WTT Champions Macao 2022 presented by Galaxy Entertainment Group has concluded to resounding applause on Sunday 23 October as Wang Chuqin (CHN) and Sun Yingsha (CHN) were crowned champions. The finals marked the end of an exciting week in the Infinity∞Arena, which were bolstered by the support of the local fans.
Wang Chuqin won the Men’s Singles title defeating World No.1 Fan Zhendong (CHN) 4-3 (11-5, 12-14, 12-10, 8-11, 11-1, 9-11, 11-8) to stand top of the podium on the final day of play. The upset win provides Wang with his first Champions win and his second WTT Series title of the year
“I think everyone, including me, has never expected a result like this,” said Wang. “I was simply getting into the game, fighting point by point and looking to have some breakthroughs during the match. I let myself loose today and I did better at kicking off the match as well as the rallies, which led to the victory. It was unbelievable! Only after you have been through some heart-breaking matches can you gradually find your steps and learn your strengths and weaknesses.”
Playing out an intense match from start to finish, Wang and Fan put on a magnificent show for the spectators and couldn’t be separated after the first six games. Having seen his 3-2 lead disappear, Wang turned the momentum around and made a strong start to the deciding game, claiming the opening six points without reply. Fan gave it his all to reduce the deficit, even saving three championship points to kickstart the nerves for his 22-year-old compatriot. However, Wang dug deep and kept his composure to close out the match, leaving the table with the Men’s Singles title and a huge smile on his face.
Thanks to his efforts this week in Macao, Wang has earned himself a new career high ranking and will be moving up from World No.11 to World No.7 in the next publication of the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings.
The Women’s Singles title followed the script as World No.1 Sun Yingsha beat Chen Xingtong 4-1 (12-10, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10) to grab her first ever WTT Champions trophy.
The final opened in tense fashion with both players showing lightning reflexes, but it was Sun who took the crucial opening game by the narrowest of margins. The top seed extended her advantage with another positive display in game two, but Chen hit back, putting her name on the scoreboard to restore a glimmer of hope. Both finalists continued to delight the Macao crowd with fast paced rallies, but there could only be one winner and it was Sun who was left standing.
“Both me and Chen Xingtong played well and gave our best today,” complimented World No.1 Sun Yingsha. “This match was full of amazing rallies and high-quality attacks and counter. I got many lucky points and I think I was just a little bit lucky today. Overall, I’m delighted to win this match.”
The finale of the second ever WTT Champions was the cap on a blockbuster event. The tournament saw drama from beginning to end as headline grabbing upsets played out throughout the week, legends of the sport made historic showings and rising stars seized the limelight. All this came thanks to the incredible support from Macao. The finals were witnessed by a sellout crowd, while the event saw more than 12,000 people attending during the five days of action. Having now played host to multiple WTT events to enormous success, table tennis truly feels at home in Macao.
Next up in the WTT Series event is the WTT Cup Finals Xinxiang 2022, set to be staged from 27 to 30 October. This marquee event will provide the stage for the best 16 men and women players to battle it out to be crowned champions and take a share of US$1,000,000 in prize money. Both events will feature men’s and women’s competitions held simultaneously, with only a main draw knockout phase, played on just one table, and equal prize money awarded to men and women players.
Mission accomplished, on Sunday 9th October, China, the top seeds, beat Germany, the no.2 seeds, to win the men’s team title at the 2022 ITTF World Team Championships Finals Chengdu Presented by China Telecom.
A 3-0 margin of victory; Fan Zhendong beat Benedikt Duda (11-8, 11-8, 11-9), Ma Long overcame Dang Qiu (11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-1), before Wang Chuqin accounted for Kay Stumper (11-7, 11-8, 11-4) to bring matters to a conclusion.
China secured the title for the 10th consecutive occasion, the 22nd time in their illustrious history.
It was yet another landmark for Ma Long, just eleven days before his 34th birthday. The senior member of the Chinese team collected his eighth consecutive men’s team gold medal, the first being in 2006 in Bremen.
Germany reached the men’s team final for the sixth time, and finished runners-up at Chinese expense, as in the previous occasions in 2004, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2018.
The curtain now closes on the 2022 ITTF World Team Championships Finals after 10 days of exciting table tennis action.
“I want to thank the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the Local Organising Committee, and the City of Chengdu for such a successful event,” said Petra Sörling, ITTF President
Farewell to Chengdu, the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals will return next year being staged in Durban, South Africa; the second occasion when the continent has held the global event, the previous gathering being in 1939 in Cairo.
Five titles on offer – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles – just one year prior to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the best players on planet earth will contest the prestigious titles.
“We cannot wait to go to Durban and bring the enthusiasm generated in Chengdu to a new location,” continued President Sörling. “South Africa has already proven to be an incredible partner to the ITTF. In Durban, we will expand the Federation’s horizons and reach new audiences while showcasing the diversity of the table tennis family.”
