ITTF World Ranking History + New Table Tennis Rankings (June 2022)

ITTF World Ranking History + New Table Tennis Rankings (June 2022)

Last Updated on June 5, 2022 by Sorin Petroj

This article will discuss the players who spent the most experience in place number one on ITTF World Ranking.

Firstly, the ranking list can be divided into the old one, which lasted from January 1987 to December 2000, and the new one, which started in January 2001 and lasted until today.

Interestingly, ten players spent at number one in both eras of the ITTF World Ranking list.

The New ITTF World Ranking – Men and Women

history of ittf world ranking men first 9 on the list june 2

Source: World Table Tennis

 

After that, we will show you the table with the players who spent the most time in the number one position. So, we will talk about the five best players from the old and new lists of the ITTF points system.

OLD SCORING ITTF WORLD RANKING SYSTEM (1987 – 2000)

By the end of 1986, the ITTF was generally publishing an annual ranking of players based on results from previous World Cups.

Since the founding of the World Cup in 1980, table tennis in Olympic sports in 1988, and the ITTF World Tour in 1996, the rankings have been published several times a year during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Since the mid-1990s, the ITTF rankings have been published every month. There was no clear way to score all the big tournaments in this old system.

Longest time Number 1 on ITTF World Ranking for top players from this era:

Player Country Number of months on position 1
Kong Linghui China 20
Vladimir Samsonov Belarus 18
Jan – Ove Waldner Sweden 17
Jean – Michel Saive Belgium 8
Liu Guoliang China 6
Jorgen Persson Sweden 5
Juang Jialiang China 4
Wang Tao China 4
Wang Liqin China 2
Jean – Philippe Gatien France 1

Table tennis players and number of months spent in the first place ITTF

1. Kong Linghui

ittf world ranking best players kong linghui 2

 

According to the old scoring, the player with the most months spent at the top of the ITTF rankings is Kong Linghui. He is a former member of the Chinese national team, born on October 18, 1975, in Harbin, China.

Firstly, he is listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame. Secondly, he is currently the women’s senior national team coach in China. He spent 20 months in the number one position. Moreover, the series of 6 consecutive months is the longest he has achieved as the best in the world.

He used the shakehand way of holding the racket. Kong Linghui used strong topspins from both the forehand and backhand sides to an attacking style of playing table tennis. His most vital strength in the game was that he knew all the elements equally well.

Kong Linghui is the third player who managed to complete the table tennis “Grand Slam.” He mostly played with equipment from the manufacturer Butterfly. Apart from the fact that his showcases are full of trophies during his playing career, he continued to coach.

He won all possible medals with the Chinese women’s national team at the Olympic Games, the World Championship, and the World Cup. In 2007, he stopped actively playing this sport at only 30 and dedicated himself to the coaching profession.

Greatest successes in singles:

Olympics: 1st place; Sydney 2000;
World Championship: 1st place; Tianjin 1995;
World Cup: 1st place; Nimes 1995.

Kong Linghui is a former Chinese table tennis player. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the sport’s history, and he has won numerous titles, including Olympic gold, world championship gold, and world cup gold.

Kong Linghui vs. Vladimir Samsonov

 
Kong’s career began in the early 1990s, and he quickly rose to prominence, winning his first world title in 1995. He would enjoy great success throughout the rest of his career, cementing his place as one of the all-time greats. In recent years, Kong has been working as a coach, and he will no doubt continue to have a significant impact on the sport for years to come.

2. Vladimir Samsonov

ittf world ranking best players vladimir samsonov

He was born on April 17, 1976, in Minsk, Belarus. Samsonov is the best Belarusian table tennis player of all time. His nickname is “Government.” He started playing table tennis at the age of seven.

Vladimir Samsonov spent 18 months in the number one position, putting him in second place on the ITTF World Ranking list. So, according to the number of months spent as the Best Table Tennis Player in the world. The longest series he achieved in the number one position was nine months.

