PETALING JAYA: It’s not going to be easy being a top player when the revised Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour begins next year.
Players like national No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan and Chen Long must play in a minimum of 12 Open tournaments to avoid being penalised.
Under the new structure, it is compulsory for the top 15 men’s singles players and top 10 men’s doubles players in the world to compete in selected tournaments.
“They will be fined if they don’t show up,” said Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Datuk Ng Chin Chai.
“The new structure offers bigger prize money and better quality of competitors, but it will also be hectic for the players – especially the top ones,” he said.
The tournament’s structure will be divided into different grades and levels.
Grade One comprises all major tournaments, like the Olympics, Thomas-Uber Cup Finals, Sudirman Cup, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Junior Championships.
Grade Two will have several levels.
Level One is for one tournament – World Tour Finals (formerly known as the World Superseries Finals).
Level Two is for three tournaments – All-England, Indonesian Open and China Open (formerly known as the Premier Superseries).
Level Three is for five tournaments – Malaysian Open, China Open, Denmark Open, France Open and Japan Open (formerly known as the Superseries).
Level Four is for seven tournaments, including Malaysian Masters (formerly known as a Grand Prix Gold event); Level Five is for 11 tournaments (formerly known as the International Satellite and Challenge); and Level Six (numbers to be decided by BWF, continental tournaments).
The qualifying tournaments (draw of 16) have been scrapped for Level Two and Level Three tournaments. This means only the best 32 players in the world will get to play in all five events.
The qualifying tournament for Level Four will be limited to only eight players instead of 16.
“It’s compulsory for a top-15 player like Chong Wei to play in all three Level Two and all five Level Three tournaments. He then has to play in at least four Level Four tournaments. That’s a minimum of 12,” said Chin Chai.
“Then there is their ‘national duty’ to play in the Thomas Cup, Commonwealth Games and other majors. It’ll be challenging for the players although the monetary reward has improved.”
The season’s final is worth US$1.5mil (RM6.65mil). The minimum prize money for Level Two tournaments is US$1mil (RM4.43mil) while that for Level Three is US$700,000 (RM3.10mil).
Chin Chai said that the abolition of the qualifying tournaments would make it hard for lower-ranked players to play in big tournaments.
“BWF have decided to do away with the qualifying tournament because it takes time. They also want to ensure quality competitions to give spectators their money’s worth,” he said.
Chin Chai was also happy with BWF for taking on board BAM’s proposal to try out the new service rule from March 1, beginning with the All-England in Birmingham (March 14-18).
Under the new service rule, the whole of the shuttle must be below 1.15m from the surface of the court at the moment it touches the server’s racquet.