"World Championship of Ping-Pong" has "all the signs of something worth showing" claims Hearn
Monday, 07 January 2013
January 7 - Sports promoter Barry Hearn has told insidethegames that he is "very happy indeed" with the outcome of the "World Championship of Ping-Pong" event at Alexandra Palace at the weekend, with future events already in the pipeline.
Hearn, chairman of event organisers Matchroom Sport, said: "We've just received the ratings from Sky and they are three or four times better than we originally expected.
"We did a trial run in Las Vegas two years ago which was brilliant, but I enjoyed this event 20 times more.
"The tournament has all the signs of something worth showing,"
Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) chairman and boxing promoter Hearn has stated his desire to turn table tennis players into "superstars" through the "World Championship of Ping-Pong" tournament, and he believes that this is achievable, due to the "high standard of play" on offer.
"It doesn't matter what their nationality is, all the players have been excellent and deserve to be superstars," explained Hearn
With a prize fund of $100,000 (£61,000/€76,000), the tournament gives players the opportunity to earn prizes that far exceed those offered in regular table tennis tournaments.
"The tournament is prize-money-led as table tennis tournament prizes are ludicrously low," he said.
"We hope to attract more of the world's top players in future with the prize funds on offer."
Russian Maxim Shmyrev retained the "World Championship of Ping-Pong" title after defeating Sule Olaleye of Nigeria in a hotly-contested final.
The Russian, who also won the inaugural event in Las Vegas in 2011, reached the final without dropping a set, but was made to work hard for the $20,000 (£12,300/€15,200) first prize by Olaleye.
Shmyrev eventually won by three sets to two after being pegged back twice by the Nigerian, coming out victorious with a final score of 11-5 13-15 11-9 9-11 11-8
The global appeal of the tournament has surpassed expectations, gaining live coverage on Sky Sports in the UK and Fox Sports in the United States.
"The tournament had the potential to reach 600 million homes across the world" said Hearn, who is clearly delighted with the outcome of the tournament.
"Sky's production of the tournament was absolutely excellent.
"The players were brilliant, the crowds were brilliant; it was just brilliant."
The tournament differs from standard table tennis as all competitors' use the same bat - a "sandpaper" surfaced hard-bat, which greatly differs from the most commonly used bats in the sport in the present day.
These bats reduce the element of spin in the game, which contributes to a slower game, which allows rallies to last longer.
The tournament also saw the introduction of the "double-point ball", which allows the server to gain two points instead of one for winning a point at one stage during the match.
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January 2013: Barry Hearn expects "big, boisterous crowds" for "World Championship of Ping-Pong" spectacle