DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The first day of Baker competition at the 2021 International Bowling Federation Super World Championships was a success for the United States on Sunday, as all four Team USA doubles teams advanced to match play.
Doubles was the second discipline of the week but offered the first chance for competitors from dozens of countries to get a clear look at the tournament's new structure.
What previously was a six-game sprint for a spot in the four-team semifinals required a different game plan and mindset, with 32 teams now advancing to match play based on their 10-game pinfall totals.
The women's field at the Dubai International Bowling Centre featured 45 doubles teams.
Singapore's Cherie Tan and New Hui Fen set the pace with a 2,330 total for their 10 games, a 233 average.
Team USA's Danielle McEwan and Jordan Richard qualified ninth with 2,175, and Kelly Kulick and Missy Parkin were close behind in 11th place with 2,126. It took an average of 182.6 to make the cut.
"It was nice to be able to use today and the format to try some things and some balls we might not have been able to use if we still were bowling the six games and trying to get one of the four spots," said Parkin, a defending world champion in trios. "We were able to gather a lot of information today. I thought Kelly and I executed very well, even though the pins didn't always fall our way, and we're excited to be one of the teams moving on."
On the men's side, 64 teams battled for the 32 spots, with Sweden's Jesper Svensson taking the spotlight for the second consecutive day. He was able to continue the momentum he gained while averaging 269 during the opening round of singles Saturday.
This time, he was joined by Pontus Andersson, and the two claimed the top spot in the standings with a 2,467 total, which included a perfect game to end their 10-game block. It was one of four 300s on the day. The others belonged to Korea, Italy and Germany.
Team USA's Jakob Butturff and AJ Johnson also had a big final game, and their 266 finish landed them in 10th place with a 2,260 total. Their teammates, Andrew Anderson and Kris Prather got just enough, finishing 27th with 2,162. It took an average of 214.2 to reach the next round.
During the two-player event Sunday, one team member bowled the odd frames, and the other team member bowled the even frames. They were required to alternate through the day.
The 32 teams now will be divided into four groups, each with eight teams, and they'll all bowl seven games of round-robin match play, which will get underway Tuesday morning.
Points will be awarded for each win in match play, and the top two teams in each group, based on points, will advance to the bracket-style quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-game matches, and the championship match will be a best-of-two battle, with a ninth- and 10th-frame roll-off being used if a third game is needed.
Johnson, who competed at the IBF World Men's Championships in 2017, entered Sunday's doubles qualifying a little more relaxed knowing the ultimate goal was to be among the top 32 this time and that once the cut was made, everyone would be even again.
As he navigates the IBF World Championships for the second time, he is more confident on the lanes and brings with him some of the advice given to him earlier in his career by the more experienced team members.
"I learned how important chemistry can be, and as much as we see someone get fired up and get the team going, it can work the other way, too," said Johnson, who helped Team USA to the team gold medal in 2017. "For example, there were a few times today we didn't capitalize when we should have, and I let it get to me, which I think spilled over to Jakob. The last game, we regrouped and ran the front nine. Now that we're aware, I think we can deal with it even better."
Before doubles can wind down, however, the spotlight will shift back to singles. Svensson, and women's leader Verity Crawley of England, will lead their respective fields back onto the lanes for five more games.
Like doubles, 10-game pinfall totals will determine the 32 bowlers advancing to match play, where the format will mirror doubles.
Singles squads will take place throughout the day Monday, doubles match play will happen Tuesday and singles match play will be held Wednesday.
The event also will feature trios, team and mixed team, all of which will use a variation of the Baker format. Additional medals will be awarded to the most valuable athletes and top-performing federations.
The IBF Super World Championships is the first of three events being held in Dubai, concluding Nov. 15. It will be joined by the inaugural IBF Para Bowling World Championships and followed by the IBF Masters (formerly Senior) World Championships.
IBF is providing livestream coverage and complete results at strikecloud.com.
For more information about IBF, visit bowling.sport.