IBF's proposal to introduced a new series of tournaments some time ago will become a reality in 2007. This had been agreed in principle by the IBF Council as announced by IBF Deputy President, Punch Gunalan yesterday. The tournaments will be divided into four levels: 1st Level: Major events which offer the highest world ranking points like the Olympic Games and World Championships. 2nd Level: The SUPER SERIES, which will be the most important to the professionals and will see big changes. The minimum prize money will be US$200,000 but the hosting countries can attract better players will more money. There will be 12 tournaments. The number of participants to the main draw will be limited to 32 players to ensure better quality and performance. Four will qualify from the qualifying tournament and the host country will be given two wild cards. Eight Asian and four European countries have been selected, but the final decision on the details will be made this September during the World Championships in Madrid, Spain. They will include the following familiar major Opens and an A-graded event, presumably to be played on a monthly basis in the following order: 1. Malaysia (To start off the SS on January 16-21.) 2. Korea 3. England (All-England) 4. Switzerland 5. Singapore (Qualification points start for Beijing Olympics 2008) 6. Indonesia, 7. China (China Masters) 8. Japan 9. Denmark 10. France (formerly A-graded only) 11. Hong Kong 12. China (again) (A pity that Germany has missed out instead of Switzerland in terms of players' performance in the past.) The Singapore Open in May will be the first tournament for players to gain points to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (I'm sure the world's top players, including LCW, LD and TH will not want to mss the SO once again as they did this year) 3rd Level: Grand Prix Gold with prize money above US$125,000 and equivalent to the previous 4-star Open tournaments. (Just wonder whether the SS players are allowed to participate in this. But without some of them, this level seems a little boring.) 4th & Lowest Level: Tournaments will be organized in different continents to cater to junior players. Punch Gunalan said that this restructuring was part of IBF's two-pronged goal to ensure that badminton remains as an Olympic sport and the world's best racquet sport by 2030. The old method of IBF tournament set-up of star rankings (which did not quite conform to the real ability of some players) will be dscarded. I must say that this IBF Tournament Restructure looks promising and allows for a fairer distribution of resources and incentives. Professionals who aspire to be part of the SS must really work hard to qualify for the more attractive prize money. On the other hand, the green horns and the juniors will still have a chance to win some good money at levels three and four. I personally hope it will succeed! The Star report: The Star Online > Sports Tuesday July 4, 2006 One up for Malaysian Open BY RAJES PAUL KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian badminton received a big boost when the Malaysian Open was selected to kick-start the International Badminton Federation (IBF's) new Super Series next year. Yesterday, the IBF deputy president Datuk Punch Gunalan said that the world body have changed their tournament structure by introducing four new level of tournaments for 2007. The first level involves major events like the Olympic Games and the World Championships, which offers the highest world ranking points. But it is their second level of tournament - the Super Series - that will see big changes. The Malaysian Open is one of the 12 selected under the Super Series, which offers a minimum prize money of US$200,000. Instead of holding it in July every year, the Malaysian Open, which has been won by national men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei for the last three years, has been moved to Jan 16-21. It will be followed by the Opens in Korea, England (All-England), Switzerland, Singapore, Indonesia, China (China Masters), Japan, Denmark, France, Hong Kong and China again. For France, who used to host A graded and one-star tournaments, their inclusion in the Super Series is certainly a huge boost to their stature. The Singapore Open in May, will also be important as it will be the first tournament for players to gain points to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Gunalan said that the re-structuring of the calendar was part of the IBF's two-prong goal – in remaining as an Olympic sport and becoming the world's best racquet sport by the year 2030. “We will do away with the old IBF tournament set-up of star rankings and introduce four different level of tournaments,” said Gunalan yesterday. “The council have agreed in principle and we have finalised the details. This new structure will be implemented next year subject to the board's decision during the World Championships (in Madrid from Sept 18-24).” According to Gunalan, the Super Series will have limited participation of players and hence better quality in term of performances. “We have identified eight Asian and four European countries for the Super Series. The main draw will be limited to 32 players. Four will qualify from the qualifying tournament and we have agreed to give two wild cards for the hosts,” said Gunalan. “The hosts may increase the prize money to lure the players for their tournaments.” In the third level, IBF have introduced the Grand Prix gold. Tournaments under GP gold, rated as the four-star tournaments under the old structure, will offer prize money above US$125,000. The fourth and the lowest level will see the distribution of tournaments organised in different continents. This fourth level will be ideal for the junior players to strut their stuff.