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2021 WTT Doha Preview Part 1: A Further Look At ITTF’s Rebrand Towards WTT

This post is the first post in a series of posts previewing the 2021 World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub (also known as the Qatar Open or WTT Doha) coming March 3-13. A complete summary of all of our coverage of WTT Doha 2021 can be found at this page.

The 2021 World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub (also known as the Qatar Open or WTT Doha) will be happening in early March, and we will be releasing a set of blog posts this week going over who is playing, what’s at stake for each of the players, and potential match-ups to watch out for. However, before we get started, today we will take a look at the tournament format and major differences with previous iterations of the Qatar Open. Notably, the event has been split into two tournaments and all matches until the quarterfinals will now be three out of fives instead of four out of sevens.

The Great Rebrand

The first obvious difference with previous years is the name. Why is the tournament now named WTT Middle East Hub instead of the ITTF Qatar Open? The change of the first word from ITTF to WTT is part of ITTF’s massive rebrand from the ITTF World Tour to World Table Tennis (WTT), which as covered in a previous post, consists of a completely different set of events with different names, locations, and formats. The name change may present some growing pains for ITTF, because WTT is a commonly used acronym and table tennis appears to be nowhere near the top search results of WTT on Google (although table tennis may soon become the top result) or Instagram (where #wtt appears to be dominated by tattoo pictures).

The rebrand also consists of redesigning visual aesthetics, which means that the tournament may visually look more like the 2020 WTT Macau event instead of the traditional blue/green tables on red flooring. This visual redesign apparently also includes legalizing pink, violet, green, and blue rubbers starting from October 2021. The goal of this choice is to make the sport more visually colorful and to allow players more customization over their racket setup. The move appears to be mainly geared toward getting more casual players interested in the circuit and was overwhelmingly favored by a super-majority of 75% of world delegates in the 2019 Annual General Meeting. However, top fan comments on Instagram did not respond well to the new colors as more traditional club players appeared to associate the brightly colored rubbers with not taking the game seriously.

Event Format: What is different?

The Hub Consists of Two Separate Tournaments

Why is the event named the Middle East Hub instead of the Qatar Open? The Middle East Hub this year actually consists of two independent tournaments held back-to-back: the WTT Contender tournament and WTT Star Contender tournament. Although ITTF may have originally intended for the hub to span across multiple locations in the Middle East for several weeks, due to the pandemic these two tournaments will be held back-to-back in the same location. The second event, WTT Star Contender, will have more prize money and be worth more ranking points, giving it slightly higher stakes.

Restricting Top Players from Entering

In an effort to give lower ranked players more chances to gain ranking points and shine on the bigger stage, ITTF originally intended to restrict WTT Contender events to only allowing two top-20 players and WTT Star Contender events to only allowing four top-20 players. Another possible benefit would be that this balances the star power across multiple events, so we don’t end up with a situation where all the top stars play in one tournament and then in the next tournament no stars play and the fans there are left watching some lesser known players.

However, this year since everything has been condensed into one event, ITTF has expanded the player pool so that WTT Star Contender will include twelve of the top-20 men and eleven of the top-20 women and WTT Contender will include eight out of the top-20 players in each gender. The format from the round of 64 onward appears to be identical for the two tournaments, so we can view WTT Star Contender as essentially an instant rematch after WTT Contender save for a few extra seeds in the five through twelve range.

Switching to Three Out of Fives for Most Matches

The biggest and likely most controversial change in tournament format is that all doubles matches will now be three out of five and all singles matches except the semi-finals and finals will be three out of five. Note that this change only applies to tournaments in the WTT Contender series and major events such as the World Championships should still be four out of sevens throughout. It is not clear whether ITTF will implement this change in this year’s event in Qatar given the increased number of star players invited. ITTF’s stated reason for the change is that: “These [changes] will reinvigorate competitions by making them fairer, more exciting, more competitive and to give fans the opportunity to see more of their favorite players in action in the main draw.”

While switching from a four out of seven format to a three out of five does make things more competitive and allow different fan-favorite players of different nationalities to advance further in the main draw by increasing the chance of an upset, the change is likely to be viewed as less fair since the increased variance can allow the “worse” player to advance more frequently. Whether it is viewed as exciting depends on the preference of the viewer: a casual fan who enjoys chaos, suspense, and parity may prefer the three out-of-fives but a purist who is more interested in seeing the best players win and build their legacies will likely prefer the four out of sevens.

