The national contingent will aspire to end the 2021 season with a flourish when they begin their respective journeys at the World Championships commencing on Sunday in Huelva, Spain.

After months of grueling back-to-back tournaments and shuffling from Europe to Bali, and now back to Europe, the toll had been telling, both physically and mentally on every player on the World Tour circuit.

The Omicron variant spreading to the continent has also compounded matters, which led to the core of the Indonesian team pulling out.

Looking at the Malaysian line-up, there isn’t any clear favourite to earn a medal, let alone become the first to be crowned world champions.

In the last few months, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik bagging the Tokyo Olympics bronze and Lee Zii Jia reaching the Hylo Open final made their way to the main highlights reels.

Naturally, these individuals represent the country’s biggest hopes of going the distance.

Lee, who battled injuries and inconsistency in the last few weeks, would be hoping to come good in this season finale.

The sixth seed looks to have a straightforward passage to the quarter-finals at least, where he is slated to meet third seed Anders Antonsen.

For 2018 bronze medalist Liew Daren, a first-round victory over Misha Zilberman looks on the cards, but the Malaysian will have a tough second round should he win.

Cheam June Wei plays Kenta Nishimoto in the opener and goes into that contest as an underdog.

In the women’s singles, S.Kisona has to contend against Turkey’s rising star Neslihan Yigit on her world champs debut.

The Malaysian did not fare well at the Sudirman and Uber Cup, so it remains to be seen if she has been working hard to improve on her game since.

In the men’s doubles, all the local shuttlers have a bye to the next round.

The reunion of Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong is an interesting watch, as both shuttlers combine again after going separate ways in August.

The 10th seeds, who were only one point from winning gold at the Rio Olympics, had not achieved any success with their new partners.

Goh teamed up with Low Juan Shen, while Wee Kiong was with Tan Kian Meng, as both the new pairings mostly suffered early round exits since playing in September.

Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah is another fascinating watch in the women’s doubles.

Far from being a finished product, they made up for it with their combative displays and can upset higher ranked pairs on their day.

The 13th seeds most likely meet South Korea’s second seeds Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan in the last eight.

In the mixed doubles, there are three Malaysian pairs who will do battle, but there isn’t any big expectations for Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai to reach the podium.

Meanwhile, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying pulled out after recently splitting up.

Besides the Indonesian team, the other big name absentees include defending champion Kento Momota and Carolina Marin through injuries.