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The men’s doubles division has grown into one of the most competitive divisions in badminton. This is why so much recognition goes to any player or pair who rises to the top of the rankings. One men’s doubles pair has proven to be a force to be reckoned with on their way to the top — the Japanese powerhouse duo of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi!

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi make up one of the best men’s doubles pairs in badminton. The Japanese duo has captured numerous accolades, including several men’s doubles titles at Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour and International Series. The pair is also famous for their victory at the 2021 BWF World Championships. There, Hoki and Kobayashi made history by being the first men’s doubles pair to win the World Championships. In that same year, they also became the first Japanese men’s pair to win the World Tour Finals. For their history-making accomplishments, Hoki and Kobayashi claimed the World Number One Ranking, holding on to the spot for at least seven weeks since September 2022.

This pair has made waves in men’s doubles badminton. Learn more about the accomplishments of this Japanese powerhouse pair in my latest edition of Badminton Player Profile!

Yugo Kobayashi’s Early Badminton Career

Born on July 10, 1995, Yugo Kobayashi’s junior career started when he turned 16. His first tournament was at the 2011 Junior Challenge Open Badminton Championship. At the tournament, he was a singles and doubles player. For the boy’s doubles event, he partnered with Yu Igarashi. The young pair advanced as far as the qualifying rounds but lost just before reaching the quarterfinals.

In 2012, Kobayashi traveled to South Korea to compete at the Badminton Youth Asia Under-19 Championships. There, he competed in the boys’ singles and doubles event, advancing past the round of 16 and 32 stages, respectively.

Months later, he played at the BWF World Junior Championships in Chiba, Japan. For the boys’ doubles event, Kobayashi paired with Akira Koga. The pair lost early at the hands of China’s Pei Tian Yi and Zhang Ning.

Kobayashi competed in several other junior tournaments in 2013, but his best result came at the 2013 USA International when he took bronze in the men’s singles event. This exact event is where Kobayashi partnered with Takuro Hoki for the first time in his career.

Takuro Hoki’s Junior Badminton Career

Meanwhile, Takuro Hoki was getting the same early start in his badminton career. Born just a month after Yugo Kobayashi, he kicked off his junior career at the same age as Kobayashi, playing his first tournament at the 2011 Osaka International Challenge. Pairing with Keiichiro Matsui, Hoki bowed out early in the round of 16 stage.

The young Hoki returned for the 2012 edition of the Osaka International Challenge. Despite a change in partners, Hoki experienced the same early-stage elimination as he did in his 2011 outing.

Hoki gained more experience in high-level junior tournaments in 2013. At the 2013 USA International, Hoki competed in the men’s doubles event alongside Yugo Kobayashi. The newly formed pair advanced as far as the quarterfinals only to lose to Canada’s Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng.

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi’s Senior Debut

Hoki and Kobayashi continued to compete as a men’s singles pair ever since their pairing at the 2013 USA International. They officially debuted as a senior doubles pair in 2014.

The pair made their debut at the 2014 Vietnam International Challenge. They advanced past the round of 32 stage, but they lost in the round of 16 stages at the hands of Malaysia’s Tan Wee Gieen and Hong Kheng Yew.

Following a lackluster debut, Hoki and Kobayashi competed at the 2014 Osaka International Challenge, where they lost early again. More losses came at the 2014 Japan Open and 2014 Indonesia International Challenge. Luckily, the pair redeemed themselves in a big way two months later.

In October 2014, Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi competed at the USA International Challenge. Unlike their previous tournaments, the pair breezed through the men’s doubles event, reaching the finals.

Awaiting the pair in the finals was the Canadian duo of Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng. Unwilling to taste defeat again, Kobayashi and Hoki established dominance early to win the first game 21-17. With victory in sight, Kobayashi and Hoki showed their Canadian opponents no corner. After the 37th minute, Hoki and Kobayashi established a two-point lead, winning the match.

The victory gave Hoki and Kobayashi their first senior title. Most importantly, the win was what the duo needed heading into their 2015 and 2016 campaigns.

Early Career

2015 wasn’t a good year for the up-and-coming Japanese pair. Things began to take a positive turn for Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi in 2016.

In 2016, Hoki and Kobayashi competed in the 2016 edition of the Thomas Cup. In the men’s doubles, they played against Mexico’s Lopez Andres and Luis Ramon Garrido. Hoku and Kobayashi made short work of their opponents to win 21-8 and 21-10.

After the Thomas Cup, Hoki and Kobayashi competed at the Spanish International. There, Kobayashi and Hoki advanced to the finals, where they faced Denmark’s David Daugaard and Mathias Christiansen.

Hungry for gold, Hoki and Kobayashi showed their Danish opponents no corner. After just 26 minutes of action, the pair won dominantly, bagging their second International Challenge title since 2014.

The duo followed up their impressive Spanish International win with another podium-worthy finish at the 2016 U.S. Open. At the 2016 U.S. Open, Hoki and Kobayashi faced Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in the finals.

