March 5 TheStar JOHOR BARU: It is the last ranking tournament for the Asian players to gain points for qualification to the World Championships in Madrid in September. It is also the last tournament for Asian badminton giants China, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea to finalise their squads for the Thomas Cup-Uber Cup Finals in Japan from April 28-May 7. As such, the Yonex-Sunrise Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) at the Bandaraya Indoor Stadium here from March 28-April 2 are all set to attract the top Asian shuttlers. The deadline to collect points for the World Championships is May 31. The ABC will also be the first international tournament in Malaysia to use the new rally scoring format (the 21 points best-of-three games). The new scoring system was used in the recent Thomas Cup-Uber Cup Asian qualifiers in Jaipur, India. “These championships will also serve as the final major test for the Asian players before the Thomas Cup-Uber Cup Finals,” said Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) general manager Ganga Rao yesterday. Rao was speaking at a press conference at the logo launch for the ABC by Johor youth and sports committee chairman Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, which also saw Yonex-Sunrise reaffirming their commitment to the development of the sport in the region with the title sponsorship of the event. National number one Lee Chong Wei will lead Malaysia’s challenge as the hosts try to end their barren run in the series since 1996. The last Malaysians to win a title at the ABC were Yap Kim Hock and Cheah Soon Kit in the men’s doubles in 1995. Foo Kok Keong was the last Malaysian to win the men’s singles crown in 1994. At last year’s championships in Hyderabad, Kuan Beng Hong made the final but was beaten 10-15, 5-15 by Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro. This year’s championships offer a total prize money of US$125,000 (RM475,000) with the men's singles winner taking home US$10,000 while the women's singles champion will receive US$8,625. Tickets will be priced at RM12 for the first two days. On the third day it will be RM22 and for the final day it is RM32. Schoolchildren in uniform will be allowed to watch the day matches for free. However, they will be charged the normal price for night matches.