The ITTF World Tour celebrates it's 20 years' anniversary with the 2016 ITTF World Tour kicking off today (20 January) in Budapest, Hungary.
The then called ITTF Pro Tour first kicked off in Kettering, England in 1996 and has seen 291 events happen since, growing from strength to strength each year.
On the historic anniversary of the world's biggest table tennis tour, ITTF's CEO Judit FARAGO stated: "20 years after introducing the professional tour in table tennis, we are glad that the all-year long competition format has grown to be a core element of the ITTF competition program.
"This year, five continents are included in the series which gives excellent opportunity for the top players to improve their seeding position for the Olympic Games by gaining valuable World Ranking points. Also for those players to succeed at the World Tour who cannot realise their dream at Rio 2016. The great interest is shown already at the very first event, the Hungarian Open where the last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s participation record will be broken with 378 entries from 56 countries."
20 ITTF World Tour events will take place in 2016 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tour. The notable addition from 2015 is Slovenia, who will be hosting an ITTF World Tour event for the first time since 2012.
The 20 events on the 2016 ITTF World Tour are split into three tiers: Super (6 events) Major series (6 events) and Challenge (9 events). The higher the tier, the higher the prize money, better playing conditions and tougher competition.
All the players playing ITTF World Tour events are fighting for not only for prize money and world ranking points, but also World Tour ranking points to qualify for the lucrative World Tour Grand Final, taking place on 15-18 December 2016 in a location to be announced.
The 2016 ITTF World Tour is set to be the most extensively followed tour in history, with more events shown live throughout the world on television, and all the events being shown live on ITTF's live streaming platform, ITTF.com/itTV.
The qualifications for the ITTF World Tour World Tour Hungarian Open (Major) starts today, 20 January 2016, with the main draw starting on 22 January and the finals matches on 24 January 2016.
The ITTF World Tour Super Series kicks off a week later at the German Open on 27 January 2016.
England defeated New Zealand 49-46 to level up the three-match Series at 1-1 heading into the deciding match on Wednesday morning.
Sloane Stephens advanced to her first Grand Slam final at the US Open on Thursday night