(by Steve Hopkins)
A few weeks ago, the Euro 16 brought the top players from Europe together for an invitational. China’s equivalent is the Marvelous 12 which brings the top Chinese players together for an invitational where the first prize is an automatic invite to the World Championships.
The first phase of the Marvellous 12 was the selection of the Final 6 which occurred last week. Six players have been seeded based upon World Rankings and 2018 performance. The other participants were selected through a trial (called “The Final Six”) which led to the selection of a mixture of new names and established known names.
For the men, some of the young players looking for their big break are Zhao Zihau (age 22), Xu Chenhao (age 24), and Yu Ziyang (age 20). The established players are Xue Fei (who has been in the top 50 as recently as 2017), and Zhou Kai (who was No. 77 in 2014), and Fang Bo (who has played in three World Championships but was not on the National Team in 2018).
These qualifying six players will now join some of best-known names in the sport: Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan, Liang Jinkun, and Wang Chuqin. The final player is Yan An, who is a named replacement for Ma Long who has withdrawn due to injury. Next week, when the Marvellous 12 Phase 2 begins (February 28 – March 3), these twelve players will compete in a round robin with the top player receiving an invitation to the World Championships.
In the Women’s Marvellous 12, the qualifiers from Phase 1 are: Sun Yingsha, Chen Xingtong, Wang Yidi, Gu Yuting, Sun Mingyang, and He Zhuojia. They will be joined by the top seeds: Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen, Chen Meng, Zhu Yuling, Wang Manyu, and Wu Yang. The stakes are the same – the winner of the round robin round will receive an invitation to the World Championships.