Like the legalization of brightly colored rubbers, the move seems geared towards increasing engagement among casual fans and fans from parts of the world with weaker players. ITTF appears to be making the gamble that more serious and traditional fans will begrudgingly accept the changes and continue to watch. This assessment by ITTF may likely turn out proving correct, but regardless of one’s opinion of the changes, it will take many fans some getting used to.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated. The next post in this series will go over X-Factors, meaning lower ranked players with large potential to upset higher seeds, in the tournament and will be posted on Wednesday, February 10 (North American timezone).

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
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.

Timo Boll Interview With German Newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung

Timo Boll recently did an interview with the German Newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung. We provide a rough translation (courtesy of Google Translate) of the interview. Additional notes for clarity were inserted in italics.

When Timo Boll comes to Maberzell [a table tennis club], a full house is guaranteed. The coronavirus lockdowns prevent this. Instead of signing autographs, the 39-year-old table tennis superstar from Borussia Düsseldorf [a table tennis club] takes time for an interview and to discuss personal matters.

At 16 you still have dreams. How about 39?

Ambition is definitely there. However, every day is no longer the same as the next. Sometimes I’m just the same and full of energy. Then there are days when I wake up and it pinches all over the place. I am currently in a very good phase. I feel like I can definitely fight for medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

How much are the corona restrictions hindering the preparations for your sixth Olympic Games in Tokyo?

Not particularly. I play a lot of Bundesliga games and can go through my training program during the week. For me as an older player, it is not so problematic not to fly around the world to play in international tournaments. So I have my routine and do not need to constantly change time zones and temperatures. That’s good for me.

Then there will definitely be more time for your family.

Yes, I’ve never been home for so long in one go. Our Champions League bubble in Düsseldorf – that was nine or ten days – felt like forever. Otherwise that was the standard. I was on the road for one to three weeks at a time and had the suitcases brought to the airport to have fresh laundry again. Now I get something from my daughter’s childhood. That’s why I don’t want to complain too much.

Your daughter Zoey is seven years old. Who is responsible for homeschooling?

I’ll do it.

Do you have the peace and quiet you need?

Yes, but sport makes me a perfectionist. I sometimes find myself having high expectations of her after all. I really have to pull myself out at times.

Would you be a born elementary school teacher?

I would have to re-educate myself a bit. As a competitive athlete, I am very meticulous and almost obsessed with details. You can’t be in elementary school. If the E or O is not so nicely curved, you have to look over it without having a fit. This meticulousness made me so good as an athlete and is perhaps a weakness as a teacher.

Your hairstyle fits. What’s the secret?

I am very lucky that my wife is a trained hairdresser. She hasn’t worked for 15 years, but she hasn’t forgotten how to do it. So I’m happy to have the cut now without doing something that is forbidden [by covid restrictions].

You radiate calm. Can you get mad at anything?

We have just had a young puppy again. It’s ten weeks old and full of energy. If he bites a table or chair leg for the 25th time, I really have to keep my composure. It tingles inside me.

Athletes are welcome guests on a wide variety of television formats. Would you consider a job in the jungle camp, at Let’s Dance or the ultra-hard sports show Eternal Heroes?

The Eternal Heroes was partly a very funny show with a couple of very good challenges. The other is just too extreme. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the type of person who wants to be the center of attention. And that’s what these shows are made for.

Are there plans for a life after an active career?

Of course, you make a few thoughts. In my head I’m still too much an athlete and table tennis player. I still enjoy it too much. The thought of it hurts me. I am grateful that things are still going so well at this high level. I will try to drag out the end of my career as long as possible. There will probably never be anything more that I can do so well and that I enjoy so much. I’ll probably have to be dragged off the record at some point.

An Jaehyun Defeats Lee Sangsu 4-2 on Day 3 Of Korean Olympic Trials

Day 3 of action at the Korean Olympic Trials has completed. Today was the first day of the second round robin between Jeoung Youngsik, Lee Sangsu, An Jaehyun, Lim Jonghoon, and Cho Daesong. The results from this round robin and the first round robin, which was won by Lee Sangsu, will be combined to determine who will represent South Korea alongside Jang Woojin, who was selected via world rank, in the table tennis men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics. KTTA streamed the matches of all three tables (update: KTTA later made these links unavailable to the public): Table 1, Table 2, Table 3. Based on these streams, here are the current results from Day 3 of the Korean Olympic Trials.

