Top 5 Greatest Players in Table Tennis

Top 5 Greatest Players in Table Tennis

Who are the greatest table tennis players? A very good question.

And maybe the World Number 1 table tennis player on the current ITTF World Ranking is the best player?

Today, let’s answer who is the most successful table tennis of all time.

Nominations of the best 5 players of all time

Based on their achievement in table tennis, and their popularity in this sport here is the list of most 5 successful players in table tennis.

  1. Ma Long
  2. Zhang Jike
  3. Jan-Ove Waldner
  4. Fan Zhendong
  5. Liu Guoliang

Ma Long:

If Zhang Jike is the most well-known players in China (he has the biggest fan bases), Ma Long is the most hardworking player, the most talented player in table tennis. Some players prefer saying that J.O. Waldner should be the “best player of all time”. But for me, by counting the achievements, and the elegant way of playing, I would say “Ma Long is no doubt the best table tennis player of all time”.

Ma Long has the best forehand in table tennis, super strong footwork, and a strong backhand. He is the captain of China Team.

 

His understanding of the game, as Liu Guoliang commented, “is number 1 in the world”.

Liu Guoliang said:

“At the current state, Ma Long has the deepest knowledge in this game. His main weakness now is his age…”

 

Liu Guoliang confirmed that Ma Long is the best table tennis player right now
Liu Guoliang confirmed that Ma Long is the best table tennis player right now

He has the highest winning percentage of all time and has won the most titles on the ITTF World Tour.

Recently, he just won the WTTC 2019 for the 3rd time in a row (2019, 2017, 2015).

Ma Long won the men’s singles World Champion 2019 and thus joined the legendary group of Hungary’s Victor Barna and Chinese compatriot, Zhuang Zedong, who likewise won three in a row (2019, 2017, 2015)
Ma Long won the men’s singles World Champion 2019 and thus joined the legendary group of Hungary’s Victor Barna and Chinese compatriot, Zhuang Zedong, who likewise won three in a row (2019, 2017, 2015)

Ma Long has struggled a bit to win a single world championship, but later, he won all the title to become the 5th Grand Slam in table tennis.

His known weakness is his age and ability under pressure.

Ma Long = Captain, Xu Xin = Thor, Fan Zhendong = Hulk
Ma Long = Captain, Xu Xin = Thor, Fan Zhendong = Hulk

 

Ma Long at world championship 2019

Liu Guoliang once said, “Today, the player who has the best knowledge in the game is Ma Long.”. It’s so true! He is no doubt the Best table tennis players of all time. In the next 50 years, there is no one can match this level of Ma Long for sure.

Men's Singles Awards at the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships on April 28, 2019 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Remy Gros ITTF)
Men’s Singles Awards at the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships on April 28, 2019, in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Remy Gros ITTF)

At the age of 30 years old, which is at the falling stage of a career, but Ma Long’s game is so beautiful than ever. While Zhang Jike can’t keep up with the new trend, Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan, Harimoto is on the rising stage. The Dragon shows how beautiful, table tennis, and table tennis tactics are. Some players just say “Oh, Ma Long is so strong. Because his forehand is so strong.”. No! Not only his forehand but his variation, his service, match reading, his mentality, his chop block, his backhand control, is the best of the best. He is not the fastest. He is not the strongest. But he is the most intelligent player, right now.

I don’t like that Adam Bobrow just calls him “dictator, dictator”, just simply call him “Ma Long”. And explain why he is the best. Calling him “dictator, dictator” all the time is boring. This Tokyo 2020 is his last Olympics, but for me, Ma Long’s style and intelligence show the true beauty of this sport. Thank you, Ma Long.

“This is a very special victory for me and I just want to enjoy the moment for now. I want to thank my Chinese supporters and also foreign fans for cheering me on. I am not only interested in winning this title, but I also want to gain the respect of the people.” said MA Long

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

The guy that is ranked only as number 11th on the World Ranking won three consecutive men’s singles titles World Table Tennis Championships. 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. I’ve all explained it here.

Ma Long - The overall best table tennis player in the recent history
Ma Long – The overall best table tennis player in recent history

Read more – ITTF 28 Apr 2019

Why is Ma Long one of the best players in table tennis?
It’s because of his superior techniques and attitude to the sport.

Zhang Jike

The fearless fighter in table tennis. He is the fastest player in history to become the Grand Slam in table tennis.

Without a doubt, the most talented player to play this game. He has absolutely no weakness.

