World Table Tennis Contender Doha 2021

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I'm gonna throw my two cents in. I'm actually a fan of the new website (it's not quite right yet, but with a bit of work, I think it will be really good. The old one was outdated.

However, I agree the table angle is horrible. I like being able to see the players move in and out, and see the racquet angle, but I can no longer see the ball placement, which frankly I prefer.

Is there any way to ensure that ITTF/WTT listen to us and we are heard?
 
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The draws are pretty ridiculous. Lily Zhang will play Kasumi Ishikawa in the round of 32 even though both are top 16 seeds, and other round of 32 matches will play have two unseeded players playing each other. 12th seed Britt Eerland will play top seed Mima Ito in the first round, and Eerland posted on Instagram venting about the new rules (that apparently have no explanation). It's a similar situation in the men's draw.

I wrote a quick summary here: https://edgesandnets.com/2021/03/02/wtt-dohas-main-draw-sparks-outrage/

 
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Black ash spread all over. Nuclear devastation all around. It all looks like a fancy chimera born out by a sick mind..
 
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The draws are pretty ridiculous. Lily Zhang will play Kasumi Ishikawa in the round of 32 even though both are top 16 seeds, and other round of 32 matches will play have two unseeded players playing each other. 12th seed Britt Eerland will play top seed Mima Ito in the first round, and Eerland posted on Instagram venting about the new rules (that apparently have no explanation). It's a similar situation in the men's draw.I wrote a quick summary here: https://edgesandnets.com/2021/03/02/wtt-dohas-main-draw-sparks-outrage/

It just looks like only 8 players are actually "seeded" now? 🤔

 
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Ishikawa, Hirano, and Diaz are wildcards, and FTW is WTT nomination. Due to the Play Down Restriction, they aren't treated as seeded players and instead are placed at the end - 19, 20, 21 and 22. And as JesperStef mentioned, it looks like seeded players have been reduced to 8.

They've made plenty of exceptions for this Middle East Hub. We don't even have the prospectus to read. I'll wait it out and see how they do it for the China Hub.
 
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The draws are pretty ridiculous. Lily Zhang will play Kasumi Ishikawa in the round of 32 even though both are top 16 seeds, and other round of 32 matches will play have two unseeded players playing each other. 12th seed Britt Eerland will play top seed Mima Ito in the first round, and Eerland posted on Instagram venting about the new rules (that apparently have no explanation). It's a similar situation in the men's draw.I wrote a quick summary here: https://edgesandnets.com/2021/03/02/wtt-dohas-main-draw-sparks-outrage/

For the WTT Contenders Series, there are only 8 seeded players. The rest are unseeded. Therefore, only the top 8 seeds have fixed places in the draw. For example, Britt Eerland isn't actually the 11th seed but is actually unseeded. She may be the player with the 11th highest WR in the tournament, but because there are only 8 seeds, she's really unseeded. Once the seeded players are drawn, the rest of the players in the main draw can be drawn in any of the vacant slots not taken by the top 8 seeds.

This is definitely a change from the previous way table tennis tournaments are conducted. However, the draw done in WTT events is actually following the way how draws in tennis events are conducted. The ATP 250 is probably the tennis equivalent of the WTT Contender event. It also has 32 players in the Main draw and only 8 seeded players. Here's a sample ATP 250 Draw for your reference. Therefore, aside from the 8 seeded players who are guaranteed not to face each other until the QF, SF, and F, the rest of the field is drawn to fill the vacant slots after the 8 seeded players are placed. In tennis, there seem to be fewer seeded players in events than that of table tennis. For example, in a tennis grand slam with a Main Draw of 128 players, there are only 32 seeded players, while our WTTC, which also has a Main Draw of 128 players, has 64 seeded players.

