Amidst a slew of individual tournaments throughout the year, mixed team events hold a special place for the players and fans alike. After all, the sport doesn't offer many opportunities to compete as a nation in a regular season.
The Sudirman Cup is the World Mixed Team Championships, which takes place every two years. There are 12 elite teams that will take part in the tournament where each group comprises of 3 teams, with the top two team qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Most titles? Who else but China. The Asian powerhouse has 10 Sudirman Cup gold medals, followed by Korea (4) and Indonesia (1). It's not a surprise to know that the cup has never been lifted by a non-Asian country, Denmark is the only European country that came close to winning it, in 1999 and 2011.
Korea are the defending champions of the tournament as they defeated China in the 2017 edition. Nanning will host the 2019 edition of the mixed team event from 22-29 May.
Teams, disciplines and fixtures:
The Sudirman Cup is a test of a team's all-round strength. A total of five matches will be played in every tie: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles.
The teams will be divided into four groups, with twelve teams in the elite group (Group 1) competing for the title. Only teams in Group 1 will have a chance to lift the trophy as the teams in other groups fight for promotion. Group 2 and Group 3 (eight teams each) along with Group 4 (three teams) will fight for overall placing.
Due to Kenya's late withdrawal from the tournament, the original list of 32 teams was trimmed down to 31. Take a look at this year's seedings:
Group 1 A: Japan, Thailand and Russia. Japan and Thailand look the favorites to move into the knockout stage
Group 1 B: Indonesia, Denmark and England.
Group 1 C: Chinese Taipei, the defending Champions South Korea and Hong Kong
Group 1 >D: China, Malaysia and India
Group 2 A: Netherlands, France, USA and Vietnam
Group 2 B: Germany, Canada, Singapore and Israel
Group 3 A: Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal
Group 3 B: Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Slovakia and Lithuania
Group 4 A: Macau, Kazakhstan and Greenland
The fixtures are as follows:
Japan vs Russia - 20 May
Thailand vs Russia - 21 May
Japan vs Thailand - 22 May
Indonesia vs England - 19 May
Denmark vs England - 20 May
Indonesia vs Denmark - 22 May
Chinese Taipei vs Hong Kong - 19 May
Korea vs Hong Kong - 20 May
Chinese Taipei vs Korea - 22 May
China vs Malaysia - 19 May
India vs Malaysia - 21 May
India vs China - 22 May
History of Sudirman Cup:
The prestigious tournament is named after Dick Sudirman, a former Indonesian badminton player and the founder of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI).
The first Sudirman Cup was played at Bung Karno Stadium in Indonesia with 28 participating teams. The tournament gained enough popularity and momentum to be staged as a standalone event in 2003.
Since 1989, only three countries " Indonesia, Korea and China, have won the Sudirman Cup.
Indonesia won the inaugural edition at home " the one and only time they've taken the title. Korea emerged champions in the next two editions, followed by China, who won all events but one from 1995 to 2015 (Korea interrupted China's reign in 2005).
China were again favourites in 2017 but were surprised by a Korean team with several inexperienced shuttlers in a tense final in Gold Coast, Australia.
Notable changes in 2019 edition. Why Nanning?
Badminton World Federation (BWF) has introduced a new format for the Sudirman Cup, adding another four teams in the group stage, from only eight teams previously.
"BWF added another four teams as compared to the last tournament where there are only eight groups in the top tier," said BWF CEO Thomas Lund.
The federation aims to help countries, which needed support to expose their shuttlers worldwide. BWF also trusts China's capabilities in hosting an event of such magnitude.
"We are impressed with the facilities and hospitality provided by China during the last Sudirman Cup tournament," he said.
The first tie in Group 1 will see Indonesia take on England, while the top seeds in both Group 1 and 2 will take to the adjacent courts. The highlight of Sunday's evening session will be China's clash with Malaysia.