I was watching the Surdiman cup finals today on the internet and saw the chinese badminton team kitted out in their Li Ning gear. They were also using Li Ning badminton rackets. I had heard some time ago that Yonex could not afford to sponsor the chinese national team and so they are now sponsored by Li Ning. In the UK, virtually nobody has ever heard of this brand, i certainly hadn't. The Korean team were also playing with Victor rackets and equipment, and they were previously sponsored by Yonex. It would appear that Yonex is losing it's dominance..
Is this is a good thing? I say yes it is because we may finally see some real competiton and this will help to make Yonex drop their prices. Here is another burning question for all those people who have been brainwashed by Yonex over the years- how can it be that these top players can still play at the same level without yonex badminton rackets? The answer is that yonex rackets have been hyped up for years and people automatically believe they must be the best because they are the most expensive.
How can Lin Dan beat Lee Chong Wei playing with a Li Ning racket, when Lee is playing with a yonex racquet? I have never even seen a Li Ning racket in my life, i didn't even know they made badminton racquets, but it seems this makes little difference to Lin Dan, or the rest of the chinese team. The same goes for the koreans who use the Victor rackets. This illustrates my point very well, that it depends on who is holding the racket, ie the player. This past year has seen the biggest shake up as far as sponsorship goes, with teams switching manufacturer, yet all these players are still playing at the same level. This means that the badminton racket is not that important, which is what i have been saying for the last year on this blog.
Will this mean the demise of Yonex? Will they become a second rate brand? Will they lose their market share? I think they will certainly see a drop in sales in China because people will start to use the Li Ning rackets. I bet that Victor will see an increase in sales as well because if they are good enough for the top players then they must be good enough for the rest of us right? This is what sells racquets. This is why the likes of Victor have paid so much money to sponsor these teams.
There will no doubt be interest from players in the UK about Victor and Li Ning. I guarantee that the online retailers will be looking to stock more of these badminton rackets. I bet central sports will be a little bit worried about this, as they are the biggest Yonex dealer here in the UK. But i bet the smaller shops will be over the moon because if Yonex loses it's grip on them, they can now just stock other brands who will not price fix everything, and so us players will get a better deal.
I may be wrong here, and it could end up being the same situation, just a different manufacturer, but i don't think so. It has always been the case that people view Yonex at the top of the tree, and every other brand comes behind them. Brands such as Carlton, Wilson, Head, Forza, Apacs, Fleet, Victor, and any other brand out there. The reason is that we have been brainwashed for years by Yonex, by clever marketing and high prices. I have used Yonex badminton rackets in the past but they were no better than the Carlton Airblade i used, or the Apacs rackets, or the Browning rackets from Racketworld. The only difference was the price, which is the biggest factor for me. There is now way on this earth that i would pay over £100 for a badminton racket and many others feel the same way too.
On another note, i am reliably told that i am getting some new Apacs rackets to test. Not sure what they are yet, but they are new for the coming season here in the UK. I am also getting some Apacs badminton shoes to try out, so hopefully i will post these reviews pretty soon.