by Simon Daish
The competitors seeded ninth to 20th have been drawn into four equal groups of three, qualification to the Round of 16 will be awarded to the players who achieve a top two finish in each group.
Lee Sangsu was the highest seeded athlete involved in the group stage draw and has subsequently been placed in Group A with Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna and USA’s Kanak Jha providing the opposition.
While it is difficult to see Lee Sangsu missing out on achieving qualification from the group Kanak Jha and Quadri Aruna will both be looking to put up a good fight, especially the latter player who enters the World Cup with confidence following his successful campaign at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Polish Open earlier in the month.
Portugal’s Marcos Freitas will attempt to secure first position in Group B, but the wildcard entry could face some difficulties along the way after drawing the 13th seed Kou Lei of Ukraine.
David Powell is the third name involved in Group B action and the Australian will be delighted to have been handed the opportunity to do battle with two of Europe’s finest competitors, however, surely the standout fixture of the group sees Marcos Freitas and Kou Lei fight it out in what could potentially decide which player finishes at the top of the table.
Over in Group C Cedric Nuytinck will be hoping that the home fans are in good voice with the Belgian representative set to go head-to-head with Egypt’s Omar Assar and Russia’s Alexander Shibaev on the opening day in Liège.
Seeded 11th and 16th respectively Omar Assar and Alexander Shibaev are the two players expected to negotiate the group, but Cedric Nuytinck did prevail against the Egyptian contestant on home soil last year at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Belgium Open so could we be set to witness another upset when the two players meet in Group B?
Chen Chien-An and Jeong Sangeun have both been placed in Group D, where the Chinese Taipei and Korea Republic representatives will face Pan American champion Gustavo Tsuboi in what is also expected to be a fairly wide open group.