China will still be the team to beat when the 2017 Sudirman Cup begins on Australia's Gold Coast on Sunday.
The Chinese have won this tournament six times in a row and won't be intimidated by being drawn in a tough Group 1A for the mixed Badminton event.
China will begin its title defense against Hong Kong on the opening day. Yet, the champions will likely be more wary of a Thailand team loaded with marquee talent, particularly in the form of mixed pairing Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh, per Badzine.net's Aaron Wong.
However, China will count on Zhang Nan and his Olympic pedigree to lead a team strong at every spot. Fu Haifeng will also lend ample amounts of know-how and skill as the champions remain an ominous force, according to Wong.
Australia face a tough task after being placed in a daunting Group 2B. The host nation will meet USA, Austria and a capable Singapore squad.
However, Australia isn't the only team facing up to a challenging draw. In fact, India's Kidambi Srikanth bemoaned being placed in Group 1B along with Indonesia and Denmark, per FirstPost:
I feel we have a really tough draw as we are up against Indonesia and Denmark. I think these are one of the strong teams. So it won't be easy but if it is our day then we can win.
There was more optimism from Lee Chong Wei, the veteran of Malaysia's gifted team. The 34-year-old talked up his nation's chances in Group 1C, per Rajes Paul of The Star:
V Shem, Wee Kiong, Peng Soon and I have played in the Sudirman Cup before. We've the experience. There are a few new faces like Jin Wei and Yew Sin-Ee Yi but they are very determined.
Chong Wei may be confident, but Malaysia's path to progress is set to be a tricky one with Japan in the same group.
The Japanese traditionally thrive in the women's event, but they will need a player such as Takeshi Kamura to step up in the men's singles, per Wong.
Overall, China still look like the team to beat on the Gold Coast. The competition is strong, but the 11-time winners will have too much talent for the rest of the draw.