The Thomas Cup is a biennial international badminton tournament contested by teams representing member nations of the Badminton World Federation. The Thomas Cup is more popularly known as the World Men’s Team Championships and has been played every two years since 1982 when it was changed from being held every three years since its inception in 1948-49.
In 2018, China captured its 10th Thomas Cup and its first since 2012 after defeating 2014 Thomas Cup champions Japan 3-1 in the tournament held in Bangkok, Thailand in May of 2018.
It didn’t look good early for the Chinese as 2016 Olympic gold medalist Cheng Long was beaten by 2015 World Championships bronze medalist Kento Momota in a tightly fought contest at the IMPACT Arena. Momota won with the scores of 21-19 and 21-18. But the Chinese tied the score at 1-1 following a 21-10 and 21-18 doubles win by Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan over Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko.
The Chinese team grabbed the lead after Shi Yuqi’s 21-12 and 21-17 triumph over Nishimoto. In the title-clinching match, the young pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen outlasted the duo of Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe with the score of 17-21, 21-19 and 22-20.
The next Thomas Cup will be next year in Denmark and as early as now, the betting odds for the next Thomas Cup winners are already up in most sportsbooks.
Here are the early favorites to win the Thomas Cup 2020. Odds taken from bovada as of 4/4/19:
China is coming off its first Thomas Cup since 2012 and you bet they want to keep the trophy in Beijing. Led by world #2 Shi Yuqi, the Chinese have a formidable roster of world and Olympic champions at their disposal. On top of that heap is Shi Yuqi who is one of the up and coming stars in badminton. He won the 2018 All-England Open against compatriot Li Dan and also toppled current world #1 Kento Momota at the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals. Shi Yuqi recently won the 2019 Swiss Open last month.
China also boasts of World #5 Chen Long who is the reigning Olympic champion and is also a two-time World Champion and a two-time winner of the All-England Open. In the men’s doubles China also has the #2 ranked pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen who are the reigning BWF World champions in the men’s doubles.
Japan would want nothing better than to get back on the Chinese after losing in the 2018 Thomas Cup Finals. Kento Momota has bounced back nicely after his suspension by the Japanese Badminton authorities following allegations of gambling. The current #1 top rated Badminton player won the 2018 World Championship and 2018 Asian Championship as well.
Japan also has two out of the Top 5 ranked doubles team in the BWF. Leading the way is the pair of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda who are ranked #3 in the world. The pair though lost to the Chinese tandem of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in the 2018 Asian Championships and the 2019 BWF World Championships. The #5 ranked doubles team of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe are coming off a win at the 2019 German Open.
No country has won the Thomas Cup more than Indonesia and with three Top 10 singles players led by world #8 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, no question the Indonesians are among the favorites for next year’s Thomas Cup. The Indonesians also have two of the Top 5 men’s doubles teams in the world led by #1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.
The Thomas Cup has been held a total of 30 times since it was founded by Sir George Alan Thomas and only five nations have ever won the world title. Indonesia holds the most victories at 13. China is next with 10 titles but the Chinese only started joining the Thomas Cup in 1982. Malaysia has won a total of five titles while Japan and Denmark have one each.
A lot of things can still happen between now and 2020 but when you take a look at the top players in the world right now, it does look that China is the more star-studded country. Barring any injuries or unfortunate events, China will take the most talented team to the 2020 Thomas Cup.
But a lot has also happened since their win over Japan in the 2018 Thomas Cup. The Japanese have the #1 ranked player in Kento Momota and have a pair of doubles teams in the Top 5 of the world rankings. That said, I think that Japan has the best shot at challenging China next year. However, beating China will be a tough order for anybody given the depth of their possible lineup. My early prediction for the Thomas Cup 202 is China although as I said earlier, plenty can still happen between now and 2020.