Just a few days to go until the seaon-ending HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 will take place in the beautiful Chinese metropole city of Guangzhou. The new qualifying system that takes all BWF tournaments of the World Tour into account, made for a quite interesting last minute race to Guangzhou.
Indian shuttler Sameer Verma had to win the last tournament of the season and did so in the most dramatic fashion. In Japan-dominated womens doubles Matsutomo/Takahashi made the cut only in their last tournamet as well – at the expense of their compatriots Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota. They are out, because only two pairs per discipline from one country can compete in the World Tour Finals. Some prominent names of the Badminton scene have fallen victim to the new qualifying system. So now let`s have a close look at each discipline and the favourites of the final BWF tournament of the year.
HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 – The Forecast
Womens Singles Event
- Tai Tzu Ying
- Nozomi Okuhara
- Akane Yamaguchi
- Chen Yufei
- Ratchanok Intanon
- Pusarla V. Sindhu
- Michelle Li
- Beiwen Zhang
An intriguing field lead by Tai Tzu Ying and only Carolina Marin missing. Sexy Michelle Li and Beiwen Zhang won`t have chances to win the whole thing, and upset in the group stage is the ceiling for both. But the first six qualifiers are all on world class level and can legitimately aspire to win the season finale.
Prediction: The no. 1 from Chinese Taipeh is the favourite, but I feel Okuhara will crown her comeback or Sindhu will not settle for silver this time.
Mens Singles Event
- Chou Tien Chen
- Kento Momota
- Tommy Sugiarto
- Shi Yuqi
- Son Wan Ho
- Kantaphon Wangcharoen
- Sameer Verma
- Anthony Ginting
So many big names missing here: Lin Dan, Chen Long, Lee Chong Wei, Victor Axelsen, Kidambi Srikanth etc. The badminton world is changing and we have to get used to new players, because the legends won`t be there forever. But some oldies have stepped in – Son Wan Ho and Sugiarto were almost forgotten and now they are back in business. They won`t win it, though.
Prediction: Momota is the strongest player here, but he seems to be running out of steam at the end of a long season. Ginting and Shi Yuqi will battle for the victory.
Mixed Doubles Event
- Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong
- Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino
- Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai
- Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying
- Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping
- Hafiz Faisal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja
- Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai
- Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith
The Chinese number one pair dominated the season, won numerous BWF tournaments in very convincing fashion and crowned themselves to world champions. Pretty much were outshined just once: At the magical All England Championships, where Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino introduced themselves to the Badminton world. With Natsir/Ahmad missing, I see them and Chan/Goh of Malaysia as the only real threats to them.
Prediction: Zheng Siwei has always played very strong at the BWF Finales and they win there matches sooo clearly all the time, that it`s hard to see another winner. They will be taken to a decider once or twice, though!
Mens Doubles Event
- Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo
- Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi-Lin
- Liao Min Chun / Su Ching Heng
- Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong
- Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen
- Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan
- Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe
- Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen
Very interesting line-up with some big names missing and some surprise qualifiers. Who would have thought, that the two pairs from Chinese Taipeh finish the race on second and third place. I hardly noticed them in 2018, but they were diligent point-hunters. Another surprise for me, that the very strong pair of Kamura and Sonoda will not take part. Instead their compatriots Endo/Watanabe will contest, although I feel the first mentioned pair is the better one. Zhang Nan is missing as well, Boe and Mogensen nowhere to be seen, neither are the two Mats` Conrad and Pieler-Kolding. So some fresh blood is coming in mens doubles obviously. But the Indonesian veteran pair – or “The Daddies” – should not be forgotten. They are back together and playing well. Unfortunately I feel, the Round Robin system won`t work in their favour, having intense matches from the start. They simply have physically declined and need some easy matches to begin.
Prediction: What else could I predict but another glorious victory of the Minions Sukamuljo and Gideon. It`s a boring tip, but they are just a class above everyone else right now and will be motivated to win it. I don`t know who could stop them.
Womens Doubles Event:
- Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi
- Mayu / Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara
- Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu
- Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai
- Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan
- Stefani Stoeva / Gabriela Stoeva
- Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan
- Du Yue / Li Yinhui
The Danish top pair of Peddersen/Rytter-Juhl is out, so Europe is represented by the Stoeva sisters. They had a brilliant season, their participation is already a success. They won`t get past the group stage. The Japanese and Chinese pairs will fight for the trophy in the later stages of the tournament.
Prediction: Japan is so dominant in womens doubles, but Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan will make up for an average season with the title in Guangzhou.
Additional read: Best badminton player ever in womens singles
Additional read: Current Badminton Stars from Indonesia
So stay tuned for the season-ending BWF tournament. Spectacular rallies are guaranteed. You can watch it on the brillant YouTube Channel of the Badminton World Federation: BadmintonWorldTV