There are days when it is difficult to find sports that have matches scheduled, such as New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. These are days when sports competitions are at a standstill and we have nothing to watch on our favorite sports sites. Or do we? Actually, we could see a very peculiar table tennis tournament, a competition that is made so that bookmakers always have events available to offer to their users.
The tournament we are talking about is a table tennis tournament that takes place in Ukraine, in different locations across the country. With at least one new match every five minutes, the tournament is perfect for bookmakers to fill the gaps in the day with fewer sports available.
If you search the internet, you can find many pages that talk about it. But let’s see what this competition is all about and what makes it so special.
Who Plays in the Tournament
The players participating in the tournament claim to be professionals, although there is hardly any information about them on the internet. Technically, they are professionals because they receive money for playing and participating in the competition, but not because the level is too high.
In fact, on some occasions we can see matches where none of the participants seem to be in great shape, but rather the opposite.
Having to play 24/7, it is normal that not all participants have a high level, since there must be enough to keep the competition open throughout the day.
If you find this unbelievable or don’t quite believe it, try opening your favorite bookmaker in the browser of your computer or smartphone and you will see how this tournament is being played. Depending on the bookmaker where you check, you will see that they refer to it in one way or another, although most bookmakers refer to it as the “Setka Cup”.
You will see that there are always matches available, in fact there are usually several matches at the same time.
As we were saying, the appearance of the players in most occasions is not of professional players or elite players. And the scenario where the game is played does not seem usual either, since they play on a stage where there is no advertising or posters. It is a cubicle where we see two clear colors: red and blue. Each of them represents one of the players, given that since they are not known it is much easier to identify them than with their own names.
In the live broadcast we can simply see the players on each side of the table inside the cubicle, the scoreboard and the heart rate of each of the two participants.
Every 15 minutes we will see the players change and two other players appear to compete against each other. Again, each one will wear the shirt of one of the colors: red or blue.
In fact, there are more than 1,000 players listed on their website as professionals, while in countries larger than Ukraine there are federations that have only a few hundred people registered as table tennis professionals. This allows us to get an idea of what level is required for participants to enter the list of professional players competing in the competition.
Where This Competition Is Played
As we said before, this competition is played in different locations in Ukraine, in the main cities such as Kiev and Dnipro. They are played in closed enclosures where there is no public and only the players and workers of the competition can access, something totally unusual in sports competitions, where normally what there is more is precisely the public that wants to witness the different matches that are played.
But as it is such a special competition, it is also in this sense, having a total and absolute secrecy, as it is played behind closed doors.
Each of the cubicles or game scenarios has a different name, with geographical locations such as Africa, America, Europe, Beijing or Tokyo.
Who Is behind This Competition?
The competition offers little information on its website, but digging a little we can see that as promoters of this competition appear two very significant: Proman Media and Segodnya. The first is a company dedicated to the extraction and commercialization of gas worldwide, while the second is a Ukrainian newspaper owned by Rynat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine with a fortune of approximately 12 billion dollars.
He is a multi-millionaire surrounded by controversy who is banned from entering the United States because of his ties to Russia, although he has on occasion been linked to some former American presidents.
The competition has no advertising or sponsors, as mentioned above, because its business model and the way it generates income is through the sale of broadcasting rights to bookmakers who want to offer the possibility of betting on the competition to their users.
That is why we say that it is a competition made for bookmakers, so that both win. The bookmakers pay to get the broadcasting rights on their platforms, while they receive a competition running 24/7 that will allow them to generate much more money thanks to the bets their players place, as they can actively promote it all day long because there will always be some bet on this tournament available.
Competition Banned in Some U.S. States
Several U.S. states have banned sports betting on this competition after finding indications that some matches may have been rigged. In fact, they even cited several specific players as possible perpetrators of match-fixing. These are players who have passed through the world of traditional table tennis with a mediocre track record who nevertheless have become well-known or popular thanks to this competition that never stops working.
Many people wonder why table tennis federations do not do anything to ban it, but the truth is that as they have no connection with this competition they can do little about it. This is the main reason why the competition is still running so long after, despite being a competition that has no sporting interest whatsoever due to the low level shown by most of its players, far below the level that second level professional players could offer.