December 8, 2019

Ending the Year in Grand Fashion: World Tour Grand Finals Preview

(by Steve Hopkins)

The World Tour’s last 2019 stop is the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals that will be played next week in Zhengzhou, China.

The seedings for the World Tour Grand Finals are a little different from a normal tour event.  The seedings are based upon Tour events only.  This eliminates some of the advantages players enjoy who participate in a high number of ITTF sanctioned events – and while it doesn’t change the rankings of the World’s best, it has affected the order of the list, and created a surprise or two.

The Top 10 players are all present.  The order of the top four Chinese players are slightly different (Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan have swapped seeding positions in the third and fourth slots).  Hugo Calderano is also seeded two slots lower, and Mattias Falck is four spots lower.  Perhaps more importantly, World No. 12 and No. 13 (Koki Niwa and Woojin Jang) are not seeded in the Top 16, so unless a player withdraws, neither will participate.  Wang Chuqin, World No. 16 and 2019 Swedish Open Champion, is the other top ranked player who will not be in the draw, but his absence is due to injury.

The beneficiaries of the three top 16 players who are not in the 16-player draw for the Grand Finals are Youngsik Jeoung, Wong Chun Ting, and Zhao Zihao.  Jeoung accumulated points with Semifinal appearances at both the Korean Open and German Open, Wong Chun Ting was a Quarterfinalist at the Austrian Open and the China Open, and China’s Zhao Zihao (World No. 29) jumped over fifteen players because of his second-place finishes at the Austrian Open and the Bulgarian Open.

The draw has not been posted yet, so the exact path of each player is uncertain (except that Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong will each anchor one half of the draw).  What is certain, is that every match will be closely contested as each player in the draw has had great results this year against the World’s best.

Check in at starting Thursday for updates on the progress of this event and other events.

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