The Yonex All England Open is the fifth tournament in the 2022 Badminton World Federation World Tour and the oldest badminton tournament. The champions of the tournament will earn 12,000 points counted towards World Rankings, as well as gain eligibility for the World Championship and the Paris Summer Olympics 2024.

As the badminton world bounces back from massive cancellations of tournaments due to COVID-19, the 2022 All England Open is the first tournament that saw a full-roster draw in all events. In the men’s singles, current number two Kento Momota from Japan was placed in the bottom half with number three Anders Antonsen — Denmark — and number seven Lee Zii Jia— Malaysia. In the top half of the draw, number one Viktor Axelsen — Denmark — faces number 4 Chou Tien Chen — Chinese Taipei — and Indonesian player number nine Jonatan Christie.

Day one and day two of the tournament went without much surprise. That being said, the young players, facing the top ten world-ranked players in the preliminary rounds, put up a fight with threatening defense. On day two, Canadian 20-year-old Brian Yang, ranked 33 against Lee, and in particular stunned spectators with a first set going into deuces, 26-24. While Lee ultimately took the set and eventually the game, it’s worth noting how Yang pushed back the Malaysian player’s delayed smashes and kept up with Lee’s sophisticated game plans. After consecutive straight-set defeats by Heo Kwang Hee in the preliminaries of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics — where Momota was expected to claim the title — and quarterfinals of Thomas Cup 2021, the Japanese player finally took down Heo 21-16, 21-12, avenging his losses from their past two encounters. The first set was a tight head-to-head combat. Heo took the lead with his evidently faster recoveries, countering the alternating attacks of Momota’s well-known, hair-pin shots and clear cross-court shots; at 11-10, however, Momota persisted and surpassed Heo, quickly widening the score gap. 

Day three featured quarterfinals played between the top ten players, Momota — Lee; Axelsen — Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, and Chou — Christie, due to the forfeit of Chinese player Lu Guang Zu that allowed the walk-over of 20-year-old Indian player Lakshya Sen. Losing the first set 7-21, Momota finally found his ground and began to push back at 13-13 in the second set. In the game, Lee upset Momota by picking up speed, clearing the game with a final score of 21-11. Axelsen quickly shook off Ginting in two straight sets, 21-4, 21-9, adding the record of a fifth win out of their seven encounters. Having enjoyed a much easier first set, Chou entered the second set struggling to widen the gap. It wasn’t until 11-11 when Chou switched to a more aggressive, smash-oriented attack that he finally gained a solid advantage, taking the game 21-10, 21-15.

Semi-finals on day four featured the matches Sen – Lee and Axelsen – Chou. Before entering the “Big League” and claiming his first BWF tour title, Sen was the number one ranked youth player in the world. The more experienced player, Lee, found his footing in the second set, but Sen’s threatening cross-court net shots trapped Lee from quickly recovering shots at the backcourt. Sen took the win 21-13, 12-21, 21-19. In the beginning of their second set, Axelsen trailed behind Chou 11-6, but he turned the match around playing miraculous defense and speeding up the game pace, eventually taking the win 21-13, 21-15. 

In the championship game, however, Sen seemed to have lost his aggressive playing style from the previous day, which allowed Axelsen to advance to a six-love lead in the first set. Having trained at Axelsen’s Dubai training camp after the Tokyo Olympics, Sen is familiar with Axelsen’s playing style, evident from his quick responses to Axelsen’s delayed shots. However, Axelsen’s intentional long rallies tired Sen, ending the game 21-10, 21-15 in 53 minutes. This is Axelsen’s second All England title, and, while the 20-year-old Indian player had lost the game, this weekend showed him as a competent player that can be compared to the big names like Axelsen and Lee. 

Regardless of the results of All England, both BWF World and World Tour Rankings will not change by much. Sen remains at number one after his championship title at the India Open- (Super 500)- and the German Open -(Super 300)- in the Race to Guangzhou BWF World Championship 2022. Both ranked at 26th place last week, Axelsen’s points will now surpass that of Lee after winning 12,000 points from the All England Open. While impossible to be challenged in the World Ranking, top ten players as Axelsen, Chou, Lee, and Momota need to play in more tournaments to qualify for the World Tour championship as the season progresses.