by Kabir Nagpal
In previous years, the event has provided a most spectacular stage to bring the curtain down on an unforgettable 12 months – and while things are not normal this year, the passion and drama involving the world’s greatest table tennis stars is still set to be a much coveted battle.
The end of year titles will have a US$ 1,000,000 grand total prize purse – the highest on offer in the sport.
The tournament will consist of two main tournaments – men’s singles and the women’s singles.
Who are the stars on show?
In the men’s singles tournament, newly crowned Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup winner Fan Zhendong is the top seed. He is joined by his compatriots Xu Xin (seed no.2), Ma Long (seed no.3) and Lin Gaoyuan (seed no.5).
Bronze medal winner at the Men’s World Cup, Tomokazu Harimoto is seeded fourth and will be looking to replicate his form from December 2018 when he became the youngest ever winner at the ITTF Grand Tour Finals. The Japanese will have compatriot Koki Niwa (seed no. 10) for company at the event, alongside another teenage sensation in Lin Yun-Ju (seed no.7) from Chinese Taipei.
Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin (seed no.14) and Jeoung Youngsik (seed no.11) will look to push on from their good World Cup form and challenge to reach the latter stages of the competition. Other challengers from Europe, South America and Africa will be Mattias Falck (seed no.9), Liam Pitchford (seed no.12), Patrick Franziska (seed no.13), Simon Gauzy (seed no.15), Hugo Calderano (seed no.6) and Quadri Aruna (seed no.16).
For the women’s singles event, world no.1 and first-time World Cup winner Chen Meng leads the line, and has her Chinese colleagues – Sun Yingsha (seed no.3), Wang Manyu (seed no.4) and Wang Yidi (seed no.8)- not too far away.
Mima Ito will want to convert her bronze medal from the Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup into a gold as she is the second seed, her Japanese compatriots Kasumi Ishikawa (seed no.7), Hitomi Sato (seed no.12) and Miyu Kato (seed no.15) might be in her way.
Feng Tianwei (seed no.6), Doo Hoi Kem (seed no.10), Sofia Polcanova (seed no.9) and Petrissa Solja (seed no.14) join the fray in China as dark horses – but count them out at your own risk.
Finally, Cheng I-Ching (seed no.5), Adriana Diaz (seed no.13), Jeon Jihee (seed no.11) and Suh Hyowon (seed no.16) complete an elite line-up of athletes – none of whom are going to settle for anything less than the podium.
How did the players qualify?
A total of 16 players will compete in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events, seeded according to the 2020 April World Rankings in place.
A maximum of four players per association will be allowed and the following rules shall apply:
The men’s and women’s singles –
• Will be conducted as knockout events
• Draw will be conducted according to ITTF regulations
• There will be no separation by association
• All matches shall be the best of seven games