The 11th World Gateball Championship was held in Niigata, Japan from 26-28 September, 2014. Australia was represented by 20 players competing in three teams out of the 700 players in 90 teams from around the world. The Australian players were joined by three referees who were invited to officiate at a World Championship, a first for Australian referees. Articles leading up to the tournament and live coverage was presented on this site. This post summarises the tournament and includes a number of new photos.
The tournament was hosted at Niigata City Athletic Stadium. The Stadium was situated in a large parkland and conference area not far from the riverfront. The Stadium boasted a large playing area with 12 courts set up for play, a large amount of stadium seating and room outside for registration and equipment stalls.
Australian teams were impressed with the manicured lawns which had long grass but ran smooth and ran true allowing for a high standard of play.
Each team was allocated a tent and volunteer for the tournament for storing equipment and for resting between matches.
Entertainment at the opening ceremony included a short film on the history of gateball, Taiko drumming and a handover of the trophy from reigning champions Fujian. Participants were welcomed by World Gateball Union President Ms Ono and the athletes oath was read by a young Japanese player from the TKE squad.
Lighting of flame and march
Before matches on the Saturday morning the competition was opened with the end of the flame relay and the lighting of the cauldron. Other entertainment included the athletes march, Japanese dancing and VIPs hitting through a large ceremonial gate including Australian National Director of Gateball Gilon Smith.
Big crowds were in attendance on Saturday with Canberra playing on one of the show courts in front of a crowd of around 2,000. Crowds diminished over the weekend as local sides from Niigata got knocked out of the tournament with the final played in front of around 800 spectators.
700 players from twenty countries and regions competed in 90 teams. Disappointingly, out of the 96 teams nominated some teams from Indonesia, India and Taiwan were unable to attend leaving a hole in some blocks. Fortunately this did not impact the Australian teams. 111 referees officiated the tournament and there was a large army of officials, volunteers and translators.
The Australian squad achieved its best ever result at a World Championship by winning five of their nine games. Saturday saw each Australian team play two games with a third on the Sunday. All Australian teams lost their first match before improving throughout the tournament. Unfortunately no Australian teams were able to win their block and therefore did not advance to the knockout phase. Southport came close, finishing second to Uruguay in their block. Individual team results were:
Uruguay 16 – Southport 9
Southport 12 – Thailand 5
Southport 13 – Team Europe 9
Best match vs Thailand. Southport controlled this match from start to finish with all players executing better than Thailand to pull off a comfortable victory.
Garuda Sulteng (Indonesia) 12 – Canberra 8
Canberra 13 – Canada 10
Canberra 12 – Taipei Taichung 9
Best match vs Taipei Taichung. Canberra played white and took control early in the match against a strong side. Some long tight touches to the line and a gate touch were required late to cement victory. This was a good win against a strong side that advanced to the knockout phase.
Tamborine Mountain Raptors
GMF (Indonesia) 12 – Tamborine Mountain Raptors 7
Tsuyama Gateball Family (Japan) 18 – Tamborine Mountain Raptors 8
Tamborine Mountain Raptors 17 – China Macao2 10
Best match vs China Macao2. Tamborine Mountain Raptors started very aggressively which put them behind early however some long shots from David and a 10m gate and touch by Barrie allowed the Raptors to storm home recording the highest individual score of any Australian team.
Results from the round robin stage can be viewed here. Results from the knockout round can be viewed here. The knockout phase saw a greater spread of teams than the last world championships with teams from Japan (7), China (3), Brazil (3), Chinese Taipei (3), Korea (2), Macao (1) and Uruguay (1) all qualifying for the knockout phase. Chinese teams, although small in number, rose to prominence in the knockout round taking two of the top four positions.
The ultimate victor was Shanxi Linfen of China defeating Joshokiryu of Japan 12-8. Shanxi Linfen were the superior team with Joshokiryu looking tired after a long string of consecutive knockout matches. Shanxi Linfen dominated most of the match consistently “hunting down” Joshokiryu players. A long shot by Joshokiryu did turn the match but it was too little too late and the Chinese side were comfortable and well deserving victors.
111 referees adjudicated at the event. Keith McLeod, Bruce McAlister and Margaret Barnard were Australia’s first ever referee team. Keith McLeod was also nominated as a vice chairmen of referees for the tournament.
The Aussies refereed four games in the round robin series and were delighted and proud to be chosen to referee one of the games in the final series.
The Australians received positive feedback on their performance from World Gateball Union Officials including the Chairman of Referees as well from players participating at the World Gateball Championship.
Australian teams were popular with Japanese media including TV, website and newspapers.
The following knockout matches were streamed live on USTREAM and can still be viewed at the links below.
Round of 16 – Sejong (Korea) vs Joshokiryu (Japan)
Quarterfinal – Shanghai Gaodong (China) vs Sata King (Japan)
Semi-final – Shanghai Gaodong (China) vs Joshokiryu (Japan)
Semi-final – Shanxi Linfen (China) vs Hsinchu County (Taiwan)
Final – Shanxi Linfen (China) vs Joshokiryu (Japan)
There were twelve stalls out the front of the stadium that sold gateball equipment and local souvenirs and produce. A number of Australian players took advantage purchasing new mallets and other gateball accessories.
Chris Wentworth from Southport was particularly popular with the media and other teams. Chris was the 3rd youngest player in the tournament at 13 years old (the youngest was an 11 year old from Indonesia). Chris played well and contributed strongly to Southport’s two wins.
David Hughes from the Tamborine Mountain Raptors was also popular as the second youngest Australian and another teenager in the tournament.
The 45th Board of Directors Meeting was held in Niigata Japan on September 26th, 2014 and discussed reviewing the official gateball rules.
Proposed updates to the official gateball rules were approved as submitted by the World Gateball Union. The updates to the rules are available at: http://gateball.or.jp/jguweb/wgu/14-10WGUruleeng.pdf
The rules updates are generally minor however changes to the rules for gate 1 and sparking fouls will have an impact on some matches. The new rules come into effect from 1 April 2015.
2018 World Gateball Championship
The 12th World Gateball Championship will be held in 2018. Several bids were received and the final decision will be made by the chairperson and be subsequently announced.
Gateball Australia Website
This website recorded a record number of hits in the lead-up to and during the tournament. In the two weeks leading up to and during the tournament the site recorded 3,702 hits including a record 595 hits on the final day of the tournament. You can re-live the 11 day countdown and updates during the tournament below.
11 days to go – Review of 2010 Gateball World Championship
10 days to go – Venue Preview/Road to Niigata
9 days to go – Canberra Team Profile
8 days to go – What is a Winning Score in Japan?
7 days to go – Tamborine Mountain Raptors Team Profile
6 days to go – Message from the Prime Minister
5 days to go – Southport Team Profile
4 days to go – Tournament Information
3 days to go – Australian Referees/Tournament Weather Forecast
2 days to go – Draw/Travel Log
1 day to go – Canberra’s Lead-up in Japan
Friday – practice day
Saturday – competition commences
Sunday – a champion team is crowned