by Simon Daish
Qualification Complete, Who’s Competing In Liège?
20 competitors have travelled to Liège from across the globe, aiming to impress on the world stage.
Europe will field seven contestants with Alexander Shibaev, Simon Gauzy, Kou Lei and Timo Boll qualifying alongside Dimitrij Ovtcharov from the 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup tournament. Marcos Freitas has been handed a wildcard entry and Cedric Nuytinck qualifies as the host nation representative.
Lin Gaoyuan booked his spot in Liège following his title winning campaign at the 2017 ITTF-Asian Cup and is joined by Lee Sangsu, Chen Chien-An, Jun Mizutani, Jeong Sangeun, Chuang Chih-Yuan and Koki Niwa who also qualified via the continental competition. Ma Long features as World champion.
The rest of the player lineup includes two African representatives Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar, Gustavo Tsuboi and Kanak Jha have qualified from Pan America and rounding off the list of entries is David Powell who sealed his place at the World Cup with a successful campaign at the 2017 ITTF-Oceania Cup.
Three Days Of World Class Action
Proceedings in Liège will be hosted across three days with the opening day seeing the players seeded ninth to 20th being drawn into four equal groups of three players with contestants finishing in the top two positions in each group advancing from stage 1.
The eight players to progress from the group stage will join the top eight seeded competitors in the Round of 16 on day two prior to four quarter-finals encounters.
Day three sees the four remaining players fight it out in the semi-finals, before the tournament closes out with a third-place play-off and the final.
Title Contenders And Players To Watch
Ma Long is no stranger to success at World Cup level having emerged victorious at the 2012 and 2015 editions of the event, and heads to Liège as World champion.
However, the Chinese star won’t have it easy with Rio 2016 Men’s Singles bronze medallist Jun Mizutani and former World no.1 Timo Boll just two of the high-profile names competing for the World Cup.
Another contestant who could potentially throw his hat into the title race is Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu, who famously ousted Grand Slam winner Zhang Jike on his way to a top four finish at this year’s Liebherr 2017 World Championships. Also keep a close eye out for Kanak Jha as the USA teenage star attempts to mix it with the world’s best in Liège.