The World Championship of Ping Pong returns to London’s iconic Alexandra Palace this weekend and Sky Sports will screen all the thrills and spills as the world’s top players go head-to-head.
Moving into its third year at the historic Alexandra Palace, defending champion Maxim Shmyrev will return to try and fend off the challenge of 63 other top sandpaper players from around the world in the $100,000 two day ping pong spectacular.
Shmyrev, from Russia, has won each of the last three World Championship of Ping Pong tournaments and is out to make it four on the bounce, but with qualifiers taking place around the world this autumn the 2015 field is set to provide the defending champion his toughest test yet.
Organised by Matchroom Sport, the company behind PDC darts and World Snooker, the World Championship of Ping Pong is a throwback to the early days of table tennis and aims to catapult ping pong into the big league and onto the international television stage.
The game that fell out of favour with the advent of super-spin inducing rubber bats years ago, is now making its way back to the mainstream thanks to a potent mixture of speed, power and old-fashioned skill courtesy of the technology-free sandpaper bats.
Following its exciting London debut in 2013, followed up by another successful staging 12 months ago, the World Championship of Ping Pong is back to entertain the crowds at Ally Pally, as well as Sky Sports viewers watching at home.
The tournament sees 64 of the world’s best players take part, comprising of all ages and genders, who have qualified either as quarter-finalists in 2014 or through one of over 20 qualifying tournaments around the world.
As in the previous two years, the event takes place over four sessions, with a double elimination group stage featuring eight groups played out on eight tables on the Saturday afternoon before the last 32 enter a knockout stage played across two tables in the evening.
The double elimination group stages consists of eight groups of eight players. The eight groups of play on eight seperate tables, one group on each table, including the main televised table. Two straight wins will qualify a player for the last 32 while two straight defeats will spell elimination.
The final set of matches in the group will feature players with one win and one defeat competing to stay in the competition. Four players from each group qualify for the knock-out stages.
On Sunday morning, the last 16 will be whittled down to eight quarter-finalists, who will proceed to the evening session to battle it out for the 2015 World Championship of Ping Pong crown.
Three-time champion Shmyrev will begin his latest defence with a match against the player who finishes third at next week’s Last Chance Saloon Qualifying tournament at BATTS in Essex. He features as the number one seed in Group A, while 2014 beaten finalist and American Table Tennis Hall of Famer Ilija Lupulesku heads up Group B.
The feature table will see action from Group G, where Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay takes on Maltese female player Viktoria Lucenkova first up. In what could be described as the Group of Death, former American Olympian Jim Butler takes on the Croatian Qualifying winner and German star Alexander Flemming will be up against Sweden’s Matts Kallberg, while Nigeria’s Kazeem Adeleke takes on Czech Jan Gomola.
Commenting on the 2015 edition of the World Championship of Ping Pong, Barry Hearn, chairman of Matchroom Sport, said: “I am thrilled that this exhilarating event will once again take place in London in January.
“I am confident that we can build on the success of the first two years of the World Championship of Ping Pong and continue to grow this exciting sport into a global phenomenon.
“It has been great to see so many qualifying events organised for next year’s tournament, and with the eight 2014 quarter-finalists invited back I am sure this will be an even more competitive event than last year. Can Maxim Shmyrev win it again? I’m not so sure.”
After the success of the recent PDC World Darts Championship and Masters snooker, Ally Pally knows how to host a sporting occasion so you should expect the same shenanigans for the ping pong!
Sky Sports will be at Alexandra Palace to cover all four sessions from the second World Championship of Ping Pong to be staged at the famous venue over the weekend of January 24-25.
Tony Wrighton presents coverage across both days of live action on Sky Sports, with match commentary from the arena led by Colin Wilson and Tony West.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist and Great Britain’s number three table tennis player Darius Knight will also be part of the Sky Sports team, while Laura Woods will provide reports and interviews from around Ally Pally.
For more information about the 2015 World Championship of Ping Pong, including the latest news, scores, results and ticket details, visit the official tournament website.
.Saturday 24th January DAY 1: Double Elimination Round LIVE: 12.00pm-4.00pm Sky Sports 3 DAY 1: Knockout Stages – Last 32 LIVE: 6.00pm-9.30pm Sky Sports 2
Sunday 25th January DAY 2: Knockout Stages – Last 16 LIVE: 12.30pm-4.00pm Sky Sports 3 DAY 2: Quarter Finals / Semi Finals / Final LIVE: 6.00pm-9.30pm Sky Sports 2