The new system of conducting draws has its pros and cons. The draw is more variable. In the previous way of conducting draws in the World Tour, which had 16 seeded players, (assuming the main draw is has 32 players), a top seed can only face the 17th highest-ranked player until the 32nd highest-ranked player in the first round (R32). In the second round, he would likely face a player seeded from 9-16.

Now, let's look at the current system with only 8 seeded players. If the top player is unlucky, he would get a draw where he would have to face 2 consecutive players from the 9 to 16 range for the R32 and R16. Obviously, this is a tougher draw than that allowed by the previous draw system. In the current draw for the WTT Contenders, an example of this is Ishikawa's draw. She'll need to face 2 players from the 9 to 16 range for the first two rounds: R32 (13th Zhang, Lily) & R16 (either 12th Hayata or 15th Samara). The worst possible draw a seeded player could get for the first 2 rounds would look like the photo below:

eYqHiov.png


However, the new draw system can also be beneficial to the seeded player since it's possible for him to get a player from the 17-32 range both for the R32 and R16. This would make his current draw easier than a draw possible from the previous way of conducting draws. In the current draw for WTT Contenders, an example of this Feng Tianwei's draw. She would need to face Sawettabut (19th) in the R32 and either Takahashi (23rd) or Gaponova (Qualifier) in the R16. The best possible draw a seeded player could get for the first 2 rounds would look like this photo:
JRoDuaB.png

I guess ultimately, the new system might hurt the 9th to 16th ranked players the most because they aren't seeded anymore and could possibly face one of the top 8 seeds as early as the first round. But, this is only assuming that the top 8 seeds are actually the best players of the tournament.

If this is a tournament where Team China only sent their B-Team members (who can definitely beat the best non-Chinese players but are ranked outside the top 100), the 9th-16th seeds might actually prefer facing a top 8 seed in the first round rather than facing a qualifier who is likely to one of the many CNT B players who passed through qualifications. An example of this could possibly be the 2019 North American Open or the 2018 Czech Open. These are tournaments where some qualifiers are more dangerous than the seeded players. In fact, in this WTT Contenders tournament, there are definitely some qualifiers who appear more dangerous than some of the players from 9-16.

In fact, based on my observation, I think the skill gap between the 9-16 players isn't that far off from those players in the 17-32 range. As an illustration, without meaning to offend anyone, Shan Xiaona and Miyuu Kihara from the 17-32 range are arguably better than Szocs and Meshref from the 9-16 range. Are latter players that much better than the former players that they should enjoy the privilege of only meeting the top 8 seeds in the R16 as compared to the latter who will always face a seeded player under the old system? This would make it more difficult for those outside the top 16 to move up in rankings even though the actual skill gap between 9-16 and 17-32 is only minor.

One could argue that some players in the 17-32 range are better than the 9-16 range players but simply have less favorable opportunities (e.g. many are born in Asia so it is harder to get a high WR compared to those in other continents, which in turn makes their draws in open tournaments less favorable than those from the 9-16 range despite being better players) Given the minor gap in level between those from 9-16 and those from 17-32, it may make more sense to give those from 9-32 equal chances of drawing any of the top 8 seeds. WTT made it clear that it wants to see more movement across the WR, so I think this new draw system with fewer seeded players also allows this to happen.

A possible benefit for spectators that may be derived from having less seeded players is that there are more chances of finally seeing matchups between those within the 9 to 16 range and matchups between those within the 17th to 32nd range. If you are not a top 8 player, it's rare to see matchups between those within 1 or 2 ranking places from each other. For example, it's been a long while since we've seen Jeoung Youngsik (W13) vs Dima (WR12) or Mizutani (WR18) vs Gauzy (WR20). Why? Usually, either or both lose before they are set up to meet each other in the draw.

Because of the way the draw is conducted in the past, these players will always draw a high-ranked player (usually a Chinese player) in the first or 2nd round. If you ever want to see Dima vs Jeoung or Mizutani vs Gauzy, you'd have to hope that both players can beat the Chinese player assigned to them in the early rounds. Most of the time you would only see these matchups in team competitions where each country's ace players are pit against each other, but you rarely see it in the World Tour. If you're lucky, you can see these matchups in the World Cup or Olympics, which has nationality restrictions, so Chinese players are less likely to knock these players out before they get to play each other.