Firstly, he is also right-handed and uses a shakehand style of holding the racket. Offensive-minded style of play, but not too offensive. Secondly, Samsonov has various styles and likes to play at the table. However, his primary weapon in the game is a block, and he just seems to play against the wall when you play. He is uncomfortable, and with the first opening of the game with big rotations and precise balls, he torments every opponent.

He is sponsored by the Tibhar brand and is their trademark.

Racket: blade, Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition. The forehand and backhand rubbers use the Tibhar Evolution MXP.  Club: Fakel Gazprom Orenburd from Russia.

Above all, Samsonov is the winner of 27 Pro Tour tournaments which puts him in second place behind Ma Long. He competed in the previous 6 Olympic Games, from 1996 to 2016. Although 45 years old, he ranks 28th on the ITTF world ranking.

Greatest successes in singles:

World Cup: 1st place; Sjaolan 1999, Kurmajor 2001, and Moscow 2009

Vladimir Samsonov is a Belarusian table tennis player who has had a long and successful career. He has won the World Cup three times, in 1999, 2001, and 2009, and he has also won 27 Pro Tour tournaments.

Samsonov has competed in the Olympic Games six times, from 1996 to 2016, and he is currently ranked 28th in the world by the International Table Tennis Federation. Despite his age, Samsonov is still an excellent table tennis player, and he continues to be ranked highly on the world stage.

3. Jan – Ove Waldner

ittf world ranking best players waldner

Born on October 3, 1965, a former Swedish table tennis player in Stockholm, Sweden. So, his nicknames are “Evergreen Three” and “Mozart Of Table Tennis.” Listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame.

He is third in the number spent at place number one at 17 months. The series of 10 consecutive months is the longest, which he achieved as the best in the world. Also, the way the racket is held, the shakehand style. It’s the highest quality service, one of the best.

Apart from the service, an essential part of the game was his block, with which he could drive the opponent crazy. His sense of the game and the perfect prediction of points are his best skills. He played for clubs: Spårvägens Golf, ATSV Saarbrücken, Ängby SK, Kalmar BTK, TTC Röhn-Sprudel Fulda Maberzell, Spårvägens BTK.

As for the racket, it uses the DONIC brand. Table Tennis Blade Waldner Senzo Carbon; Rubbers, Coppa JO Gold on the forehand side, and Coppa JO Platinum on the backhand side. He is the first of the five listed to win the “Grand Slam.” Waldner managed to do that in 1992 in Barcelona. In the same year, he was named Swedish Athlete of the Year. Most importantly, He is the only non-Chinese player to have completed these three tournaments.

Greatest successes in singles:

Olympics: 1st place; Barcelona 1992.

World Championship: 1st place; Dortmund 1989 and Manchester 1997.

World Cup: 1st place; Chiba 1990.

That is why Waldner is not only considered one of the best players in the world who have played this game, but he is also the best European player of all time. At the end of 2007, he ended his national team career, and on February 11, 2016, he officially announced that he had finished his playing career.

The King of Service

 
Waldner has won many prestigious competitions, including the Olympics, World Championship, and World Cup. He is also considered the best European player of all time.

Waldner’s success can be attributed to his unique playing style, which combines power and finesse. He is also known for his mental toughness and ability to come back from behind in a match. Waldner’s achievements have made him a Swedish national hero and an inspiration to table tennis players worldwide.

4. Jean – Michel Saive

jean michael saive best players ittf ranking

Jean-Michel Saive was born on November 17, 1969, in Liege, Belgium. He is the best player who has ever played in Belgium. His nickname is “Big Saive.” Saive spent eight months in the number one ITTF World Ranking list position.

He used the products of the company STIGA, which was his sponsor. So, his blade is: Stiga Clipper CR WRB and rubbers on the forehand and backhand sides were used by the STIGA Calibra LT. A right-handed player who used the shakehand style of holding the racket.

