“It may not quite match the announcement of Tuesday 6th April 1971 but the invitation, issued on Monday 15th February 2010, for foreign teams to compete in the Chinese National `A’ League and Chinese National `B’ League is most certainly a groundbreaking move by the Chinese Table Tennis Association.
Tuesday 6th April 1971 was the day that sparked what became known in history as “Ping Pong Diplomacy”. At the 31st World Championships in Japan, the United States Table Tennis Team received an invitation to visit China; the ensuing visit on Monday 12th April 1971 started the thaw in Sino-American relations.
image source: Home Leisure Direct
It paved the way for United States President, Richard Nixon to visit China and meet Chairman Mao Zedong in February 1972.
No Longer Closed
The invitation from the Chinese Table Tennis Association will not result in Barack Obama visiting Beijing and 40 years later, we live in a much different world; the once closed doors of China are now open to the world and the invitation to compete in the Chinese National League is a further indication of China’s desire to promote the sport of table tennis.
“In recent times China has started working to help with the development of table tennis outside its borders, various training camps have been organized with some of Europe’s top players taking the chance to practice with the best”, explained Steve Dainton, ITTF Marketing Director.
“In 2010 the national association now welcomes teams and players to compete in this year’s league system in China, it is an excellent chance for aspiring world class players to come to the country that, in recent times, has dominated table tennis; it is a good chance to learn from the best and gain experience playing against numerous highly talented aspiring Chinese Stars.”
Certainly, that is the situation.
The Chinese `A’ League and the Chinese `B’ League are in effect the second and third divisions; the Chinese Super League is the top division comprising eight men’s and eight women’s teams.
Two Places for Men and Two for Women
A total of 24 Men’s Teams and 24 Women’s Teams comprise the Chinese `A’ League for 2010 with two places in each competition being open to foreign teams or clubs.
The competition will be organized in two stages: the first stage will take place from Wednesday 2nd to Monday 7th June in Chengdu (Sichuan Province) and in Yantan (Shandong Province). In each city, 12 Men’s Teams and 12 Women’s Teams will compete. The second stage will take place in Chongqing (a provincial municipality) from Wednesday 25th to Sunday 29th August.
In the first stage, the 12 teams in each venue will play against each other on a “round robin” format; thus following the conclusion of play there will be a ranking for both Men’s Teams and Women’s Teams.
In the second stage, all the teams meet in Chongqing. The top four teams from Chengdu and the top four teams from Yantan, a total of eight teams, play each other on a “round robin” basis; the top four teams then compete on a knock-out basis (semi-final, final, third place match) to decide the top four places. The teams finishing in fifth to eighth places do likewise for positions five to eight.
The same process is followed to determine positions nine to 16 and 17 to 24.
Order of Play
Each team must register a minimum of four players with no player being permitted to compete in more than two matches in one particular fixture. The order of play is: A v X, B v Y, Doubles, A v Y, B/C/D v W/X/Z.
Promotion and Relegation
At the end of proceedings, the champion team meets the team that finished in eighth place in the Chinese Super League for the right to compete in the 2011 Chinese Super League whilst the last five placed teams are relegated to the Chinese `B’ League.
Similarly, the Chinese `B’ League is based on two stages.
The first stage will be held in Shanghai from Wednesday 16th to Sunday 20th June with the second stage being organized in Luohe (Henan Province) from Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th September.
In Shanghai, the competition starts with 32 Men’s Teams and 32 Women’s Teams.
The teams compete in four groups; eight teams in each group. The top two teams from each of the four groups then compete on a knock-out basis with play-off matches to determine positions. The process is also followed for he teams finishing in third and fourth places in each group (positions 9-16), fifth and sixth places (positions 17-24), seventh and eighth places (positions 25-32).
A ranking is therefore achieved; in Luohe, the top 16 teams from Shanghai are drawn into two groups with eight teams in each group; matches are played on the “round robin” format.
Following the conclusion of the group matches, the top four teams compete on a knock-out format to determine the champion team. Play-off matches are staged to determine the final order.
The teams finishing in fifth to eighth place in each group follow the same principle to determine places 9-16.
Equally, the same overall format will be followed in Luohe for those teams who finished in places 17-32 in Shanghai.
Swaythling Cup Principle
The Chinese `B’ League follows the Swaything Cup principle for all matches: A v X, B v Y, C v Z, A v Y, B v X. The top four teams progress directly to the Chinese `A’ League for 2011 with teams finishing in positions 27 to 32 being demoted to the Chinese `C’ League.
In order to compete in the Chinese `A’ League and Chinese `B’ League, a minimum of four players per team must be registered.
A team comprises Team Manager, Coach, and four players; the registration fee is US$100 and accommodation costs are US$50 per day.
In order to qualify as a foreign team, at least 65% of the team members must not be members of the Chinese Table Tennis Association; world ranking will determine acceptance and as to whether the team is placed in the Chinese `A’ League or Chinese `B’ League.
The deadline for registration is Thursday 1st April 2010. ”
IMO, the time they’ve done something like this, they used to allow players from other countries to play in their leagues but then right before the Olympics and World Championships they only kept it open to their own people. In the year 2005, the Koreans comprise of Ryu, Oh, Joo,& Lee and another is the team of Chiang PL, T Boll, A Smirnov played in the Chinese league.