The 2023 championships will take place from 22 to 28 May 2023, in the Durban International Convention Centre. As part of the goal to leave a social legacy for the event, the South African Table Tennis Board is planning to host a series of events that will focus on promoting social cohesion throughout all communities, using table tennis as the medium.
Players from over 200 member associations will participate in the continental qualifying process before the 2023 World Championships Finals, solidifying the global reach of table tennis and its commitment to growing the sport throughout the world.
Before the end of the 2022 World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals Chengdu, the ITTF held an executive board meeting to recap the event.
Now, as the Federation departs Chengdu, it is important to note the closed-loop management system helped prevent COVID-19 from spreading among athletes and allowed for a safe, effective World Team Championships to transpire.
The ITTF adopted a similar measure to that at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games to safely transport athletes in and out of the country, no contact with the public. Once inside the closed loop, athletes were tested regularly, allowing for play to be the focus.
Broadcasters beamed the World Team Championships to over 120 countries and provided 4k quality broadcasts for the Chinese market. The cumulated reach exceeded the one billion mark. Notably, on the penultimate day of play, the women’s final had a 51.4 million reach on Chinese television, the best audience in the year for table tennis
ITTF President Petra Sörling appointed Liu Guoliang as ITTF Deputy President.
He commented, “I am very glad to be appointed as Deputy President, which conveyed the trust and support of the International Table Tennis Federation. I think this new position will bring great opportunities and challenges alike.
“Of course, the perspectives differ from different positions, but the dream to further elevate our sport is shared. I will devote more time and energy to promoting and advancing table tennis as well as fostering global cooperation.”
An extremely well-respected leader within the table tennis community, Liu Guoliang was elected President of the Chinese Table Tennis Association in 2018 and to the ITTF Executive Committee in 2021. As a player and head coach of the Chinese men’s team Liu Guoliang has won all the major titles.
“I am delighted to work more closely with Liu Guoliang, and I have high expectations. We will form a complementary and dynamic duo at the helm of our sport, dedicated to growing table tennis and developing its full potential,” said President Sörling.
“He is not only a former global star of table tennis, but he also knows all facets of our sport extremely well and has the capacity to be the bridge between the athletes and the elected officials. He has brought a lot of experience to our Federation and the Executive Committee, and he will bring even more as Deputy President.”
World Table Tennis – the commercial and events platform of the ITTF – also announced today the appointment of Liu Guoliang as Chairman of its Board.
Germany Asserts Authority, Portugal Upsets Seeding
Four years since the World Team Championships was most recently staged, times have changed.
On Tuesday 4th October, as the main draw was conducted for the 2022 ITTF World Team Championships Finals Chengdu presented by China Telecom, eyes focused very much on the teams, who in that period of time, have risen in status.
In the men’s event, Slovenia who finished in second place in their men’s team group, behind China, faces Portugal in the opening round; for Slovenia, Darko Jorgic, winner of the Europe Top 16 Cup earlier in the year, may well prove pivotal in a fixture too close to call.
“I’m really happy with our performance here. We lost only against China; this is normal. We gave everything we could, they were just much better than us”, said Jorgic. “In other matches, we were favorites. We gave it all from the beginning till the end. I’m really happy with our performance here, and I’m really happy that we qualified into round 16 for the first time.”
Likewise, it was the group runners-up spot for Brazil who confront Japan; in their concluding group contest, they overcame Slovakia. Hugo Calderano remained unbeaten in the group stage, and Vitor Ishiy and Eric Jouti provided valuable support.
“We were fighting for second place in this match”, reflected Ishiy. “It’s nice to go to the last 16 with the victory.”
Similarly, it was the second group spot for Egypt behind the Republic of Korea; they oppose Hong Kong, a contest Mohamed El-Beiali relishes. “We’re very happy to be on such a big stage, we’re looking forward to the knockout stage. No matter who we meet, we’ll try our best and win.”
Delighted to be breaking new ground, the women’s team event is no different; pride of place going to the small Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico, second in their group behind China. In round one they face Germany.
Daniely Rios, who against both Malaysia and the United States had been the heroine, on each occasion winning the vital fifth match of the fixture, reflected the mood of Puerto Rico.
“We are in the best 16 in the World Championships, I am so happy about that. I’m really happy that we made it for first time ever; this is history for my team. If my kids see this in the future, they will say ‘she made it!’”
New horizons for Puerto Rico but even if your team has been there before; progress to the last 16 of a World Championships is still very special.
Soo Wai Yam Minnie underlined the importance of Hong Kong in the women’s event; a team bolstered by their bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“It’s my second time participating in a World Championships”, said Soo who four years ago in Halmstad beat the redoubtable Ding Ning, at time Olympic champion, in the semi-final encounter against China. “I really enjoy working together with my teammates,” she added. “We will try our best no matter what opponents we play against in the future.”
