THE WORLD'S greatest badminton players are in town. And for the next three days, Filipino badminton enthusiasts will get the rare chance to catch them in action as the MVP Cup, which features the best of Asia against the best of Europe, gets underway tonight at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. China's Lin Dan, the world's No. 1 in men's singles, spearheads the Asian lineup of 10 players which include Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat, the gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Another big Asian star in the event that offers $50,000 to the winning team and $30,000 to the loser is China's Zhang Ning, the world No. 2 in women's singles who, like Hidayat, is the reigning Olympic champion in singles. Others in the team are South Korea's Seo Yoon Hee, the No. 16 in women's singles and known as a giant-killer; Malaysia's Chang Chong Ming and Koo Kian Keat, the world No. 8 in men's doubles; Thailand's Saralee Thungthongkam and Sathinee Chankrachangwong, the world No. 5 in women's doubles; and the Philippines' Kennevic and Kennie Asuncion in the mixed doubles. While the crowd is expected to root for the Asians, those seeing action for Europe will definitely try hard to make the spectators change their minds. The presence of Germany's Bjoern Joppien, ranked No. 17, makes the Europeans just as tough. The team also includes Denmark's Anders Boesen, ranked 25th in the world; Mia Audina Tjiptawan, an Indonesian now playing for the Netherlands and is part of the European doubles champion team; Pi Hongyan, a Chinese now carrying a French passport; England's Robert Blair; Yao Jie, another Chinese playing for the Netherlands; and the world No. 1 mixed doubles pair of Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms of England. The players flew into town yesterday afternoon from Kuala Lumpur. They are billeted at the posh and trendy Discovery Suites along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City. Action begins tonight at 7 o'clock with the first women's singles pitting Zhang Ning against Tjiptawan to be followed by the first men's singles between Hidayat and Boesen and the men's doubles pitting Ming and Keat vs Robertson and Blair. Action in Day 2 also starts at 7 p.m. and features the second men's and women's singles, and women's doubles. On the third and last day of competition, it will be the Asuncions facing Robertson and Emms in what could be the crucial mixed doubles, followed by the third women's and men's singles on a team-captains'-option lineup. A brainchild of businessman-sportsman Manuel V. Pangilinan, chair of the sponsoring Smart Communications and PLDT, the event is also sponsored by Bingo Bonanza, Nokia, JVC, Yonex, Solar Sports, Discovery Suites, Inquirer Badminton and The Philippine STAR, among others. Organizers said tickets to the three-day badminton extravaganza are selling briskly. They are pegged at P500 for special ringside, P350 for courtside, P250 for lower level, P150 for ringside and P50 for gallery.