the grand scheme of things, WTT Contender and Star Contender events matter for basically two reasons only: amassing world ranking points to obtain better seeding at bigger events and using the competition to work out kinks in your game in order to peak at a bigger event. As it is still only March, we can’t take too much stock in how these performances will translate into the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, but the seeding implications are real and lasting.

Although WTT has been unpredictable regarding seeding practices so far, in general the higher your seed is entering the Olympics the better. At the time being, it appears safe to assume that the top eight seeds at the Olympics will be seeded appropriately as usual.

With that in mind, let us revisit the world ranking system, after which it will become apparent why Feng was the biggest winner from WTT Doha.

The World Ranking System

Each player wins a certain amount of ranking points at every tournament depending on how well they did and how prestigious the tournament was. For WTT Contender, the ranking point distribution is 400 points for the champion, 280 for the finalist, 140 for the semi-finalists, 70 for the quarter-finalists, 35 for losing in the round of 16, and 4 for losing in the round of 32. For WTT Star Contender, those numbers are 600, 420, 210, 105, 55, and 25 respectively. 5 points are also awarded for losing in the round of 64 in WTT Star Contender.

Under normal circumstances, a player’s world ranking point total is computed by summing up the points won over his or her best eight performances over the last twelve months. However, since there has been a hiatus in play due to the pandemic, the world ranking system is slightly different at the moment.

Each player has a certain number of world ranking points from 2020 that roll over into 2021. These world ranking points are slowly decaying until the end of the year, at which point they will completely expire. At the time of this writing (mid-March), they have decayed to 70% of their original value. By the Tokyo Olympics, they will have decayed to 40% of their original value. Your world ranking points are determined by adding up the points you have earned in 2021 with your decaying points from 2020.

For example, if you had 10,000 world ranking points in 2020 and earned 1,000 ranking points in 2021, then you would have 10,000*0.7 + 1,000 = 8,000 world ranking points now and 10,000*0.4+1,000=5,000 world ranking points by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around.

Although Edges and Nets has previously emphasized the April world rankings in our previews, the ranking list that really matters is the one used at the Olympics. Thus, in all our world ranking lists today and in the future, unless otherwise specified we will decay the 2020 world ranking points down to a factor of 0.4. This makes our rankings slightly different from the official ones posted by ITTF/WTT, but our world rankings will be slightly more relevant.

With that in mind, let us look at the current state of the projected top ten seeds at the Tokyo Olympics, from which we can see who was a winner and who blew some major opportunities at WTT Doha.

Women’s Singles Winners and Losers

We look at the rankings of the projected top ten seeds at the women’s singles event in the Tokyo Olympics. Since China has not yet announced who will play, we will look at both Sun Yingsha and Liu Shiwen on our rankings list. Wang Manyu, Zhu Yuling, and Ding Ning will be in a situation between Sun and Liu. That being said, China could likely not care less about Olympic seeding.

Although Edges and Nets was unable to obtain formal verification of this rule, based on our understanding the Olympics guarantee that two players from the same country will not meet until the finals. (Update: A commenter has pointed out that this may not necessarily be the case this year). Hence, since almost everyone would favor a top Chinese player over even Mima Ito, even if Liu Shiwen drops to ninth in the world, she will still be the de facto second seed.

Olympic SeedPlayer2020 Decayed PointsWTT Doha Contender PointsWTT Doha Star Contender PointsTotal Points
1Chen Meng7900007900
2Mima Ito63324006007332
3Sun Yingsha6560006560
3Liu Shiwen4890004890
4Cheng I-Ching46844554743
5Feng Tianwei423244204656
6Kasumi Ishikawa444035554530
7Jeon Jihee3656702103936
8Doo Hoi Kem3744003744
9Adriana Diaz353041053639
10Sofia Polcanova3584003584
Women’s Singles Projected World Rankings for Olympic seeding

Because China effectively has the top two seeds even though Ito is the second seed in name, the race for the top three seeds is not particularly interesting. However, the fourth seed is highly valuable as it guarantees a path to the semi-finals without having to play Ito or a Chinese player. The eighth seed is similarly coveted since it guarantees a spot in the quarter-finals without having to play Ito or a Chinese player.

Hence, Feng Tianwei is clearly the biggest winner coming out of WTT Doha. Going into Doha, Feng only had a puncher’s chance at the Olympic fourth seed. It looked like that chance had evaporated after Feng suffered a first-round exit in WTT Contender. However, Ishikawa and Cheng extended Feng a lifeline by each suffering early exits in both the WTT Contender and WTT Star Contender events.

