The Badminton World Federation’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday will discuss and vote on the proposal to change the scoring system in the sport, which could come into effect post Tokyo 2020.
The proposal has been put forward by Badminton Indonesia and the Maldives Badminton Association to amend the Laws of Badminton relating to the scoring system. It has been seconded by Badminton Asia, Badminton Korea Association and the Chinese Taipei Badminton Association. BWF Council has express its support for this proposal.
The proposal seeks the implementation of the new scoring system (5×11) on the basis of a number of factors, the prime reason being seen as a chance to make the matches more television friendly, in terms of duration.
Update: On Saturday the BWF announced the proposal did not get the required votes.
Basics of the proposal
Current scoring system: Three games of at least 21 points needed to clinch each game
New scoring system: Five games of at least 11 points needed to clinch each game
Changes to the scoring system:
- A game shall be won by the side which first scores 11 points, instead of 21.
- If the score becomes 10-all (instead of 20-all), the side which gains a two point lead first, shall win that game.
- If the score becomes 14-all (instead of 29-all) the side scoring the 15th point (instead of 30th point) shall win that game.
- The players shall change ends at the end of each completed game as long as the match carries on, and in the fifth game when a side first scores six points.
Key objectives according to BWF
- Building suspense quicker – more intensity in matches
- Increasing the excitement in matches.
- Slightly shortening the length of matches – to optimise television broadcasts and protect the well-being of players.
Will Tokyo 2020 be impacted?
The implementation date will be discussed and decided by BWF Council but the system will not be implemented before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and will likely not be fully implemented before January 2022 to allow players and coaches to practice and prepare themselves properly before the changes are implemented. The implementation date will also now allow players and coaches ample opportunity to become accustomed to the system prior to the start of the Olympic Qualification Period for Paris 2024, the BWF said in their statement.
Background of the 5×11 system
The proposal for a new scoring system was first articulated by the BWF Council in March 2014 as it was felt that matches were getting longer, while the shuttle was in play for much shorter periods than earlier.
At the Council Session in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in November 2017, the proposal to implement the 5×11 system was discussed, presenting feedback from broadcasters.
The proposal was put to vote at the BWF AGM in May 2018 in Bangkok, and while it received 129 votes in favour and 123 votes against, it was not passed as it required a two-thirds majority of 168.
The BWF believes that the difference this time around is that there is a much longer preparation time until the start of the next Olympic qualification period – only starting in May 2023.
In 2014, a discussion was held regarding three different possibilities in what was the first formal debate on this topic since 2006 when BWF introduced a rally point scoring system (21×3) which remains in place today.
Since the turn of the century, the scoring system has seen a couple of changes. The traditional 15-point (men) / 11-point (women) format in which a player could only earn points on his/her serve was first done away with.
According to Mumbai Mirror, the world body experimented with the 7-points classic format over five games in 2002 but reverted to the traditional scoring system within a few months “as the players and spectators were both unhappy with the scoring system. The current 21x3 rally-point system came into existence in 2006 and though many players were initially critical of the format, they slowly but surely have warmed up to the format.”
The classic 15x3 system with points only on serve gave way to the 21x3 system with points for every rally, and that was seen as a move to avoid players prioritising only their own serves.
“The scoring system change in 2006 was a much more fundamental change to our sport, moving to a rally-point system,” BWF explained in their statement.
“Many of the same questions and fears were raised at that time: badminton would lose its character, net skills would be eliminated, and the sport would become too attacking and less tactical. None of that happened. Some clearly underestimated our athletes as they were able to adapt to a very fundamental change and move the sport forward as a spectacle, and badminton remained a highly-skilled activity with great variety and different styles of play.”
According to a modelling analysis done by BWF regarding the new system, here are the findings published:
- Match-winning probabilities in the trial system are practically identical to those in the current system.
- Due to the shorter and increased number of games in the trial scoring system, a weaker player has a good chance of winning at least one game.
- The current system has longer games, but lower probability of extending into three games, particularly in uneven matches. The trial system has shorter games, but higher probability of extending into more than three games.
The full report is available here.
“The proposed scoring system change is part of my vision to make badminton more exciting and to increase the entertainment value for stakeholders and fans,” said Poul-Erik Hoyer, the BWF president and 1996 Olympic champion for Denmark — seen as the prime mover for this proposal.
“This is only proposed to be introduced after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. So, I’m confident this is a more favourable time to affect this change.”
Closer to home, national coach and Indian stalwart Pullela Gopichand felt this was a change that is not imperative.
“There are a lot of things that could be done, rather than change the scoring system,” Gopichand is quoted as saying by Firstpost.
“But if the BWF is forced to make the change in favour of a shortened game, then I would prefer their going for a 15*3 system on the existing point-per-rally format, rather than 11*5. Having said that, I am not privy to the scientific information that the BWF has, but I hope they have valid reasons for doing what they are doing. They are tinkering with the points format, something that is not at all ideal. There are so many other things that can be done for the good of the sport, rather than touch the scoring system at this point of time.”
In April, former world No 1 and Danish superstar Viktor Axelsen had rued that players had little say on matters such as the new scoring system.
“Prior to the 2018 proposal, the players were consulted through various questionnaires and feedback received through the BWF Athletes’ Commission. BWF also took note of feedback and remarks from players in the media. It is fair to say that a majority of players were sceptical about the change and have reservations about whether this change is right for badminton,” the BWF said recently.
“We believe that opinions from players are likely to still be similar, but as the proposal has been placed on the AGM agenda by two Member Associations (and not the BWF Council), there has not been a wider consultation by BWF Council prior to the proposal being submitted. BWF has, however, shared information about the proposal with our top player groups and encouraged Member Associations and players to have close dialogue around the proposed changes to the scoring system.”
You can read the full list of Frequently Asked Questions published by the BWF for the new scoring system here.
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