32 countries took part in this tournament in Chengdu with China being the host and the reigning champion. While some of the teams did not bring all their best players to this tournament, China was at full strength and unwilling to give even the slightest chance for the opponents to dream about the gold medals. Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, and Wang Chuqin became the core of the Chinese team at this tournament.
The hosts comfortably cruised past all the opponents up until the semi-finals stage, where they faced the Japanese team, led by Tomokazu Harimoto. It is fair to say that the semi-final was actually the final since Japan was the only team that could be a real threat to the Chinese squad. Harimoto did maximum to give his team a chance to dream about reaching the final, winning his both games – 3-1 against Wang Chuqin and 3-2 against the reigning world champion Fan Zhendong. However, Shunsuke Togami could not step up in the decisive game and Wang Chuqin made it 3-2, giving his team a ticket to the finals.
It was pleasant to see the German team reaching the finals, even without Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Patrick Franziska, or Timo Boll on their roster. The reigning European champion Dang Qiu and Benedikt Duda did their best to get past France and South Korea on their way to the final. South Koreans had all the cards to beat the Germans, but a disappointing performance by their leader Jang Woo-jin in the decisive games left them out of the chance to compete against China.
For the Swedish team, this tournament could have been a more positive experience, but they simply were unlucky to find themselves on the same side of the bracket as the Chinese team. Of course, they still would be no match for the hosts in case they would have reached the final, but the Swedes would likely have enough quality to get a place on the podium.
This tournament brought many exciting games and rallies, also highlighting some of the young teams with solid potential for future tournaments. Alexis Lebrun and Felix Lebrun had a solid run and were just a step away from winning the medals. If the talented brothers can continue to progress, they will be a force to be aware of in the near future. Poland also had a very young team – a trio of solid talents who could grow into medal contenders, if not at the world stage, then for the European stage – most definitely.
The favorite status, however, remains on the Chinese side. Unless Japan can provide someone who is able to help Tomokazu Harimoto in crucial moments, there are no other teams who could be a threat to Fan Zhendong and the company. Ma Long is likely to retire in the foreseeable future, but there are young Chinese talents on the way who will keep the internal competition high.