by Kabir Nagpal
When and where is the Men’s World Cup happening?
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 ITTF Men’s World Cup will feature 21 of the globe’s top male table tennis players, 18 of which have qualified through their respective Continental Cups, together with the reigning World Champion and two wildcards.
The venue for the proceedings is the Weihai Nanhai Olympic Sport Centre. The total prize fund is US$ 250,000; for the winner US$ 55,000 and for the runner up USD 40,000.
Who are the star players on show?
Considered by many as the greatest table tennis player of all time, Ma Long (China) will be looking to add the 2020 Men’s World Cup to his burgeoning trophy cabinet. “The Dragon” qualifies following his stunning third consecutive World Championships title, sealed last year in Budapest.
Ma is joined by world no.1, Fan Zhendong (China), who lifted the 2019 Men’s World Cup in Chengdu, as well as a number of other top Asian players to have qualified via their world ranking, such as teenage talents, Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), world no.4, just 17 years of age and Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei), world no.7 and 19 years old.
Europe is providing plenty of strength, especially in the form of German pair, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska
Hugo Calderano (Brazil) will be keen to make a big impact following his third straight success at the Pan America Cup. Ahmed Saleh (Egypt) qualifies as this year’s Africa Cup champion, while Quadri Aruna (Nigeria) enters as runner up in the competition.
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 been adjusted.
There are 21 players competing at this year’s tournament, where continental qualification has not been possible owing to COVID-19, world ranking has been considered.
The Asian players’ entry is in accordance with the original list for the 2020 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. All changes were sanctioned by the ITTF Executive Committee, who decided to allow more flexibility for the entry procedure, increasing the quota to 21 players.
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.
In a similar manner, 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 in the fourth position.
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 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 Thursday 12th 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 Friday 13th 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.