Feng seized on this lifeline with a run to the WTT Star Contender finals that included a win over the massively underrated Hina Hayata, who also happened to help Feng out by defeating Ishikawa in WTT Contender and Cheng in WTT Star Contender. Feng has now passed Ishikawa outright on the projected Olympic seedings, and all Feng needs in the next WTT event (an event in China appears to be in the works) is either a major upset on her side or another collapse by Cheng in order for Feng to take complete control of the Olympic fourth seed.

As Feng is the biggest winner, by extension the biggest losers in the women’s singles events at WTT Doha are Ishikawa and Cheng. They each blew a chance to take full control of the fourth seed and allowed Feng to crash what should have been a two-way race.

Elsewhere in the ranking list, Jeon Jihee came out a minor winner and gave herself some breathing room to maintain a top-eight seed by for the most part playing to her seeding and avoiding losses to lower-ranked players. Although Adriana Diaz moved up on the rankings list following WTT Doha, it can be argued that she came out a minor loser at this tournament. Adriana Diaz had a chance to take advantage of Doo Hoi Kem’s absence and put herself in position to join the top eight seeds in Tokyo, but she squandered that chance by losing in the first round at WTT Contender.

Men’s Singles Winners and Losers

We now look at the top ten seeds in the Olympic men’s singles events. China has not yet announced who will play, but regardless of their selection the top two seeds at the Olympics are almost certainly going to be some combination of Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, and Xu Xin.

Olympic SeedPlayer2020 Decayed PointsWTT Doha Contender PointsWTT Doha Star Contender PointsTotal Points
1-2Fan Zhendong7396007396
1-2Xu Xin6904006904
1-2Ma Long6808006808
3Tomokazu Harimoto51961406005936
4Lin Yun-Ju48602802105350
5Hugo Calderano492670555051
6Dimitrij Ovtcharov42264002104836
7Mattias Falck46787054753
8Timo Boll4274004274
9Jang Woojin4234054239
10Liam Pitchford3884453893
Men’s Singles Projected World Rankings for Olympic Seeding

Update: A previous version of this post had incorrect ranking points added to Falck and Jang. This error has been corrected.

In the men’s event, there is no clear massive winner like Feng Tianwei. Instead, the biggest winner of the men’s singles event by default is Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

While Ovtcharov walked away with the WTT Contender title and appears to be quite happy that he has re-joined the top ten in the world rankings, from an Olympic seeding perspective not much has changed. In our tournament preview, we expected that a baseline level of play would be enough for Ovtcharov to take control of a top-eight seed in Tokyo and join the top ten in the world rankings list. Although Ovtcharov outperformed expectations and is now projected to pass a disappointing Mattias Falck, he is still firmly entrenched in the 5-8 spot in the Olympics as expected.

That being said, all Ovtcharov needs is for Lin and Calderano to pull a page out of Cheng and Ishikawa’s book in the next WTT event, and he may just be able to steal the fourth seed in Tokyo. However, Ovtcharov is still in a worse position than Feng was entering Doha since the next WTT event is likely to be in China. Even if only two Chinese players play, the odds of Ovtcharov pulling off a surprise finals run in China like Feng did in Doha drop astronomically.

Lin Yun-Ju is a minor winner considering that he passed Calderano for the Olympic fourth seed. However, Lin shouldn’t be feeling too victorious since with his losses to Ovtcharov and Filus, he blew a chance to really put some distance between him and Calderano.

The two major losers in the men’s singles events were Hugo Calderano and Jang Woojin. Calderano lost control of the Olympic fourth seed with a quarter-final loss to Simon Gauzy in WTT Contender and threw away his chance to take it back with a missed serve against Darko Jorgic at match point in the WTT Star Contender round of 16.

Going into the tournament, Jang appeared to be a slam dunk to pass Timo Boll in the world rankings and put himself in position to take the eighth seed in Tokyo. However, Jang was unable to notch even a single win and now finds himself still stuck as a projected ninth seed in Tokyo.

In summary, Edges and Nets’ final picks for winners and losers at WTT Doha are:

  • Major Winner: Feng Tianwei
  • Minor Winners: Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Lin Yun-Ju, and Jeon Jihee
  • Minor Loser: Adriana Diaz
  • Major Losers: Kasumi Ishikawa, Cheng I-Ching, Hugo Calderano and Jang Woojin

Our next blog post will be posted on Wednesday, March 24. Update: The release of the next post has been delayed by up to a couple days.

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Top 6 Storylines Following Round of 32 At WTT Star Contender

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We take a look at the biggest storylines following the round of 32 and going into the round of 16 in the WTT Star Contender event at WTT Doha.

