Ping Pong Is The New Darts At Alexandra Palace

Chris Lockie
By Chris Lockie Last edited 47 months ago
Ping Pong Is The New Darts At Alexandra Palace

Image of Egle Adomelyte courtesy of Table Tennis England via Flickr

The overlords of sport have managed to turn darts into quite the business with their annual berks-dressing-up extravaganza at Alexandra Palace, but with that presumably secure for years to come they're now turning their minds to another under-appreciated sport: table tennis.

Best get used to calling it ping pong though, as the organisers of the two-day event (24-25 January, also at Alexandra Palace) have dubbed it the World Championship of Ping Pong. The format will see 64 players split into eight groups of eight for a 'double elimination' round, halving the field, before moving to a straight knockout tournament with $20,000 of the $100,000 prize pot going to the winner. We don't know why it's in dollars.

So, 63 men will congregate in north London to see which, if any, can beat the sole female tournament entrant, London-based Egle Adomelyte. Egle has the full backing of Londonist and we asked her for her views on the tournament and how she originally got into the game.

"I started playing table tennis when I was around six years old," says Egle. "My mum, who was also a great player and coach, used to take me to work with her, that's how I started."

The World Championship of Ping Pong gives table tennis players a rare chance to experience the razzmatazz of a big event, and it seems to have a positive effect on them.

"This competition is something very different for us all. It's a big, happy, exciting event, but the cameras, lights, spectators and fancy courts add pressure, too. I enjoy ping pong because there's a really nice, friendly atmosphere — everyone is sincerely supporting each other, which is rare in table tennis.

"On the day, I'd love to go and really enjoy it, soak it up and just go for it. I've got nothing to lose, especially as I am competing against the men, but at the same time I get butterflies in my stomach. Imagine how cool it would be for me to beat all the guys! That would be very special."

Egle is used to competing against men; you can watch her holding her own at the 2014 World Championships in the video below.

This isn't the first time Egle's entered the World Championship of Ping Pong: "I'd like to do better than the last two years, when I got to the last 16. I've been training on and off the table for the last few months, so hopefully will be feeling strong and confident when the time comes."

Another London-based player and former tournament entrant, Ashley Stokes, was unavailable for the qualifiers for this year's event but has thrown his backing fully behind Egle: "I would love to see Egle do well — as the only female in the competition fighting it out against the 63 men she will have a lot of support on her side. She has experience of making the last 16 two years running so if things can go her way and she gets a bit of luck at the right time, she could go further this year. When you get to the quarter finals it's anyone's for the taking."

And a tip from Ashley for the punters among you: "Maxim [Shmyrev] from Russia has won the last two at Ally Pally so has to be favourite, but the standard is getting higher each year. He was pushed last time around and will be definitely be tested this year."

Never mind Maxim, stick your money on Egle to bring the trophy home. And if you need one final push to attend the event, here's Sky's inevitable promo video designed to make you realise that this event is bigger than anything else in the world, including their Super Sunday football.

The World Championship of Ping Pong takes place at Alexandra Palace on 24 and 25 January. Tickets priced from £11 per session are available via the event website.

Last Updated 05 January 2015