by Kabir Nagpal & James Francis
When and where is the Women’s World Cup happening?
Weihai, in China is the home for the forthcoming Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup. It will be staged from Sunday 8th to Tuesday 10th November.
Played in a three-day period, intense action and high-quality matches from start to finish await; no quiet introduction, adaptation to the environment must be immediate. The pressure is on the shoulders of those who compete from the very start and there is only minimal margin for error. If any.
The venue for the proceedings is the Weihai Nanhai Olympic Sport Centre. The total prize fund is USD 250,000; for the winner USD 60,000 and for the runner-up USD 40,000.
Who are the star players on show?
The withdrawal through injury of Liu Shiwen (China), the reigning World champion and record-holding five-time Women’s World Cup champion, has allowed compatriot and WR 1 Chen Meng to enter the action. Chen Meng is setting her sights on the trophy that she has yet to win in her stellar career to date. Her greatest competition for the title comes in the form of WR 2 Mima Ito (Japan).
Among the players to have qualified via the continental cups, there are Dina Meshref (Egypt), who holds the record of eight Africa Cup titles; Petrissa Solja (Germany), winner of back-to-back Europe Cup titles; Sofia Polcanova (Austria), Europe’s highest-ranked female player at WR 14; Adriana Diaz (Puerto Rico), winner of back-to-back Pan America Cup titles; and Lily Zhang (USA), the 2019 ITTF Breakthrough Star and one of the standout players at last year’s Women’s World Cup in which she reached the semi-finals.
Since the Asia and Oceania Cups were unable to be held due to COVID-19, players have been selected according to world ranking with many more familiar faces set to enter the action, such as Zhu Yuling (China), Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan), Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei) and Feng Tianwei (Singapore). Meanwhile, Melissa Tapper (Australia) replaces compatriot Lay Jian Fang.
Additionally, Bernadette Szocs (Romania) enters as the wild card, while Suthasini Sawettabut (Thailand) qualifies as the original host player, since the event got moved from Bangkok to China.
Click here to see the full list of players for the 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup.
How have players qualified?
Due to the length period of inactivity owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual qualification system with the Continental Cups and World Championships has had to be adjusted.
There are 21 players competing at this year’s World Cup, many of whom have qualified either as World Champion or via completed continental events (Africa, Europe and Pan America). The other players were selected by world ranking from the other continents (Asia and Oceania) as well as the whole world according to the provisional World Cup playing system.
The Asia players list is in accordance with the original list for the 2020 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. The remainder of players have been selected as new entries to replace athletes unable to take part in the events.
This change was sanctioned by the ITTF Executive Committee, who decided to allow more flexibility for the entry procedure, increasing the quota to 21 players per event, due to the timelines afforded to the players to enter the events and certain changes to the conditions of the event series, as well as last-minute changes to some league matches.
In addition, the Wild Card direct entry is still in play, with the ruling being that entries cannot be more than two players from a single association.
For the complete qualification system, click here.
What’s the order of play?
As for the order of play, seeding is organised according to the latest available World Rankings. The overall tournament consists of two stages – group stage and the main draw.
The top eight names receive a direct entry to the main draw; those ranked no.9 to no.21 (13 players) compete in the initial phase; three groups of three players, one group of four players.
The players ranked 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th will be in groups A, B, C and D respectively. Players ranked 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th will be drawn randomly into the second position of each preliminary group. The remaining players ranked 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st will be drawn randomly into the third position in each preliminary group with the remaining player drawn randomly into the fourth position in any of the preliminary groups.
If there are two players from the same association, they will be drawn into separate groups. Next, the top two finishers of each preliminary group shall join the top eight seeded players in the second stage of the competition.
For the complete technical details of the draw, click here.
When do we know the final groups?
Finally, the first stage group draw will take place on Saturday, 7th November at 16:00 local. The location for the draw shall be Weihai Blue Lake (Lanhu) Hotel; a press conference will follow.
The main draw will be held at the Weihai Nanhai Olympic Sport Centre on Sunday 8th November 2020 at 19:45 local time, after the conclusion of the group stages.
For the complete schedule, click here.
Can I watch it at home?
Absolutely! Here’s all the information you need for your local listings.