Jeoung YoungsikLee SangsuAn JaehyunLim JonghoonCho DaesongRR 2 RecordRR 1 RecordTotal RecordPlace
Jeoung Youngsik (WR #13)N/A4-11-02-23-23
Lee Sangsu (WR #22)N/A2-44-21-13-14-22
An Jaehyun (WR #39)4-2N/A4-14-13-02-25-21
Lim Jonghoon (WR #71)1-41-4N/A0-21-31-55
Cho Daesong (WR #141)2-41-4N/A0-22-22-44

The critical match from today’s action was An Jaehyun’s 4-2 victory over Lee Sangsu. Assuming Olympic qualification is based on the combined final record across both round robins (Update: this assumption turned out to be incorrect, as the metric used for qualification ended up being placement in each round robin and not number of total matches won. Lee would go on to qualify for the Olympics even though An won his remaining matches.), with the victory over Lee Sangsu (and an ensuing victory over Lim Jonghoon), An Jaehyun controls his own destiny, meaning that if he wins his final match against Jeoung Youngsik then he will qualify for the Olympics. The match was both high-stakes and thrilling, as An Jaehyun nearly blew a 9-1 lead in the sixth game and required five match points before finally taking the match. We recap the match below. The match begins five hours into KTTA’s Table 1 stream.

Match Recap

Game 1

Neither player could get an advantage for the first half of the game as both player exchanged points over short rallies from strong openings and some regrettable errors from each player. Among these errors was a missed serve by An at 6-6 that gave Lee room to build a 10-7 lead. However, Lee would later then make two critical errors of his own as he caught a net ball at 10-9 but missed the next ball after an out-of-position An gave a soft and high return, and then he missed his own serve at 11-10. At 12-11, it was then An’s turn to lose a game point as Lee gave a surprisingly soft serve return to the elbow that An hit into the net with an ugly backhand. Lee tried a backhand flip to the elbow again 12-12, but An was able to step around early and start a forehand-backhand rally that ended in his favor. An again stepped around at 13-12 to receive Lee’s long fast serve to the elbow, and although he stepped around too early and too far and was out of position, he was able to hit a strong forehand loop that Lee was unable to block, giving An the first game 14-12.

Game 2

An continued stepping around more agreessively in game 2 and alternated between getting into in-position forehand-backhand counterloop rallies that favored An and stepping around too early and as a result getting caught out-of-position by wide blocks from a perceptive Lee. However, after the game reached 7-7, Lee misread a pair of short balls and the position of a half-long to his elbow. Combined with a highlight point by An where he slaughtered a soft forehand opening from Lee with a massive backhand swing, Lee dropped four straight points as An took the game 11-7.

Game 3

In game 3, An got off to a hot 7-2 start as Lee missed his own serve and made two challenges to An’s forehand in the form of a slow long serve and a soft block that were both killed by Ab. Challenging An’s forehand turned out to be beneficial for Lee down the road as An would stop stepping around as much against shots to his elbow. Down 2-7, Lee gave started mixing in several suprisingly soft balls (including a chop block against a long serve) with solid attacks to An’s elbow that An either missed or failed to do much against. Lee sprinkled in a pair of highlight-reel worthy forehand counterloops just for good measure as he went on a 9-0 streak, taking the game 11-7.

Game 4

Lee extended his winning streak to 11 points with a pair of wins in the short game. However, An would win a pair of his points of his own in the short game and go on a three point mini-run that eventually resulted in a 6-4 lead. At 4-6, Lee asked the official to wipe down the table, giving himself a mini towel break. As in the third game, although An built up an early lead from failed challenges by Lee to An’s forehand, Lee would control the second half of the game with well-placed attacks to An’s wide backhand and elbow, going on a 7-1 run, with the only lost point being a missed short push on the serve return, to take the fourth game 11-7.