1) Shin Yubin Defeats Margaryta Pesotska To Set Up Korea-Japan Olympic Team Preview Against Miu Hirano

After upsetting Miyuu Kihara (WR 47) in the round of 64, the massively underrated 16-year old Shin Yubin (WR 94) upset Margaryta Pesotska (WR 32) 3-1 to set up a round of 16 clash against Miu Hirano (WR 11). Shin will be representing South Korea at the Tokyo Olympics after beating several higher ranked players the Korean Olympic Trials, and her match with Hirano provides a preview for a potential Korea-Japan semi-final match-up in the Olympic Team Event.

Although Hirano is significantly higher ranked, Shin has a decent chance at an upset. Hirano has struggled over the last couple years and has had a disappointing 2021 so far; she lost to Kihara at the All Japan National Championships and was again further outperformed by Kihara in WTT Contender. Japan is still the heavy favorite for the silver medal regardless of the result, but if Hirano loses to Shin, Japanese national team coaches may start to grow concerned over whether their third star can snap out of her funk.

2) No Korea-Japan Men’s Round of 16 Matches As WTT Star Contender Additions Fall

The men’s draw was originally set to feature two potential previews of a Korea-Japan team match-up in the round of 16, but no such preview will be happening. Instead, Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik (WR 13) will be playing Gustavo Tsuboi (WR 36), who slaughtered Japan’s Koki Niwa (WR 17) 3-0, and Japan’s Jun Mizutani (WR 18) will be playing Ruwen Filus (WR 42), who upset Korea’s Jang Woojin (WR 12) 3-1. Both Jang and Niwa did not play in WTT Contender, and their presence was supposed to bolster the star-power of WTT Star Contender.

Filus may have just sent German teammate Timo Boll a huge gift. Jang was originally expected to almost certainly pass Timo Boll on the rankings to secure a top eight seed at the Olympics, but after Jang’s first round exit, Boll will likely hold onto his world rank.

Not everything was rosy for Germany as Patrick Franziska (WR 16), another additional star to WTT Star Contender, fell to Sharath Achanta (WR 32) 11-9 in the fifth. Achanta will face Franziska’s national teammate Dimitrij Ovtcharov (WR 10) in the round of 16.

3) Bernadette Szocs, Britt Eerland, and Lily Zhang Fail to Capitalize on Friendlier Draw

After putting up a valiant fight against a difficult draw in last week’s WTT Contender, Bernadette Szocs (WR 25), Britt Eerland (WR 28), and Lily Zhang (WR 30) were dealt a much friendlier draw this week. However, none of them were able to capitalize on the opportunity as Szocs lost 3-1 to Bruna Takahashi (WR 49), Eerland blew a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to Kim Hayeong (WR 123), and Zhang lost 3-2 to Satsuki Odo (WR 103).

Eerland and Szocs missed a chance to solidify their position as a top 16 seed at the Tokyo Olympics, which also appears to be a cut-off for direct qualification for European players via world rank. Zhang also missed her chance to break into the round of 16, although she is already confirmed to represent the United States in Tokyo.

4) Kristian Karlsson Upsets Liam Pitchford Deuce In the Fifth As Pitchford’s Goes 0-2 in Doha

After losing to Andreas Levenko (WR 141) in the first round last week, Liam Pitchford (WR 15) again lost in his first match, this time to Kristian Karlsson (WR 29), who saved a match point in the fifth game to win deuce in the fifth. Pitchford has been nursing a hand injury suffered during practice two weeks ago, which severely hampered him in his loss to Levenko. Pitchford’s hand looked stronger this time as he was able to land some strong chiquitas that he struggled with last week, but he nevertheless lost deuce in the fifth to Karlsson to wrap up what has to be an extremely disappointing tournament for Pitchford.

Karlsson will play Gauzy in the round of 16, who reached the semi-finals in last week’s WTT Contender after upsetting Hugo Calderano, in what Edges and Nets would consider to be the most interesting men’s singles round of 16 match-up due to the combined starpower, even match-up, and the looming possibility of a Gauzy vs Calderano rematch.

5) Cheng I-Ching and Hina Hayata to Face Off In Difficult Round of 16 Match

After upsetting Kasumi Ishikawa (WR 9) and making a run to the finals, where she came quite close to beating Ito for the championship, in last week’s WTT Contender, Hina Hayata (WR 26) defeated 15-year old Kim Nayeong (ranked a ridiculously low 724) 3-1 to advance to the round of 16, where she will face an early test against second seed Cheng I-Ching (WR 8). Cheng will also get the chance to redeem herself after suffering a first-round exit last week to Szocs. A win from Hayata, who will not be playing in the Olympics, would also help her national teammate Kasumi Ishikawa in her campaign to take the Olympic fourth seed from Cheng.

