(3/7/16) - Just a few days into the ITTF Perfect 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur and it’s already shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable tournaments for a very long time. Since the end of the Swedish reign in the early 2000’s few European teams have made a mark on the Table Tennis world besides Germany, but it seems as though their position isn’t as fortified as previously thought.
Reigning champions China are the team to beat, and their aren’t many teams in the world that can even come close to challenging them, could this Championship see the reveal of some new contenders? Many of the higher seeded teams have suffered unexpected defeats in the early stages of the competition, so could we be seeing a very different medals podium at the end of the Championships?
Tournament seed No.2 Germany got of to a strong start beating Denmark and Malaysia 3-1 and 3-0 respectively. Having lost WR 5 Dimitrij Ovtcharov to injuries before the start of the championship some doubts had been cast on the ability of the team and these doubts seemed to come into fruition during their 3rd and 4th games, they first lost to France 3-1 with crowd favourite and WR 9 Timo Boll losing both his matches to much lower ranked opponents. A change to the team in their 4th match left Boll out of the team however this didn’t make much of a difference resulting in a 3-1 defeat to England. Their two losses have cast much doubt on their ability to make it through group stage, failing to do so would lead to one of the biggest shocks of the Championship.
The underdogs continued to flourish in the other groups, 11th seed Russia were able to overcome 6th seed Hong Kong in a 3-2 nail biter. 12th seed Poland was also able to stun the crowd with a 3-1 defeat over 5th seed Portugal, with WR 11 Marcos Freitas losing both of his matches.
One huge upset came in the form of 23rd seed North Korea thrashing 7th seed Austria 3-0 after already beating Chinese Taipei and Greece, the current standings means it is likely that Korea DPR will finish 2nd in their group behind the seemingly untouchable China.
China has been the only team to actually live up to it’s potential, having won all of their matches so far 3-0 with relative ease and it’s no surprise when their team consists of the top 4 players in the world. Upsets amongst the top seeds have made it clear how much harder it will be to knock reigning champions China of their top spot, few teams have even the chance of beating the top seeds, and with the playing ability of Germany being put to doubt then it’s very hard to see anyone challenging the Chinese. So even though we may not be able to predict the silver and bronze places, I think it would be asking too much of the underdogs to beat the dragons at the top.
Written by: Vish