Why we need another table tennis ranking system? Why don’t you just use the ITTF ranking system?
Because the current ITTF World Ranking has many flaws. It’s not correct!
Really? Yes, read below to understand what are the problems with the current world ranking system. I’ve summarized the list of the best table tennis players of all time.
And I also made an amazing animation for the top 10 Male and Female players actually! You should look, and will understand quickly! Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, Xu Xin, Harimoto Tomokazu, Timo Boll are also one of the best players, but their ranking goes up and down with the new ITTF system. So I decided to make my own rating program.
Table Tennis World Ranking – February 2019
If you want to search for the latest world table tennis ranking, here you are.
Men’s World Table Tennis Ranking
Here are the visualization charts of the top men table tennis ranking. You can clearly see the gap between the “top Chinese players” versus the rest of the World. You can also download the data (compiled by coach EmRatThich) in CSV, Excel, or just print it out.
Here is the list of the top 100 men senior player on the world ranking.
However, this official ranking is not accurate. It does not reflect the true “level skills” of the top players in the world. The more “exact” world ranking is presented below.
I’ve also explained what has changed, and why ITTF wants to imply the new ranking system. Here is the video:
Women’s World Table Tennis Ranking
Here are the top 100 top Women table tennis players in the world. Ding Ning is ranked #WR1.
The distribution of the top 20 women table tennis ranking is interesting.
You can clearly see that the “gap” is much closer compared to the men’s ranking. Especially between the top Chinese female, and the Japanese female players.
Here is the list of the top 100 Female Seniors players in table tennis. To find the name of the player, you can press “Ctrl – F” to quickly search and jump to her ranking position.
Note: By observing the ranking for both Mens and Womens, there is something wrong!
The points gained by the WR #1 is much higher than the rest. The WR #1 has too many points compared to the 2nd, and the 3rd position. It’s due to the “unbalanced” points awards of the current ITTF ranking system. Read below to understand this, and could we do better?
The purpose of the rating system
The rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in competitor-versus-competitor games such as sports, chess, table tennis, tennis, baskets, computer games, personnel management, and more.
So, “Rating = Skill Level”
How to measure “skills” in table tennis
According to the “Rating Central System” of Dr. David J. Marcus, Ph.D., the skills are considered as “playing strength”.
The higher ranked player will have a higher chance to win the competition.
The upset can also be determined. The better ranking system will predict correctly the probability of the upset.
So the laws are:
“There is a 95% probability that the player’s playing strength is between the mean minus twice the standard deviation and the mean plus twice the standard deviation.”
“The probability that a match will be upset is determined solely by the difference in playing strengths of the two players. The larger the difference in the playing strengths, the more likely it is that the stronger player will win.“
“The purpose of rating system is to seed the better player (higher skilled player)”
So in table tennis, the rating system helps you to determine who will have a higher chance to win. The best player has the highest ranking.
The problem of the new ITTF rating system
Basic principles of the New Ranking System (Taken directly from ITTF.com):
– The new ranking is based on the final positions reached at the tournaments only (regardless of the relative strength of the opponent player).
– Only bonus points are awarded (no rating points are given), which are valid for 12 months, except the World Championships.
– NO loss of points in case of losing a match.
This new rating system is totally ridiculous!
The new world ranking data of ITTF only consider the recent results, and with the wrong multiplying weightings factor. The new ITTF Table Tennis ranking introduces many problems:
- Many real top players will drop out of the top 100 best table tennis players. For example, many top players dropped out of the current Men Ranking (like Zhang Jike, Jun Mizutani, etc).
- Some weaker players now jump into the top ranking due to the recent activities. For example, with the New World Ranking System makes Kanak Jha (USA Young Table Tennis Player) into Top 100.
- This shows who’s the most active on the pro tour instead of who’s best. The official ITTF ranking system will force players to play more, pay more, but less quality. The seeding is a mess. The best player will be ranked lower.
Look at this recent official table tennis Men World Ranking.
- Ovtcharov is ranked number 1, with 16 000 points. Which is 66% higher than Fang Bo (only 9000 points). Based on the Distribution Laws, Ovtcharov will have about 85% probability to win Fang Bo. Which is false! Ask Ovtcharov himself!
- “How do you feel the confidence to win Fang Bo”? Of course, it’s not 85% to win!
- Ma Long has only 13000 points and ranked 7. So his winning probability to Ovtcharov, Fan Zhendong is only about 15%. Ridiculous! The rating system of ITTF is false!
- Fang Bo is ranked only 21, but look at the real results! He can easily win many higher ranked players. He has won, without any loss to many higher ranked players like Assar Omar (ranked 16), Quadri, Yuya, Hugo, Simon, Kenta.
Using this ranking system is dangerous
Why this ranking system is dangerous. Because, for the next event like the Olympics, or World Championships, the top players are seedings. But the seed won’t reflect the “real best players”. Many players will try to participate in many tournaments to get the “fake ranking”. There is the mess in the seedings. And it’s not fun at all. Top players need to be super-active or they are kicked out of the ranking.
What does the ITTF world ranking stand for?
The so-called ITTF World Ranking is not the real World Ranking. You should understand the Official ITTF ranking as:
“ITTF Ranking = The ranking for the most active player recently”
It’s NOT the ranking of the top table tennis players in the world.
EmRatThich Table Tennis World Ranking
The Motivation – Why I need to spend the time to make my own ranking
Because you can no longer use the official ITTF rating system to evaluate who is the best table tennis player. I decided to make my own ranking system.
I searched on the Internet and found that the most accurate “Rating System” which has been developed by David J. Marcus, Ph.D., and Sean P. O’Neill (Rating Centrals). Unfortunately, the author didn’t update the latest results due to some difficulties.