He has one of the best backhands in the world. His footwork is superb and his speed is electric. He probably has the most beautiful game. What is really amazing about him is his ability to come back at the crucial moment. On many occasions, he came back from far behind and won.

Unlike Ma Long who is melt under huge pressure, Zhang Jike is stronger in the late game.

He is the 4th Grand Slam in table tennis. Zhang Jike won the grand slam only 445 days after his first major title, is the fastest and youngest player to do so. He has won twice the world championship and is now aiming for a second grand slam.

Zhang Jike is a rebel force!

In terms of gameplay, he is definitely better than Waldner, but why he is still not qualified to be the only one because of his inability to overcome My Long and his arrogant attitude.

With the new poly ball, his game becomes less powerful than before and is out-dated of the new trends in table tennis.

Zhang Jike is the most influenced player in table tennis. He has the most fan in the world.

Jan-Ove Waldner

He is the Mozart in table tennis. He has the best blocking skills and the best feeling in history.

That’s the reason that he is the 1st Grand Slam in history. In China, fans called him as Lao Wa, and “Evergreen”.

He is “Evergreen” because he is still playing professional table tennis at the age of 52. Now he faces the player who is younger than his 30 years.

Waldner is amazing to watch, very elegant. His playing style is forever, longevity! He is the best of the best!

If you want to win table tennis with tactics, intelligence, artist style, with variation, learn from J-O. Waldner.

Fan Zhendong

He is definitely the next grand slam in table tennis. Fan Zhendong at the age of 20 is already the most promising player. At the senior level, he shows no weakness and can compete with any top players in the world. He is already the World Rank #1.

Some will ask:

Hey, Fan Zhendong is not Grand Slam yet. So why he is on the list?

When you watch this video, you will understand why he is on the list?

In this video, you can easily see that Fan Zhendong dominated table tennis scene since the Junior, the Senior.

In Junior (under 18), no one can match Fan Zhendong. At only 20 years old, he is already World Ranking number 1.

Fan Zhendong is a fighter. He is like a combination of Ma Long and Zhang Jike.

Fan Zhendong backhand is so powerful! And his forehand is not weaker than Ma Long’s.

He is definitely the “Dragon killer”. He is the Champion of the World Champion.

Liu Guoliang

The best coach in table tennis. The 2nd Grand Slam in table tennis. Without coach Liu, China Team cannot dominate the scene like this.

He is, no doubt, the head of China Team.

Liu Guoliang is the most successful penholder in table tennis.

He is the only penholder in the list of 5 Grand Slam in table tennis. All other grand slams are the shakehand player. Only Liu is the penholder.

And I think in the table tennis history, no penholder after Liu Guoliang can be the next Grand Slam.

Xu Xin is too old for this position. Wang Hao now is the national coach.

Who is the strongest table tennis players right now?

There are many good table tennis in the world. There are many players who are of the Champion, World Champion, ITTF World Tour winner. But until now, there are only 5 Grand Slam table tennis in the history:

  1. Jan-Ove Waldner
  2. Liu Guoliang
  3. Kong Linghui
  4. Zhang Jike
  5. Ma Long

Note: To win the grand slam in table tennis you have to win the gold medal at the 3 most important events in table tennis:

So for me, the greatest table tennis player of all time must be a “Grand Slam”! No doubt!

You can not say,

hey, I’m the best player in table tennis. I won 20 World Tours, 3 Championships, but I’m not the Grand Slam!

The real top players are dropped out of the top 10 ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking

So who could be the best player in table tennis:

The best player = must be a Grand Slam

World No1 table tennis player: Ma Long
World No1 table tennis player: Ma Long

So finally, who is the best player?

If I have to vote, Ma Long is the strongest table tennis player in history at this moment.

Ma Long is the best table tennis player right now. It’s 100% for sure!

He has left everyone behind. His overall skills in table tennis are No1! For sure!

No one can by pass Ma Long's achievement
No one can bypass Ma Long’s achievement

No one can remake his winning streak in World Tour, and undefeatable 4-0 scores winning streaks!

Just look at how strong and consistent of Ma Long in the Top 10 players in the World ranking.

 

 

Who is the greatest table tennis of all time?

So if Ma Long is the best player right now, who is the greatest ping pong player of all time? I will vote for Jan-Ove Waldner (the Ever-Green in table tennis). He is considered the Mozart of table tennis because watching him playing is so pleasant. With J.O. Walder, table tennis is an art.

Waldner the best player of all time - Impossible to read his mind
Waldner the best player of all time – Impossible to read his mind

His blocking skills, service, continuous attack, tactics and match reading are wonderful! He is no doubt the greatest table tennis of all time (GOAT). His aka in China is 老瓦 (Lao Wa) because it’s impossible to estimate his next move in the match.

