Table tennis (TT) or as many people know it, ping pong is one of the most famous indoor games in the world. This sport was included in the Olympics since 1988. To select the best ping pong player ever amongst the many outstanding players in this sport is a bit difficult, though. The list I made here consists of players who are famous in the field for their skills, achievements, experiences, etc. In terms of superiority, some of them are maybe better than the others in the list, but that does not undermine the others’ capabilities in the slightest.
A small snippet about Table tennis for newcomers:
In this sport, two players play one-on-one against each other or there are two teams of two players each playing on the opposite side of a rectangular table with a net in between. They play with a light-weighted white ball and each person holds a rounded bat with a short handle. The sport is governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Established in 1926, there are now 220 member countries. Among them, comparatively outstanding are the players coming from the Far East, prominently China.
Top 10 best male players-
- Ma Long, China:
Aged 31 years, this right-handed player uses the shake hand grip for his play. He is currently ranked number 2 in the ITTF rankings. He has the longest streak of holding the number 1 ranking in ITTF world rankings (February 2015 to December 2017). According to a source, he has a record of being number 1 for a total of 58 months till June 2017. He won all the single match titles and also became the fifth to be a Grand slam player. In terms of skill, he is very resourceful and intelligent. He is said to have the “…. deepest knowledge in this game…” according to Liu Guoliang.
- Lan-Ove Waldner, Sweden:
Aged 54 years, this right-handed player used shakehand grip too (shake hand grip is most preferable among players, table tennis grip type). He retired at the age of 50 years after his outstanding unusually long career of 38 years on 11th February 2016. He was more famous than US president Bill Clinton in China in the 1990s. Because of his unusually long successful career (factoring in the requirement of hand-eye co-ordination and quick movements), he was called “Chang Qing Shu” (Chinese, meaning: the evergreen tree).
He was also called Lao Wa (Chinese, meaning: old friend) which is proof of how much he was adored in TT-loving China. Many considered as one of the greatest TT players in history. He is one of the first players competing in the Olympics 1988 when TT was first included in it. He is the first player to win a career grand slam in 1992. Grand slam is said to achieve by a player by winning gold medals in all singles matches in the Olympic Games, World Championship and World Cup.
- Zhang Jike, China:
Aged 31 years, he is a right-handed player using a shake hand grip. He uses a two-winged attacking style. He is very skilled and unpredictable in his moves. He is the fourth player to achieve Grand Slam in 2012. He achieved his grand slam the quickest in only 445 days. He is also the only player to almost achieve his second Grand Slam. He also has the quality of being strong under pressure.
- Liu Guoliang, China:
Aged 43 years, he is a Chinese TT player who is the second player to achieve Grand Slam in 1999. He is considered to be one of the greatest players and coaches ever. He retired at the age of 27 and joined as a head coach in the Chinese national table tennis team. He is the current coach of the team. His team won gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics and individual wins by team members. The Chinese team has achieved a winning streak from 2001 to 2018 under his coaching.
- Kong Linghui, China:
Aged 44 years he is the third player to achieve Grand Slam in 2000. people believe his style seemed to follow those of Jan-Ove Waldner and Jörgen Persson. After retirement, he joined as Head coach of the Chinese women’s table tennis team.
- Fan Zhendong, China:
Aged 22 years, he was ranked number 2 in ITTF ranking from November 2015 to March 2018 and then became number 1 for 15 months consecutively. He is the youngest player to join the national team. He is also the youngest ITTF World Tour champion and World Table Tennis champion.
- Ichiro Ogimura:
at the age of 62 years in 1994, he was a very famous skilled Japanese table tennis player having 12 winning titles in the world championship. He coached TT teams in the USA, Sweden, and China. He also became the president of ITTF in 1987. He had an important role in sports diplomacy and was called “Ping pong diplomat”
- Wang Liqin, China:
41 years, he joined the national team at the age of 15 years. He has won three World Championship titles. He held rank as number 1 in ITTF ranking from September 2000 to September 2002 ( second-longest streak of having number 1 ranking). He retired from the team in 2013.
- Zoran Primorac, Croatia:
50 years, he is the best ping pong player from Croatia. He won World Cup twice and is one of the few players to participate in seven Olympic seasons.
- Xu Xin, China:
29 years, he is one of the few ping pong players who use pen grips in China. He currently ranks number 1 in ITTF ranking. He has achieved the distinction of beating Ma Long three times. He won World Tour Championship 10 times, reached semi-finals twice and World Tour Grand Finals in 2012 and 2013.
Who do you think is the best ping pong player among all the above players? In my personal opinion, Ma Long and Lan-Ove Waldner are the best. We would love to hear your opinions on the analysis.