by Kabir Nagpal
First things first, runners up in London and the hosts for next year’s Olympic Games are ready to stage a very important test event. Seeded no.2, Japan will want to have a perfect dress rehearsal for both operations and athletes’ targets – while making sure they push hard to turn last year’s silver into gold.
The 2019 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open winner Tomokazu Harimoto will be the perfect speed demon to attack opponents in Tokyo, while his teammates Maharu Yoshimura and Koki Niwa swing the pace of the match to their liking. There will also be enough experience to complement their youthful exuberance with Jun Mizutani and Takuya Jin completing the line-up.
Having secured the bronze medal at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London, the men’s team for Korea Republic will have seasoned players in the guise of Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu leading the side. Both Youngsik and Sangsu have been efficient in playing together this year and have side by side excelled for Korea Republic.
The full squad will also field Lim Jonghoon as well as Jang Woojin and Cho Daesong, in hopes to boost their world ranking of number four, as well as make a stake for the final team to play at the Olympic Games next year.
Unable to qualify from the group stages in London, this time Sweden will need to cope with the absence of Mattias Falck in Tokyo. The target of leaving a mark on the proceedings in Japan will not waiver no matter the opponents they come across; their grit and ability to turn games around is something for their worthy opponents to take note.
Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson will have 2019 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open champion Anton Källberg for company. Sadly, after suffering a shoulder injury, upcoming prodigy Truls Moregard will not be able to line-up for the world no.5 team. Instead, the right handed attacking player, Elias Ranefur will replace him and bring his ‘crouched Dimitrij Ovtcharov’ backhand style of serving to help his national side.
Previous edition’s hosts, England are about to play in Japan against the very best the sport has to offer. In light of this, they have sent forth a very strong side of their own, hoping to move onto a higher finish than the bronze medal they shared with Korea Republic in 2018.
The world no.9 team includes 19 year old Tom Jarvis alongside Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Sam Walker, the trio that against all the odds secured bronze at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur. Despite the lack of 2018 home support, it would be highly disrespectful for anyone to rule out the English side making a similarly deep venture in this year’s Team World Cup.
Another huge team of European challengers comes from Austria, who did not attend last year’s festivities in London for this tournament. Following their fifth place finish in the Liebherr 2018 World Championships, they are now in the running to cause a major upset from the group stages onwards.
The veteran of multiple European Championships, Robert Gardos leads the line for Austria who will also have the experience of Olympians Daniel Habesohn and Stefan Fegerl, as well as the new under 21 Austrian star Andreas Levenko.
Last but not least, the world no. 7 ranked team, Chinese Taipei will consider themselves strong outsiders if their best athletes are in form in Japan next week. After earning his first ITTF World Tour men’s singles title at the 2019 Czech Open in Olomouc, Lin Yun-Ju will be one to watch out for throughout this tournament.
A ninth place finish at the Liebherr 2018 World Championships, Chinese Taipei is making a return to the Team World Cup this time. They have nothing short of the quarter-finals in their sights. Assisting the efforts of their star Lin, will be his former doubles’ partner Liao Cheng-Ting, 2008 World Junior Championships winner Chen Chien‐An plus youngsters Peng Wang‐Wei and Wang Tai‐Wei.