Top 5 Ranked Mens Table Tennis Players Of All Time

Top 5 Ranked Mens Table Tennis Players Of All Time

Table tennis started to gain popularity in the early 1900s, and has come a long way since. In 1988, it became an officially recognized Olympic sport. Over the years, there have been some exceptionally talented men’s table tennis players. Keep reading to learn about the top five men’s table tennis players of all time!

Who Are the Best Men’s Table Tennis Players?

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

1. Ma Long

  • Set Record for Longest Time as #1 Ranked Table Tennis Player
  • Won 5 Consecutive ITTF Pro Tour Tournaments
  • Won Table Tennis Grand Slam
  • 2010 Asian Games Gold Medalist
  • First Male Player to Win Every Title in Table Tennis
  • 5 Olympic Gold Medals

Ma Long is arguably the best table tennis player of all time. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is holding the #1 rank in table tennis for a record-breaking 34 months in a row. He has even held the position for a total of 64 months throughout his career. Long was also the youngest-ever World Champion, winning when he was just 17 years old. He won eight 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 the young player. After this tutelage, Long won a table tennis Grand Slam (when a player successfully wins singles at the Olympic Games, World Championships, and World Cup). He also used to rely on his forehand shot but eventually developed his game into a more versatile playstyle. Ma Long still plays professionally and has been captain of the Chinese national team since 2014. 

2. Jan Ove Waldner

  • 1992 Olympic Gold Medal (singles)
  • 2000 Olympic Silver Medal (singles)
  • 3-Time Gold Medalist at World Championships
  • 5-Time Gold Medalist at European Championships

Jan Ove Waldner had a long, successful career. He is even widely accepted as the best and most famous Swedish table tennis player of all time. Waldner won gold an astonishing 14 times in the Swedish Championships. Waldner also had the honor of playing in the first-ever Olympic table tennis event in 1988. After going undefeated in the group stage, he was defeated by Kim Ki-taik in the quarterfinals.

Waldner’s biggest achievement though was probably winning gold in the singles table tennis tournament at the 1992 Olympics. He was also an Olympic silver medalist in 2000, again in singles. Many fans commended Waldner on maintaining great hand-eye coordination throughout his lengthy career. His longevity was bested by no other in a sport where older players often struggle to remain dominant.

3. Wang Liqin

  • Top-Ranked Player for 25 Consecutive Months
  • Made Chinese National Squad at 15 Years of Age
  • 3 World Championships
  • Olympic Gold Medalist (2000)

At 6’1,” Wang Liqin had great power over the ball and was a menace to play against. Many even pointed to him as having the strongest forehand in his era of table tennis play. Liqin got his first accolade early on in his career. At only 15 years old, he made the formidable Chinese National Squad. Following this feat, he would go on to win three World Championships and an Olympic gold medal in doubles table tennis at the 2000 tournament.

Liqin’s 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 an impressive feat only beaten by Ma Long’s record of 34 months. Liqin’s playstyle is described as a shakehand grip, the oldest grip in the game. It allowed him to have a lot of both control and power when handling the ball. In 2013, Wang Liqin retired as one of the greatest table tennis players.

4. Zhang Jike

  • Won Table Tennis Grand Slam
  • Won Five Consecutive Major Titles
  • #1 Ranked Player in the World (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. Zhang even managed to win a Grand Slam in just 455 days, 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 World Table Tennis Championship (WTTC) in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014. This made him the closest player to ever win two grand slams in their career. Having won five major titles (two WTTC titles, two World Cups, one Olympic Gold), he is also tied for the most major singles titles. Zhang Jike won his five major titles consecutively during a short but fierce reign of dominance.

5. Xu Xin

  • Won 17 World Tour Singles Titles
  • 10 World Championship Team Titles
  • 2 World Championship Gold Medals

Xu Xin is arguably the current best men’s table tennis player, and also  one of the best to have ever played the sport. He is left-handed and uses a penhold grip playstyle. Due to his stature, he’s also known as an excellent defensive player. In his long career, Xin has dominated ITTF World Tours, winning a whopping 17 singles titles.

Xin has also won 10 World Championships playing both doubles and teams in addition to two singles World Championship titles. In 2016, he and Jike teamed up at the Olympics. The duo dominated the doubles competition to win gold. At 32 years of age, Xu Xin’s career is far from over, and he plans to keep making waves on the international table tennis circuit.

Honorable Mentions

Liu Guoliang

  • Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist (both in 1996)
  • 7 World Championship Titles
  • World Cup Gold Medalist

Liu Guoliang is one of the best table tennis players to ever come out of China. He was born on January 10, 1976, in Xinxiang, China, and began playing from a young age as many of the greats have. His first major international outing was at the 1995 ITTF World Championships, where he and his team won gold. The following year, Guoliang set himself apart as a singles player by winning both the World Cup and the gold medal at the Olympic men’s singles event. At that same Olympics, he won a second gold medal with longtime doubles partner Kong Linghui. Though his career was shorter than most, Guoliang won seven World Championship titles and retired as one of the greatest men to ever play table tennis.

Ichiro Ogimura

  • 12 World Championship Titles
  • Former President of the ITTF
  • 2 World Championship Titles
  • 5 Consecutive Team World Championship Titles

Ichiro Ogimura, nicknamed “the ping-pong diplomat,” was not only a great table tennis player but also an early global ambassador of the sport. After a career that included 12 world championship titles and three English open titles, he became a coach and an executive member of the International Table Tennis Federation. Ogimura is credited with convincing Zhou Enlai, premier of the People’s Republic of China at the time, to allow the Chinese national team to return to international table tennis play.,


Who is the best men’s table tennis player of all time?

The best male table tennis player of all time is Ma Long. During his long career, he has been an Olympic champion, won five consecutive Pro Tour tournaments, been the youngest ever ITTF World Champion, and has won a table tennis Grand Slam. Long even set the record the longest time as the #1 ranked table tennis player in the world (34 continuous months).

Which men’s table tennis player has the most Olympic medals?

Ma Long and Wang Hao each have five Olympic medals, the most of any men's table tennis player. All five of Ma Long’s Olympic medals are gold, whereas Wang Hao won two gold medals and three silvers. Ma Long has three gold medals from the team events in 2012, 2016, and 2020, plus two gold medals from the singles events in 2016 and 2020. All three of Wang Hao’s silver medals are from singles events, in 2004, 2008, and 2012, while his gold medals come from team events in 2008 and 2012.,