Table Tennis: Singapore's Feng Tianwei among stars set to feature in new T2 Asia-Pacific league

Feng Tianwei is set to play in the inaugural season of the new T2 Asia-Pacific league (T2 Apac).
Feng Tianwei is set to play in the inaugural season of the new T2 Asia-Pacific league (T2 Apac).PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Some of the world's best table tennis players, including Singapore's women's world No. 5 Feng Tianwei, are set to play in the inaugural season of the new T2 Asia-Pacific league (T2 Apac).

The T2 Apac, which carries a unprecedented prize purse of more than US$ 1.5 million (S$2.15 million), will kick off in Hong Kong from July to December this year and the matches will be played in between breaks on the existing professional table tennis calendar.

The first batch of 13 players were announced on Tuesday (Jan 10). The competition is expected to field a line-up of 24 players.

Among the l3 players (12 men, 12 women) who have committed to play at the event include women's sixth-ranked Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei, and men's world No.8 Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.

Other notable names include men's world No.15 Joo Sae Hyuk of South Korea, former World Junior Table Tennis Championship singles champion Chen Chien-an of Chinese Taipei, England's Paul Drinkhall, a gold medallist in the mixed doubles at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, three-time European Champion Elizabeta Samara of Romania, and Korean Yang Ha Eun, the mixed doubles champion at the 2015 World Championships.

The other male players who will join the competition are Aleksandr Shibaev of Russia, Georgina Pota of Hungary and Matilda Ekholm of Sweden, while women's world No. 13 Jeon Ji Hee of Korea and 23-year old reigning SEA Games women's singles gold medallist Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand.

They will compete in the men's, women's and mixed-team events.

Said Samsonov, 40, who is also the event's director of player operations: "The unique concept of T2 Apac promises to bring the sport of table tennis to a whole new level and I am delighted to be part of this exciting competition before I hang up my paddles for good."

Added Jeff Chue, the chief executive officer and commissioner of T2 Apac: "After sharing the concept of T2 Apac with many of the top players from all over the world in the past few months, we are very excited to unveil our first batch of players who have signed on for the inaugural season.

"We are confident that with the multi-faceted cast we have put together so far, the fans will be in for a fantastic season of T2 Apac action, and we will unveil the rest of our first season line-up very soon."

The competition format will feature innovative features such as a player draft system, 24-minute matches and a unique scoring system.