On first sight of WTT Macao, the initial feeling among the participating players, coaches and umpires, as well as the fans who saw the tournament on TV and the internet, was of pure thrill and excitement. The octagonal court, with its black table and bright orange lines, solid black floor rubber, stylishly designed lightshow, pulsating music, plus a new entrance by the players from the center of the stage, stood apart from traditional table tennis tournaments.
“The WTT arena is really mesmerizing in its beauty, I would love to feel more on this stage, and I regret that I didn’t make it to the end this time. I believe it will be better in the future. Thank you to the ITTF, the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the Macau SAR Government and everyone who worked so hard for this event!” Chen Meng
WTT Macao, in partnership with IMG, ushered in a new era of table tennis, with a fresh tournament format, a different scoring system and a dynamic prize money structure. These transformations signaled the future direction of the beloved sport.
Liu Guoliang, Chairman of the WTT Council, gave a brief summary after the tournament in an interview with Xinhua network. He spoke about the success of WTT Macao and stated that the process of change and innovation needed to be constantly improved, gradually figuring out the path of innovation in table tennis.
“Overall, I feel there are a lot of highlights and creativity.” Liu Guoliang said that the Macao tournament hopes to show a different field, stage and tournament system to the professionalization of table tennis, and the process of change and innovation will certainly have flaws which will continue to improve.
“Of course, I want to change it for the better, but any change cannot be divorced from the essence of the sport, the fans who have been following it for a long time have their viewing habits and the players will have theirs. Overall, I think this is a good platform as the direction is also innovative, but whether it applies to the game of table tennis remains to be seen. This requires the discretion of everyone, including the players as well as the feelings of the fans. After all, this is a test tournament, the real WTT tournaments from next year will welcome valuable comments and suggestions, all-round from the players, the media, sponsors and fans.” Liu Guoliang
Liu also shared that the lighting, sound and colors in the arena presented a sense of fashion and youthfulness which is relatively cool and feels like a show. In terms of the tournament system and scoring method, this tournament is different from other current table tennis events.
“Table tennis must change, must be innovative as the future of professional, commercial and industrial development and promotion are only going to be more difficult. The most important thing is that during the tournament, regardless of players, media or teams, everyone works like a big family and tries to draw a blueprint for the future of World Table Tennis, with targeted ideas and suggestions.” Liu Guoliang
At the end of the weekend, Ma Long and Sun Yingsha took home the first trophies in WTT history. After winning the title, veteran Ma Long took to social media to express his excitement:
“Congratulations on the success of the first WTT tournament! Thank you to the ITTF, the Chinese Table Tennis Association and the Macau SAR Government and all those who supported the WTT tournament and for creating a new stage for table tennis players to showcase themselves. ” Ma Long
WTT Macao was the fourth international event after the first three events of the ITTF #RESTART series, and Steve Dainton, CEO of the ITTF and Director of the WTT, as the organizer experienced all the hardships and difficulties of bringing table tennis back to the international stage during this difficult period of the epidemic.
“All those who were there and those who could not be present – the hard work, the sweat, the tears behind the scenes and the joy of seeing our favorite athletes return to compete for the honor of restarting the tournament series. These will be among the major accomplishments achieved by the ITTF and the sport of table tennis. The players were amazing, they had a tough year without major international competition, and what we did was mostly for them, and we appreciate the sacrifices they made. But you should all be very proud.” Steve Dainton, CEO, ITTF
Dainton stressed that the impact of the epidemic meant for much of 2020, everyone was just fighting for survival. But the tenacity and hustle of the table tennis fans has proven to be unmatched.
“In the last few months, we have not only survived, but done more, and we have shown the world that table tennis is alive and has a very bright future. Thank you to China, to the Chinese Table Tennis Association, and to Liu Guoliang. None of this would have been possible without the full support of China for the tournament and our sport. Our sport has a long history in China and we look forward to continuing to work together for the development of table tennis around the world. ” Steve Dainton, CEO, ITTF
Dainton further stated that throughout the tournament bubble, he was constantly approached by friends from other sports associations and institutions for a variety of inquiries and that, in fact, the ITTF and WTT have shown a model of success for the world. He told the media that even in the early days of the spread of the epidemic, he led the young ITTF team in Singapore without taking a day off, all in full preparation for the success of the final day.
