(by Steve Hopkins)
The Final Four teams are in the middle of their home-home matches in the Semifinals of the European Champions League. Two of those teams are German (Dusseldorf and Saarbrucken), and two of those teams are Russian (Fakel Gazprom and UMMC).
Before today, Fakel Gazprom Orenburg was up one against TTSC UMMC and Dusseldorf held a similar advantage over Saarbrucken. Dusseldorf and Saarbrucken played as scheduled today – and Dusseldorf won 3-1, eliminating Saarbrucken. Fakel Gazprom was also set to host UMMC in their Semifinal match, but that now appears in the schedule as “POSTPONED”.
Earlier today, the European Table Tennis Union issued a statement that Russian clubs will not be permitted to compete in any European Club competitions in the 2021-22 season. This specifically included the Russian clubs due to compete in the semifinal and final of the Men’s Champions League.
The match was played between Dusseldorf and Saarbrucken resulted in a 3-1 win for Dusseldorf. Dang Qiu upset Darko Jorgic 3-1 in the opening match to give Dusseldorf a lead. Qiu has been one of the most consistent players in the TTBL this season despite being the fifth highest ranked player on the squad – but Jorgic just came off of an emotional win at the Europe Top 16 – where he seemingly laid claim to being the best player in Europe. The second match was an upset for Saarbrucken with Franziska topping Timo Boll 3-2. Kallberg then topped Polansky 3-1 to give Dusseldorf a 2-1 advantage, and Qiu sealed the victory by upsetting Franziska 3-1.
If this decision by the ETTU remains in place, then Dusseldorf will be the defacto winner – and will have successfully defended their 2021 title.
*March 4 Update: Borussia Dusseldorf’s site indicates that they have been named champion of the European Table Tennis Champions League. However, the ETTU site’s two entries state that (1) Russian clubs cannot play until further notice, and (2) that Fakel and Gazprom are “not permitted to play (ETTU Executive Board 03.03.2022). It does appear that this is heading towards a declaration of Dusseldorf (either by declaring the Semifinal the Final, or by granting the title via walkover), but at this time there is no clear declaration on the ETTU site.
Visit ButterflyOnline.com for the latest table tennis news and results.