Game 5

Game 5 returned to the less streaky nature of the first game and a half as players exchanged solid openings and small errors. An built and maintained an early two-point lead, getting help from a net ball at 1-1 and a missed serve by Lee at 2-4. At 6-8, Lee appeared to take a small risk as he stepped around early, and when An flicked it right to where Lee’s elbow previously was, Lee was able to start a forehand-backhand rally that ended in his favor. On the next point Lee appeared primed to level the game to 8-8 but An got an impressive block in from a fast loop to his wide forehand, saving the point and maintaining a lead that ended in An taking the game 11-8.

Game 6

Game 6 got off to a rough start for Lee. First, at 0-1 Lee was able to force an out-of-position An into a forehand chop, but missed the follow up loop. Then at 2-0, An clipped the net in a long rally. Down 0-3, Lee then called time out. The timeout had no effect, as An won the next five points off a missed opening by Lee, a pair of misread serves by Lee, and a pair of beautiful counters by An. After exchanging a pair of points, An had what appeared to be a nearly insurmountable 9-1 lead.

However, Lee then won the rally against two long fast serves by An, An popped up a short serve and failed an overly ambitious forehand kill against a fast long serve to the backhand, the next point ended in a rally in Lee’s favor, and suddenly it was 9-6. An took a short table and requested the table to be wiped down, but after the break, An whiffed an ill-advised attempted backhand kill against Lee’s flick to the elbow, shrinking the lead to 9-7. Each player then split a winning forehand loop against a half-long ball to the elbow, bringing the score to 10-8 An. Lee stepped around for an easy kill against a long fast serve to the backhand from An, An missed a third ball half long from the forhehand, and then suddenly it was deuce.

An would get advantage again with a funky soft rally that appeared to have clipped the net, but then missed a counter as Lee saved a fourth match point. An caught what appeared to be another net on the short push serve return at 11-11, forcing Lee to pop up the ball, which An then put away. At 12-11, clearly a bit nervous, An bounced the ball on the table for what felt like ten seconds before serving a net-serve and the promptly calling a time-out. During the next point, An appeared to be in position to lose his fifth match point as he was forced into a chop in the middle of the rally, but he recovered for the strong step-around forehand loop from the backhand corner and won the rally and the game with a score of 13-11.

Final Score

An Jaehyun defeats Lee Sangsu 14-12, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11

Match Notes

  • Lee and An have previously never played each other in an ITTF event
  • As mentioned above, assuming qualification is based on combined record across both round robins, An Jaehyun now controls his own destiny and qualifies for the Olympics by winning his final match again Jeoung Youngsik.
  • Under the same assumption, in order to qualify for the Olympics, Lee Sangsu must both win his remaining matches and hope that either Lim Jonghoon or Jeoung Youngsik beats An. This would give him the best record outright. In a two-way tie, An would win the head-to-head tiebreaker since he beat Lee twice. (Update: This assumption was incorrect)
  • Jeoung Youngsik now also controls his own destiny. If Jeoung wins all his remaining matches (including against An and Lee), he would have the best record outright and qualify for the Olympics.
  • Lim and Cho Daesong appear to have been eliminated from contention

Lee Sangsu defeats Jeoung Youngsik 4-0, Wins 1st Leg of Korean Olympic Trials

Lee Sangsu (WR #22) defeated Jeoung Youngsik (WR #13) 4-0 (11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9) in their final match at South Korea’s Olympic trials on Feb 1, winning the first leg of the Olympic trials for the table tennis men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics (which ITTF insists will happen). The match was streamed live on Korean Table Tennis Association (KTTA) TV’s Youtube channel and can be re-watched here.

The format for the Olympic trials appears to be two 5-way round robins. The player with the best results across both round robins will represent South Korea in the men’s singles event alongside Jang Woojin (WR #11), who directly qualified by virtue of world rank. ITTF caps the number of players in the singles event at two per country, but a third player may also play as part of the team event. This third player will be selected through coach’s selection. (Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lee Sangsu had already secured a spot for himself in the Olympics. This seems to not have been the case (although Lee eventually did win the trials), and we have corrected the error. We apologize for the mistake.)