He was known for his excellent movement, great backhand block, and fantastic forehand. His game was based on half-distance and distances from the table, where he played long and beautiful points. He joined the Belgian national team in 1983 when he was less than 14 years old.

Firstly, Jean Michel Saive performed at the 7 Olympic Games, ranking him among the most performances with Jorgen Persson and Zoran Primorac. Above all, he had the honor of carrying the Belgian flag at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004.

Greatest successes in singles:

European championship: 1st place; Birmingham 1994.

Jean Michel Saive played for the Belgian La Villette Charleroi for many years, with whom he has 6 ETTU Champions League titles. He won the 1994 European Championship in Birmingham. Similarly, at the World Championship and the World Cup, he “only” reached second place in Gothenburg in 1993 and Taipei in 1994.

 
Saive said goodbye to the national team in December 2015, and in 2019 he said goodbye to playing table tennis at the age of 49. He is currently the President of the Belgian Table Tennis Federation.

5. Liu Guoliang

ittf world ranking best players liu guoliang

Liu Guoliang is a former Chinese national team player, born on January 10, 1976, in Xinjiang, China. His nickname is “Legend Liu.” Listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame. Liu is fifth in the first place on the ITTF ranking list.

Firstly, the way the racket is held, the penholder style. Secondly, he had a very offensive style of play based near the table. In addition to the fantastic movement, his strongest weapons were service (which, along with Waldner’s best ever in the world), strong forehand kick, and backhand block.

He liked to use STIGA and TSP equipment the most. Racket: He played with the STIGA Clipper blade. He used TSP Spinpips rubber on the forehand side, which had short fringes, making it very awkward. On the backhand side, he used a Yasaka Mark V rubber.

After the World Championship in Eindhoven, he won first place. He became the second player to complete the “Grand Slam.” In 2003, he finished his playing career at only 27 and dedicated himself to a coaching career.

Greatest successes in singles:

Olympics: 1st place; Atlanta 1996;

World Championship: 1st place; Eindhoven 1999;

World Cup: 1st place; Nimes 1996.

Apart from considering him one of the best players of all time, the same goes for his coaching career. Leading the Chinese men’s national team as a national team selector, he has won the Olympic Games, the World Championship, and the World Cup.

Also, he won the Asian Championships in singles, doubles, and team competitions several times.

In 2018, he became the president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.

 

NEW SCORING ITTF WORLD RANKING SYSTEM (2001 – 2021)

After the scoring is determined, a new era of table tennis scoring in singles begins. During this period, it has been determined how many points the Olympic Games, World Championship, World Cup, and the ITTF Pro Tour tournaments carry each player.

Firstly, the ITTF World Ranking list is published every month. Moreover, the players who make up this list are, for the most part, Chinese players, and there are 7 of them (Ma Long, Wang Liqin, Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao, Xu Xin, Ma Lin, and Zhang Jike). Also,  two of them are Germans (Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov) and one Austrian (Werner Schager). 

Longest time Number 1 on ITTF World Ranking for top players from the new era:

Player Country Number of months on position 1
Ma Long China 64
Wang Liqin China 52
Fan Zhendong China 26
Wang Hao China 24
Xu Xin China 23
Ma Lin China 17
Timo Boll Germany 11
Zhang Jike China 7
Dimitrij Ovtcharov Germany 2
Werner Schlager Austria 1

Table tennis players and number of months spent in the first place ITTF new era

1. Ma Long (ITTF World Ranking No. 2)

ittf world ranking best players ma long 2

 

Ma Long is a Chinese player born on October 20, 1988, in Anshan, China. His nicknames are “The Dragon,” “Captain Long,” and “The Dictator.” Listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame. Ma Long is the player who spent the longest time in position number one, as many as 64 months.

Firstly, from March 2015 to December 2017, he held the number one position (33 months in a row). Secondly, at the age of 15, he played in the Chinese Super League for the first time. Thirdly, he uses the shakehand way of holding the racket. Moreover, he is best known for his devastating forehand and fantastic movement.