With a new draw system having fewer seeded players, we will have more opportunities to see a variety of matchups, which I think is the reason WTT chose to move forward with fewer seeded players in its events. They still balance it out by maintaining 8 seeded players, so the top players won't face each other until the SF and Finals (No FZD vs ML first-round matchups), but a least it provides more variety of matchups as compared to having a strict 1-16 vs 17-32 draw system.

Only the WTT Contenders event has 8 seeded players. The Star Contenders event has 16 seeded players since there are 48 players in the main draw. I assume that the more players in the Main Draw, the more seeded players there will be. I don't have a strong opinion for or against the new system yet and will see how it ultimately plays out.

However, I do feel for the players who were not informed of the change in the number of seeded players beforehand. WTT should do a better job of keeping their players informed of any rule changes that can affect them. WTT can also do a better job of informing fans of the new changes. I echo Zeio's sentiment that WTT ought to post the prospectus and playing format of tournaments ahead of time for the benefit of players and fans.

P.S. I appreciate the work you've done doing write-ups on your website. I've been reading your articles and enjoy your analysis especially since you include the implications of certain tournaments and matches on Olympic Seeding. The majority of my past posts in this forum also dwelt on the analysis of Olympic Qualifications, Seeding and WR, so I'm happy to see a fellow forum-member also taking the same interest and posting for the benefit of other people who avidly follow the pro table tennis scene.

 
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For the WTT Contenders Series, there are only 8 seeded players. The rest are unseeded. Therefore, only the top 8 seeds have fixed places in the draw. For example, Britt Eerland isn't actually the 11th seed but is actually unseeded. She may be the player with the 11th highest WR in the tournament, but because there are only 8 seeds, she's really unseeded. Once the seeded players are drawn, the rest of the players in the main draw can be drawn in any of the vacant slots not taken by the top 8 seeds.

This is definitely a change from the previous way table tennis tournaments are conducted. However, the draw done in WTT events is actually following the way how draws in tennis events are conducted. The ATP 250 is probably the tennis equivalent of the WTT Contender event. It also has 32 players in the Main draw and only 8 seeded players. Here's a sample ATP 250 Draw for your reference. Therefore, aside from the 8 seeded players who are guaranteed not to face each other until the QF, SF, and F, the rest of the field is drawn to fill the vacant slots after the 8 seeded players are placed. In tennis, there seem to be fewer seeded players in events than that of table tennis. For example, in a tennis grand slam with a Main Draw of 128 players, there are only 32 seeded players, while our WTTC, which also has a Main Draw of 128 players, has 64 seeded players.

The new system of conducting draws has its pros and cons. The draw is more variable. In the previous way of conducting draws in the World Tour, which had 16 seeded players, (assuming the main draw is has 32 players), a top seed can only face the 17th highest-ranked player until the 32nd highest-ranked player in the first round (R32). In the second round, he would likely face a player seeded from 9-16.

Now, let's look at the current system with only 8 seeded players. If the top player is unlucky, he would get a draw where he would have to face 2 consecutive players from the 9 to 16 range for the R32 and R16. Obviously, this is a tougher draw than that allowed by the previous draw system. In the current draw for the WTT Contenders, an example of this is Ishikawa's draw. She'll need to face 2 players from the 9 to 16 range for the first two rounds: R32 (13th Zhang, Lily) & R16 (either 12th Hayata or 15th Samara). The worst possible draw a seeded player could get for the first 2 rounds would look like the photo below:

eYqHiov.png


However, the new draw system can also be beneficial to the seeded player since it's possible for him to get a player from the 17-32 range both for the R32 and R16. This would make his current draw easier than a draw possible from the previous way of conducting draws. In the current draw for WTT Contenders, an example of this Feng Tianwei's draw. She would need to face Sawettabut (19th) in the R32 and either Takahashi (23rd) or Gaponova (Qualifier) in the R16. The best possible draw a seeded player could get for the first 2 rounds would look like this photo:
JRoDuaB.png

I guess ultimately, the new system might hurt the 9th to 16th ranked players the most because they aren't seeded anymore and could possibly face one of the top 8 seeds as early as the first round. But, this is only assuming that the top 8 seeds are actually the best players of the tournament.

