by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In 1990 when the tournament was first staged in Japan, two singles matches, followed by doubles; then two further singles matches formed the full five match schedule.
However, from 1991 in Barcelona until 1995 in Atlanta, the system that which is now generally regarded as the World Championships formula was used; five singles matches, no doubles.
A break of some 12 years ensued before the tournament returned in 2007 in Magdeburg when what is considered the Olympic format was used; one of the major reasons being that the International Olympic Committee had agreed that Men’s Team and Women’s Team events could replace Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles competitions at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games but doubles should appear in the team system.
Thus two singles matches started proceedings, followed by doubles and two singles matches for the full schedule. Three players were named in each team, the order at the discretion of the team captain but no player could compete in more than two matches in each fixture. The order of play was two singles matches, followed by doubles and then two singles. Therefore, one player competed in two singles matches, the other two in one singles and one doubles should the fixture last the full distance.
However, with this system, a player who competed in the doubles would play consecutive matches; either singles followed by doubles or vice versa Therefore a break was needed and the full order of matches was not known until the doubles pairs had been declared.
In London, it is a similar format but with the vital change that the doubles is the first match on the schedule, the next match, the first singles involves the two players who did not compete in the doubles, thus a break is avoided and the full order of play is known from the very start.
The order of play is: BC v YZ (doubles), A v X, C v Z, A v Y, B v X.
Team captains must be present in the Call Area 45 minutes before the fixture is due to start; the toss is made as to which team is ABC, which is XYZ. The team captain then submits his selection in private to the Referee, the submission may be in any order; the players do not have to be named in ranked order.
It is the system proposed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup is very much a test.
First Stage: Men’s Team
Group A: China, Sweden, France
Group B: Japan, England, Egypt
Group C: Germany, Korea, Australia
Group D: Hong Kong, Brazil, United States
First Stage: Women’s Team
Group A: Japan, Egypt, United States
Group B: China, Brazil, DPR Korea
Group C: Hong Kong, Singapore, England
Group D: Chinese Taipei, Romania, Australia