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New 'Road to Nationals' qualification leads to Winchester showpiece

A new ‘Road to the Nationals’ qualification process headlines the exciting changes to the English National Championships for the coming season.

After a successful 2019 tournament, the English National Badminton Championships will return to Winchester for a second successive year on 1-2 February 2020.

The 55th edition of the English Nationals will arrive in Hampshire as the showpiece finale of a brand new ‘Road to the Nationals’ which brings with it a new qualification process linked to the Gold Circuit, alongside other exciting changes that include the re-introduction of prize money to the tune of £5,000.

The Nationals have been the pinnacle of English badminton’s domestic tournament circuit since 1964 but, in the past few years, has lost some of the sparkle and status it deserves.

Supported by presenting partner Hampshire Badminton Association for 2020, the re-imagined Nationals is intended to reinvigorate the Championships and firmly re-establish it as a ‘must win, must see’ event for players and fans alike.

A summary of the changes from the 2020 English Nationals are as follows:

  • The champions at each of the four senior gold tournaments being held at Wimbledon, Middlesex, Durham and Milton Keynes, will automatically qualify for February’s showpiece event in Winchester.

  • A new ‘Road to the Nationals’ qualification will be introduced, creating greater interest in the domestic circuits. Each of the four gold events will carry ‘Road to the Nationals’ qualification points based on finishing positions. Places in the Nationals draw will be automatically awarded to the top two players/pairs in each event ending the season with the highest qualification points earned whilst competing across the entire Senior Gold Circuit.

  • Led by England head coach Peter Jeffrey, the National Coaching Team will be granted up to four ‘picks’ per discipline to automatically select players they would like to see competing in the Nationals.
  • Any remaining places will be determined by normal entry and selection process based upon national ranking and grading.
    • The Nationals will operate a 12 draw format in all disciplines with the top four players/pairs seeded and progressing straight through to the last eight.
    • Prize money will be re-introduced - £5,000 for the 2020 Championships will be shared between the champion and runner up in each of the five disciplines.

To retain focus purely on Olympic qualification, players seeking to represent Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games are not expected to feature at the Nationals this year.

Mark Downie, Head of Competition, said “The demands on players competing internationally are more significant than they have ever been as are the opportunities and rewards for them, so it is important that we look to embrace these developments within the game while wanting to ensure that the English National Championships is a key part of our tournament calendar.

“We are confident that the new qualification process will energise the Nationals as well as adding extra profile and importance on the Gold Circuit. It will create a buzz around the top of our tournament circuit by adding greater incentive for the nation’s better players to enter the Senior Gold circuit tournaments.

“This is about raising the profile of the Nationals but also the impact that this will have a more local level, placing more emphasis on the quality standards at local tournaments.”