So I decided to make my own ranking system with the latest data from ITTF.
There are many advantages:
1. The self-correcting rating system, based on the ELO rating system
ELO rating system is widely used in the world, not only for chess players but also for many sports competition. The current ITTF rating use “NO loss of points in case of losing a match” which is completely wrong! So the points will go up constantly during the time, and it’s called “rating inflation”.
No losing-point is a very bad idea. Because with this, the ITTF rating system is not the “self-correcting” system. You just play as many tournaments as possible. No matter your skills, your winning percentage, just play and win points. Even if you lose all of your matches to the lower ranked players, don’t worry! Just abuse and play!
Meanwhile, if you are the best players! If you don’t play enough. You are out of the game.
With the ITTF system, it’s impossible to compare the rating between the current players and the player in the history. It’s the very bad design. While in every rating system in another sport, they try to fight and balance the “Ratings inflation and deflation”.
“For example, if there is inflation, a modern rating of 2500 means less than a historical rating of 2500, while the reverse is true if there is deflation. Using ratings to compare players between different eras is made more difficult when inflation or deflation are present.”
The old ITTF rating system is better. The points reflect the true player skills.
ZoomTT.com has published an article to compare the old and the new ITTF ranking system. Obviously, the new ITTF rating system failed to predict the results. 66% vs 75%.
2. The most accurate distribution model
ITTF Rating system didn’t use the correct distribution model. That’s why in the current ranking, Ovtcharov has a very high point due to his recent activities, meanwhile, the same level players have such a lower point.
Many other rating systems used the distribution model to distribute the reward points. My rating system used the “logistic distribution” which is considered the most accurate model.
Logistic distribution model, which provide a better fit for the actual results achieved, especially for lower ranked players.
This is the rating distribution of the top 100 Men table tennis player in the world. (Rating from the OLD ITTF rating system November 2017). The rating is from 2200 (Omar Assar) to 3300 (Ma Long). The X-axis is Ranking position from 1 to 100. The Y-axis is the correspondent rating points.
This is an example of the Logistic Distribution which reflects better the world ranking system. The adjusted parameter can be used to fit the real ranking system.
This is the ranking distribution for the Chess player. You can observe the same tendance. Which shows that my ranking system uses the better distribution than the new ITTF rating system.
3. Self-adjusted model
Attribute the correct rating points to the player requires a lot of work. It’s not as simple to “accumulate the recent points” like in ITTF model.
I tend to build the system which can self-adjust to fit the player performance. My system is designed to correctly reflect the players “playing skills” and “performance”.
I’ve implemented the adjusted distribution method to evaluate the performance ratings.
This kind of distribution model is very effective, which is used in Personnel Management in the big company.
4. Different weighting factors
Why we need the Weighting factors for the tournament?
To attribute correctly the rating points, you need to consider several weighting factors. The first one is the “Tournament Factor”.
Just because winning a match in the Olympics is much more important than winning a match in the local, or the Open tournament.
Remember: To become a grand slam in table tennis, you need to win “Grand Slam” = Olympic Games + World Cup + World Championships for Table Tennis Tournament!
Weighting factors for the tournament have been used widely, like in ATP (Tennis World Ranking) and other sports. It’s called as “Point Distribution for Event”
So here, I divide the tournament into several tiers: (here is the code, which will be updated constantly)
Tier 1: The most important tournament for a table tennis career
- Olympic Games: The most important tournament in the history
- World Table Tennis Championships
- Men’s World Cup
Tier 2: The elite prestigious tournaments,
- ITTF World Tour (including Grand Finals)
- Challenge Series
- ITTF World Junior Circuit (Junior & Cadet events including WJC Final)
- ITTF World Cadet Challenge
- Asian Cup, Asian Championship, European Championship
Tier 3: Regional and Open Competition, less difficult level
- Regional Events
- Multi-Sport Competitions
- Challenge Series
- ITTF Show-case events
- Continental Cups
- Africa Cup, Panam Cup, Oceania Cup
The top players will play his best at the most important event. So the more important event, the score reflects better the true level skills.
Ma Long won’t lose to any foreigner at the Olympics Game. But he can lose the same player in the Open Tournament.
5. Lucky and True Skill in table tennis
The second weighting factors should be considered is the “score factors”. EmRatThich World Table Tennis Ranking is currently the only one which considers the “luckiness” and the “skill factors” into the rating systems.
ITTF current rating system only considers the match results, for example, player A win so he gets the points. For ITTF, player A won player B 4-0 or 4-1 or 4-3, all are the same. ITTF only counts the “match results”.
Remember: Winning 4-0 and 4-3 is not the same!
But for me, winning 4-0 and winning 4-3 is totally different. By winning 4-0, you dominate the game, and your skill factors increase. If you win 4-3, the “lucky factor” will play an important role in the match results.
So I have implemented the “Lucky factor” into my rating system:
Note that: This true-score-factor will be updated to reflect the real world ranking system. This is my first attempt, and it works very well.
More accurate than the ITTF table tennis ranking?
So what’s is the result? Who is the top 20 table tennis Men players in 2018?
- 43 735 table tennis matches played in 2017 (in official ITTF events)
- nearly 100 table tennis international tournaments during 2017
And by applying and fitting the most accurate distribution model
Most accurate World Ranking system
The recent world ranking of top 20 table tennis players in 2018, rating calculated by EmRatThich.
ITTF ranking vs My World Ranking
So it’s up to you to use the current ITTF World Ranking table tennis or my calculated ranking system.
I just want to see “who is the best table tennis player in the World right now”. That’s the main motivation that I build my own system. I don’t trust the ITTF World ranking system anymore.
Here is the video that explains that Ma Long is the strongest player right now, despite that his ITTF World ranking is only number 9.
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