6) An Jaehyun Avenges World Championship Semi-Final Loss With 3-0 Win Over Mattias Falck

We provided a full recap of the match here.

An Instagram summary with additional video highlights has been posted below:

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Mima Ito Wins WTT Doha Event With 4-2 Finals Win Over Hina Hayata

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

For more coverage of the WTT Contender women’s singles finals, check out our preview and our post-game analysis.

Tied 2-2 in games, Mima Ito (WR 3) and Hina Hayata (WR 29) both reached into their bag of tricks as Ito eked out a gutsy 11-9 win in a pivotal game 5 en route to a 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 finals victory over Hayata. With the win Ito, has captured the first ever World Table Tennis (i.e. rebranded ITTF) Title in the WTT Contender Event at WTT Doha. The qualification draw of WTT Star Contender, the second and more prestigious event at WTT Doha, is already underway and will be ongoing throughout the week.

The victory is slightly dimmed due to the withdrawal of Sun Yingsha and Liu Shiwen and general lack of star-power among Ito’s opponents (none of her opponents were in the top 20 although Hayata likely deserves to be in it). However, Ito was still able to make a small statement; while all the other top seeds in the event were getting upset left and right, Ito was able to stay steady take care of business. If everyone has similar showings in WTT Star Contender event, Ito can make the case for why she is arguably the ONLY serious threat to Chinese supremacy at the Tokyo Olympics.

Game 1

Ito opened the match very aggressively, which initially cost her as she missed several aggressive forehand smashes to go down 7-3. However, her shots suddenly started landing and went on a 8-2 run to take the game 11-9. Save for a net ball when down 7-4 (which itself was in the middle of an offensive rally), all of Ito’s last eight points were won off of aggressive wide openings or ambitious forehand smashes. Both the points she lost were a result of her missing her own forehand smash.

Game 2

Ito’s aggressive style carried into game 2, but thanks to a couple early service and return errors and a missed smash, Hayata was able to open up an early 5-3 lead that could have been larger if not for a couple of her own easier backhand errors.

Ito then won four points in a row to take a 7-5 lead. Two of these points followed the same strategy of allowing Hayata to open with her backhand against a short ball to the center and then smashing the ball back hard for the winner after anticipating its location.

Ito would use the same play again at 8-7 to maintain a 9-7 lead. Ito then surprised Hayata with a short push; Hayata rushed when stepping in and flicked the ball into the net, giving Ito three game points at 10-7. Ito missed a forehand smash to cut it to 10-8, but Hayata then missed a forehand flick on the serve return to lose the game 11-8.

Game 3

Similar to game 1, Ito continued to be aggressive and go for hard and wide forehand smashes, but missed several of them. Hayata also added some extra twists to her short game including a half-long push at 3-2 and a surprise forehand flick at 6-3 that, combined with Ito’s errors, were enough for Hayata to go up 9-3.

Ito was able to win two points on her own serve to cut it to 9-5. Hayata then served long to Ito’s elbow but missed the block when Ito stepped around to smash it to her backhand. On the very next point, Hayata trusted her long serve and anticipation again as she served a long serve again to Ito’s elbow, but this time a little further to the backhand, and when Ito stepped around and hit it to Hayata’s backhand, Hayata was ready for a wide block to Ito’s forehand for the winner.

Ito was able to catch Hayata with a long serve on the next point, but Hayata’s surprised return carried some weird spin and neither player seemed to know what was on the ball for a couple shots before Ito went for the smash and hit it out the table, giving game 3 to Hayata 11-6.

Game 4

Hayata showed some great anticipation and killed several of Ito’s openings as she built a 6-3 lead. However, Hayata then missed her own serve, lost a weird point after a net ball, and then lost a great rally to level it at 6-6. However, Hayata was unfazed as she continued to show great anticipation and smack down many of Ito’s openings and fool Ito with her long serves to cruise to an 10-7 lead.

However, a winning serve return from Ito and a missed serve return by Hayata cut the lead to 10-9. Ito calmly asked for her second “covid timeout” of a game (i.e. where a player effectively gets an extra mini-break by asking the umpire to “wipe down” the table), and what appeared to be a rattled Hayata then called a real timeout.

Hayata then opened with a chiquita to Ito’s wide backhand and then hit a hard wide backhand winner against the soft return to take the game 11-9.

Game 5

Neither player was able to take control the pace of the game like Ito in games 1 and 2 or Hayata in games 3 and 4. Ito had the slight edge in rallies, allowing her to build 8-6 lead. It was around at this point that both players appeared to bust out their bags of tricks.

