The 16th edition of the traditional Sudirman Cup will be held in Nanning (China) next week. This is actually one of my favourite Badminton tournaments, because it reflects the overall strength of a country best. Plus playing in a team event seems to deliver extra power and emotion for many players – this ensures many hot and dramatic matches.
For a long time Badminton powerhouse Chine was almost unbeatable in this team event, because no other country was able to match them in all disciplines. Especially womens singles and doubles were an almost guaranteed point. This has changed lately. China is still strong, but there only guaranteed point seems to be the mixed doubles discipline, where Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaquiong are miles above every other pair at the moment.
However one could argue that China is not the no. 1 favourite to win the Sudirman Cup 2019. The Japanese squad is certainly at eye level and in a tie against China would even be the slight favourite in mens singles with Kento Momota and womens doubles with three top 10 pairs. Mens doubles and womens singles would be very close calls. I would actually go so far to put Japan as no. 1 favourite. What I am sure about is: There won`t be a title defense. The dramatic Korean victory in the last match of the tie against China was fantastic. But the former powerhouse Korea has some problems to develop new talent lately. Lee Yong Dae has left a big void that could not yet be filled, although Yujung Chae, Seung Jae Seo, Solgyu Choi & Co certainly have a great future in front of them.
Some other great Badminton nations like Indonesia will sent good teams, but are probably not well-balanced enough to go all the way to lift the trophy. Now lets have a closer look at the squads, the groups and their chances:
Sudirman Cup 2019 Groups
Japan: Amazing team, on par with the Chinese squad. Incredible depth in all disciplines. Womens doubles seems unbeatable, Momota as well. The other disciplines are strong as well. In a tie against China only the mixed doubles would be underdog.
Thailand: Intanon is capable of beating anyone on a good day. And the Thais have the only mixed doubles that was able to beat the Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaquiong lately. But other than that their line up is too thin.
Russia: Probably the biggest underdog in Group 1. Only Ivanov/Sozonov can be considered world-class and that`s not gonna be enough. Certainly won`t survive the group stage.
Prediction: Japan and Thailand will proceed. For Thailand the Quarter final will be the end. Japan will win the Sudirman Cup!!!
Indonesia: Indonesia is regaining their former strength, especially mens doubles and singles are well-staffed with young talents Jonathan Christie and Anthony Ginting. In doubles they can actally count on three top-class pairs: The veteran daddies Setiawan/Ahsan, the minions Sukamuljo/Gideon and the next big thing Alfian/Ardianto. Unfortunately there are questionsmarks above all the disciplines with female participation. Indonesia currently has no worldclass womens singles player. Since Natsirs retirement, Oktaviandi/Jordan is the strongest mixed doubles. They have potential, but are very inconsistent. In womens doubles Rahayu/Polii can certainly challenge the best doubles of other nations. But they are by no means a sure thing.
Denmark: The strongest European badminton nation suffers from the retirement of Kamylla Rytter-Juhl and Christinna Peddersen. Just Axelsen is really world class, but certainly not a guaranteed win against the strong Asian players.
England: It will be a huge task for England to survive this group. The Adcocks may provide some points and Ellis/Langridge can be dangerous in mens doubles. But they are both by no means sure points and the rest of the squad just isn`t good enough for Group 1.
Prediction: Indonesia will safely proceed as group winner. Denmark prevails in a very close battle against England.
South Korea: Won`t be able to repeat their surprise victory from 2017. Back then it seemed like Korean badminton would resurge. But that did not happen. No new talent and most players are stagnating. Mens and mixed doubles can be dangerous, though.
Chinese Taipeh: With Tai Tzu Ying and Chou Tien Chen as front runners I would consider Chinese Taipeh a Dark Horse. But I don`t really see them going further than Quarter Finals. Korea: Young talented squad. But this Sudirman Cup edition is probably to early for the inexperienced team. Let`s see what they ca do in two years.
Hong Kong: I guess, mens dingles and mixed doubles are okay, but they shouldn`t be able to proceed to the next round.
Prediction: Chinese Taipeh will go through as group winner, Korea a close second. All matches will be very close and competitive though. I do not see one country dominating this group.
China: Chinese squad of course the heavy favourite in this group. Wouldn`t be surprised if they do not lose a single match in the group stage.
India: P.V. Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi as figureheads won`t be enough to survive this tough group. No draw luck for the upcoming badminton nation.
Malaysia: The proud badminton nation certainly suffers from the absence of Lee Chong Wei. Very surprisingly Goh Liu Ying / Chan Peng Soon and Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong have not been selected for this Sudirman Cup. I do not really understand that, because this clearly weakens their line up. However Malaysias second row is not bad, expecially in Mixed Doubles and their Mens Doubles All England runner-ups are capable of doing some damage.
Prediction: China clearly through as group winner, Malaysia will prevail in the battle for QF spot number 2.