Hong Kong faces Romania in round one, a nation whose excellence in the sport dates back to the very beginnings of the sport.
Buoyant players, but the example is set by China, in the men’s event India provides the opening round adversary; in the women’s it is Hungary. They are the clear favorites to retain their titles but as Wang Manyu explained there is no complacency.
“We believe that we will face many difficulties in the second stage, and we will be fully prepared”, explained Wang. “Most importantly, all the team members will stay united and play even better.”
Play the opening round of both the men’s and women’s events commences on Wednesday 5th October.
Germany Asserts Authority, Portugal Upsets Seeding
Germany and India alongside Chinese Taipei and Portugal secured places in the main draw of the women’s event at the 2022 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals Presented by China Telecom on Monday 3rd October.
Maintaining their unbeaten record, fielding the trio of Han Ying, Nina Mittelham, and Shan Xiaona, Germany, the no.5 seeds, recorded a 3-0 win against the Czech Republic to bring their first stage matches to a conclusion; soon after, in the same group, India posted a 3-1 win in opposition to Egypt.
“We have achieved our goal to be the first in the group”, explained Nina Mittelham.
The third position in the group was the lot of the Czech Republic, they must wait to hear their fate. In both the men’s and women’s events, first and second places gain main draw entry; the remaining places are taken by the third-placed teams with the highest ITTF World Team Ranking as of September 2022.
In women’s Group 6, Chinese Taipei, the no.7 seeds, experienced a 3-2 defeat when facing Sweden. Tense moments, nerves were even more strained in the 3-2 reverse experienced by Romania, the no.6 seeds when opposing Portugal.
Lining up alongside Jieni Shao and Ines Matos, the mainstay of victory was Fu Yu; she beat both Bernadette Szocs (11-7, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6) and Elizabeta Samara in the vital last match of the contest (10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7).
“We had pressure, it was the important match to decide who would pass the group safely,” reflected Matos. “I think my team managed the pressure very well, they are amazing.”
The end result was that Chinese Taipei and Portugal each concluded the group stage with five points and thus advanced to the main draw. Romania and Sweden finished with four points apiece. Two teams level, the result when they faced each other decides the outcome. Earlier Chinese Taipei had beaten Portugal and thus gained group first place, and Romania had overcome Sweden, thus reserving the third spot; for Sweden, the end of the road, and for Romania progress hangs in the balance.
In the men’s event, however, Chinese Taipei suffered a third consecutive loss. Singapore defeated the no.7 seeds and 2014 bronze medallist 3-1.
For Croatia, a man of the moment was Filip Zeljko; he beat Belgium’s Martin Allegro (11-3, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7) and Cédric Nuytinck (10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7). Croatia duly finished the group in first place ahead of Belgium and Singapore.
“For the last 16 draws, if we don’t take China, we’ll be happy”, reflected Cédric Nuytinck. “Sweden has also a strong team; they have very good players and they’re very dangerous.”
China’s women’s team, the top seeds, recorded a 3-0 against the United States. Japan overcame Hungary 3-0 to maintain their unblemished record, earlier Hong Kong had recorded the same margin of victory against Brazil. Puerto Rico secured a 3-0 win against Canada and stands next in line to China; Japan having played one match less is in the second spot behind Slovakia.
Similarly in the men’s event there was no stopping China, the top seeds, a 3-0 success was the end result against Slovenia, a team that showed inspired innovation. Andreja Ojstersek Urh, the only woman in charge of a men’s team in Chengdu and very much the mentor of Darko Jorgic, was unable to be present in person but was very much present in spirit. A special tablet with a video connection was erected in front of the bench, so she was able to offer advice.
Winning ways continuing; for Germany, it was back to winning ways, the no.2 seeds; they recorded a 3-1 win against France; in the same group India added a third victory by recording a 3-2 against a spirited Kazakhstan outfit. France now meets India; Germany opposes Uzbekistan to bring play in the group to a close.
Japan, the no.3 seeds and the Republic of Korea, the no.4 seeds, recorded 3-1 wins against Hong Kong, and Egypt respectively.
Defeats for Hong Kong and Egypt but both currently occupy second places; Egypt being level on points with the Czech Republic, who they meet in their concluding contest. Hong Kong meets Romania, Japan faces Hungary, the Republic of Korea confronts Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile for Sweden and Portugal, both teams unbeaten, it was a day of rest; in the concluding group contests, Sweden meets Poland, also unbeaten; Portugal faces Denmark, in the corresponding contest Brazil confronts Slovakia.
The group stage matches conclude on Tuesday 4th October, the day on which the draw for the knock-out phase will be conducted.