Hayata won a point off a tricky half-long serve, and Ito took the next point with a short, high, and very strange chop block that Hayata hit into the net. Hayata then won the next point with a strawberry flick to cut the lead to 9-8. Each player then won a point off the third ball following great anticipation, resulting in a 10-9 lead for Ito with Hayata to serve. Ito then opted for a short push instead of the backhand flick that Hayata was expecting on the serve return, and Hayata missed the following push as Ito eked out a clutch 11-9 win in a pivotal game 5.

Game 6

Game 6 got off to a strange start. Hayata first won a beautiful rally before missing her own serve to level it at 1-1. Ito then caught a net ball and a pretty wide block to take a 3-1 lead. Hayata then proceeded to serve long on all four of her next four serves and lost all four points. However, Ito returned the favor by losing four straight of her own serves, including a missed serve.

Hayata was able to get narrow the lead one more point to 7-6 with a deep push to Ito’s backhand before dropping the next point to g o down 8-6. Hayta then missed a serve return and then lost the next point after Ito got a net ball, giving Ito quadruple match point at 10-6. Hayata’s shoulders slumped in frustration, and although it looked like she had gathered herself together for the next point, her serve was a bit high, and Ito killed the serve with a wide punch to Hayata’s forehand.

This sequence capped off a 5-0 streak for Ito in what was otherwise a close and unpredictable game. She thus took the match 4-2, and with it, the first ever WTT title (WTT Macau does not count because the rules were a complete gimmick).

Notes

On the men’s singles side, Dimitrij Ovtcharov captured the title with a 4-1 win over Lin Yun-Ju.

Ito missed three of her own serves and Hayata missed two. It’s unclear why whether the large number of missed serves was due to nervousness, rustiness, or a change in routine due to covid restrictions (e.g. no touching the table).

Either Ito sweats a lot or she really likes making use of the so-called covid timeout.

Edges and Net previously released a rudimentary statistical analysis of the Hayata vs Ito match-up. We will shortly follow up on how these trends held at WTT Doha in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

The outfits this time were significantly better than whatever they were wearing at the All Japan National Championships in January, which can be seen in our Instagram post below. Between these National Championship outfits and Harimoto’s tendency to dress like a fruit with his monochromatic color schemes, Edges and Nets is not a huge fan of Team Japan’s fashion choice.

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WTT Doha Day 2 Recap and Day 3 Preview

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

WTT Doha has wrapped up day two of action in the men’s and women’s singles event. We summarize the results and highlight matches to watch in Day 3.

Women’s Singles Day 2 Recap

It was a great day for Japan’s lower ranked women and a terrible day for Japan’s Olympic women’s team. as Hina Hayata upset third seed Japanese star Kasumi Ishikawa 3-2 and Miyuu Kihara upset Bernadette Szocs 3-1. Fourth seed Miu Hirano fell to Mengyu Yu deuce in the fifth.

Jeon Jihee took care of business against Maria Tailakova and is now the only top eight seed remaining on the bottom half of the draw.

Suh Hyowon’s struggles against domestic competition continues as Yang Haeun slaughtered her 3-0 to set up a quarterfinal match-up with Mima Ito.

Women’s Singles Day 3 Preview

Top seed Mima Ito and sixth seed Jeon Jihee are now the only remaining seeded players in the tournament. Their quarter-final match-ups are probably most intriguing and provide a twisted preview of a potential Korea vs Japan semi-final in the Olympic team event.

Jeon has a clear path to the finals starting with her quarterfinal against Japan’s Miyuu Kihara (who have outperformed the two lower ranked members of Japan’s Olympic team) on Day 3.

Mima Ito also has a clear path to the finals starting with her quarterfinal match against Korea’s Yang Haeun (who has also outperformed the two lower ranked member of Korea’s Olympics team).

Normally, we aren’t super interested in doubles, but Japan’s Olympic team will face off against Japan’s JV team, which has so far clearly outperformed the Olympic team, in a semi-final between Kasumi Ishikawa/Miu Hirano and Hina Hayata/Miyuu Kihara.

Men’s Singles Day 1 Recap

Calderano defeated An Jaehyun 3-1, including 5-0 runs to close out each of the final three games. A full recap is available here. He will play against former German Bundesliga teammate Simon Gauzy in the quarterfinals.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov saved several game points to win a critical third game against Emmanuel Lebesson and then cruised to a 3-1 victory in the fourth game. He will face Mattias Falck in the quarterfinals, who comfortably beat fellow Swede Kristian Karlsson 3-0 in the round of 16.

In a potential Olympic team semi-final preview, Tomokazu Harimoto dispatched of Lee Sangsu 3-1 and will then face lower ranked Korean Cho Daesong in the quarterfinals.