If this is a tournament where Team China only sent their B-Team members (who can definitely beat the best non-Chinese players but are ranked outside the top 100), the 9th-16th seeds might actually prefer facing a top 8 seed in the first round rather than facing a qualifier who is likely to one of the many CNT B players who passed through qualifications. An example of this could possibly be the 2019 North American Open or the 2018 Czech Open. These are tournaments where some qualifiers are more dangerous than the seeded players. In fact, in this WTT Contenders tournament, there are definitely some qualifiers who appear more dangerous than some of the players from 9-16.

In fact, based on my observation, I think the skill gap between the 9-16 players isn't that far off from those players in the 17-32 range. As an illustration, without meaning to offend anyone, Shan Xiaona and Miyuu Kihara from the 17-32 range are arguably better than Szocs and Meshref from the 9-16 range. Are latter players that much better than the former players that they should enjoy the privilege of only meeting the top 8 seeds in the R16 as compared to the latter who will always face a seeded player under the old system? This would make it more difficult for those outside the top 16 to move up in rankings even though the actual skill gap between 9-16 and 17-32 is only minor.

One could argue that some players in the 17-32 range are better than the 9-16 range players but simply have less favorable opportunities (e.g. many are born in Asia so it is harder to get a high WR compared to those in other continents, which in turn makes their draws in open tournaments less favorable than those from the 9-16 range despite being better players) Given the minor gap in level between those from 9-16 and those from 17-32, it may make more sense to give those from 9-32 equal chances of drawing any of the top 8 seeds. WTT made it clear that it wants to see more movement across the WR, so I think this new draw system with fewer seeded players also allows this to happen.

A possible benefit for spectators that may be derived from having less seeded players is that there are more chances of finally seeing matchups between those within the 9 to 16 range and matchups between those within the 17th to 32nd range. If you are not a top 8 player, it's rare to see matchups between those within 1 or 2 ranking places from each other. For example, it's been a long while since we've seen Jeoung Youngsik (W13) vs Dima (WR12) or Mizutani (WR18) vs Gauzy (WR20). Why? Usually, either or both lose before they are set up to meet each other in the draw.

Because of the way the draw is conducted in the past, these players will always draw a high-ranked player (usually a Chinese player) in the first or 2nd round. If you ever want to see Dima vs Jeoung or Mizutani vs Gauzy, you'd have to hope that both players can beat the Chinese player assigned to them in the early rounds. Most of the time you would only see these matchups in team competitions where each country's ace players are pit against each other, but you rarely see it in the World Tour. If you're lucky, you can see these matchups in the World Cup or Olympics, which has nationality restrictions, so Chinese players are less likely to knock these players out before they get to play each other.

With a new draw system having fewer seeded players, we will have more opportunities to see a variety of matchups, which I think is the reason WTT chose to move forward with fewer seeded players in its events. They still balance it out by maintaining 8 seeded players, so the top players won't face each other until the SF and Finals (No FZD vs ML first-round matchups), but a least it provides more variety of matchups as compared to having a strict 1-16 vs 17-32 draw system.

Only the WTT Contenders event has 8 seeded players. The Star Contenders event has 16 seeded players since there are 48 players in the main draw. I assume that the more players in the Main Draw, the more seeded players there will be. I don't have a strong opinion for or against the new system yet and will see how it ultimately plays out.

