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Worlds Day Two: All Eyes on England

Worlds Day Two: All Eyes on England

(By Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
Worlds Day Two: All Eyes on England

The Championship Division of the 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad is made up of four groups of six teams. The top seed in each group are seeds 1-4 in the tournament: Germany, China, Japan, and France.   The order of play is set so that the better teams play each other last, so by design the tournament does not normally feature major upsets early.  The top two groups (featuring Germany and China) are progressing as expected, with each having won all three of their matches – and with their most difficult match-up on the horizon.  That does not mean that there have been no upsets.  Sweden defeated Hong Kong (No. 3 over No. 2 the Group A) and Brazil upset Portugal (No. 3 over No. 2 the Group B), but the top team in those groups has been unscathed thus far.

Groups C and D have featured some larger upsets.  In Group D, the third seed Austria defeated France which could affect which teams advance.  The second seed in that group, Korea, has been strong thus far, so that group could be won by any of three teams depending upon the next two matches.  That will make for some very exciting final matches within the group.

Group D’s third seed, England, was the biggest story of Day 2.  As the third seed, this was England’s most difficult day as they played second seed Taipei in the morning and first seed Japan in the afternoon.  They rose to the occasion in the morning match with Liam Pitchford winning twice and Paul Drinkhall winning once to claim a 3-1 upset.

After a few hours of rest, Team England then returned to the arena for a second battle and turned in a result that likely surprised even their most ardent supporters.  England knocked off Japan, the third seed in the entire tournament, and did so decisively.  Japan’s Jun Mizutani struck first with a close win over Paul Drinkhall 3-2.  Liam Pitchford then upset Tomokazu Harimoto 3-0.  Sam Walker then upset Koki Niwa 3-0.  And then Liam Pitchford upset Jun Mizutani 3-2.  England is now in the driver’s seat for Group C with wins over both teams seeded above them.

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