by Wade Townsend
For those of you well versed in the Olympic Games team event, skip ahead to the “What to Watch” section below. But for the less experienced, here is a quick guide to the qualification process and playing format for the team event here in Rio.
The men’s and women’s event is each composed of sixteen teams.
Each continent and also the host nation was eligible for one direct entry in to the teams event.
The remaining places went to NOCs with two singles athletes qualified. However, if more than nine teams were eligible for qualification, then the top nine teams according to the May 2016 ITTF Olympic Team Ranking list qualified.
This system has ensured that the entire globe is well represented here in Rio.
Feeling a little confused? Check out the video explanation below.
A match is composed of four singles and a doubles. Unlike the singles event, these are played best of five games.
A team consists of three players. One will play two singles while the other two will play a singles and doubles.
So the format is:
- A v X
- B v Y
- B-C v Y-Z
- A v Z
- C v X
Following? Here is an example for illustrative purposes:
China versus Germany
- Ma Long v Dimitrij Ovtcharov
- Zhang Jike v Timo Boll
- Zhang Jike – Xu Xin v Timo Boll – Bastian Steger
- Ma Long v Bastian Steger
- Xu Xin v Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
This is truly a dynamic system, particularly with the doubles often providing some surprising results. The format levels the playing field, making sure one strong player cannot dominate, guaranteeing every match is a spirited encounter.
What to watch
First up on day one we have Brazil facing off against China in the women’s team round one. A win for the host nation is unlikely, but what a match for the crowd — hometown heroes versus the most dominant sporting team in the world. In this match also be on the lookout for Liu Shiwen. The number one woman in the world was absent from the singles draw after not being selected by China to compete. She will be looking to stamp her authority and make a strong presence at the Games from the beginning.
Hong Kong up against Chinese Taipei may be the closest women’s match on the first day of play. Being the fifth and ninth seed respectively, they are both an outside chance for a medal, but would definitely see themselves as having a decent shot at semi-final appearance. Chinese Taipei will be looking to Cheng I-Ching to continue her single’s form where she made a quarterfinal appearance, while Hong Kong will be relying on their depth of players to get them over the line.
England and France will play each other in a repeat of the men’s teams quarterfinal match earlier in the year at the World Team Championships in Malaysia. England won that encounter 3-2 and took a bronze medal. In Rio the French team will be looking for revenge in a first round encounter of epic proportions. Watch to see French flair go toe to toe against English tenacity.
The Brazilian men round out the first day of play on day seven when they go up against South Korea. The hosts will be underdogs, but if Hugo Calderano continues his fine form from the single’s event, the home ground advantage may pay dividends if this match goes down to the wire. Be on the lookout for defender Joo Saehyuk’s first appearance in Rio — he is going to give the audience a spectacular show.