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The World Championship of Ping Pong returns to the Alexandra Palace, London in January for what promises to be another pulsating year and promoters Matchroom Sport are launching ticket sales with a special Kids Go Free offer!

For 2016 the event expands to three days with play on the evenings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday 22nd-24th January. The event features 64 players from all over the world, headed by defending champion Andrew Baggaley of England.

Tickets are on sale now at www.seetickets.com priced £15 per session for adults (£10 concessions), with a season ticket allowing entry to all three sessions just £37.50 (£25 concessions).

But, when viewing tickets at SeeTickets.com use promo code WCPPKIDSGOFREE and receive up to two free concessions’ tickets for every adult ticket purchased! This offer is valid across all three sessions and season tickets.

Using traditional sandpaper rackets, the World Championship of Ping Pong is a throwback to the early days of table tennis and is catapulting ping pong into the big league and onto the international television stage.

The action is fast and furious, with the emphasis on speed, skill and shot-making and only the very best will see it through the Sunday night’s closing stages.

The tournament takes place over three sessions, with a double elimination group stage featuring eight groups played out on eight tables on the Friday evening before the last 32 enter a knockout stage played across two tables on the Saturday evening, which also included the last 16.

Sunday sees the four quarter finals followed by the two semi finals and then the championship match where the destination of the winner’s cheque and magnificent trophy will be determined.

With all matches now taking place in the TV arena at the Alexandra Palace, Shmyrev gets proceedings underway as he faces Luxembourg-based Nigerian Sule Olaleye in a re-run of the 2013 final.

Interestingly all eight of last year’s quarter-finalists are still in the hunt for glory and there are a couple of dark horses there in the shape of transplanted Chinese players Ding Yi (Switzerland) and Hao Mu who is based in Germany.

In the bottom half of the draw, last year’s runner-up Ilija Lupulesku of the USA faces a tough prospect in Germany’s Alexander ‘The Flash’ Flemming, who has looked the part so far. The winner gets to face either lively Scotsman Gavin Rumgay or perennial Dutch contender Martin Groenewold.

Of the last 16 round of 32 matches, only one managed to make three sets although plenty were tight two set affairs. Paul McCreery, backed but a noisy band of Irish fans, got the chants going as he took the first set off dour Russian Dmitri Popov. However his challenge faded as Popov came on for victory.

There was a heart-warming story as 14 year-old Romanian prodigy Vlad Farcas battled out of the group stages and made it through to the centre court. Looking even younger than his years, Vlad had beaten Ferenc Turei of Hungary and then Englishman Joe Kennedy. Watched by his proud father and willed on by the crowd, he couldn’t pull it off as he lost in straight sets to Belgium’s Steve Bovenisty.

All of the Sunday afternoon session is taken up with the last 16 matches, and the remaining eight players compete down to a finish on Sunday evening.

In front of an atmospheric 1,000-strong crowd Baggaley and Flemming went at it with a blistering pace but in the end the Englishman edged it to claim the $20,000 top prize, gold medal and the magnificent trophy.

Baggaley, a quarter-finalist in 2013 and 2014, showed some outstanding conditioning to survive a final evening that saw him win three matches which all went to the wire. His quarter-final saw him beat fellow Brit Andrew Rushton, after losing the opening set. He then ended Maxim Shmyrev’s three year domination of the event, beating him as the Russian faded in the deciding game.

Flemming, a 27 year-old from Leipzig, had crept into the event, taking the third and final place in the German qualifying event.

He enjoyed an epic last eight battle with fired-up Scotsman Gavin Rumgay, recovering after losing the first game. He then came back under similar circumstances to defeat fancied Lubomir Pistej, the Slovakian ace in the semi-final.

The championship match saw the 31 year-old Baggaley from Milton Keynes shoot into a two-nil lead as the German recovered from his semi-final. Flemming though took the next two to set up the gripping finale.

Baggaley said, “The final had everything. I was 2-0 up and felt in control, even at 2-1, but suddenly it turned around. At 2-2 I had a big chance to win 3-0 and maybe I began to think I would win. I found something in the tank at the end, I just kept telling myself I wouldn’t lose because of physical tiredness; if he beats me, he beats me, but I wouldn’t let it be because I was physically tired.

“I haven’t had many matches like that in my career, in either form of the game. I used to think that spongebat table tennis was more physically demanding than sandpaper, but I have changed my views now.

“After I beat Max, maybe I thought it was my year. I wanted to win it then, even more. I didn’t want to have a great moment and then not win the tournament. It made me more determined.”

For Flemming it was disappointing ended but he wasn’t disheartened; “It is great to be runner up. I watched the final from last year and I didn’t think that this year I would be playing in it. I was seeded second in my group so I did not expect to come this far.

Andrew is a champion. In the semi-final he was the underdog but he destroyed Maxim at times. I had a tactic but it didn’t quite work in the end.

“To play in a final like that, I think you can be satisfied with that even after a loss. I am delighted to have been a part of that and I have nice memories to keep, to watch again and to show my children. It has been one of the best days of my life.

“I was 1-0 down even in the last 16 and that all added up to the emotional exhaustion but it is special and I am proud of this.”

The PartyPoker.net World Championship of Ping Pong featured 64 players from over 25 countries competing over two days for a $100,000 prize fund including a $20,000 top prize. All players had won through following successful qualifiers staged around the world.

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