Although many players told him opening the game after his serve was the strongest weapon, behind Ma Long is DHS equipment. Racket: Hurricane Long 5 blade. Rubbers: Hurricane 3 National at forehand and backhand sides. He is currently defending the colors of Shandong Weiqiao.

Many people even consider him the best player of all time. Similarly, Ma Long is the only player to have won 3 consecutive World Singles Championships (2015, 2017, and 2019). He is the last winner of the famous “Grand Slam.” So, he managed to achieve after Rio 2016.

Ma Long is the record-holder in that he has won 35 sets in a row and has 28 titles on ITTF Pro tours. So, he is the captain of the Chinese national team. He won all ITTF tournaments in singles. Above all, Ma Long is currently third on the ITTF rankings.

Greatest successes in singles:

Olympics: 1st place; Rio 2016;
World Championship: 1st place; Suju 2015, Dusseldorf 2017, and Budapest 2019;
World Cup: 1st place; Liverpool 2012, Halmstad 2015;
A natural athlete, Ma Long first picked up a ping-pong paddle at the age of four and quickly developed into a world-class player. Ma Long has won an astonishing 35 sets in a row and 28 titles on ITTF Pro tours.
He is also the record-holder for most consecutive wins at the World Championships, having taken first place in 2015, 2017, and 2019. In addition to his unbeatable skills on the ping-pong table, Ma Long is also known for his unshakeable mental focus and calm demeanor.

2. Wang Liqin

wang liqin on the best players serving in table tennis 2

Wang Liqin is a former table tennis player, born on June 18, 1978, in Shanghai, China. Currently, he is the coach of the Shanghai team, which competes in the Chinese Super League.
He was inducted into the ITTF Hall of Fame. Wang Liqin is the first player to be first in the world rankings. He spent 52 months as number 1 (if you look at the old scoring system, then he spent a total of 54). That remarkable success puts him in 2nd place in the history of table tennis after months spent as the world’s best player, behind Ma Long.
Firstly, he started playing table tennis when he was only five years old. The former Chinese national team player is known for being included in the Chinese national team at only fifteen, more precisely in 1993.
Secondly, he uses the shakehand way of holding the racket. His style of play is recognizable by his excellent movement and especially by his destructive forehand. Above all, he had one of the strongest forehands in the history of table tennis.

So, he constantly combined and changed table tennis rubbers and blades from various table tennis companies throughout his career. For example, he used blades Butterfly Timo boll spirit, Stiga Clipper CR, Rosewood V, DHS Hurricane King II, III. Wang Liqin also used DHS Hurricane II, III, and TG III on the forehand rubbers and Nittaku Hammond on the backhand. Also, rubbers from the Tenergy series, etc. During his career, he played for Shanghai Shengxurong.

Greatest successes in singles:

World Cup: 1st place; Osaka 2001, Shanghai 2005 and Zagreb 2007;
He won three World Singles Championships. So, he also almost completed the “Grand Slam.” An insurmountable obstacle was the Olympic Games and the World Cup in singles.
For example, in 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing, he managed to reach the semifinals, more precisely to achieve third place. After that, he took 2nd place at the 2001 World Cup. Wang Liqin is saying goodbye to the national team at the end of 2013.

3. Fan Zhendong (ITTF World Ranking No. 1)

ittf world ranking best players fan zhendong

The table tennis player is third in the number spent in the first place on the ITTF World Ranking list. Fan Zhendong was born on January 22, 1997, in Gwangju, China. The nickname he got is “Little Fatty.”

At the age of 24, he is currently the leader of the younger generation. He spent 26 months at number one on the ITTF Rankings, which puts him in third place overall in terms of time spent as the world’s best player.

Firstly, he uses the shakehand style of holding the racket. A right-handed player who is highly offensive, an all-around player of perfect technique with fantastic movement, and the game’s opening with a significant rotation. Secondly, after the game’s opening, he tries to destroy every opponent with strong and precise blows. Moreover, he likes to play at the table and half distance.

