BWF World Superseries Finals11 April, 2016
First hosted in 2008, the BWF World Superseries Finals is the annual, year-end major event that brings together the most successful players of the 12 BWF World Superseries events.
The BWF Super Series started in 2007 with 12 events being hosted as part of the Series, however the BWF Super Series Finals event was first held in December 2008, in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Eight qualifiers in each of the five disciplines qualify based on the ranking points accumulated from the 12 Super Series tournaments in the calendar year. The Series was officially launched in 2006 as the “BWF Super Series” – however in 2011, the title was change to BWF World Superseries.
The BWF World Superseries Finals is both the newest and the most lucrative in terms of prize money for BWF major events. The Finals became in time, an exciting year-end tradition, where the most successful players of that calendar year’s 12 events that make up the BWF World Superseries, come together to decide who are the best of the best.
With the announcement in 2014 of a deal with Dubai, the place of the finals was guaranteed for four years in a high value destination and this added significantly to the prestige of the event.
The Super Series Masters Finals tournament was first announced midway through 2006 but even back when the Grand Prix Finals event was discontinued in 2001, the intention of the then-IBF was to replace it with a more marketable year-end championship. What was finally created was not only a year-end tournament, but rather an entire series of 12 top-tier open tournaments, the BWF World Super Series.
In its first year, 2007, the Super Series events each offered a minimum of US$200,000 in prize money and it was the ranking points accumulated from only these 12 tournaments, rather than the overall world rankings that determined which players and pairs were selected for the year-ending BWF Super Series Masters Finals, as it was called at that time.
The Masters Finals, which would feature only the top eight players or pairs from each discipline, were to boast a total prize purse of US$500,000, a figure that would make it at the time, the most lucrative single badminton tournament in history.
While the 12 events of the BWF Super Series were all hosted in the inaugural year, the 2007 edition of the BWF Super Series Masters Finals was postponed to January 2008 due to scheduling constraints, which saw the 2007 Hong Kong Open Super Series finish in early December. The inaugural Finals was then later postponed indefinitely and eventually, for the first year of the Super Series in 2007, no finals event was hosted.
Malaysia hosts and dominates
In late October 2008, as the second circuit of regular Super Series events was coming to a close, it was announced that the inaugural Yonex Sunrise BWF Super Series Masters Finals would be held in Kota Kinabalu in the eastern Malaysian province of Sabah.
Malaysia went on to host the second edition as well, the Yonex-Sunrise BWF World Super Series Masters Finals 2009, this time in Johor Bahru. Malaysian athletes won three of the five titles at each of these first two events, with both Lee Chong Wei and Chin Eei Heui / Wong Pei Tty picking up two consecutive titles, in men’s singles and women’s doubles respectively.
Prize money and points bring a field of the fittest
The 2010 Super Series season brought with it a number of changes that went far beyond the dropping of the word ‘Masters’ from the title of the season-ending tournament. The BWF made some key changes that cemented the quality and prestige of this young event.
The first two editions were only measured successes in participation terms. The relatively late announcements of host nations and venues were accompanied by a lack of interest on the part of some players who had qualified. In 2008, only 26 of the 40 players and pairs who had qualified ended up accepting the invitations they had earned to the event and in 2009, that figure dropped to 18 of 40.
As for the third edition, the earliest change was that the sponsor and host of the event were announced much earlier, in August of 2010. Also, along with the announcement that the Chinese Taipei Badminton Association would be hosting the Victor BWF Super Series Finals came word that the dates would be pushed into early January, 2011, in an effort to accommodate the busy year-end badminton schedule, which was for many top players, affected by the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
As the event approached, the BWF also announced that it would be awarding world ranking points for the players who took part in the Finals and also that participation would be made compulsory for qualified players, with fines imposed on those players from the top eight who did not attend. The ranking points for the Victor BWF Super Series Finals 2010 were set at par with the brand new Superseries Premier events, a higher echelon of five tournaments within the 12-leg Superseries, which made their first appearance in the 2011 season.
The result of all these changes was that no fewer than 39 of the top 40 in the 2010 Super Series rankings made the trip to Taipei and China was the big winner this time, taking three of the five titles.
Participation rates among qualified players have remained high ever since, as China stepped in to host the next two editions, first in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province, in 2011, and then in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in 2012. In 2013, the BWF World Superseries Finals returned to Malaysia after four years and was held in the capital Kuala Lumpur for the first time.
Beginning in 2011, the appearance of some larger prize purses among the new Superseries Premier events meant that the BWF World Superseries Finals was superseded as badminton’s most lucrative event in history.
Destined for Dubai
Beginning in 2014, the MetLife BWF World Superseries season ended with the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals, as the world body signed a deal with Dubai to keep the tournament in one venue for multiple years for the first time in its history. From 2014 until 2017, the event is to be held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, making it the furthest west it has travelled since its inception in 2008.