Change in the Korean doubles ranking order

GUANGZHOU: South Korea have gone one-up on their rivals as the guessing game revved into top gear ahead of the start of the Thomas Cup Finals today.
The normally routine team managers’ meeting was turned into a sea of confusion yesterday evening after the International Badminton Federation (IBF) announced the ranking order of players of all the teams.

The Koreans will now have the stronger Kim Dong-moon-Ha Tae-kwan as their first doubles, which many feel was their rightful place, instead of the higher ranked but weaker Lee Dong-soo-Yoo Yung-sung.

The IBF ruled that South Korea must field Dong-moon-Tae-kwan as the first ranked pair even though their world ranking at sixth as at April 18 was lower than the number two ranked Dong-soo-Yung-sung.

According to the computer calculations of the IBF, the notional ranking instead of world ranking must be used to determine the ranking of Dong-moon-Tae-Kwan in the team.

Rule 10.6.2 of the Thomas Cup Statutes states that a doubles pair who is making a return after injury or split must use their notional ranking if they have competed in two to six tournaments.

Event manager Vanessa Freeman said after the meeting that the notional ranking was calculated based on the number of points accumulated by the doubles and divided by the number of tournaments they competed in.

Under normal world ranking calculations, a pair’s points must be divided by eight, which is the maximum number of tournaments to be taken into account.

“This is to compensate for a strong doubles pair who is making a comeback and have only competed in a few competitions before the Thomas Cup,” said Freeman.

“South Korea must use the order provided by us. We have informed them of the matter after they sent in the team list (last month).”

Dong-moon-Tae-kwan, who took part in only five tournaments over the last 12 months following a lay-off because of injury to the latter, had 215.69 points under the world ranking computation compared to 238.5 points for Dong-soo-Yong-sung.

But under the notional ranking calculations, they have a total of 345.1 points. Last year, Dong-moon-Tae-kwan competed in the World Championships in June and China Open in September. They only returned to action in the Thomas Cup Asian Zone qualifying in Melbourne in February and went on to win the All-England and Korean Open.

The IBF only informed the Koreans of the changes but not the other teams. Instead of publicising the matter, the Koreans chose to keep it under wraps, which has thrown their rivals off-guard. The rivals would have certainly charted strategies based on Dong-soo-Yong-sung as the first Korean pair.

Yesterday’s revelation left the other, especially the Chinese official, rushing to Freeman for clarification. China are in Group A with South Korea, Denmark and Sweden.

Malaysia’s doubles coach Park Joo-bong felt that the Koreans would be even more formidable with Dong-moon-Tae-kwan as their number one pair but he felt that it would not upset the Malaysian strategy.

“All along, we had expected Dong-moon-Tae-kwan to be the first doubles. It was only recently that their ranking dropped below Dong-soo-Yong-sung,” said Joo-bong, who as a player formed a world-beating doubles combination for South Korea with Kim Moon-soo.

Malaysia, in Group B with Indonesia, Thailand and Germany, can only meet the Koreans from the semi-final stage.

Having Dong-moon-Tae-Kwan as the first pair will give the Koreans the edge because they can count on getting two points in the doubles matches against China. Their chances of winning ties are also better if they come up against defending champions Indonesia or Malaysia in the semi-finals.