Championship -the best eight-
10th World Gateball Championships in Shanghai
【Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19, 2010】
Gaodong Town Gateball Park, Shanghai, China
- Organizer: World Gateball Union
- Administrators: China Gateball Association, State General Administration of Sports Public Sports Department, Shanghai Sports Bureau, and others
3rd Asian Championships Winners FUJIAN (China) Regain World Title after 10 Years
A team from Fujian Province in south-eastern China, made up of men and women aged 36 to 57. They won the 3rd Asian Championships held in Shanghai in 2000, and the following year finished third behind Japanese teams in the 6th World Games held in Akita City, Japan. In this tournament they reached the top in style, making full use of long slide touches of more than 6 meters and canons.
Chinese teams overwhelm opposition in clean sweep!
Currently held once every four years, this year's World Gateball Championships were contested by 728 players in 92 teams from 13 countries and regions including inaugural hosts Indonesia and the Philippines, but the top three places were swept by teams from host country China. The best Japanese team was TKE (Niigata) who finished in the best eight.
* Photographer: Mamoru Itoh
Reporter: Ryusuke Takahashi, Editorial Desk
Special Thanks to John Wang (GARDEN OF GATEBALL)
Superb 15m long touch
In the opening game FUJIAN got off to a good start with a 2nd gate 2-ball strategy. But they hit trouble in the third round. YUNNAN LIMING passed their white no.8 through the 1st gate and got close to the goal pole with a slide touch while sending the red no.4 out with a canon to leave Fujian with only their red No.5. In the fourth and fifth rounds, Fujian began and ended by hitting out-balls. Yunnan finally took their chance to go into the lead in the fifth round, white no.10 sending white no.2 and white no.4 to the near left of the 2nd gate and sending white no.8 to the far right of the 2nd gate. In the 6th round, however, Fujian got out of trouble when red no.1 made a long touch of about 15m on white no.4 from near the 1st corner and sent white no.2 out to win 9-7.
“I'm still nervous”, Fujian's victorious captain Zheng Fa Rong (39) said emotionally after the game. “We're delighted to be the world's number one.”
- Lin Min Zhong (39) carefully setting another ball
YUNNAN LIMING(China) beat Osaka Midori and take second place
A team of agricultural workers mostly aged between 40 and 50 working at Li Ming Farm in Yunnan Province, southern China. Runners-up in the 2008 National Championships. Member Lu Lin (39) won the National Singles Championship in the same year as well as the National Doubles Championship, effortlessly using long slide touches of six meters or more.
- Gong Wen Li (43) checks the direction of his ball in the final
Chinese junior teams show their strength! ZHENGER PRIMARY SCHOOL (China)
A team of graduates of SHI qi zhang xi zheng er Primary School in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, south-east China (aged 14 to 16). Gateball was introduced to the school about 10 years ago, and now the children practice enthusiastically in the school yard every day. Runners-up in the 2008 National Junior Championships. Asian City Gateball Champions in Macao in 2009. Good at hard-line tactics utilizing long touches.
- Captain Huang Jing Cheng (16) plays a spark shot using a between-the-legs swing.
Steel company team wins ZHENGZHOU YONGTONG (China)
Team of workers in their 50's from a steel company in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, central China. Despite never having won a major national title before, they shot to success in this tournament. They flexibly switched strategies such as 1st corner strategy and 2nd gate and 3rd gate strategies according to their opponents.
- Between-the-legs swing of Hao Xun (56) with his open-toed stance
Only Japanese team in the last 8! TKE (Niigata) fight back
The 12 courts of the venue were covered with smooth short-mown Korean lawn grass which is advantageous to long hitters, providing resistance to the roll of the balls and reasonable braking.
When I went to see the teams practicing the day before the event, I met Osaka Midori player Shiro Yoshida. “I've been watching the others practice”, he said with a serious look on his face, “and China look strong. They won't be easy opponents.”
In the qualifying league match lineup, there were Chinese teams on the courts of all the Japanese teams except Friend Sports (Kagoshima), Komatsushima (Tokushima), Osaka Midori, TKE and Tochigi Kanuma. The first match saw The Iwate, with players who have won this competition three consecutive times before, pitted against FUJIAN, winners of the 3rd Asian Championships. Fujian started with a 2nd gate near-right strategy, and although Iwate replied with a 3rd corner strategy, Fujian succeeded with a long slide touch to win 23-8. When the other Japanese teams about to play heard that The Iwate had lost, they braced themselves for a tough match. Kenshokai of Tokushima were playing TIANJIN, and despite the Japanese touching Tianjin's balls concentrated in the 4th corner, they were unlucky to go out of play and were eventually overwhelmed by Tianjin 5-20.
Only five Japanese teams progressed to the final tournament stage on day 2, including Shizuoka plus those who had no Chinese opponents in their qualifying league except Tochigi Kanuma. All the others were knocked out. In Round 2 of the finals, Komatsushima led Tianjin until halfway through their match, but after two successive mistakes passing through the 2nd gate their balls became bunched, and in one stroke they were overpowered by the Chinese who made a slide touch from near the 4th corner to knock the Japanese balls out. TKE defeated the formidable HEBEI LANGFANG (China) to go on to meet FUJIAN in Round 3. TKE started first, and in the middle of the match they used the received white no.10 in the 2nd corner to move the white no.2, which had passed through the 1st gate, by a slide touch closer to the 2nd gate. After it passed through the 2nd gate, a long touch by a red ball about 10m along the 4th line edge cleared out TKE's balls. This meant that TKE were overtaken and eventually beaten by FUJIAN. As a result, all four semi-final places were taken by Chinese teams, and FUJIAN kept up the momentum from their victory over TKE to beat ZHENGZHOU YONGTONG and then clinch the championship with a 15m long touch in the dying moments of the final against YUNNAN LIMING.
- A team of men and women in their 30's who have played together since junior level in former Kurosaki-machi (in Nishi-ku, Niigata City). Won the 22nd Japan National Championships in 2006 and the 27th All-Japan Cross-Generation Championships in the same year. Developed attacking gateball such as 2nd line edge strategies. Photo: Yoshimi Soma (31)
- TIANJIN (China)A team of men in their 40's and 50's from Tianjin in north-eastern China. Won the 2007 National Championships. Good at 1st gate rear tactics and hard-line tactics, they won a spirited match against Komatsushima of Tokushima and Kenshokai, Japan in this year's championships. The photo shows captain Zhu Bao Guang (46) who took third place in the 2003 National Doubles Championships.
- SHANXI LINFEN (China)A team of men in their 40's from Linfen, Shanxi Province in northern China. Finished in sixth place in the 2007 National Doubles Championships and in the last four of the 2008 National Championships. Specializing in taking the field first, they won a perfect game in Shizuoka in their second game of the finals of this tournament.
- GUANGDONG SONGGANG (CHN)A team of men aged in their 30's to 60's selected from Shenzhen, Guangdong Province along the Hong Kong border in southern China. Champions in the gateball event at the 4th China Games held this year. Good when taking the field first, they narrowly beat Nomi City (of Ishikawa, Japan) in their qualifying league.