STIGA has sponsored fan Zhendong for many years. Racket: blade, STIGA Infiniti VPS V. Rubbers, DHS Hurricane 3 National on the forehand and Butterly Dignics 05 on the backhand.

He currently plays for Sichuan Changhong Table Tennis Club.

On April 1, 2018, he became number one at only 21, overtaking Timo Boll from the leading position. At the age of 19, he won the 2016 World Cup and became the youngest winner of that competition. Fan Zhendong is expected to be the next winner of the table tennis “Grand Slam.”

Greatest successes in singles:

World Cup: 1st place; Dusseldorf 2016, Paris 2018, and Chengdu 2019.

World Championship: 1st place; Houston 2021, 3rd place, Dusseldorf 2017.

Its most prolonged period in the first place is 15 months. Currently, in June 2021, he is first on the ITTF World Ranking list.

In May of this year, Fan participated in the Chinese Olympic Scrimmages. He won all his group matched 3:0 and defeated 16-year-old break-out star Lin Shidong, who defeated Xu Xin in the group stage, 4:2 in the quarter-finals.

Because of Lin’s similarity to Fan, he received the nickname “Little Little Fatty” by Chinese netizens. Fan won Wang Chuqin in the semi-finals but lost Ma Long in the finals by 3:4. Despite this loss, he remains confident in his skills and is looking forward to continued success in future competitions.

Fan Zhendong has won numerous titles, including four World Championships and six World Cup singles titles. In May 2019, he was crowned men’s singles champion at the World Table Tennis Championships for a record-tying fourth time.

 
In addition to his successes, Fan has also been part of several victorious Chinese teams at the World Team Table Tennis Championships and the Asian Games. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest table tennis players of all time.

4. Wang Hao

ittf world ranking best players wang hao

Wang Hao was born on December 15, 1983, in Changchun, China. The former member of the Chinese national team is the head coach of the Bayi team, which competes in the Chinese Superliga. He is currently one of the assistants of this selection. Listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame.

Wang Hao is the fourth player to spend the longest time at number one on the ITTF Rankings, with 24 months. He used the penholder style of holding the racket. In 1998, he joined the Chinese senior national team.

Since his appearance at major world tournaments, the world public has been intrigued that he shares both sides of the racket during attacks and defense against opponents. So, this was not typical for the Penholders (previously, they only played with the forehand side). During that period, his backhand was considered the best of all the penholders who had played table tennis.

He liked to use DHS equipment the most. Racket: DHS Wang Hao Blade N656 blade, and DHS Skyline III Blue Sponge rubbers on the forehand and Butterfly Sriver Topsheet on the backhand side.

Although he is considered one of the best players in the 21st century, he still failed to complete the “Grand Slam.” His insurmountable obstacle was the Olympics.

He won second place in singles in all three tournaments he participated in. For example, better than he was Ryu Seung Min in Athens in 2004, Ma Lin in 2008 in Beijing, and Zhang Jike in London in 2012. So, he is saying goodbye to the Chinese selection at the end of 2014.

Greatest successes in singles:

World Championship: 1st place; Yokohama 2009;

World Cup: 1st place; Barcelona 2007, Liege 2008 and Magdeburg 2010.

5. Xu Xin (ITTF World Ranking No. 8)

xu xin playing table tennis at a distance from the table

The fifth player in the number of months spent in the first place is Xu Xin. He was born on January 8, 1990, in Suzhou, China. His nicknames are “Cloud Walker” and “Xuperman.” Listed in the ITTF Hall of Fame.

He spent 23 months in the number one position on the ITTF Rankings. He has 17 ITTF World Tour titles.

A left-handed player who uses the penholder style of holding the racket. For example, he is recognizable for his forehand (one of the best forehands in the history of table tennis). Also, he uses the excellent backhand side of the racket during blocks and spins for his fantastic movement.

