Nongshim Cup

Overview: 

The Nongshim Cup is a team competition for the three major Go-playing countries - China, Japan and Korea. It is named after sponsor Nongshim, a Korean food company producing instant noodles. This tournament was first held in 1999, replacing the Jinro Cup.

Tournament Format: 

The three countries each starts with 5 players. The selection is often based on a combination of preliminary tournaments and appointments. Two countries are randomly selected to start the first game. The winner continues playing a player from the third country. The winner of each subsequent game stays in to play the next opponent from a different country. In the end the team with players left standing is the winner of the tournament. These games are played over three stages in different cities.

Prize Money: 
The generous prize money has increased over the years. The prize for the winning team stands at 500,000,000 KRW as of the 17th edition. There is also a separate prize for players winning consecutively - 10,000,000 KRW for winning three games in a row and 10,000,000 KRW for each additional victory after that.
Time System: 
1 hour main time for each player followed by 1 minute byoyomi.
Ruleset and Komi: 
Korean rule with 6.5-point komi.
Key Players, Events and Statistics: 
  • noodleThe full name of this tournament is 'Nongshim Spicy Noodle Cup'. Instant noodle (ramyun) is a popular fast food in oriental countries. Nowadays, the particular brand of noodle, as shown in the picture, is widely available even in western countries.
  • Korea dominated this tournament by winning most times and never finishing third. China really struggled in early years but its performance improved a lot in recent years.
  • Korea's domination was mainly because of the stellar performance of Lee Changho, who single-handedly terminated the tournament 8 times, including a winning streak of 14 games over 6 years. In the 6th Nongshim Cup, he beat 5 opponents when his teammate failed to perform.
  • In all but 4 terms, the winner was decided by the 14th and final game. The winning team was always properly challenged. This is what makes the tournament exciting.
  • The winning team is not necessarily winning the most number of games. Team with the strongest captain often benefits from the three-team arrangement.
  • For all editions so far, at least one player won the special prize for winning 3+ games consecutively.
  • Four members of the Korea team are selected from a qualifying tournament. The sponsor then determines a wild-card player. The decisions in the past were often controversial because the sponsor favoured famous players over other players in better forms.
  • Up to 14 games are split over three stages. The split was 4/6/4 but quietly changed to 4/5/5 in term 17, apparently to avoid the awkward situation in which one poorly performing team gets knocked out in stage 2.
Historical Results: 

Term

Year

1st place

2nd place

3rd place

Final game & terminator

Winning streak

1

2000

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Chang Hao: 3

2

2001

Korea

Japan

China

Lee Changho

Choi Cheolhan: 3

3

2002

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Luo Xihe: 3

4

2003

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Hu Yaoyu: 5; Park Yeonghun: 4

5

2004

Korea

Japan

China

Lee Changho

Kobayashi Koichi / Weon Seongjin: 3

6

2005

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Lee Changho: 5

7

2006

Japan

Korea

China

Yoda Norimoto

Yoda Norimoto / Cho Hanseung: 3

8

2007

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Peng Quan: 5; Park Yeonghun: 4

9

2008

China

Korea

Japan

Chang Hao

Chang Hao: 4; Mok Jinseok / Wang Xi: 3

10

2009

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Sedol

Kang Dongyun: 5; Tuo Jiaxi: 4

11

2010

Korea

China

Japan

Lee Changho

Xie He: 5; Kim Jiseok / Lee Changho: 3

12

2011

Korea

China

Japan

Choi Cheolhan

Xie He / Choi Cheolhan: 4

13

2012

China

Korea

Japan

Xie He

Tan Xiao / Kim Jiseok: 4; Xie He: 3

14

2013

Korea

China

Japan

Park Junghwan

Tan Xiao / Wang Xi / Choi Cheolhan: 3

15

2014

China

Korea

Japan

Shi Yue

Fan Tingyu / Chen Yaoye: 3

16

2015

China

Korea

Japan

Lian Xiao

Wang Xi: 4

17

2016

China

Korea

Japan

Ke Jie

Ichiriki Ryo / Gu Li / Lee Sedol: 3

18

2017

China

Korea

Japan

Fan Yunruo

Fan Tingyu: 7

19

Go4Go Collection Note: 
All main tournament games are in the Go4Go database. Some games from preliminary tournaments are also available.