Lin Yun-Ju appears to be getting back into rhythm as he won comfortably against Sharath Achanta and in the quarterfinals will face off against Quadri Aruna, who eked out a 3-2 win over Joao Geraldo.

Andreas Levenko lost 3-2 to Cho Daesong in a match plagued by officiating controversy and Levenko’s poor sportsmanship. A full recap is can be found here.

Men’s Singles Day 2 Preview

The two more interesting quarter-final matchups are probably Gauzy vs Calderano, which is a potential Olympic quarter-final or round of 16 preview, and Ovtcharov vs Falck, which is also a potential Olympic round of 16 preview.

Where to watch

Matches on Table 2, 3, and 4 will be live streamed on ITTF/WTT’s Youtube Channel, although viewers in certain countries had problems watching them live on Day 1. Full match recordings are expected to be available the next day.

Table 1 will be broadcast on the official World Table Tennis website (subject to media rights restrictions). A free account registration is needed. There is live commentary, but sadly Adam Bobrow is not involved.

Since Table 1 matches are unavailable for viewing if you don’t watch it live, Edges and Nets will be live blogging and providing full recaps of certain Table 1 matches.

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Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and ITTF’s Youtube Channel.

WTT Doha Day 1 Recap and Day 2 Preview

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

WTT Doha has wrapped up day one of action in the men’s and women’s singles event. We saw top seeds fall or come close to falling in both events.

Women’s Singles Day 1 Recap

In the women’s singles event, second seed Cheng I-Ching (WR 8) lost 3-1 to Bernadette Szocs (WR 26). Szocs just gave Kasumi Ishikawa a massive gift; since Cheng only gets four ranking points from this event, Kasumi Ishikawa will have an easier path to passing Cheng on the world rankings and taking the fourth seed at the Tokyo Olympics (after all the confusion over WTT’s draw process, the fourth seed may or may not matter greatly). However, Cheng’s current lead in the world ranking is still large enough that Ishikawa still needs to make two deep runs at WTT Doha.

Ishikawa (WR 9) herself almost suffered a first-round upset herself as she was pushed to five games by thirteenth seed Lily Zhang (WR 30). Co-patriot and top seed Mima Ito also received a first round scare, going five games to twelfth seed Britt Eerland (WR 28). Szocs, Zhang, and Eerland were three of the biggest victims of WTT’s sudden decision to only seed the top eight players, because they had to face a top-3 seed instead of a bottom 16 seed as under the previous rules. However, WTT ended up getting what it wanted in the form of three exciting round of 32 matches and one first-round major upset. Hopefully, the round of 16 remains just as exciting.

Elsewhere in the draw, Margaryta Pesotska (WR 32) upset eighth seed Adriana Diaz (WR 19), and sixth seed Feng Tianwei (WR 12) fell to Suthasini Sawettabut (WR 41). A total of three top eight seeds have thus bowed out in the first round of the women’s singles event.

Along with Cheng, the rest of Taiwan’s women’s team also bowed out early; Chen Szu-Yu (WR 25) lost to Suh Hyo-won (WR 21) 3-1, and Jeon Jihee (WR 15) took care of business against Cheng Hsien-Tzu (WR 57).

Women’s Singles Day 2 Preview

While the top seeds all faced tough competition on Day 1, the round of 16 match-ups will be slightly easier for them as they mostly face lower ranked players than in the round of 32. However, there are also plenty of interesting matches among the lower seeds.

Now that Szocs has upset Cheng I-Ching and eliminated the highest ranked player between her and the finals, she will face off against Miyuu Kahara (WR 49), who previously defeated Miu Hirano at the All Japan National championships this January.

Pesotska will continue her push to become a top 16 seed at the Tokyo Olympics (a top 16 seed earns European players auto-qualification into the Olympics) against lower ranked Shan Xiaona (WR 43).

Suh Hyowon (WR 21) will face off against co-patriot Yang Haeun (WR 81). Yang has upset 2021 Olympian and fellow Korean Choi Hyojoo in the qualification round, and she also beat Suh at the Korean Olympic Trials earlier this year. Yang will be looking to extend her good performance in Doha, while Suh gets the opportunity to redeem her abysmal performance at the Korean Olympic Trials, in which she finished near the bottom.

Men’s Singles Day 1 Recap

Liam Pitchford (WR 15) lost to Andreas Levenko (WR 144), who has now pulled off several consecutive upsets starting from the qualification draw. Pitchford suffered a minor hand injury last week that affected his performance in Day 1, but he hopes to be fully recovered by WTT Star Contender. Edges and Nets provided a full recap of the match here.

