With the International Badminton Federation (IBF), world-wide badminton players could go for the gold at the Olympics, try to win the All-England, play in the World Championships, the Thomas Cup/Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, or other top tournaments. Players set their sights on national titles as well. But with the change in the name to the Badminton World Federation (BWF), other changes have been made to freshen the image of the sport and professionalize the events. Besides rally scoring which has shortened matches and made them more exciting, the creation of the BWF Super Series has certainly attracted the attention of the world-class players, their fans, and the junior players around the world.
What is the BWF Super Series? According to the press release from September 23, 2006, this is a series of twelve tournaments with a minimum of $200,000 in prize purse scheduled from January through December in a calendar year. These special tournaments will be held in England, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Switzerland. A season-ending BWF Super Series Finals will be held in a special location for the best eight men and women singles and doubles players with a prize purse of $500,000. The marketing partner with the BWF is Sports Media Promotions, and global TV coordination is being conducted by IEC in Sports.
Only 32 players/pairs will be allowed in the main round of each tournament, and only 8 players/pairs will be seeded in each event. Each event will have 28 player/pairs going through automatically regarded by world ranking, and the other 4 spots will be determined by qualifying rounds. Each Super Series tournament will be held in six days, with the main round in five days. Qualification round players/pairs will have to play four rounds before proceeding to the main round. World ranking points have also been changed so that points will be calculated based on the results or the round a player reaches, including qualification rounds.
If you follow world badminton on the BWF website, you can view the draws for the Super Series tournaments, and keep up with the action daily with results posted to the on line draws. For this first year of the Super Series, tournaments have already been hosted in Malaysia, Korea, the All-England in Birmingham,Switzerland, and Singapore. As an example of the prize purse, the Men’s Singles winner at the Singapore Super Series tournament won $20K, the Womens Singles winner, $17,250, and the Men’s Doubles winners, $18K. If you’re following Tony Gunawan, you know he’s playing in the Super Series tournaments in Men’s Doubles, has achieved semifinal appearances in three of the tournaments, and won the Malaysia Super Series Men’s Doubles title.
For junior players who are aiming for the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, the Super Series tournaments are the goals to aim for prior to the Olympic competitions. Now badminton has taken a step towards the prize purses and tournaments hosted like the tennis world. Perhaps U.S. players and fans could also hope to see a Super Series tournament in the U.S. in the next decade just as the World Championships came to our shores. If you’re a junior player, set your goals now for your route to the BWF Super Series and coming Olympics. If you’re an older player/fan, be patient until the next big BWF event comes to the U.S. World-class badminton has just taken a huge step forward, and we can only reap the rewards of the new image and professionalism of our favorite sport.