Top 5 Ranked Mens Table Tennis Players Of All Time

Who are the best men’s table tennis players?

  1. Ma Long
  2. Zhang Jike
  3. Jan Ove Waldner
  4. Wang Liqin
  5. Xu Xin

1. Ma Long

  • Set the record for longest time as #1 ranked Table Tennis player (34 consecutive months)
  • Won a record high five consecutive ITTF Pro Tour Tournaments
  • One of just five players in history to complete a Grand Slam
  • 2010 Asian Games Gold Medalist
  • World Junior Champion in 2004

Ma Long is typically accepted as the best table tennis player of all time. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is holding the #1 rank in table tennis for an astonishing 34 months in a row. He held the position for a total of 64 months throughout his career.  

Long was the youngest ever World Champion, winning when he was just 17 years old. He didn’t need much time to acclimate to the pro level. He won 8 ITTF World Tour championships before the age of 22.

Wang Hao is credited with training and tutoring Ma Long. Hao is only five years older than Long, but he had a great influence on Long.

Long used to rely on his forehand shot, but has developed his game into a more versatile playstyle.

2. Zhang Jike

  • Completed a career Grand Slam
  • Closest ever to completing a second career Grand Slam
  • Holds five major titles
  • Won five major titles in a row
  • Was ranked #1 in 2012

Zhang Jike is one of the most decorated table tennis players of all time. He was the fourth player ever to complete a Grand Slam. A Grand Slam is achieved when a player successfully wins singles at the Olympic Games, World Championships, and World Cup.

Zhang managed to win a Grand Slam in just 455 days! This is the fastest a player has ever won a grand slam. He won the world table tennis championship (WTTC) in 2011, then the World Cup later in 2011, followed by winning gold at the London olympics in 2012.

Jike nearly managed to win a second Grand Slam later in his career. He won the WTTC in 2013, and the World Cup in 2014. This made him the closest to ever winning two grand slams in his career.

Having won five major titles (two WTTC titles, two World Cups, one Olympic Gold), he is tied for the most major titles. Two other players have won five major titles. Zhang Jike won his five major titles consecutively, during a reign of dominance from the Chinese table tennis player.

Zhang Jike was ranked #1 in the world for only a few months, from June to December in 2012.

3. Jan Ove Waldner

  • 1992 Gold Medal, 2000 Silver Medal in Olympics
  • 3 gold, 5 silver medals in World Championships
  • 5 gold medals in European Championships
  • 14 Gold Medals in Swedish Championships
  • Second place in European Championships as a 16 year old

Jan Ove Waldner had a long, successful career. He is widely accepted as the best and most famous Swedish table tennis player, and for good reason. Waldner dominated the Swedish table tennis game. Waldner won gold 14 times in the Swedish Championships.

Waldner’s biggest achievement was probably winning gold in the 1992 Olympics. He was also an Olympic silver medalist in 2000.

Many fans commend Waldner on maintaining his great hand-eye coordination throughout his lengthy career. His longevity was bested by no other in a sport where players struggle to remain dominant.

Waldner was one of the seven players to play in the first ever table tennis Olympics.

Waldner was also extremely popular in China, despite not being Chinese himself in a Chinese-dominated sport. Many say that in the 1990’s Waldner was more popular in China than Bill Clinton was.

4. Wang Liqin

  • Top ranked player for 25 consecutive months
  • Made Chinese National Squad as a 15 year old
  • 3 World Championships
  • Won a gold medal in 2000
  • Strongest forehand shot of all time

Wang Liqin was a menace to play against. At 6 feet 1 inch, he had great power over the ball. Many players pointed to Liqin as having the strongest forehand shot out of anybody.

Liqin got his first accolade early on in his career. As a 15 year old boy, he made the Chinese National Squad.

Liqin would go on to win three World Championships. He also won a gold medal in doubles table tennis in 2000.

His most impressive statistic is how long he spent as the top ranked player. For 25 months, he was ranked number one in the world. This is up there with Ma Long’s record of 34 months.

Liqin’s playstyle is described as a shakehand grip. This is the oldest grip in the game. It allows for more controlled power, which is fitting since Liqin’s biggest skill was his strength.

Liqin, who was born in 1978 in Shanghai, played competitively until he retired in 2013. He is currently 41 years old.


5. Xu Chin

  • Won 17 World Tour Singles titles
  • 10 World Championship team titles
  • Won the men’s team title with Zhang Jike at 2016 Olympics 
  • Currently ranked #1 in the world
  • 2 singles World Championship victories

Xu Chin is the only player on this list who is actively playing. Xu Chin is currently ranked number one in the world.

Chin has dominated World Tours, winning 17 singles titles. He has also won 10 World Championships playing doubles and teams.

In 2016, Chin and Jike teamed up at the Olympics. The duo dominated the competition to win gold in men’s team table tennis.

Xu Chin also has 2 singles World Championship titles.

At 30 years of age, Xu Chin’s career still has some time left. If Xu Chin can win a gold medal at the Olympics, he may move up this list. Still, he is already very accomplished.

Chin is left-handed. He uses a penhold grip playstyle. Chin has long arms, which gives him a solid range. It is hard to get balls by him, making him a great defensive player.