PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia and Co have been slapped with a tough draw in their bid to win medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
All-England champion Zii Jia will likely have reigning Olympics champion Chen Long of China and second seed Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan as company in his quarters.
In a draw ceremony by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Thursday (July 8), the 23-year-old Zii Jia was drawn in Group M, which placed him in the bottom half of the main draw with third seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark and fifth seed Anthony Ginting of Indonesia.
The others in Zia Jia's group are veteran Brice Leverdez of France and unheralded Artem Pochtarov of Ukraine.Only the group champion advance to the top 16 knockout stage.
By being in the lower half, Zii Jia has avoided world No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan and world No. 2 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Zii Jia had beaten both of them en route to winning the All-England in March this year.
The possibility of meeting Chen Long in the last 16 however, poses a trickier challenge as he has not met the former world champion in 16 months since he last defeated the latter in the quarter-finals of last year's All-England.
If he beats Chen Long, he will face Tien-chen in the last eight but it will be tougher as the Malaysian has lost in all his four previous meetings to the Taiwanese ace, including twice in January during the Thailand Open 1 quarter-finals and group stage of World Tour Finals.
The draw wasn't too kind to the other medal hopefuls too - Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying in the men's doubles and mixed doubles respectively.
Aaron-Wooi Yik found themselves bunched together in Group D with reigning world champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae of South Korea and Joshua Anthony Ho-Shue-Nyl Yakura of Canada.
With Ahsan-Hendra considered as the hot favourites in the group, Aaron-Wooi Yik must beat Sol-gyu-Seung-jae to advance into knockout round as one of the top two finishers.
Rio Olympics silver medallists Peng Soon-Liu Ying will start their bid to go one better by negotiating a rocky opening hurdles in Group D.
While second seeds Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping of China seen as their biggest challenge, German duo Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herttrich and former World Championships bronze medallists Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong are also considered tough opponents.
Top women doubles Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean will have to produce something special if they are to survive the group of death in Group A which includes world No. 1 Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima, Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia and Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith of England.
Group A: Kento Momota (Jpn), Timothy Lam (US), Heo Kwang-hee (Kor).
Group C: Angus Ng Ka Long (Hkg), Kevin Gordon (Gua), Lino Munoz (Mex).
Group D: B. Sai Praneeth (Ind), Mark Caljouw (Ned), Misha Zilberman (Isr).
Group E: Viktor Axelsen (Den), Kalle Koljonen (Fin), Luka Wraber (Aut).
Group F: Wang Tzu-wei (Tpe), Nhat Nguyen (Irl), Niluka Karunaratne (Sri).
Group G: Jonatan Christie (Ina), Aram Mahmoud (Syr), Loh Kean Yew (Sin).
Group H: Shi Yuqi (Chn), Soren Opti (Sur), Matthew Abela (Mlt).
Group I: Kanta Tsuneyama (Jpn), Georges Julien Paul (Mri), Ygor Coelho (Bra).
Group J: Anthony Ginting (Ina), Gergely Krausz (Hun), Sergey Sirant (Rus).
Group K: Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Tha), Kai Schaefer (Ger), Toby Penty (Eng).
Group L: Anders Antonsen (Den), Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie), Ade Resky Dwicahyo (Aze),
Group M: Lee Zii Jia (Mas), Brice Leverdez (Fra), Artem Pochtarov (Ukr).
Group N: Chen Long (Chn), Pablo Abian (Spa), Raul Must (Est).
Group P: Chou Tien-chen (Tpe), Brian Yang (Can), Felix Burestedt (Swe).
Group A: Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (Ina), Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe), Ben Lane-Sean Vendy (Eng), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind).
Group B: Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (Jpn), Anders Skaarup Rasmussen-Kim Astrup (Den) Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov (Rus), Godwin Olofua-Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori (Ngr).
Group C: Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn), Keigo Sonoda-Takeshi Kamura (Jpn), Mark Lamsfuss-Marvin Seidel (Ger), Phillip Chew-Ryan Chew (US).
Group D: Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina), Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas), Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae (Kor), Joshua Anthony Ho-Shue-Nyl Yakura (Can).
Group A: Chen Yufei (Chn), Doha Hany (Egy), Neslihan Yigit (Tur).
Group C: An Se-young (Kor), Clara Azurmendi (Spa), Dorjas Ajoke Adesokan (Ngr).
Group D: Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha), Kristin Kuuba (Est), Daniela Macias (Ita).
Group E: Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn), Yvonne Li (Ger), Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Rus).
Group F: Michelle Li (Can), Nikte Alenjandra Sotomayor (Gua), Martina Repiska (Svk).
Group G: He Bingjiao (Chn), Fathimath Nabaaha Abdul Razzaq (Mdv), Soraya Aghaei Hajiagha (Iri).
Group H: Zhang Beiwen (US), Fabiana Silva (Bra), Maria Ulitina (Ukr).
Group I: Mia Blichfeldt (Den), Linda Zetchiri (Bul), Wendy Chen (Aus).
Group J: P. V. Sindhu (Ind), Cheung Ngan Yi (Hkg), Ksenia Polikarpova (Isr),
Group K: Kim Ga-eun (Kor), Yeo Jiamin (Sin), Haramara Gaitan (Mex).
Group L: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn), Kirsty Gilmour (Eng), Mahoor Shahzad (Pak).
Group M: Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (Ina), Lianne Tan (Bel), Thet Htar Thuzar (Mya).
Group N: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha), Soniia Cheah (Mas), Laura Sarosi (Hun).
Group P: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe), Nguyen Thuy Linh (Vie), Qi Xuefei (Fra), Sabrina Jaquet (Sui).
Group A: Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima (Jpn), Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina), Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (Mas).
Group B: Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn), Doha Hany-Hadia Hosny (Egy), Rachel Honderich-Kristen Tsai (Can), Cheryl Seinen-Selena Piek (Ned).
Group C: Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor), Du Yue-Li Yinhui (Chn), Maiken Fruergaard-Sara Thygesen (Den), Gronya Somerville-Setyana Mapasa (Aus).
Group D: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn), Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor), Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha), Gabriela Stoeva-Stephanie Stoeva (Bul).
Group A: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn), Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek (Ned), Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung (Kor), Adham Hatem Elgamal-Doha Hany (Egy).
Group B: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra), Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng), Joshua Hurlburt-Yu-Josephine Wu (Can).
Group C: Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti (Ina), Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn), Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den), Simon Leung-Gronya Somerville (Aus).
Group D: Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping (Chn), Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herttrich (Ger), Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg), Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas).