by Kabir Nagpal
The World Tour Grand Finals return to China and for the first time since 2012 when the tournament was staged in Hangzhou.
Always, the event has provided the most spectacular stage to bring the curtain down on an unforgettable 12 months of action, passion and drama, as the world’s greatest table tennis stars battle it out for the much coveted end of year titles and US$ 1,000,000 total prize purse – the highest on offer in the sport.
In a build up to the showpiece event, the annual ITTF Star Awards – which rewards the best players from the past year – will be held. Awards will be presented awards in the Female and Male Star, Female and Male Para Star, Breakthrough Star, Star Coach and Star Point categories.
What’s on stake?
A total of 16 players will compete in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events. For the men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles competitions, it will be eight pairs.
For the mixed doubles event we have the added incentive of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spots available to the four semi-finalists.
How do the players qualify?
Players finishing in the top 15 positions on the end of year standings qualify for each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events with the proviso of having competed in at least five ITTF World Tour tournaments, this must include at least one ITTF World Tour Platinum event, during the calendar year.
Can Balazova and Matelova strike a surprise unit at the WTGF?
Similarly, the same principle applies in the men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, the top seven pairs qualifying; should the host nation be represented amongst those names then the next eligible pair qualifies. The appearance criteria is being present as a pair in at least four ITTF World Tour events.
In the mixed doubles there is a restriction of one pair per National Olympic Committee.
What’s the playing system like?
Seeding for players and pairs is determined by the final order on the World Tour standings.
All events are conducted on the knock-out formula, men’s and women’s singles best of seven games, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles best of five games.