Dubai: Table Tennis is predicting a bright and changed future with World Table Tennis (WTT), the world governing body for the sport, ushering in a series of changes starting January 2021.
The ITTF Rankings will be known as the Table Tennis World Rankings in a historic moment as elite Grand Smash events at the top of the rankings structure.
The move was approved and ratified by the ITTF Executive Committee that gave their nod to the structure starting from January 1.
The new rankings will play a crucial role in bringing WTT events to life while acknowledging the tradition and importance of ITTF events.
Grand Smashes will join the ITTF World Championships and the Olympic Games as the three events at the top of the rankings pyramid with each of them awarding 2,000 points for the winners.
With up to four Grand Smashes planned each year — similar to the Grand Slams in tennis — performance at these events will become the most critical in determining a player’s ranking. Since the WTT announcement on the Grand Smashes initiative earlier this week, marquee cities around the world have already shown interest in securing long-term hosting contracts.
“The Grand Smashes are the cornerstone of what we promised we would deliver for table tennis. This is a momentous occasion for WTT and the sport, as the ratification of the rankings lays the foundation for these events to become the future of the sport for our elite athletes and entertain our fans for decades to come,” Liu Guoliang, WTT Council Chairman, said.
Steve Dainton, WTT Director and ITTF CEO, added: “Grand Smashes as our marquee events will unlock the potential of table tennis and help the future growth of the industry of our sport. It will have a tremendous impact on the overall development of table tennis worldwide, ultimately bringing benefit to all stakeholders, not just our players and fans, but to our member associations as well.”
The ranking structure has been established to create a fairer, progressive and more dynamic system that will contribute to a greater fluctuation for players, while making it clearer for fans, media broadcasters and sponsors to understand where each event fits and allow WTT to tell the story of each season.
The full 2021 rankings structure, points allocations and final regulations are scheduled to be published by December 29.
Meanwhile, youth events will return to the overall rankings structure while re-establishing a pathway for youth into the seniors’ fold. All Under-19 category players will start earning WTT rankings points during the WTT Youth Series to ensure that the journey for juniors is clearly mapped out from day one of their playing career.
The proposal also introduces a number of rankings initiatives to reinforce the ITTF and WTT’s desire to present a more player- and fan-friendly structure. These include rankings used to determine automatic entry for players into events at the time of the entry deadline and event seeding to be determined by the ranking at the time of the respective draw.
The rankings will be published once a week every Tuesday, instead of on a monthly basis with players receiving ranking points based on round performances as well. Rankings points will now expire after 12 months and only the best continental/international events will be included in the best of eight count.
TT World Ranking points
Grand Smashes 2,000
WTT Cup Finals 1,500
ITTF World Cup 1,500
WTT Champions 1,000