For a long time in men's singles badminton, whichever tournament Kento Momota takes part in, he starts as a favourite. Last year, in a surprising result, the Japanese star lost to China's Shi Yu Qi in the final of the BWF World Tour Finals.
In 2019 edition of the year-ending finale of the World Tour, Kento Momota again starts as a favourite, even more so because his vanquisher from last year – Shi Yu Qi – has failed to make the cut, mainly due to injuries. The fact that this is one of the rare major tournaments that he hasn't won would motivate the reigning World Champion even more.
But as last year's event showed, nothing can be taken for granted. In Momota's last World Tour event – Fuzhou China Open, he came very close to losing the final against Chou Tien Chen. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting has also registered some surprise wins over Kento. So, the Japanese superstar can't take his eyes off the ball.
With that in mind, let's look at all the eight competitors in the fray and assess their chances:
The most dominant player in the last two years, Momota has won 10 major titles in 2019. The only thing that could have hampered him is fatigue. But by withdrawing from the Hong Kong Open, he has given himself much-needed rest. If he is 100% fit, the World Champion is unlikely to be stopped.
Chou Tien Chen
Largely inconspicuous most of the time, Chou Tien Chen showed his prowess in the Fuzhou China Open final when he almost defeated Momota. If he can raise his game to that level again, he will be a major contender.
Despite being the Asian Games gold medallist, Jonatan Christie hasn't earned great heights of success. He has been among the top players but doesn't have a major title to his name this year. It would be a big surprise if he wins.
The reigning Olympic Champion Chen Long has been performing poorly over the last couple of years. If he has to successfully defend his title next year in Tokyo, he will have to begin his resurgence immediately.
Having been an inconsistent performer, one doesn't know what to expect from Viktor Axelsen in this tournament. He is certainly a contender but too often, he has stumbled at the final hurdle. He also has an atrocious record against Momota. It would be difficult for him to overcome these challenges.
Anthony Sinisuka Ginting
One of the most talented players and the best from Indonesia, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting seems to have something few other do – ability to beat Momota. It was he who defeated the World Champion at Asian Games and beat him again at French Open. He could be the player to watch out for.
The surprise finalist at the World Championships, Anders Antonsen has made great progress this year. He is yet to get that big title that would make him a member of the big league. This tournament is as good as any for him to start his rise.
Wang Tzu Wei
The least likely to make an impact in the World Tour Finals, Wang Tzu Wei is the weak link amongst these players. It would be a huge upset if he goes far in this event.