Players seeded 9-16 who had to play higher seeds did not fare as well as their female counterparts. Tomokazu Harimoto (WR 5) beat Chuang Chih-Yuan (WR 26) 3-0, Simon Gauzy (WR 20) beat Jonathan Groth (WR 30) 3-0, and Lee Sangsu (WR 22) defeated Robert Gardos (WR 24) 3-1.

Elsewhere in the draw, Lin Yun-Ju (WR 7) shared the struggles with the rest of team Taiwan (along with the women’s team and Chuang Chih-Yuan, Chen Chien-An also suffered an early exit in the qualification round) as he was pushed to five games in his first-round match against Benedikt Duda (WR 38). In a weird turn of events, Wang Yang had to default his match to Joao Geraldo due to violations of COVID restrictions.

Men’s Singles Day 2 Preview

Tomokazu Harimoto will play Lee Sangsu in a likely preview of the men’s team semi-final event at the Tokyo Olympics. Harimoto has had a difficult year so far, losing to lower ranked Japanese players both in the All Japan National Championships and the Japanese T-League. A loss to a lower ranked international rival may be an even bigger blow to his confidence.

Cho Daesong (WR 141) will face off against Levenko, and both players have to be excited that they are playing someone outside the top 100 in the round of 16. Cho is only 18, and he had a high profile win over An Jaehyun (WR 39) and pushed Jeoung Youngsik (WR 13) to seven games at the recent Korean Olympic Trials.

An Jaehyun himself also has a history of upsetting higher ranked players, and he looks to extend that history in his round of 16 match-up against Hugo Calderano.

Joao Geraldo (WR 93) gets his first match of the main draw against Quadri Aruna (WR 20). Given how all of Team Taiwan (including Lin) has struggled so far, Aruna has a great opportunity to make a run to at least the semi-finals. However, nothing is worse for a player’s performance than thinking too far ahead in the future.

Lin will also get the chance to get back into groove in his round of 16 match-up against Sharath Achanta (WR 32).

Where to watch

Matches on Table 2, 3, and 4 will be live streamed on ITTF/WTT’s Youtube Channel, although viewers in certain countries had problems watching them live on Day 1. Full match recordings are expected to be available the next day.

Table 1 will be broadcast on the official World Table Tennis website (subject to media rights restrictions). A free account registration is needed. There is live commentary, but sadly Adam Bobrow is not involved.

Since Table 1 matches are unavailable for viewing if you don’t watch it live, Edges and Nets will be live blogging and providing full recaps of certain Table 1 matches. For Day 2, we will be covering An Jaehyun vs Hugo Calderano at 13:00 Greenwich time. Check back our website for more. We were not able to do any live recaps of Day 1 due to issues viewing the live Youtube stream, but expect things to go better this time around.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated.

Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and ITTF’s Youtube Channel.

WTT Doha’s Main Draw Sparks Outrage

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

This is a developing story and will be updated as ITTF /WTT presents more information.

WTT/ITTF has released the main draw for WTT Contender at WTT Doha, and by far the biggest thing that stands out is the unfairness of the draw. Certain round of 32 match-ups will feature two players who should be seeded in the top 16, while other match-ups will feature two unseeded players from the qualifying draw. WTT has so far released no explanation or press release to explain the sudden change in the drawing process.

Update: WTT has explained the draw system on Instagram. All seeds outside of the top eight were treated randomly. Seeds five through eight are still treated equally and will be randomly matched up with a top four seed in the quarterfinals. The goal is to “introduce new innovations” and make matches “unpredictable”. It appears that both players and fans were largely unaware of the rule change until today, when the draws were released and the explanation was posted. However, national governing bodies were apparently made aware of the change at the start of the tournament

Who is getting screwed over by the rule change?

In the women’s singles, in the round of 32, which in principle should feature top 16 seeds versus bottom 16 seeds, eleventh seed Bernadette Szocs will play second seed Cheng I-Ching, twelfth seed Britt Eerland will face top seed Mima Ito and thirteenth seed Lily Zhang will face third seed Kasumi Ishikawa. Needless to say, Britt Eerland is not happy.

If any of Ito, Cheng, or Ishikawa suffer an upset, she will almost have some words to say about the draw as well.

In the men’s singles, in the round of 32, ninth Lee Sangsu will be facing off against tenth seed Robert Gardos, thirteenth seed Chuang Chih-Yuan will have to play top seed Tomokazu Harimoto, fourteenth seed Jonathan Groth has to play seventh seed Simon Gauzy, thirteenth seed Kristian Karlsson will play fifteenth seed Darko Jorgic.

