Can anyone stop Chen Long?

The World Championship crowns are once again on the line this week when the world's best shuttlers head to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. We take a closer look at some of the potential winners and crowd favourites.

The favourites

Chen Long

After being crowned World Champion in Copenhagen last year, the world number one has been a class apart. Since then, he has won six major titles, including the All England Championship, Malaysia Open, Australia Open and Chinese Taipei Open this year alone. As such, it is no surprise that the Olympic bronze medallist from 2012 starts the tournament as the overwhelming favourite.
 
Carolina Marin

The Spanish world number's rise to fame was a rapid one after the then-21-year-old became the youngest European winner of a world title when she beat Li Xuerui in final of the World Championship last year. A maiden Super Series title followed at the All England Championship at the start of 2015, before she beat Xueriu again, this time in the Malaysian Open final. Marin won her third title of the year with when she beat Wang Shixian in the final of the Australian Open. Should Marin defend her title, she would become the first female shuttler to win back-to-back World Championships since Han Aiping in 1987.

The best of the rest

Jan O Jorgensen

By a considerable distance the best male shuttler outside of Asia, Jorgensen is a consistent performer wherever he goes, as his current ranking of second in the world suggests. The reigning European champion is a regular in the latter stages of major events around the world, but if there is a criticism of the Dane it is that he often struggles at the final hurdle of big Championships. His only victory to date in 2015 came at the German Open in March.

Kidambi Srikanth

The 22-year-old from Hyderabad shot to fame in 2014 when he became the first Indian man to win a Super Series Premier when he beat Lin Dan in the final of the China Open. A semi-final defeat to Chen Long in the BWF Tour finals followed, but victory at the Swiss Open and Indian Open in 2015 showed that Srikanth had indeed hit the big-time.

Lin Dan

Regarded by some as the best shuttler of all time, many pages of column space have filled discussing the Chinese superstar's prowess on court. Yet Dan has had a massively disappointing 2015 season and finds himself down in fifth on rankings going into the World Championships, an event he has won five times previously. His only title this year came at the Asian Championships, but despite his recent poor form, it would be the epitome of folly to write off the 31-year-old at this stage.

Saina Nehwal

Nehwal and Marin traded places as the world's top-ranked female player several times in the last few months and have dominated the women's game recently. While Marin only shot to fame last year, Nehwal's stock has been high ever since she won the world junior title in 2008. She has tasted victory twice this year – at the All England Championship and the Indian Open – and goes into the event as the favourite to lift the title in the minds of many.

Li Xuerui

Still only 24 years old, the reigning Olympic Champion is one of the most decorated female players still active on the circuit, with 19 individual titles to her name. She has lost in the final of the last two World Championship titles and although she goes to Jakarta ranked third in the world, the player who reached the world number one ranking for the first time in 2012 may well go one better this time around.

Rathchanok Intanon

Despite being just 20 years of age, the 2013 champion has been a household name in Thai badminton circles since she won the world junior title for the third successive year in 2012. After going without a title in 2014, she became the first shuttler from Thailand to win the Asian Championships – beating Xuerui in the final once more – before adding the Indonesia Super Series title to her name. 

The outsiders

Lee Chong Wei

Under normal circumstances, listing someone ranked as low as 45th in the world as a likely winner would be ridiculous, but the circumstances around the Malaysian entry at the Jakarta showpiece are far from normal. After returning to action half way through the season following a doping ban – which saw his ranking drop down to 180 – Lee has won two minor titles – the U.S. Open and the Canadian Open. Whether the former world number one can still cut it against the best on the circuit remains to be seen, but a narrow loss at the Chinese Taipei Open to Chen Long suggests there's life in the old dog yet.

Wang Shixian

Another former world number one still in her mid-20s, the 25-year-old Shixian has been competing at the top level since she reached the final of the junior World Championships in 2005. She won three titles in 2014 but has struggled for form so far this year, failing to add to her 16 individual titles so far this year. She enters the event ranked seventh in the world and like many of her Chines compatriots have struggled for form recently, but remains a threat on any given day.

Can Dan win it for a record sixth time or will Wei finally be crowned champion after losing in the final last time out? Will Nehwal finally be crowned champion or will she be stopped by Marin or one of the Chinese contingent? Let us know your views below…

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