His knowledge of table tennis is so high. That’s why he still compete at a high level until 50 years old (in 2016). I think in the future, it’s very hard to have another greatest over-all skill like J.O. Waldner.

J O Waldner the evergreen in table tennis
J O Waldner the evergreen in table tennis

Nowadays, one example of J.O. Waldner is Koki Niwa. His style is magic: His blocking skill, his sense, his feeling, and unimagined shot are nearly closed to Waldner.

Koki Niwa - one of the most creative table tennis in the world
Koki Niwa – one of the most creative table tennis in the world

However, for the tactics, the variation in playing style, he is no way close to the “Ever-Green”.

Koki Niwa has a great blocking skill and his feeling is so impressive
Koki Niwa has a great blocking skill and his feeling is so impressive

Who will be the sixth Grand Slam in table tennis?

There are many candidates for that. But for me, who wins the Gold Medal in the Olympics Tokyo 2020 will be the next Grand Slam.

There are 2 players who can do that:

  • Fan Zhendong (60% to win)
  • Harimoto Tomokazu (40% to win)

But for me, Fan Zhendong will have a higher chance to be the 6th Grand Slam player in table tennis history.

Fan Zhendong powerful forehand attack
Fan Zhendong powerful forehand attack
Harimoto is the next Grand Slam in table tennis? Yes or No?
Harimoto is the next Grand Slam in table tennis? Yes or No?

Learn more:

Why is the World n1 not 100% the strongest player?

In January 2018, Dimitrij Ovtcharov has gained the World Ranking number 1 for the 1st time. This takes a lot of attention from the media.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov the Number 1 World table tennis player in 2018 January
Dimitrij Ovtcharov the Number 1 World table tennis player in 2018 January

But in March 2018, Timo Boll has become the World Number 1.

Timo Boll is the top professional table tennis players in 2018 March
Timo Boll is the top professional table tennis players in 2018 March

Today, in May 2018, that’s Fan Zhendong is World number 1.

Fan Zhendong is the actually world top number 1
Fan Zhendong is the actual world top number 1

Ma Long table tennis ranking

And this guy, yes! This guy is only ranked as number 9 on the World Ranking. He has just dominated the World Championship 3 days ago. He has served as A/Y (decided
core player) in the final of 4 WTTTC, an honor, and a duty.

Ma Long is ranked only number 9. But he is the strongest player in the world, right now.
Ma Long is ranked only number 9. But he is the strongest player in the world, right now.

He also made a record winning streak of 22 matches without dropping a single game. (4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, and 4-0 yes 22 times).

Ma Long vs Timo Boll (World Team Table Tennis Final)
Ma Long vs Timo Boll (World Team Table Tennis Final)

He has won the World Number two, 3-0 in the team Final match.

But please, don’t blame Timo Boll. He has politely said that “Germany top seed, but China the favorite”.

Timo Boll "German Top seed, but not favorite". The current ITTF World Ranking is not accurate
Timo Boll “German Top seed, but not favorite”. The current ITTF World Ranking is not accurate

So not only the viewers but also the players, are the “victim” of the new ITTF World Ranking. But what is changed?

Well! ITTF World Ranking is used to be the accurate “World Ranking” which reflects the true player’s strength. The better player was ranked higher!

But since 2018, ITTF has applied the “new World Ranking system” which actually make a lot of confuse to fans and players around the world.

What is the New Ranking System?

The new ranking is calculated for the position reached, but not from the opponent.

The top table tennis players on the World Ranking
The top table tennis players on the World Ranking

So at the same tournament, if you win Ma Long, or you win the WR #600, you got the same point! (LOL – ridiculous!)! This setup breaks the true meaning of ranking!

Only bonus points! If you are ranked #2, and if you lost to the #400, don’t be afraid! your rating points won’t drop! Just play and abuse more matches!
And your ranking is only valid for 12 months. 🙂 Next year, you will be no one!

Read: How To Protect Your Ranking If You Are Injured

And only the best 8 results count. So the guy won 8 matches and lost 0, and the guy won 8 matches and lost 300 matches will get the same points. (LOL!)

This is the most stupid one “No loss of points“. Because of the “ranking”, or the “ladder” is to compare between players. If a higher ranked player lost to a lower ranked player,
he should lose the point. Now, don’t worry! Just play! If you don’t like, give them a free win! 😀

Many flaws in the new ranking system

As you can see, there are 4 main flaws (weakness) in the new ranking system.

