World Table Tennis (WTT) continues next month with the introduction of two events in what is known as the Middle East Hub.
The inaugural WTT event in Macao introduced a new format and presentation of the sport along with some rule changes. There was the first ever international best of 9 match in the finals as well as seeded players choosing their opponents for the quarter final matches. This all added to the excitement with a new camera angle and a fantastic setting.
With these changes also comes increased prize money. WTT Director, Steve Dainton comments, “We have made no secret about our desire to take table tennis to the next level through WTT. It is exciting that Doha is set to continue delivering world-class WTT events. We realise it will be another impacted year in 2021 with a limited number of events, however the additional prize money for Doha shows we will deliver on our promise and proves how we at the ITTF and WTT are motivated to grow prize money for our most important stakeholder in our sport – the athletes.”
So what events are included in the WTT Middle East Hub?
Due to the pandemic the number of events and the locations have been reduced. There will be only two events happening at the same location in the Lusail Sports Arena in Doha, Qatar.
WTT Contender: Wednesday 3 March – Saturday 6 March 2021
WTT Star Contender: Monday 8 March – Saturday 13 March 2021
Although there is a reduced number of events there has been an increase in prize money. WTT Director and ITTF CEO, Steve Dainton comments, “We have made no secret about our desire to take table tennis to the next level through WTT. It is exciting that Doha is set to continue delivering world-class WTT events. We realise it will be another impacted year in 2021 with a limited number of events, however the additional prize money for Doha shows we will deliver on our promise and proves how we at the ITTF and WTT are motivated to grow prize money for our most important stakeholder in our sport – the athletes.”
WTT Contender Doha
There will be a singles qualification event consisting of 96 players before the main event begins. The qualifying players will have the chance to win a share of USD$200,000 across all events including singles, doubles and mixed doubles. The main singles events will consist of 32 players. The Contender tournaments would usually restrict entry of top 20 players to just two. However, the allocation has been doubled to four for the Middle East Hub due to the reduced number of events.
Top men’s seed Xu Xin will be challenged by fellow top 20 players Tomokazu Harimoto, Hugo Calderano and Lin Yun-Ju. The three wildcards including Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Liam Pitchford and Simon Gauzy will also be looking to make an impact. Already looking like a fantastic lineup, WTT have decided to treat us further by nominating Mattias Falck into the draw. With a fantastic win against the number 1 seed, Xu Xin in WTT Macao. Mattias will be looking to take it one further and go and win this event.
In the women’s draw, Sun Yingsha tops the seeding. Fellow top 20 challengers Mimo Ito, Liu Shiwen and Cheng I-Ching will be joined by wildcards Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano and Adriana Diaz. The WTT nomination for this event will be Singapore legend Feng Tianwei.
WTT Star Contender Doha
The singles qualification for the Star Contender event has been cut to 64 and the main draw increased to 48 players. The number of top 20 players has been increased for this event from 4 to 8 due to the reduced number of events. Players will be fighting for a share of an enormous USD$400,000.
Xu Xin tops the seeding again followed by Tomokazu Harimoto, Hugo Calderano, Lin Yun-Ju, Mattias Falck, Jang Woojin, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Jeoung Youngsik. Wildcards joining them will be Patrick Franziska, Koki Niwa, Jun Mizutani and Qatar international Ahmad Khalil Al-Mohannadi. To spice things up further the fantastic pairing of Liam Pitchford and Simon Gauzy receive the WTT nomination.
Number 1 seed Sun Yingsha will be joined by Mimo Ito, Liu Shiwen, Cheng I-Ching, Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano, Feng Tianwei and Jeon Jihee. Sole wildcard Sofia Polcanova world be flying the flag for europe amongst the Asian superstars. WTT nominations Adriana Diaz and Solja Petrissa also join contention for the first Star Contender event.
Where can I find out more?
For additional information on the Middle East Hub events follow the TableTennisDaily topic here.