“We have given hope to the world of table tennis and to the whole sports world – that even in the midst of a crisis, we can overcome anything. While most of the world’s Olympic sports are still trying to return to the international stage, table tennis has done just that.” Steve Dainton, CEO, ITTF
Finally, he was pleased to report that WTT achieved a sense of perfection in all the details from conception to planning, followed by an agreement with the Executive Committee led by President Thomas Weikert as the event came to a perfect end. One can only imagine the hard work of the people behind all this.
“We did it! We held the event during the epidemic and we didn’t have any health hygiene issues or any new corona virus cases. While some people are still concerned about our trajectory, we need to continue to show the world how hard we work, how passionate we are, how professional we are, and most importantly, make sure that everything we do is done in the best interest of table tennis. If we can always make sure that this is the case, then we can prove that we are on the right path.” Thomas Weikert, President, ITTF Executive Committee
From as far away as Qatar, ITTF Vice President and WTT Director Khalil Al-Mohannadi also expressed his excitement after the event:
“In 2017, I told our new CEO Steve Dainton that he had to work hard to do great things for table tennis. In 2018, Steve presented some of his new ideas to the Executive Committee. When he showed us the plans for the future, at the time I felt, it was like a dream and couldn’t believe that it would be possible to achieve such a huge breakthrough for our sport.” Khalil Al-Mohannadi, WTT Director
The success of the WTT Macao has amazed the world of table tennis and Khalil Al-Mohannadi is very proud:
“My dream has come true table tennis has done it! Establishing the WTT was the best decision I have made since I joined the ITTF. Now, hopefully, the whole World Table Tennis Family will give us more time and trust to prove to the world that we can make table tennis one of the most successful sports in the world. We are just getting started, but with the support of strong partners and professionals, I am hopeful for the future!” Khalil Al-Mohannadi, WTT Director
WTT 2021 Calendar
The WTT World Series calendar for the first half of 2021 will take a pragmatic approach with three separate events in the Middle East, China and Europe.
– Middle East: March 17 – April 3
– China: April 14 – May 16
– Europe: May 27 – June 20
From 2021, the WTT World Cup Finals will be the year-end finale of the international table tennis world, with two separate events for men and women, featuring the world’s top men’s and women’s players competing for World Cup glory.
The two tournaments in the Middle East and Europe will focus on the WTT Challenge Series, providing the perfect environment for budding table tennis stars to have the opportunity to compete against the world’s best athletes.
The proposed “Tournament Hub” model will create the best possible environment for the WTT World Series events, providing logistical support that meets the health and safety guidelines of the new championship, while making it easier for athletes to manage their tournament schedules. The regional representation of the three tournament sinks also reflects the global nature of the WTT World Series.
In addition, the event schedule will be structured in time slots from one continent to another, helping tell the story of the WTT season, appealing to fans and a global audience.
After the Middle East, China and Europe events are completed, the WTT World Series event calendar will be paused for the Tokyo Olympic Games- giving athletes the necessary time to prepare for the grand event which will take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
After the Tokyo Olympic Games, the WTT World Series hopes to return to its normal schedule of events and is currently in discussions with potential candidate cities. Further announcements will be made as the WTT World Series continues to be guided by government and medical recommendations related to protection against the novel coronavirus.
Tournament Level Description
Grand Slam Tournament: Four pillars of the WTT tournament structure. Two/three days of singles qualifying + ten days of main draw. Men’s and women’s singles (64 players each), men’s and women’s doubles (24 pairs each) and mixed doubles (16 pairs).
WTT World Cup Finals: Five days of WTT year-end finale with separate events for men and women (16 singles players each + 8 doubles pairs).
WTT Championships: Six days of top WTT singles events, with separate events for men and women (32 players each).
WTT Star Challenge: Two/three days of singles qualifying + Five days of main draw. Men’s and women’s singles (48 players each), men’s and women’s doubles (16 pairs each) and mixed doubles (16 pairs).
WTT General Challenge: Two/three days of qualifying (singles and doubles) + Four days of main draw. Men’s and women’s singles (32 players each), men’s and women’s doubles (16 pairs each) and mixed doubles (8 pairs).