For instance, Xu Xin has a long arm span to cover most of the table with a forehand. He likes the game at half distance and distance where he can easily reach his deadly forehand spin.

He is sponsored by the Swedish table tennis company STIGA. Racket: blade, STIGA Dynasty Carbon Xu Xin Edition. Rubbers: DHS Hurricane TG2 Skyline Blue on the forehand and DHS NEO Hurricane 3 on the backhand.

Greatest successes in singles:

World Cup: 1st place; Verviers (Belgium) 2013.

Firstly, he became number one for the first time in January 2013, removing Ma Long from the ruling position. Secondly, Xu Xin is the true successor of Ma Lin and Wang Hao. The last one was from penholders who were number one. Moreover, he plays for the table tennis club Shanghai Real Estate Group.

Above all, the most extended series in position number one was from March 2014 to February 2015, more precisely 12 months. He is currently second on the ITTF World Ranking list.

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ITTF World Ranking – Teams

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Ranking is a system for ranking the performance of men’s and women’s national table tennis teams.

The ranking is based on results achieved at ITTF-sanctioned events over four years, with teams awarded points for each event. At the end of the four years, the team with the most points is ranked first, while the team with the minor points is ranked last.

Ranking

Country

Flag

Points

1.

China

300

2.

Germany

298

3.

Japan

296

4.

Korea

294

5.

Taiwan

290

Currently, China is ranked first globally, followed by Germany, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Brazil, Sweden, India, France, and Austria are the top ten.

In recent years, the Chinese team has been dominant, winning four of the last five World Championships.

However, they will face stiff competition from the other top teams at this year’s World Championships in Budapest. With so much talent on display, it promises to be an exciting tournament.

ITTF World Ranking – Juniors

As table tennis continues to grow in popularity, so does the competition among junior players.

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) maintains a world ranking for junior players, with the top spot currently occupied by Alexis Lebrun of France.

Lebrun has accumulated a total of 8150 points, followed closely by Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto with 6225 points. Belgium’s Adrien Rassenfosse rounds out the top three with 5495 points.

top 10 table tennis juniors of 2022 year

Source: World Table Tennis

The remaining top ten include India, Romania, Poland, and France players. With such close competition at the top, it will be an exciting year for junior table tennis players worldwide.

ITTF World Rankings for Olympic Games

The last Olympic games were in Tokyo 2020, and the top players who qualified achieved the most points for qualification.

From Europe, the best ranking had Mattias Falck, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, and Timo Boll. Dimitrij Ovtcharov achieved 8 Wins /13 Losses / 1 Draw with 61.54 a Game Percentage of 61.54%. Timo Boll achieved 3 Wins / 5 Losses / 2 Draws with a Game Percentage of 60%.

From Asian players, the best ITTF World Ranking had Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, and Ma Long. From South America, in the top 10 players was Hugo Calderano from Brazil.

olympic games qualification world rankings list

European Championships History

The European Table Tennis Championships is an annual event that has been held since 1958. It features seven events: men’s singles, doubles and team, women’s singles, doubles and team, and mixed doubles.

From 2009 until 2013, the mixed doubles tournament was organized separately from the other events.

In 2015, the ETTU announced that from 2016 the European Championships would feature only individual events. This change was made in order to bring the event in line with the other major table tennis tournaments around the world.

The Championships are always hotly contested, with some of the best players in Europe battling it out for the title of European Champion.

european championships events 1

Europe Top 16 Cup

europe top 16 cup history (1)

 

ITTF World Ranking – Conclusion

The ITTF World Ranking Table Tennis system is a complex and ever-changing beast. Hopefully, the information you found was valuable and exciting.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of the players or rankings mentioned in this article, we suggest heading to the ITTF website for additional information.

For European Championships information, here is the ETTU website.

Here is the World Table Tennis website for World Tour news and live watching table tennis.

Be sure to check back often, as we regularly update our rankings. In the meantime, let us know who your favorite table tennis player is and why in the comments below.

 

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