However, I do feel for the players who were not informed of the change in the number of seeded players beforehand. WTT should do a better job of keeping their players informed of any rule changes that can affect them. WTT can also do a better job of informing fans of the new changes. I echo Zeio's sentiment that WTT ought to post the prospectus and playing format of tournaments ahead of time for the benefit of players and fans.

P.S. I appreciate the work you've done doing write-ups on your website. I've been reading your articles and enjoy your analysis especially since you include the implications of certain tournaments and matches on Olympic Seeding. The majority of my past posts in this forum also dwelt on the analysis of Olympic Qualifications, Seeding and WR, so I'm happy to see a fellow forum-member also taking the same interest and posting for the benefit of other people who avidly follow the pro table tennis scene.


Thanks for the response. ITTF also posted an official explanation. It seems that seeds 1-8 are set to follow a snake format then ( 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5)? Is there any incentive in ATP for players outside of the top 20 to improve their ranking then?

It appears that Ishikawa and Hirano are still treated as normal seeded players even though the invitation system is weird.

 
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Ishikawa, Hirano, and Diaz are wildcards, and FTW is WTT nomination. Due to the Play Down Restriction, they aren't treated as seeded players and instead are placed at the end - 19, 20, 21 and 22. And as JesperStef mentioned, it looks like seeded players have been reduced to 8.

They've made plenty of exceptions for this Middle East Hub. We don't even have the prospectus to read. I'll wait it out and see how they do it for the China Hub.

Actually it looks very much like the wild card and WTT players have been seeded according to their ranking: Ishikawa as #3, Hirano as #4, FTW as #5 and Diaz as #7.

 
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Actually it looks very much like the wild card and WTT players have been seeded according to their ranking: Ishikawa as #3, Hirano as #4, FTW as #5 and Diaz as #7.

In that case, then LYJ and Falck should've been in either the 16 or 17 slot as they're the #3 and #4 seeds. 🤔 They're still in their respective blocks but not in the traditional order. 1 9 24 32 instead of 1 16 17 32.

It beats the whole purpose of PDR when the wild cards and WTT nomination are treated as seeded players. 😑 I feel for Eerland.

https://www.facebook.com/WTT/videos/484001106314563/?__cft__[0]=AZVHPtqncHnBdMP3FtdEa-cGUTPMdQyGJm3vNkNmRabWQc9nP3Rz7VYOCTfYIn98nyLLkM4KPWgL9rEjHh2H24NGyPXl3ab-3utDle21lIYON-C1RNQ8S_ZFVXQKxUGNZ1oNOf_8xcvZ3EzBSUEFnaobGWnAC9SrnftguJqlcuxxxQ&__tn__=%2CO-R
 
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In that case, then LYJ and Falck should've been in either the 16 or 17 slot as they're the #3 and #4 seeds. 🤔 They're still in their respective blocks but not in the traditional order. 1 9 24 32 instead of 1 16 17 32.

It beats the whole purpose of PDR when the wild cards and WTT nomination are treated as seeded players. 😑 I feel for Eerland.

https://www.facebook.com/WTT/videos/484001106314563/?__cft__[0]=AZVHPtqncHnBdMP3FtdEa-cGUTPMdQyGJm3vNkNmRabWQc9nP3Rz7VYOCTfYIn98nyLLkM4KPWgL9rEjHh2H24NGyPXl3ab-3utDle21lIYON-C1RNQ8S_ZFVXQKxUGNZ1oNOf_8xcvZ3EzBSUEFnaobGWnAC9SrnftguJqlcuxxxQ&__tn__=%2CO-R
The WTT website has been somewhat unreliable and inaccurate so far, but it has been updated to have Lin at 3 and Falck at 4.

https://worldtabletennis.com/eventInfo?eventId=2410

 
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The website was right. The problem is they changed the rules again, as Eerland complained. The WC and WTT NOM were not treated as seeded players before.
 
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