so here we are again, only a few months from the Sudirman Cup and World Championships. and all countries are now building up their armies in preparation. to talk about WC will be rather difficult, except China probably have 75% of winning WS (99% if they lock Camilla in the bathroom for the 5 day duration) and 85% of bagging the WD (99% if they lock Ra in the bathroom as well) anyhow, so i will skip the WC for now and let's talk about Sudirman Cup (SC). China has been the holder of the SC for the last what.. 4 times? it is a difficult feat to maintain their standard over all 5 discipline over 8 years. do we think they can do it again? in the past 4 times, China faced Indonesia twice in the final, and face Denmark and South Korea once. IMHO, the countries that have a good chance of winning the cup are: China Denmark Indonesia Korea let's talk about each one of them. Indonesia Indonesia strength (and weaknesses) hasn't changed much since 2 years ago. Indonesia has one of the strongest MD and MS players. with the recent resurgence of Taufik, Indonesia has a reasonably good chance in the MS events against any country. in MD, with the retirement of Tony, they have lost a valuable player in MD, while the pairings of Trikus/Halim/Bambang(?) are pretty decent players, the only pair who can match up with the strong Koreans are probably Candra/Sigit. however. C/S is going through a trough right now and hasn't been producing much results recently. good news is that they have 6 months to prepare and they have the ability to beat any team in the world. in mixed, with the retirement of Minarti, Trikus is now hopping partners. Trikus is still the best mixed player that Indonesia have and i hope that he will concentrate on the mixed event from now till SC. the problem with Indonesia however, is their women team. they don't have any WD/WS player who can be of threat to the other 3 nations, perhaps their WD can match up again Denmark, but for WS, they are just losing out. in order to win the SC, they will have to rely on their MS/MD/XD winning all their matches. that was a similar strategy that China used in the TC, however, one slip and they will be gone, like China did in the TC. Korea Korea's major strength throughout history is their MD. the pairing of Kim/Ha is capable of beat any other pairs in the world and their recent form and result confirms that they have recovered from the failures in the last WC and TC. in the past few years, Korea has slowly been building up strength in their MS, Lee Hyun Il is now among the most elite players and on a good day can be of a threat to all other countries. in WD, the fort is held by Ra Kyung Min and Lee Kyung Won. a pairing who recently resurgence has given the Chinese WD empire much headache. Ra being one of the best WD player also is threating everybody by partnering with Kim in XD. the pair of Kim/Ra is the strongest, most consistent and experienced amongst all the XD pairing in the world. Korea's WS offering hasn't been the strongest, however, recently a couple of players who surfaced has been showing some results. while paddling against the current when it comes to the Chinese and Danes, they have a good chance against the Indonesians if they do clash. China China the reigning SC holder is still among the favorites for the next SC. China strength comes from the ladies team. their WD has been terrorizing all other nations for years, although the invincible pairing of Ge/Gu retired a couple of years ago, they are replaced by an army of strong ladies forming 3 to 4 very strong pairs. while they were facing so strong resistence in the form of Ra/Lee (KOR) recently, they have restructured their pairings. perhaps that will give them fresh focus. similarly for WS, China has 3-4 player who can beat everyone else in the world without much sweat, except for Camilla (DEN). Camilla continues to be a big threat to China, with the retirement of GongZC last year, China no longer has a player who can reliably humiliate Camilla and GongZC did in the last SC (11-0/11-1). if China do face Denmark in the SC, the player will face immense pressure from both Camilla and the team to perform well. China's MS is very strong, Chen Hong who gained a crucial point in the past SC final against INA has grown much strong than before. Xia, while being less consistent and less fit then Chen, is also a strong candidate. China's golden XD pairing of Zhang/Gao was de-paired last year so Zhang can focus in MD for TC last year. now that TC is over, we are seeing this pair more often in international tournaments. they have shown their form by winning in the recent ABC, however, it is not of very clear indication as the strongest pairing in Asia - Kim/Ra wasn't there. the biggest problem with China however, is their MD. while they are fully aware of it and have reassigned coach Tang XinHu to be the head MD coach. Tang while being one of the best coach in the world, was only a MS coach and does he have enough experience and time to revive China's MD to the strength in the Li YongBo/Tang BingYi era? we haven't seen much results yet. Denmark the lone sailing European badminton nation Denmark is also a strong contender for the Cup. they have very strong potential to bring the SC first time ever to Europe. 3 1/2 yrs ago, Denmark came close to bagging the cup, but only to face the stronger nation China, they had to walk him with a 2nd place. like the other 3 countries, Denmark has their strength and weaknesses. in MS, two Peters resurface from their long injuries. Peter Gade took a break of one year plus while Peter Rasmussen (WC 1997) took nearly 3 years. Peter Gade has been the most consistent MS player in the 2 years before his injury. we will soon see if he can recover his previous form. in LS, Camilla has been consistently fighting her way through the Chinese army in major tournaments, and she will have no problems against player from any other nations. 3 yrs ago, Denmark lost the SC via their weaker MD pairing. however, in the past 3 years, Denmark has been hard at work in developing the MD players. a new batch of stronger, faster and erm... taller MD player has emerged and has been pressuring other nations. the most important part of all, is that while they come close to the INA and KOR pairings, they are stronger than what China has to offer. and that would potentially give them that crucial point that they missed last time if they were to face each other again. in XD, the experienced pair of Soggard and Olsen has splited and a couple new pairs has emerged. Jans and Mette was beating most pairings last year, they haven't shown much results lately, is a kick needed from their coach? Olsen is now partnering with our friend Jonas recently and they already produced good results in winning the Germany Open. with more preparation and with Olsen's vast experience, they will be a pair that all other teams will keep an eye on. Denmark's weakness however, is their WD. losing to Netherlands in the UC, they haven't improved much recently. the only nation in which they will have a chance is against INA, and they will certainly be destroyed by CHN and KOR. so as last time, the cup is open for grab and at this point, it will be very hard to predict who will be the ultimate winner. however, notably, Denmark has a much better chance this year to grab the cup for Europe than the past years. and Korea also. China while still strong, it strength isn't what it used to be and i think it will take work and determination for them to hold onto the SC for the 5th time. as for Indonesia, they will have to bank on a strong XD and some luck.