Eleven months into the HSBC BWF World Tour, the qualifiers to the season finale – the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 – have been identified. The HSBC Race To Guangzhou Rankings listed in sequence the top performers based on their cumulative points from all the Tour events they played in. The top eight qualifiers will face off in Guangzhou from 12 to 16 December.
1. Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei)
While he has always been a top-quality player with a potent attacking game, Chou (featured image) started to string things together this year, showing greater consistency in crunch situations. Started and ended the World Tour season with first round losses in Malaysia and Hong Kong respectively, but had some excellent results in between. Was in six finals, winning three – in Germany, Singapore and Korea.
2. Kento Momota (Japan)
This was Kento Momota’s year. Having returned from the wilderness in July last year following a ban, the Japanese evolved into a far more complete version of his earlier self, running up an impressive record at the major events, with titles at the World Championships and Asian Championships, besides leading his country to the Thomas Cup title bout. Was in five straight finals, of which he won four; later on, he added the Japan Open and the Fuzhou China Open to his list of conquests.
3. Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia)
The 30-year-old Indonesian might not have a spectacular style, but his stubbornness on court helped him outperform far younger players. Sugiarto had a busy season, playing 18 events. Won the season-opener – the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters – and was runner-up at the Thailand Open and the Korea Open.
4. Shi Yuqi (China)
Started the year strongly with victories at the India Open and the All England, but had on-off performances the rest of the year. Was the linchpin for China in their Thomas Cup victory and thus emerged out of the shadows of his illustrious seniors Chen Long and Lin Dan.
5. Son Wan Ho (Korea)
Had a mostly average season compared to his prime years, but lifted himself up at the end – winning the Hong Kong Open – his biggest triumph in years. That he beat the man of the moment – Kento Momota – in the semi-finals was a bigger surprise still, showing that he still has what it takes to overcome the best in the business.
6. Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Thailand)
One of a pack of Thai players who performed impressively this year. Wangcharoen had two notable results in the 21 events he played, of which 17 were Tour events – semi-final finishes at the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters and the Swiss Open. With wins over top players like Ng Ka Long, Anthony Ginting, Chen Long and Lin Dan, this season might just be the springboard for bigger things ahead for the Thai.
7. Sameer Verma (India)
Isn’t the most physically imposing of Men’s Singles shuttlers, but his doggedness makes up for other deficiencies. Started the year well with the Swiss Open victory, but then struggled and was looking out of contention for the World Tour Finals. Needed to win the final event – the Syed Modi International – which he did, surviving three straight three-game matches.
8. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (Indonesia)
With two defeats of the in-form Momota this season, Ginting showed he’s among those who will jostle at the upper echelons of Men’s Singles. His VICTOR China Open victory over Momota was a classic, showcasing vastly-improved reservoirs of determination and athleticism. Consistency hasn’t been his forte, but did enough to suggest he will be among the ones to watch.