Star Studded ITTF Men's World Cup Begins Action in LiègePhoto: ITTF
20 of the world best male table tennis stars have gathered in the Belgian city of Liège for the Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men's World Cup at the Country hall de Liège. Reigning World Champion MA Long (CHN) will be heading the seeding to fight for the prestigious title, alongside Continental Cup Champions who had all fought hard in their respective regions to qualify for the annual major tournament that counts to the Grand Slam title (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup).
MA, who will be celebrating his 29th tomorrow, looks at putting on another strong performance to claim a career third World Cup title, stated "After my first visit to Belgium in 2008, I am happy returning and I am looking forward to a good performance after my last outing at the Chinese National Games." "I feel challenged in all competition particularly with the presence of young players coming through from China and that is what makes the Chinese team very strong. I am ready for the challenge and I am ready to adapt to it and take each match as they come."
MA's younger teammate, LIN Gaoyuan (CHN) will pose one major challenge to MA aiming for the title. LIN was the surprise qualifier to the World Cup after he shocked 2016 World Cup Champion FAN Zhendong at the 2017 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup earlier in September to secure his ticket to Liège, and will be determined to repeat his success again to make his World Cup debut a memorable one.
12 years since his last World Cup title in 2005, Germany's Timo BOLL returns to the fateful city of Liège to eye for a third title. BOLL is joined by his teammate, world number four Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), who will be looking at fending off all challenges for a career first World Cup title in Belgium.
For the first time in World Cup history, the ITTF Men's World Cup welcomes two African representatives, Nigeria's Quadri ARUNA qualifying as the African Cup Champion, and Egypt's Omar ASSAR becoming the first ever African to qualify for the World Cup through world ranking.
Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men's World Cup action starts today with stage one qualification rounds, where seeds nine to 20 will play round robin in four groups of three players (two matches each). The top two players from each group will progress to join the top eight seeds in the second stage. The draw for stage one of the tournament can be found here: http://bit.ly/2xRcBdD.
The second round will see the eight qualifiers facing off with the top eight seeds in a knockout. Round of 16 and the quarterfinals action will be live on Saturday, 21 October, while semifinals and the final battle for Gold will be played on Sunday, 22 October.