Top 5 Ranked Mens Badminton Players Of All Time

Top 5 Ranked Mens Badminton Players Of All Time

Listed below are the top five men’s badminton players of all time, ranked in order from one through five. Rankings are based on several different factors, including career win-loss records, the number of championships won, appearances at Olympic events, and on-court skills. The country in which each player hails from is also listed.

  1. Lin Dan (China)
  2. Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
  3. Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia)
  4. Rudy Hartono (Indonesia)
  5. Morten Frost (Denmark)

Not included in this list is the famous Peter Gade (Denmark) and the young phenom Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), both of whom are historically good badminton players that can be considered honorable mentions within this ranking.

Provided below are some key facts and career achievements for each player.


1. Lin Dan

  • Won each of the nine major international championships by the age of 28
  • Five gold medals in World Badminton Championships and two in World Cup
  • The only player to win gold medals at two consecutive Olympic Games
  • Three gold medals at Asian Games (similar to the Olympics, exclusive to Asian countries)
  • Named “Male Athlete of the Year” by China’s flagship television network in 2010

Nicknamed “Super Dan” within the badminton community, Lin Dan is not only the best badminton player to ever hail from China, but he’s also the greatest player of all time in the eyes of most fans. Known for being a risk-taker, Dan consistently attempted difficult shots that rendered opposing players helpless, seemingly pinpointing the edge of the sidelines without landing the shuttlecock out of bounds every time.

2. Lee Chong Wei

  • Held the number one player ranking in the world for nearly four years
  • Four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games (similar to the Olympics, exclusive to member nations that were once part of the British Empire)
  • Two silver medals at the Olympic Games
  • Six-time Penang Sportsman Award winner (recognizes best male athlete in all of Malaysia)
  • Named “Player of the Year” by the Badminton World Federation four times

Lee Chong Wei grew up playing basketball until his mother deemed it unsafe and forbade him from playing the sport again. This fact makes it all the more impressive that Chong Wei was able to make a seamless transition to badminton and cement himself as the second greatest player to ever live. He is undoubtedly the best badminton athlete from Malaysia, breaking many of the sport’s long withstanding records before his retirement in 2019.

3. Taufik Hidayat

  • Reached the Indonesian Open Championship a record six times
  • Owner of 27 international titles
  • Holds the record for the fastest recorded hit speed (190 miles per hour)
  • Three gold medals at Asian Championships
  • Won men’s singles title at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

In addition to being third on the all-time list, Taufik Hidayat is arguably the best badminton player out of the several dominant players that hail from Indonesia. He played in the same era as Lin Dan, competing against him many times in World Championship matches that represented the most highly contested rivalry the sport had ever seen.

4. Rudy Hartono

  • Eight-time winner of the All-England Badminton Championships
  • Won the second-ever International Badminton Federation World Championship in his first season as a professional player
  • Champion at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany
  • Four Thomas Cup gold medals (prestigious international badminton tournament held annually)
  • One of the youngest players to ever be crowned champion of an international tournament

Rudy Hartono is another famous Indonesian badminton player, with his legendary career trailing only that of Taufik Hiyadat's in the scope of the Indonesian badminton scene. Despite his playing career taking place several decades ago in the 1960s and 1970s, he has still been viewed as one of the greatest athletes of all time thanks in part to his tremendous speed, which allowed him to track down shots that appeared entirely out of reach.

5. Morten Frost

  • Ranked top three in the world for 12 consecutive years
  • Named champion at least once for every international badminton tournament(except for the World Badminton Championships) 
  • Four-time winner of the All-England Badminton Championship Open during five-year span (1982, 1984, 1986, 1987)
  • Became just the fourth player to become inducted into Europe’s Badminton Hall of Fame in 2016
  • Went an astonishing five years without being defeated by a European player 

For years, it seemed all Morten Frost knew how to do was win major championships. His tendency to excel under the spotlight earned him the nickname “Mr. Badminton” from the media. Nonetheless, he is often labeled “the world’s greatest badminton player that was never world champion” because he failed to emerge victorious at any of the World Badminton Championships. Had Frost been able to add that to his already impressive resume of tournament victories, he would likely be in the top three of these all-time player rankings.

