by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The importance of the finish is the draw at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, which commence in Doha on Thursday 8th December; seeding is based on the final positions on the Standings, not on World Ranking.
China’s Ma Long (2,100 points), Fan Zhendong (1,700 points), Xu Xin (1,300 points) and Zhang Jike (1,225 points) in addition to the next in line, Japan’s Jun Mizutani (713 points), are out of reach.
Presently Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who in Austria will be competing in his fifth ITTF World Tour tournament of the year and thus will meet the necessary qualification criteria, is in the no.9 spot (500 points).
Win the Men’s Singles title in Stockholm and that will earn him 200 points; it will put him level with Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan and Vladimir Samsonov who share the no.6 spot (700 points).
Furthermore, securing the title will see him leapfrog Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting (619 points).
None of those eight names currently above Dimitrij Ovtcharov is competing in Stockholm and I suspect he would be more than pleased to avoid any member of the illustrious group in the opening round in Doha. However, if he does not win that will be his fate!
At least Dimitrij Ovtcharov can anticipate an invitation to the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, as can Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.9 seed; he is presently named at no.12 on the Standings (324 points).
It is not the scenario for the names immediately following Dimitrij Ovtcharov on the Stockholm seeding.
Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.2 seed and Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed, need to excel in Stockholm if they are to gain a Doha invitation. Each has an outside chance, on the Standings, Marcos Freitas is at no.19 (225 points), Koki Niwa is three places higher at no.16 (241 points). Fourth in line, China’s Zhou Yu, is making only his second appearance of the year, thus he does not meet the five appearance criteria.
Mathematically, Marcos Freitas and Koki Niwa could gain Doha places as could Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.12 seed and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny, the no.27 seed but it is rather more theory than reality.
On the Standings, Hugo Calderano is at no.21 (200 points), Tomas Konecny is three places higher at no.18 (231 points).
Meanwhile, in the Men’s Doubles event, the partnership of Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima can anticipate an invitation to Doha; they head the list (607 points) and are the top seeds in Stockholm.
Likewise, there is a distinct possibility that the combination of Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth will be Doha bound. They occupy the no.8 spot (350 points) on the Standings but of those outfits that have met the four appearance criteria to qualify for the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, they are two places higher.
In Stockholm they will play in their fourth ITTF World Tour tournament of the year as a pairing and thus will meet the qualification requirements; they occupy the no.6 seeded spot in the competition.
The winners at the recently concluded Hybiome Austrian Open, Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth will be seeking a repeat performance of the previous week in Linz, as will Korea’s Park Ganghyeon in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event.
He is the no.5 seed and one of three players who could reserve a place in Doha, the others being Portugal’s João Geraldo, the top seed and Frenchman, Can Akkuzu, the no.6 seed.
Presently on the Under 21 Men’s Singles Standings, Park Ganghyeon is at no.8 (362 points), Can Akkuzu at no.9 (354 points) and Joäo Geraldo one place lower at no.10 (332 points).
However, all three can consider themselves one place higher; only two excursions Brazil’s Hugo Calderano at no.7 (375 points) cannot meet the appearance requirement of four tournaments in two continents.
Theoretically Can Akkuzu, Joäo Geraldo and Park Ganghyeon can qualify for Doha but they may need a few favours from fellow competitors; the events in Stockholm will decide.