Here is the list of top males and top females table tennis players in the world using the ERT table tennis ranking for this month. It’s is updated with the latest match results in the official ITTF competitions. However, you should notice that there are 2 Table Tennis Ranking Systems: ITTF Ranking System, and ERT Ranking System. Why the current ITTF World Ranking system is dangerous for the sport and the players? And why do we need another “More Accurate” and “Fairer” System? Read below.
The answer is: ITTF World table tennis ranking is not accurate.
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.
So by using these typical laws of the rating system: a Better player has a higher chance to win (from Rating Central).
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.“
You can clearly see in the playing strength rating system: Upset and the probability of winning are related.
“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 real world ranking
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.
Several working hours with hundreds of lines of code.
Enjoy this! The program is coded with hundreds of line of codes. And read below!
ITTF rating system: New Problems
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.
Why it 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.
It is no longer the World Ranking
So ITTF table tennis ranking is no longer reflect the true world ranking. What does the ITTF world ranking stand for? What should you consider the official ITTF ranking right now? The so-called ITTF World Ranking is not the real World Ranking.
For me, ITTF ranking right now is just the ranking of the most active players in Pro Tours.
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.
Yes, just take this example. Ma Long is currently considered as the strongest player right now. 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.
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.
Fail to predict the strongest player
The current ITTF just emphasizes Quantity over quality, when it should be the other way around. The current system simply rewards playing as many tournaments as you can.
Recently Ma Long, the best table tennis player right now, who is currently ranked only 11th on the ITTF World Ranking, has won the WTTC 2019.
This is the BIGGEST upset in table tennis. The guy that is ranked only as number 11th on the World Ranking won three consecutive men’s singles titles World Table Tennis Championships.
In this WTTC, no one can win Ma Long more than 2 sets. He is the real captain of the China Team. The most trusted player in history right now!
1st round VS Aleksandar Karakasevic 4-0
2nd round VS Kanak Jha 4-1
3rd round VS Vladimir SAMSONOV 4-1
4th round VS Hugo CALDERANO 4-1
quarterfinals VS LIN Gaoyuan 4-0
semifinal VS LIANG Jingkun 4-1
final VS Mattias Falck 4-1
This is the big proof for the failure of the current World Ranking. It’s dangerous to the sport because it fails to rank the best players in table tennis. It fails to predict the real strong players, and it’s not fair.
Wrong distribution model
Here are the visualization charts of the ITTF top men table tennis ranking. You can clearly see the gap between the “top Chinese players” versus the rest of the World.
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 – EmRatThich Table Tennis World Ranking.
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.
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. 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?
ERT Table Tennis Ranking – Explication
0. The Motivation
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. This is the main reason why I need to spend the time to make my own ranking
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
ERT ranking uses the self-correcting rating system, based on the ELO rating system. The 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”.
The main advantage of the ELO system is:
- The high-rated player is expected to score more win
- The rating system is self-correcting
- The rating system must reflect their true playing strength
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 history. It’s a very bad design. While in every rating system in another sport, they try to fight and balance the “Ratings inflation and deflation”.
The real problem of rating inflation is [source wiki]
“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. 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. While ERT Ranking system uses a much better and more accurate distribution model.
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 a 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 the 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 factor that should be considered is the “score factors”. EmRatThich World Table Tennis Ranking is currently the only one that considers the “luckiness” and the “skill factors” into the rating systems.
ITTF’s 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.
ERT Table Tennis Ranking
If you want to search for the latest world table tennis ranking for this month, here you are.
So what’s is the result? Who is the top table tennis players in the world?
- 43 735 table tennis matches played (in official ITTF events)
- nearly 100 table tennis international tournaments during the year.
And by applying and fitting the most accurate distribution model
Men’s World Table Tennis Ranking
Here are the latest Top 50 Rankings Mens in table tennis. Ma Long is currently on top of the World.
Who is the best player of all time? Here is the evolution of table tennis for 10 years.
You can watch this video, to see all of the evolution of table tennis ranking.
|26||WONG Chun Ting|
|31||ACHANTA Sharath Kamal|
The list of the top 50 men senior players above is considered more accurate than the ITTF the world ranking system.
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 50 top Women table tennis players in the world. Ding Ning is ranked #WR1.
|14||DOO Hoi Kem|
|27||LEE Ho Ching|
|31||KIM Song I|
|34||HAN Ying ^|
|38||SOO Wai Yam Minnie|
|46||NI Xia Lian|
To find the name of the player, you can press “Ctrl – F” to quickly search and jump to her ranking position. The list above (top 50 Female Seniors players in table tennis) reflects the true skill level in table tennis. It’s calculated based on the latest match results this month.
ITTF ranking vs ERT Ranking
So which ranking system should you use? It’s up to you to use the current ITTF World Ranking table tennis or my calculated ranking system.
For me, ERT Ranking system is more accurate than the ITTF Ranking system. With the Rating Centre System, ERT ranking is one of the most accurate world ranking systems.
Here is an example of the top 20 table tennis players in 2018, rating calculated by EmRatThich. You can compare with the ITTF list, and give me your opinion.
What do you think about my efforts? Please comment below.
Source code of EmRatThich ranking system
The current ITTF ranking system has some flaws. I’ve explained it on my blog pingsunday. You can search “table tennis ranking pingsunday” to read it. Some players also asked me to publish the source code.
Here you are, all of the source code of my ranking system is published on pingsunday. I write this code to calculate the ranking and display the world’s top players. The program is now open source.
You can download the source code table tennis ranking.
Feel free to ask me any question, or to support my works.
You should read
Coach EmRatThich was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1983. He started playing table tennis at the age of 8. After finishing his Ph.D. in Paris, University Pierre Marie Curie (Sorbonne University) in 2011, he is now a table tennis coach in a small club in France (about 153 players). Interested in table tennis coaching for a global audience, he founded pingsunday.com, one of the best online coaching programs for table tennis players. Using the Chinese coaching philosophy, his table tennis lessons are free, which allows many table tennis players to improve fast. He can speak English, French, Vietnamese, and a little bit of Chinese.