Suffolk Saxons could make history as they bid for spot in National Badminton League final
- Credit: sarah lucy brown
It’s crunch time for Suffolk’s professional badminton team as they take on the University of Nottingham tonight.
The Suffolk Saxons have thrown themselves into their debut season in England’s pro badminton league with gusto, stringing together three straight wins earlier in the campaign to, at one point, go top of the league.
Tonight the side plays it’s last regular season game – and the title is still up for grabs.
The AJ Bell NBL ends in a final between the teams who finish first and second in the league after six matches and although the Saxons are currently fifth, they have every chance of securing a spot in the end-of-season showpiece.
Here is everything you need to know about the Saxons and their chances of winning the league in their first season.
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When and where is the Saxons’ last fixture? The last regular league match for the Suffolk Saxons is tonight, Monday, February 6, 2017. It’s a home fixture, so it will be played at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange with a 7pm start.
Who are the opponents tonight? The Saxons will face off against University of Nottingham – who are also chasing a place in the final.
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When and where is the NBL final? If they make it to the final, the Saxons will have a quick turnaround – it’s scheduled to take place just two days from now, on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. It will be played in Milton Keyes at the centre:mk shopping centre from 7.30pm.
How do I watch the matches? The home game against Nottingham at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange starts at 7pm and tickets can be bought online here, but you’ll have to hurry – there were just 32 seats left as of 10.15am today. If you want to see the final, follow this link to buy tickets. If you can’t make the games in person, BT Sport 1 will show highlights of the Saxons v Nottingham game at 9.45pm on Tuesday and highlights of the final on Thursday from 8pm.
What chances to Suffolk have of making the final? It’s probably best described as an outside chance. The Saxons are currently fifth, the lowest ranked team that can still qualify, but only four of the teams above them are in action tonight – Birmingham Lions, in top spot, have already played their final match and will have to watch nervously from the sidelines. The Saxons have to beat Nottingham (currently fourth) at the very least to have any hope of making the final, as well as rely on a favourable result in the Loughborough Lightning (third) v Team Derby (second) game going on at the same time. Both Derby and Loughborough are on the same amount of points, so it doesn’t really matter which of them wins.
How does the scoring work? There are five events per fixture in the NBL – men’s and women’s doubles, men’s and women’s singles, and mixed doubles. Each event won by a side gives them a league point, even if they lose the night overall. A 4-1 win on the night would see the winning side grab four points but the losers would still pick up one – so there is always an incentive to win events right through to the final point. A score of 3-2 has been the most common in the NBL this season, while no one has yet recorded a 5-0 victory this campaign.
What are the current standings? 1st Birmingham Lions, 16pts; 2nd Team Derby, 15pts; 3rd Loughborough Lightning, 15pts; 4th University of Nottingham, 14pts; 5th Suffolk Saxons, 13pts; 6th Surrey Smashers, 9pts, 7th Bristol Jets, 8pts.
Who can qualify for the final? The teams from second through to fourth have the most chance of securing a place in the Milton Keynes showpiece. Birmingham, bizarrely, are only an outside bet despite their lofty position having played all their games but sitting on just a one point advantage.
What are the possible permutations based on the Saxons’ result? Right, make sure you’re concentrating – this could get as complex as a final-day Premier League relegation battle.
• Outcome one: Saxons lose to Nottingham – Their hopes of making the final are dashed and they risk dropping to sixth or seventh in the league, depending on the outcome of Bristol Jets v Surrey Smashers.
• Outcome two: Saxons beat Nottingham 3-2 – If Loughborough v Derby ends 3-2 to either team then Saxons end up with 16 points, but the winner of Loughborough v Derby will have 18 and the loser 17, meaning they go through and the Saxons miss out. If Loughborough v Derby ends 4-1 to either team the winner of that game goes through to the final while Saxons finish the season with 16 points, along with the Loughborough v Derby loser, Birmingham and Nottingham. Second place, and the spot in the final, will be decided by various tie-break criteria, such as matches won, games won and game points scored. Currently, these are unlikely to favour the Suffolk side. If Loughborough or Derby win 5-0, the tie-break will be between Suffolk, Nottingham and Birmingham.
• Outcome three: Saxons beat Nottingham 4-1 – If Loughborough v Derby ends 3-2 to either team the Saxons finish with 17 points, as would the loser of Loughborough v Derby. The winner of that match would be in the final, and who joined them would be decided by the tie-break criteria. Again, this is unlikely to favour the Saxons, but they would have better odds here than in outcome three (as they will have won four events on the night rather than three). If Loughborough v Derby also ends 4-1, or 5-0, the Saxons are in the final, having accumulated 17 league points and overhauled Birmingham (16 points), the Loughborough v Derby loser (16 or 15 points, dependent on result) and Nottingham (15 points). The Loughborough v Derby winner takes the other final spot.
• Outcome four: Saxons beat Nottingham 5-0 – Regardless of the other scores, the Saxons will have secured a final spot by finishing with 18 points. The highest points total the loser of Loughborough v Derby can get is 17, putting the Saxons beyond their reach and that of 16-point Birmingham. They’ll be joined by the winner of Loughborough v Derby.
Any other interesting points? If you have a passing interest in how Birmingham (with 16 points and no game tonight) could make the final, they require a result which puts just one of Loughborough or Derby above them and the remaining three teams we’ve been talking about on 16 points or fewer – for example a 5-0 win for Loughborough or Derby and a 3-2 win for the Saxons. This would mean second place is decided by the tie-break stats which, at the moment, look to be favouring Birmingham.