Momota's rise began in Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan
Credit Image: BWF & Raphael Sachetat
It was in Wuhan that he really kickstarted his "comeback trail" from suspension for visiting illegal casinos back home in Japan in 2016 - a suspension that saw Kento Momota miss the Rio Olympics the same year.
Momota was a hailed as a medal prospect in Rio but there was no compromise for indiscipline as far the Nippon Badminton Association was concerned and he was put in cold storage with an indefinite ban which was lifted only in mid-2017.
Soon after winning the Badminton Asia men's singles title last year with a 21-17, 21-13 win over China's Rio Olympics champion Chen Long in an hour-long match at the Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium in Wuhan Japan's Kento Momota confidently set his personal goals.
"Next I want to be the world champion and world No 1 and of course I have my sights on the Olympics (which will be held in Tokyo next year)," Momota told Badminton Asia soon after his win.
Five months later Momota was world No 1 after winning the world title in Nanjing, China in August - defeating China's Shi Yuqi 21-11, 21-13 in the final.
Momota makes a return to Wuhan, the Automobile City of China, again and is the top seed in the Badminton Asia Championships which carries prize money of USD400,000.
The 24-year-old Japanese ace opens his campaign against South Korea's Lee Dong-keun and is the hot favorite to retain the Asian title.
Momota goes into the fray after winning the Singapore Open last week although he suffered a shock defeat to Indonesia's Jonatan Christie in the Malaysia Open, losing 20-22, 15-21 in the second round.
Chinese legend Lin Dan is unseeded but after winning the recent Malaysia Open by defeating Chen Long in the final, the 35-year-old who has set his sights on the Tokyo Olympics has drawn Malaysian professional Liew Daren in the first round.
Lin Dan, a five-time world champion, won the Olympic golds in Beijing (2008) and London (2012), defeating Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei both times. Chong Wei is skipping the Asian meet this year as he has yet to get medical clearance for his return to the Badminton Scene.
Second seed Shi Yugi will play Singapore's Malaysian-born youngster Loh Kean Yew while the third seed is Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei and takes on Thailand's Kantophan Wangcharoen in the first round.
Chen Long, the Malaysian Open runners-up is seeded fourth and has a Japanese hurdle in Kanta Tsuneyama in the first round. India's hope K. Srikanth is seeded fifth followed by Indonesia's Anthony Ginting, who finished runners-up to Momota in the Singapore Open.
The next two seedings are also Indonesians with Tommy Sugiarto (seventh) and Asian Games 2018 champion Jonatan Christie eighth.
The men's and women's singles champions in the Badminton Asia Championships 2019 will pocket USD30,000 while the runners-up will take home USD15,200.
A place in the semi-finals is worth USD5,800, quarter-finals (USD2,400) while a place in the last 16 is worth USD1,400.
In the doubles, the prize money per pair is USD31,600 for the champions, USD15,200 for runners-up, USD5,600 (semi-finals), USD2,900 (quarter-finals) and USD 1,500 for last 16.