FAS far as Tan Boon Heong is concerned, the earlier group stage is harder to clear than the knockout rounds in the Olympics men's doubles.
That is due to the new format of the draw introduced for the London Games this month.
Knockout competition has been held since badminton's inception in the Olympics 20 years ago but the players will go through a four-group preliminary rounds where two pairs will advance to the quarter-finals.
It may sound simple but since only four pairs are seeded, a blind draw on July 23 may put Kien Keat-Boon Heong in a "group of death" where the top eight pairs may end up fighting for two slots in the last eight.
The top four pairs which will be seeded are -- Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China, Jung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae of South Korea, Denmark's Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen and Korean combination Ko Sung Hyun-Yoo Yeon Seong.
As such, Kien Keat-Boon Heong will end up with one of them in their group.
The other crack pairs are Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano, Chai Biao-Guo Zhendongof China and Taiwan's Fang Chieh Min-Lee Sheng Mu.
And Boon Heong said it will be a battle for survival if one of the three pairs also end up in their group.
Boon Heong have good reason to be wary because they have lost to Ahsan-Bona and Chieh Min-Sheng Mu while Chai Biao-Zhendong are always hard to beat.
"The group system does not necessarily make it easy although we get more than one opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals. This stage will be our biggest challenge in London, not the knockout rounds," said Boon Heong.
"Only the top four pairs will be seeded and if we are not fortunate, there could be another top eight pair in our group. We haven't been playing against the top eight pairs and we need to go all out in the group stage.
"It was different in the Beijing Games four years ago where we were in the last eight after winning the first round but it is going to be very tricky in London.
"There is more pressure during the group stage compared to the knockout rounds.
"Although we have not produced results on the international stage this year, my approach will be simple. We have to try and win all three matches in the group stage which means we will have to beat one of the seeds and earn a place in the quarter-finals."