When it comes to badminton tournaments, the majority of people only know of the World Championships or the Olympic Games – which we’ve already explained in detail in What are the Most Prestigious Badminton Tournaments? – but there are actually many other tournaments that are part of something called the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour, which replaced a previous tournaments series which was known as the BWF Super Series.
The BWF World Tour is a series of tournaments which are held around the world for players to compete in for fame, money, and world ranking points. The tournaments are broken up into 5 different levels. From lowest to highest, they are the Super 300, 500, 750, 1000, and World Tour Finals. A tournament that is categorized in a higher level offers more prestige, a higher minimum prize pool, and more ranking points. The World Tour Finals is held at the end of the year and only the top performing players of the BWF World Tour of that year in each discipline are allowed to compete in it.
Note that there is one more category of tournaments called the Super 100, which is technically not considered as part of the BWF World Tour. It isn’t clear as to why exactly they are not part of the BWF World Tour, but they do provide World Tour points for players who compete in them.
BWF World Tour Tournaments and Prize Money
As the name “BWF World Tour” suggests, tournaments are held all over the world which requires players to travel fairly frequently and to many places in order to compete. This is great for badminton fans though since we’ll have more opportunities to see all our favorite players in person!
As of 2020, there are 27 annual tournaments in the BWF World Tour (including the World Tour Finals) and 11 Super 100 tournaments (which are technically not part of the BWF World Tour), giving a total of 38 annual tournaments. You can take a look at the below table to see the breakdown of the different tournament levels, minimum prize money pool per tournament, and number of tournaments.
|Level||Category||2019 Minimum Prize Money (USD)||Number of Tournaments|
|1||World Tour Finals||$1,500,000||1|
As you can see, there are quite a few tournaments with quite a big prize money pool! In order to help pay for all the prize money and organizational fees, tournaments often have sponsors – many of which are big badminton brands such as Yonex and Victor. Take a look below to see information about all the level 1 to 4 tournaments. These tournaments are considered to be very competitive since many top players attend them. In fact, top players (top 15 singles players and top 10 doubles pairs) are required to attend all level 1 to 3 tournaments and 4 of the level 4 tournaments per year. If they fail to do so, they will be charged a fine.
|Level||Tournament Name||2019 Prize Money (USD)||Sponsor|
|1||World Tour Finals||$1,500,000||HSBC|
|2||All England Open||$1,000,000||Yonex|
|2||Thailand Open #2||$1,000,000||Toyota|
|3||Danisa Denmark Open||$775,000||Victor|
|3||Fuzhou China Open||$700,000||None|
|3||Japan Open||$750,000||Daihatsu, Yonex|
|3||Malaysia Open||$700,000||Celcom Axiata|
|4||Hong Kong Open||$400,000||Yonex|
Level 5 and 6 tournaments are not nearly as prestigious as the above tournaments but they are a good way to gain points and make a name for yourself so that you can qualify for bigger tournaments. Top players occasionally play at these events if they need more points or want more practice but they are more often attended by local players. Additionally, the prize money isn’t half bad – in fact the Taipei Open in 2019 offered more prize money than all level 4 tournaments did!
|Level||Tournament Name||2019 Prize Money (USD)||Sponsor|
|5||Gwanju Korea Masters||$200,000||None|
|5||Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters||$150,000||Toyota|
|5||Syed Modi International||$150,000||EcoGreen|
|5||Barcelona Spain Masters||$150,000||None|
|5||New Zealand Open||$150,000||Barfoot & Thompson|
|5||Australian Open||$150,000||Crown Group|
|6||Lingshui China Masters||$75,000||None|
|6||Indonesia Masters Super 100||$75,000||Yuzu|
|6||Hyderabad Open||$75,000||IDBI Federal Life Insurance|
Overall, the BWF World Tour provides a great way for players to meet and compete with other players from around the world and gives fans access to awesome badminton action. If you think about it, the BWF World Tour is a way for badminton players to show how far we can stretch the limits of badminton and a very cheap way for fans to engage with and promote the sport. It’s essentially the result of many hours of tireless training by the players and logistical efforts by the organizers all coming to fruition.
Moreover, there is a massive amount of money that goes into the organization and prize money of the tournaments. There isn’t data available for the organizational costs but we do have the data for the prize money – a total of more than $13 million (USD) in 2019. Just take a look at the below diagram for the breakdown.
Wow, that’s a lot of money! And in fact, the payouts are increasing. It could be partially because of inflation, but you can also see that badminton has been growing very quickly in the recent years. BWF has been increasing minimum prize money payouts – usually at least once every 2 or 3 years – and it’s a great thing for badminton. Higher prize money attracts more players which eventually increases the average player level, giving us fans more awesome matches, rallies, and rivalries.
What is the BWF World Tour Final?
The BWF World Tour Final is the last BWF tournament of the year that is held in Guangzhou, China, where only the top 8 players of the year are allowed to compete for a prize pool of $1.5 million (USD). Since the finals is held in Guangzhou, you may see the term “The Race to Guangzhou” in tournaments – referring to qualifying for the BWF World Tour Final. The way the top 8 players of each discipline are decided are based off of World Tour Rankings, which are different from World Rankings.
World Tour Rankings are only based off of the current year’s results – which BWF calls a “season”. The main (and only) purpose of building a World Tour Rank is to qualify for the BWF World Tour Final.
World Rankings are based off the results in the past 52 weeks rather than the current year’s results, which often makes a player’s World Ranking different from their World Tour Ranking. A player’s World Rank allows them to enter tournaments and are used to seed players in the draws.
The Most Prestigious World Tour Tournament: The All England Open
The All England Open is arguably the most prestigious tournament in the BWF World Tour as it is the world’s oldest badminton tournament, with its first competition being held on March 10, 1898. For many years, the All England Open was considered the unofficial World Championships as there was no actual World Championship tournament until 1977. Even now though, the All England Open brings about a World Championship-like atmosphere as every player tries especially hard to win and must be among the top players in the world to even qualify for it.
Since the All England Open is such a long standing tournament, it contains lots of rich badminton history throughout the years and provides lots of insight into how badminton has evolved throughout time. From equipment, play styles, and even to badminton court dimensions – badminton has truly made lots of progress since it was first invented and continues to evolve. Just watch this video to get a glimpse into how the All England Open has made badminton into what it is today.
The All England Open is truly a one of a kind tournament that brings together the entire badminton community to see all of the best players in the world battle it out. Unlike most other tournaments, it actually has its own website, where you can keep up to date with the latest news about the tournament and players. Make sure to tune into the next All England Open to get all the best badminton action.
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