Looking Past the First Round

After the first round, things look to be a bit more reasonable. In the women’s singles, Kasumi Ishikawa has to be happy that she drew Cheng I-Ching in the semi-finals, giving her a chance to defeat Cheng in the semi-finals and take the fourth seed from her. In the men’s singles, Lin Yun-ju should also be satisfied that he drew Hugo Calderano in the semi-finals for similar reasons.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated.

Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and the ITTV channel or ITTF’s Youtube Channel.

16-Year Old Shin Yubin Becomes Youngest Ever Korean Olympic Table Tennis Player

16-year old Shin Yubin (WR #94) won the qualification tournament to represent South Korea in the women’s singles table tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics. She is the youngest ever Korean Olympic table tennis player, breaking the record previously held by an 18-year old Ryu Seungmin in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She will be 17 at the start of the Olympics. Despite only being the the fourth highest ranked player, Shin (WR #94) went undefeated in the second round robin and only dropped one match to lower ranked Lee Zion (WR #106) in the first round robin.

Shin will be representing Korea in the women’s singles even alongside Jeon Jihee (WR #15), who qualified directly via world rank. The third member to represent Korea in the woman’s team event will be selected by the national team coaches (most likely sooner rather than later). Suh Hyowon (WR #21) is the highest ranked remaining woman by far (the next highest would be WR #64 Choi Hyojoo), and is thus likely to be picked for seeding purposes, but she had an abysmal qualification tournament, finishing outside of the top three.

Feb 21 Update: Choi Hyojoo has been selected for the team event. Jang Woojin, Lee Sangsu, and Jeoung Youngsik will represent South Korean in the team event.

Korean Olympic Trials Day 4: Lee Sangsu Qualifies for 2021 Tokyo Olympics

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Lee Sangsu had qualified for the men’s singles event. The trials in fact were only for the team event. Jeoung Youngsik has been confirmed by ITTF to play the men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Lee Sangsu won both his remaining day 4 matches against Lim Jonghoon and Jeoung Youngsik and qualified for the Olympics. He will represent Korea at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Jang Woojin, who qualified directly via world rank. Lee’s qualification for the Olympics has also been verifed by several Korean sources. At the time of this posting Day 4 matches can be watched on the KTTA TV Youtube channel, but they may remove the streams from their channels later (they did so for the first three days). The final results of second leg of the round robin were:

Jeoung YoungsikLee SangsuAn JaehyunLim JonghoonCho
Daesong
2nd RR Record2nd RR Place
Jeoung Youngsik (WR #13)N/A2-42-44-1Win (unverified)2-23
Lee Sangsu (WR #22)4-2N/A2-44-14-23-12
An Jaehyun (WR #39)4-24-2N/A4-14-14-01
Lim Jonghoon (WR #71)1-41-41-4N/A4-01-34
Cho Daesong (WR #141)Loss (unverified)2-41-40-4N/A0-45

The final method to determine who would go to the Olympics was to assign a player five points for winning a round robin, four points for winning second, three points for winning third, two points for winning fourth, and one point for winning fifth. The final results across both round robins were thus given by:

1st RR Record1st RR Points2n RR Record2nd RR PointsTotal PointsFinal Ranking
Jeoung Youngsik2-242-2373
Lee Sangsu3-153-1491
An Jaehyun2-234-0582
Lim Jonghoon2-221-3244
Cho Daesong1-310-4125

Although Jeoung, An, and Lim all had 2-2 records in the first round robin, the final rankings for the round robin went Jeoung second, An third, and Lim fourth based on the number of games won in the three way tie. Thus, An only had three points in the first round robin, allowing Lee to eke out a 9-8 advantage in tournament points and qualify for the Olympics. In an ironic twist of fate for An (who was undefeated against Jeoung and Lee), had the round robin only consisted of Jeoung, Lee, and An, then An would have won the qualification event as he was undefeated against both Jeoung and Lee.

Note: in our previous recap of An Jaehyun’s victory over Lee Sangsu made the incorrect assumption that final rankings would be determined by overall record and as a result stated that An Jaehyun controlled his own destiny. While An did eventually tie Lee for best overall match record and held the head-to-head tiebreaker, the ranking system described above ended up favoring Lee.

The final spot in the Olympics will be determined by coach’s selection (likely sooner than later) and will only play in the team event. Korea likely will select Jeoung for seeding purposes as they fight with Germany and Japan for the second seed and a guarantee to not play China until the finals in the team event. Selecting Jeoung over An also puts Korea in a comfortable position to hold at least a fourth seed, thus avoiding China until at least the semi-finals and giving themselves a path to a medal without defeating China.

One of the downsides of the round-robin format is the potential for anti-climatic finishes. This was the case for Day 4 of the Olympic trials as Jeoung had already been eliminated from contention by the time he played his final match with Lee. As a result, there will be no match recap in today’s post.