The first game easily went the way of the Danish pair. Despite losing, Hoki and Kobayashi proved they could hold their own against the best by nearly forcing the match into a third game.

Losing to Boe and Mogensen, Hoki and Kobayashi took silver in the tournament — but they also took the recognition of the El Monte crowd.

Meanwhile, Kobayashi made waves in the mixed doubles event with Wakana Nagahara. The mixed doubles pair bagged gold at the U.S. Open after defeating Indonesia’s Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba.

Title Wins at the World Tour

In total, Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi have won five World Tour titles and two runner-up finishes. Their first World Tour outing was at the 2018 Korea Open.

Runners-up at the 2018 Korea Open

At the 2018 Korea Open, Hoki and Kobayashi advanced to the finals. Their compatriots, Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe, were waiting for them in the finals.

The finals match went the distance, and both teams won one game each. The third game concluded 21-10 in favor of Endo and Watanabe.

Open Champions

Hoki and Kobayashi played at the 2021 Denmark Open. The pair reached the finals after dominating the men’s doubles event. In the finals, they faced Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen.

In straight sets, Hoki and Kobayashi defeated their opponents to win their first World Tour title.

Another Title Victory at the 2021 Indonesia Masters

A month after the Denmark Open, Hoki and Kobayashi took another stab at a World Tour title. This time, they competed at the 2021 Indonesia Masters, where they faced the powerhouse Indonesian pair of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo.

Hoki and Kobayashi faced their formidable Indonesian opponents in a match that went to a third game. In the 57th minute, Hoki delivered the critical smash to win the game.

Runners-up at the 2021 Indonesia Open

Four days after the Indonesia Masters, Hoki and Kobayashi played at the 2021 Indonesia Open, advancing to the finals. Once again, they faced the pair of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo.

Unlike their previous encounter, Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo established dominance throughout the match. In the end, Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi had to settle for another runner-up finish.

Redemption at the 2021 World Tour Finals

Eager to reclaim dominance in the men’s doubles division, Hoki and Kobayashi played in the 2021 BWF World Tour Finals. They advanced to the finals to face Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo again.

Both teams forced the match into a third game. In the end, Hoki and Kobayashi defeated their Indonesian opponents, winning the 2021 World Tour Finals and avenging their 2021 Indonesia Open loss.

By winning, Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi became the first Japanese men’s pair to win a World Tour Final.

Another Title Victory at the 2022 Thailand Open

Hoki and Kobayashi competed at the 2022 Thailand Open. After advancing to the finals, they faced Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.

The match started with an intense exchange of rallies, but problems for the Indonesian team began to surface after Fajar Alfian’s movement became noticeably stalled. Nearing the nine-minute mark, Fajar Alfian could no longer continue due to a back injury.

The Indonesian team’s retirement from the match gave Hoki and Kobayashi their fourth World Tour title.

Putting Doubt to Rest at the 2022 Malaysia Open

Following the 2022 Thailand Open, there was a lot of speculation about how the match would have turned out had Alfian not sustained injury. At the 2022 Malaysia Open, Hoki and Kobayashi had a chance to silence the speculations.

In the finals, Hoki and Kobayashi faced Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto again. The match was competitive, to say the least. Both teams snagged one game each, forcing the match into a third game.

In the third game, Hoki and Kobayashi pulled out all the stops to win 21-9. They didn’t just win their fifth World Tour title; they also put all doubts to rest, consolidating their reputation as the top team to beat in the men’s doubles division!

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi at the BWF World Championships

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi had played in the BWF World Championships several times, but they finally managed to land on the podium in 2019.

Their First Time on the Podium at the 2019 BWF World Championships

At the 2019 BWF World Championships, Hoki and Kobayashi advanced to the finals for the first time in their careers. In the finals, they faced one of Indonesia’s most formidable men’s doubles pairs — Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.

The match went to a third game, with Ahsan and Setiawan getting the better of Hoki and Kobayashi. With Ahsan and Setiawan winning the World Championships, Hoki and Kobayashi bagged silver.

2021 World Champions

In 2021, Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi set their sights on the World Championships.

At the 2021 BWF World Championships, Hoki and Kobayashi were dominant in the men’s doubles event. Reaching the finals, they faced China’s Tan Qiang and He Ji Ting.

Hoki and Kobayashi established dominance early in the match to win the first game 21-12. With victory within their grasp, they won the second game 21-18. The straight-set victory made Hoki and Kobayashi the 2021 BWF World Champions!

Sponsor

Yonex is the official sponsor of the Japanese National Badminton Team, so don’t be shocked to see Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi rocking a pair of Power Cushion Aerus Zs. You’ll also find the pair wielding Yonex rackets on the court. While Hoki favors the Astrox 100zz, Kobayashi uses the Duora Z-Strike in most matches.

Do you feel like the Astrox is for you? Check out my guide on the Yonex Astrox line of rackets!

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi: THE Pair To Watch

Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi have achieved success in high-level competitions. With so much accomplished already, the future looks promising for this Japanese pair.

One thing is for sure — until they retire, Hoki and Kobayashi will continue to be a duo you need to keep an eye on!


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