It is not entirely clear how KTTA defines "best" or if there is a bonus for winning the first round robin. Nevertheless, by being the only player with three wins in the round robin, Lee Sangsu has put himself in the leading position. We were unable to find posted Day 2 results by KTTA, but based on the posted Day 1 results, the matches streamed on Youtube, and fan-made comments, the final standings should look something like this:

Jeoung YoungsikLee SangsuAn JaehyunLim JonghoonCho DaesongRecordPlace
Jeoung Youngsik (WR #13)N/A0-42-44-04-22-22
Lee Sangsu (WR #22)4-0N/A0-4Win4-33-11
An Jaehyun (WR #39)4-24-0N/A3-40-42-23
Lim Jonghoon (WR #71)0-4Loss4-3N/AWin2-24
Cho Daesong (WR #141)2-43-44-0LossN/A1-35

Note that Lee Sangsu’s win over Lim Jonghoon and Lim Jonghoon’s win over Cho Daesong were gathered from fan-made comments, and Edges and Nets has not yet verified these results.

Match Recap

The match was closer than the 4-0 score may indicate as Jeoung had opportunities at winning each of the four games.

Game 1

Whether due to jitters or for another reason, both players got off to a rocky start in the first game. After requesting to switch balls at 2-3, Jeoung Youngsik was still unable to find a rhythm as he failed to win the point on every single one of his first eight serves, including a missed serve at 4-8. Lee Sangsu missed two serves of his own at 4-3 and 10-4; the second missed serve sparked a mini-run from Jeoung as he closed the gap to 10-8. However, at 10-8, Lee served a fast long ball to Jeoung’s elbow, and Jeoung was unable to step around quickly enough and hit the ball out, giving Lee the game 11-8.

Game 2

Lee’s service woes continued into game 2 as he missed a serve at 1-0. Otherwise, he was in complete control of the first half of the game, building an 8-1 lead, with the only lost point being due to the missed serve. However, with a combination of impressive counters by Jeoung and missed aggressive—perhaps too aggressive—openings by Lee, the lead closed to 3-8, 7-9 and then eventually 10-10. At 10-10, Lee again went for the fast long serve, this time wider to the backhand. Jeoung was able to step around for the forehand opening, but was unable to make it back for Lee’s wide block to Jeoung’s forehand. With the advantage, Lee landed a well-placed serve return to Jeoung’s elbow, which he hit into the net, giving Lee the game 12-10.

Game 3

Jeoung opened the game with a solid service game, building an early 4-1 lead. After two missed openings by Lee and a lucky net-ball by Jeoung, Jeoung was able to further extend his lead to 9-4. However, Lee caught an edge of his own at 9-4, and two solid third-balls and a rally later, the lead was down to 9-8. Jeoung called a time-out but to no avail as Lee won the next point anyway. With the serve at 9-9, Lee again went for two long serves to Jeoung’s backhand. Jeoung received both with a safe backhand opening that Lee aggressively took advantage of, capping a 7-0 run and taking the game 11-9.

Game 4

Jeoung started the game with a series of well-placed openings that Lee failed to anticipate well, giving Jeoung an early 5-1 lead. Despite a missed short push and long backhand opening that cut the lead to 5-3, Jeoung was able to maintain the lead until 8-5 before dropping three straight points to level the game at 8-8. With his final pair of serves in the game, Lee again went for the fast long serve to Jeoung’s elbow, which Jeoung promptly killed with the step-around forehand. After a short net-serve at 8-9, Lee again went for the fast long serve, this time wide to the backhand. Jeoung only managed a soft opening that Lee was able to convert into a point in two shots. At 9-9, Jeoung appeared to try to step around slightly early on both his serves, and Lee took advantage both times with two flicks wide to Jeoung’s forehand, taking the game 11-9 and the match 4-0.

Match Notes

  • At 1-0 in the third game, Jeoung Youngsik had to change racquets due to apparent damage along the edge of his rubber
  • Jeoung Youngsik holds a 6-0 record against Lee Sangsu in international competition, with the most recent win being a 4-0 win in the 2018 Australia Open.
  • Both players represented South Korea at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Jeoung Youngsik famously came quite close to beating eventual gold medalist Ma Long in a 2-4 (6-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1, 13-11, 13-11) loss in the round of 16. However, with the rise of the 25-year old Jang Woojin, only one singles spot remains for Jeoung or Lee.
  • 21-year old An Jaehyun (WR #39) upset both Jeoung and Lee but was in turn upset by Lim Jonghoon (WR #71) and Cho Daesong (WR #141), thereby placing him in the middle of the pack. Had An avoided being upset by either Lim or Cho, then he would have won the round-robin.