The weakest link in the South Korean men’s badminton team, based on world rankings alone, is Kim Won-ho (24-Samsung Life) and Na Sung-seung (24-Gimcheon City Hall).
They are ranked just 332nd in the world in men’s doubles.
However, their skills are far from subpar.
They just haven’t had the chance to accumulate ranking points because they have only occasionally played together in team events, starting with the Asian Mixed Team Championships in February this year.
Kim Won-ho is ranked 15th in the world with Choi Sol-gyu (Yonex), and Na Sung-seung is ranked 39th with Jin Yong (Yonex).
However, the “same-age pairing” that the national team experimented with at the “1.5 Jin” level hit the jackpot.
Kim Won-ho and Na Sung-seung won all seven matches they played at the Asian Mixed Team Championships and both matches at the World Mixed Team Championships (Sudirman Cup) in May.
The same was true on Aug. 28 against Malaysia in the men’s round of 16 at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.
Kim Won-ho and Na Sung-seung took a 2-1 lead in the fourth game of the match before defeating Ong Yoo-shin and Teo Ei (ranked ninth in the world) 2-0 (21-16 21-18) to book their place in the quarterfinals.
Meeting after the match, the pair praised their partners for filling their weaknesses.
“Doubles is not something you play alone, it’s something you play together,” Kim Won-ho said, adding, “Our strength is that we trust each other and play to fill each other’s gaps.”
Na Sung-seung also explained the secret of his chemistry with Kim Won-ho, saying, “When we play, there are some players who play well and some who don’t, and we have a lot of meetings about that.”
However, despite their performance, the men’s team’s road ahead is a thorny one.
After defeating Malaysia 3-1 on Sunday, South Korea will face top-ranked Indonesia in the quarterfinals.
Indonesia has world No. 2 singles players 바카라 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and No. 5 Jonathan Christie, and the world No. 1 doubles team of Pazar Alpian-Muhammad Ryan Ardianto.
As the No. 1 seed, Indonesia also had the stamina to make it through the round of 16 as a bye.
However, Kim Won-ho and Na Sung-seung exclaimed that it was “rather good”.
Kim Won-ho said, “When I saw the bracket, the phrase ‘opportunity arises from crisis’ came to mind. I think we can achieve great success in a difficult situation,” Kim Won-ho said confidently, while Na Sung-seung added, “We don’t know everything unless we look. We’ve been preparing hard, so if we fight for each other, we’ll have good results.”