  • 1) It breaks the true meaning of the ranking system
  • 2) It removes good players from the current ranking
  • 3) It’s not accurate! The higher ranked player is not the best player
  • 4) It favors “abuse”: players get ranked by massing game and free-win

Now the current ITTF Ranking system is not the “World Table Tennis Ranking” anymore. But you should consider it as:

“The Most Active players ranking in the World Tours”

The ITTF World Ranking is a mistake?
The ITTF World Ranking is a mistake?

But why ITTF changed the ranking system?

It’s the question of “money”! Steve Dainton, the new CEO has claimed: “the new system will increase prize money”.

Main purpose is only for money?
The main purpose is only for money?

“to sell the events better to our broadcasters and to sponsors”. Yes, it’s for the money! But it’s very bad, and confused for the players and the viewers of the sports! 🙁 (Sad but true!)

Because there is no “true world ranking” at the moment, I spent hours and hours to code my self 🙂

The code to calculate the accurate World Table Tennis Ranking
The code to calculate the accurate World Table Tennis Ranking

I want to find out “Who is the best table tennis players in the world right now”.

I have explained the core, the algorithm of the code in the previous post.

A better way to find the strongest player in table tennis

Here is the code to calculate the rating points of the top players in the world.

The data are thousands of matches of ITTF’s tournaments.

Using the ELO rating core system, with different types of weighting factors: tournament the big one, the small one, the score, the difference in rating points, the player can gain
or lose the point. So we have an accurate and balance system.

And here are the results, the real top table tennis players in the world – May 2018.

Top 20 Best table tennis player in 2018 May
Top 20 Best table tennis player in 2018 May

This ranking is based on ELO system (which is used widely in Chess, and in other sports). This reflects the true player’s strength, that’s why it’s not the same as the current
ITTF world ranking list.

In statistics, the rating performance should follow the Normal Distribution. The gaining points and the ranking points are checked to this. While the current ITTF world ranking
fails to predict the winning percentage of a player.

Will I upload the World Ranking every month?

– Yes, the programme is here. All I need is the database, all the matches played in every month. So I’m willing to publish this World Ranking, so you can estimate who is the real top players in the world.

ITTF has removed the "Export Data" function on their website. I can no longer get the data.
ITTF has removed the “Export Data” function on their website. I can no longer get the data.

But I have a bad news for you. ITTF has recently disabled the “Export function”. So now, I can not get the data anymore 🙁 Without the data from ITTF, I can not run the code to get the real World Ranking.

Related Posts

11
Share Your Passion & Ask Anything

avatar
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
9 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
Coach EmRatThichBobAndrewCoach EmRatThichSasaD Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Liu Ming
Guest
Liu Ming

you are right coach. I also think that Ma Long is the MVP table tennis player in the history.

daniel
Guest
daniel

thank you coach for the accurate world ranking

SasaD
Guest
SasaD

Your idea of “must be a grand slam”, as a condition for shortlisting the candidates for TT GOAT is unfair toward some players, that were active in era when TT was not an olimpic sport. One of the names that comes to my mind is Guo Ye Hua, (2 x WTT Champion, 2 x World Cup champion), who was way ahead of his competition. What is more, he came from retirement and easilly defeat JOW, at his prime, or near his prime. I am not saying that GYH is the best ever, I just want to say that your criteria… Read more »

Paddle Shift
Guest
Paddle Shift

I had read carefully the new ITTF world ranking system and there is nothing wrong with it. It is the same with the system of Tennis ATP Rankings. If you think the ITTF new ranking system is not good then you are also saying Tennis ATP ranking system is not good since they are the same in principle.

TTGOAT
Guest
TTGOAT

Your article really disgusts me. So many wrong things said, especially about ZJ and ML. You also make it easier on yourself by arbitrarily determining one must have the “grand slam” to be GOAT. You do this because you are a sheep and dont like to think harder, this makes things easy.

TTGOAT
Guest
TTGOAT

I’m sorry, it doesn’t disgust me, but there’s a lot of wrong judgements made.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

not , malong is much more talent than zhang ji ke, I’am from china, many coach said that, you are very wrong.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Waldner is unique in terms of influence on the game since he invented the pendulum serve grip making the shakehand style almost equal to penhold in terms of wrist freedom.He also forced the Chinese to develop players with strong backhands(Kong Linghui,Wang Hao) because he was was pretty unbeatable in forehand to forehand rallies.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Does anyone know what was the highest ranking position of Liu Guoliang? I tried to find this information on the Internet, but I could not find it!

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!