Of all the Grand Prix in a given calendar year, China has the fortune of hosting at least two for the past few years. However, Team Limited is an experience that many of the locals have yet to get a taste of.
What does the community have to say about this unprecedented format being featured in their motherland? Let's check in with some of the local players!
The Rough Road Ahead
Xu Su, Jia Bin and Ding Yi were near the top of the standings yesterday, but failed to keep up the momentum.
The trio of Ding Yi, Jia Bin and Xu Su have been witnessed lurking near the top of the standings all weekend. Despite gathering a head of steam yesterday, being paired against a series of formidable opponents have dashed their Top 4 hopes.
True enough, a lot of the super teams have floated to the top. Ishimura/Ikawa/Takimura are playing a win-and-in match against Watanabe/Mihara/Ichikawa. Tashima/Shinoda/Kawagushi are facing off against Kato/Yasooka/Kakumae. Saito/Tsumura/Takahashi won 11 matches in a row after losing Round 1, but I was told they lost the last three matches after that ridiculous streak.
"We've played against many great teams this weekend, especially most of the strongest Japanese teams. Although it seems like we're not going to be making the cut, it was a great experience playing with many of the best!"
Super Sunday Series 2014 Top 8 competitor Gao Tan is one of the cheeriest personalities out there. He is teamed up with Du Xuetong, Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2010 finalist, as well as Liu Yiliu. What did they feel about entire experience?
Gao: I personally like Team Limited but I faced a small problem. Originally, I grabbed two friends but one of them backed out at the eleventh hour due to work commitments. It was a nightmare to find a last-minute replacement.
Du: As a small market, we have a considerably smaller talent pool and it is not easy to go against the established teams. I guess there's got to be a first time for everything. How else are we going to gather the experience we need? Also, I was feeling terribly unwell yesterday and I would have dropped to take care of my health if it was an individual event. However, in order not to disappoint my teammates, I hung in there and made sure I did my very best. That's the issue with team events, you have an obligation to two other people.
Liu: They're not giving the format enough credit. Being with friends is part of the fun! Almost everyone I know has enjoyed the weekend greatly and it is popular in other regions. I think we just need to get used to it, considering how new this format is to all of us. In addition, it is an honor to be able to play alongside Du and Gao, whom I think are significantly better players than me. It is only in times like this that I will be able to improve my own game play, in addition to getting advice from someone who has the best interests for me! I can also get carried! Haha!
Playing Alongside A World Champ
Perhaps the most accomplished Chinese player left in this tournament was Zhang Zhiyang. Aside from being crowned a World Team Champion at the World Championships in 2009, he has also made it to the Top 8 of three Grand Prix. Because of that, Zhang is widely regarded as one of the greatest minds in all of China.
Liu Yuchen, He Yue & Zhang Zhiyang are playing a tense win-an-in match!
Together with Liu Yuchen and He Ye, they just picked up a second loss which means they're still in contention and will need to face off Wescoe/Hoaen/Hron. While the Americans are already locked, they still need to play for the top seed in order to choose whether to play or draw in the Top 4 matches.
If Liu/He/Zhang triumphs, then there is hope for China!
The Reigning National Champion
Last but not least, the reigning China National Champion Sun Bo has been having a rather enjoyable weekend.
Ai Bingye, Sun Bo and Jia Hao have enjoyed the roller-coaster ride!
Sun: It's not everyday that I get to play with Jia Hao and Ai Bingye. They might not be the best players in the mainland, but they're the greatest buddies and Team Limited is a lot of fun. Usually, I travel for overseas events and it gets a little lonely. It's refreshing to be playing Team Limited, actually.
When asked about their entire tournament experience, it was a bittersweet tale. Ai and Jia let me in that they had to play against the stacked lineup of Kaji/Nakamura/Juza yesterday, one of the top teams we put on the watch-list.
Ai: "It was the last round of Day 1 and the winner would be able to make it to Day 2. It's probably the toughest match that we've played all weekend. We managed to win to make it through to today!"
Jia: "However, we were completely destroyed by Kato/Yasooka/Kakumae. I don't think we stood a chance. It was them who eliminated us from Top 4 contention and right now, they're playing in the final match to make it to the Top 4." If Kato/Yasooka/Kakumae manage to win against Kamo/Inoue/Takao, they would have successfully reversed their fortunes, considering they squeaked in at 40th place yesterday.
Sun: They're a really strong team and I believe they have a good chance. Right now, I need to go and win my last round. There's still money and Pro Points on the line!"