From 30 September to 9 October, the 2022 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals Chengdu Presented by China Telecom see top players of 60 teams face off to win two of the sport’s most coveted prizes; the Swaythling and Corbillon Cups.
Organizers have begun activities towards the final weekend of this season’s Mindgames Scrabble Premier League (MSPL) and the prestigious Patrons Cup which holds on Friday and Saturday in Lagos.
The MSPL was introduced in 2019 as a team championship where players organized themselves into groups and compete across selected cities in the country over four weekends.
It has since re-ignited the spirit of teamwork, a sense of direction, and friendship amongst players while they compete on the board for honor and prestige collectively.
While the teams would be engaged in the MSPL, the Patrons Cup which is now in its second installment would be the battleground for individuals to win cash prizes as well as a trophy.
Both competitions would hold side-by-side at the same venue.
After three weekends of action in Lagos, Benin, and Abuja, Division A leaders Airpop Alpha would hope to wade off some fierce challenges and sustain their lead on the table as they head into Matchday 4 and 5 with 26 wins and 10 losses.
Lekki Bombers and Bulldozers occupied the second and third positions with 22 wins and 14 defeats but were only separated by individual players’ records.
Defending champions Brainiacs are fourth on the log with 20 victories in 36 rounds just sitting atop of Matchday Three winners Hurricanes who need more gusto to improve on their record of 19 wins and 17 defeats, a similar record shared with sixth place Bayelsa Maestros.
The Indomitable and Supremes who occupied the seventh and eighth positions, however, share a mirror-like result of 18 wins and 18 defeats.
Gracious Pickers Team A, Tekena Drones, Phoenix, and Sterling Bombers complete the 12-team table accordingly.
Heading into the concluding weekend in Division B, Southern Crowns shines brightly at the summit with 28 wins and 8 defeats ahead of second-placed Aries (25 wins & 11 defeats) and Anagrammers (24 wins & 12 defeats) who occupied the third position.
Bayelsa Virtuoso (22 wins and 14 defeats) and D’ Warriors (19 wins and 17 defeats) would be aiming to launch out strongly with some beliefs despite occupying the fourth and fifth positions respectively.
Airport Falcons which is the only all-female cast team are sixth while FPC Titans, Matadors, Encore Flamingos, High Flyers, BSP Rangers, and Gracious Pickers Team B occupied the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth place respectively.
Teams would stretch to pick every available point with every move in the remaining 19 games.
Meanwhile, American firm Scopely, owner of the ScrabbleGO app will broadcast the matches live on its streaming platform: http://www.twitch.tv/scrabble
MGi Chief Lukeman Owolabi stated that his team is ready to deliver another standard-setting event that would match the excitement the two tournaments truly deserve.
A cash prize of over six million nairas would be won after the conclusion of matchday 4 and 5 on Saturday.
With an unusual smile playing across his face as he held the silver trophy high above his head, James Ewruje on Saturday confirmed his new status as the champion of the newly rebranded Lekki Scrabble Classics.
The Master player claimed the overall title and emerged the best among the 100 players who competed over 12 games at the one-day tournament.
Ewruje shrugged off the challenges of tournament top favorite Tega Okiemute of Delta State in the last round to cement his pole position on the log with 11 wins, one defeat, and a spread of 599 cumulative points.
The defeat would be costly as Okiemute tumbled to the fourth position at the end.
Ogun State-based Gbadebo Olufemi rallied to second position with 10 wins and two defeats plus 466 cumulative points after a win over a highly impressive Monday Christopher on Table 2 in round 12.
Coming on his heels was Khaleel Adedeji who recorded the same number of wins and defeats but dropped to the third position with inferior cumulative points of 370.
The impressive Dynamite Warriors’ engine room also revved up to snatch the intermediate category title.
Other players in the top 20 which included former African champion Jimoh Saheed, John Aiyedun, and Opeyemi Oloro received various cash prizes for their efforts.
In other spot prizes won, Bukunmi Afolayan picked the Best Female title while Philip Akhabue was rewarded with a complete scrabble kit as the youngest player.
David Ogedengbe got a surprise cash gift from the organizers for putting on a green and white shirt in commemoration of the 62nd Independence Day Anniversary.
Speaking at the tournament which was held in an atmosphere of conviviality, a trademark of the club’s events, Captain of Lekki Scrabble Club Ebikeme Adowei said the Lekki Scrabble Classics was able to tick some critical boxes due to the quality of minds who share the same vision with one another at the club.
“We are all commonly bonded in our passion for scrabble” he confessed, “and so we decided to have this periodic event, which is a bi-annual event so that we can gather the creme-de-la-creme of scrabble in Nigeria to compete, have fun and win prizes.”
“I’m glad we have this level of competition to offer scrabble players and we hope to sustain this. We are hoping that corporate organizations will key into this initiative to grow the game of scrabble not only football, and basketball but mental sports like scrabble and chess.”