Honorable Mentions

Peter Gade

  • Ranked number one badminton player in the world from 1998-2001
  • Represented Denmark in four straight Olympic Games from 2000-2012
  • BWF World Championships silver medalist and four-time bronze medalist
  • European Championships thirteen-time gold medalist (5x men’s singles, 5x mixed team, 3x men’s team)
  • Two-time Thomas Cup silver medal winner and three-time bronze medal winner

Born in Denmark, Peter Gade is a world-renowned, retired men’s badminton player. Before his retirement in 2012, Gade recorded an impressive record of 517 wins and 155 losses. His success in the European Championships was unmatched, winning a total of five gold medals in men’s singles, five gold medals in mixed team, and three gold medals in men’s team. Gade was known for his creative playstyle, fast attacks, and deceptive shots that always kept opponents on edge. He represented Denmark in the Olympics Games four consecutive times in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, although he never brought home a medal.

Viktor Axelsen

  • Olympic gold medalist (Tokyo 2020) and bronze medalist (Rio 2016) in men’s singles
  • BWF World Championships gold medal winner and bronze medal winner
  • European Championships eleven-time gold medalist (2x men’s singles, 4x mixed team, 5x men’s team)
  • Thomas Cup gold medalist and bronze medalist

Viktor Axelsen is an up-and-coming men’s badminton player, hailing from Denmark. Axelsen is a right-handed player who specializes in the men’s singles discipline of badminton and has put Denmark on the map in the realm of badminton competition. In fact, Axelsen’s gold medal finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was just the second time in Olympic history that Denmark has earned a gold medal in Badminton. This feat had previously not been accomplished since Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen secured the gold medal for men’s singles in the 1996 Olympics. Viktor Axelsen appears to be en route to a sterling badminton career, and will surely put the rest of the world on notice in future Olympic competition. 

FAQ

Who holds the record for the most men’s World Badminton Championship titles?

The record for the most men’s World Badminton Championship titles is shared by Chinese player Lin Dan and South Korean player Park Joo Bong, each with five total victories. Lin Dan’s career featured an unparalleled level of dominance in the men’s singles category, with all five of his titles coming within this category. Meanwhile, Park Joo Bong earned titles in two different categories: men’s doubles and mixed doubles. Joo Bong’s title count at the time of his retirement consisted of two titles in the men’s doubles event and three titles in the mixed doubles event.

What men’s badminton player holds the record for the most Olympic Medals?

The all time record for total Olympic medals in men’s badminton is currently shared by three players: Fu Haifeng, Zhang Nan, and Kim Dong Moon. Out of these three, Haifeng holds the best collection of medals with two gold medals (earned in 2012 and 2016 in the Men’s Doubles category) and a silver medal in men’s doubles (earned in 2008) while representing China. Nan and Dong Moon each hold two gold medals and a bronze medal, bringing their total medal count to three as well. Nan earned gold in 2012 (mixed doubles) and 2016 (men’s doubles), to go along with a bronze medal earned in the same 2016 Olympics (mixed doubles) in representation of China. Dong Moon features the same medal breakdown, with gold medals earned in 1996 (mixed doubles) and 2004 (men’s doubles), with a bronze medal added to his resume in 2000 (men’s doubles). Kim Dong Moon accomplished each of these feats as a member of South Korea’s Olympic Badminton Team.

What men’s badminton players won gold medals in the 2020 Olympics?

The Olympic gold medal winners in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were Wang Yi Lyu (China), Lee Yang (Chinese Taipei), Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei), and Viktor Axelsen (Denmark). Wang Yi Lyu earned Olympic gold for China in the mixed doubles, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin were the gold medalist doubles team in representation of Chinese Taipei, and Viktor Axelsen took the title in men’s singles for Denmark. Each of these players demonstrated dominance within the sport and, in the case of Viktor Axelsen, we may be witnessing the rise of a new force in the sport of badminton.