Sweden is not known for being home to much particular world-class talent. We typically see the nation of fish-lovers knocked out in the group stage before they get to play with of the big boys. However in 2015, they somehow dragged their way to the semi-finals to take on the Portuguese in a best of 7.
Marcos Freitas is a rising star in the Table Tennis community after appearing as a dark horse in 2008 to take home a bronze medal in the European championships. Now sitting tidily at world #17 and #4 outside of Asia, in 2015 he took home the title and trophy of European champion. This match contains no lack of fixating counter-looping rallies, which in the end lead to a clutch 8-8 score in the final game. As a European, this is one of my favourite matches to re-watch. I won't spoil the result, but I recommend you watch the whole thing. It's well worth the time.
Not nearly as close as the others on this list, but certainly a noteworthy mention. The world #1 attacker versus the world #1 defender. It was always going to be a fiery match between these two, and this game is definitely no disappointment. Just the raw athleticism on behalf of Joo Se Hyuk is terrifying. How on earth does he move so quickly into position for the chop. He's returning shots I'm struggling to keep my eye on. Here's a tip - use the Youtube settings to turn the speed down to 0.5 on some of these rallies. The blisteringly fast Ma Long loops met with incredible reflexes as it is chopped back across the table. A must-see for any defenders, and quite an experience for anyone else.
It was the finals of the World Table Tennis Championship. Tension had been building rapidly for a month, and yet again it was a surprise to no one that both the finalists were from the 18-consecutive-year-champion China. In the end it came down to Fang Bo - the lean, mean, forehand machine - against world #1 and king redirector Ma Long. The pure mechanical talent of both these players combined with the pressure of competition led to some rallies that had us up and out of our seats. There's little that can be described about the China's best of the best pitted against one another in the final of the most prestigious tournament that year. While most players will already have seen this, it's definitely worth another viewing.
The annual Table Tennis competition is a goldmine for exciting matchups. This China V China matchup was no exception, as we see the long counter-looping rallies that make a good match great. We even caught Xu Xin try a rare behind-the-back block. All 7 sets played, and a good dozen great points despite a relatively severe injury for Xu Xin. It can be argued that he might have done better had this not occurred. But in the end c'est la vie. I'm not even going to list key points here since there are so many. Just a culmination of power and technique of equal amounts.
Anyone who says Table Tennis can't be a spectator sport is quite simply wrong.
It's nay impossible to scour every game the pros have played this year. We've seen some fantastic results for the European teams, with the English making it right up to the semi-finals by beating France before being knocked out by second-place Japan. The ITTF are fighting an uphill battle to make rallies longer, the game more strategic, and have it overall be a better spectator sport. At the end of the day, watching a total 4-0 whitewash just is not a fun experience.
Written by: Stuart Johnson