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    1. Top | #21
      RidTheKid is online now
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      Sure but Waldner played almost 20 more years after that due to two things, his talent and lack of competition nationally. He was at his best between 89-97 but could still outperform better ranked players later on in his career, ie Boll and Ma Lin, so I think it's difficult to pinpoint his prime. Maybe the prime ended after his last big wins in 2001-2002.

      This doesn't change anything for me, Ma Long is still the GOAT. If one game was to be played for all the marbles between Ma Long and Waldner, I think Ma Long would win 4-2.

      Quote Originally Posted by NextLevel View Post
      You do realize that Waldner was in his early 30s when those.guys were getting good?

    2. Top | #22
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      Quote Originally Posted by RidTheKid View Post
      Sure but Waldner played almost 20 more years after that due to two things, his talent and lack of competition nationally. He was at his best between 89-97 but could still outperform better ranked players later on in his career, ie Boll and Ma Lin, so I think it's difficult to pinpoint his prime. Maybe the prime ended after his last big wins in 2001-2002.

      This doesn't change anything for me, Ma Long is still the GOAT. If one game was to be played for all the marbles between Ma Long and Waldner, I think Ma Long would win 4-2.
      Sure. We all have our views. Recency bias is also a big deal as well as downplaying the issues that were rife in prior times.

      I agree Ma Long is the greatest player but I defer to the experts who have seen such things more closely as well as broader statistics. And I think Ma Long's choking vs. Wang Hao doesn't help his case. But just about every other thing does.
      Cobra Kai TT Exponent - No mercy in this dojo, no matter your rating or the score. All spin, no power or footwork.

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    4. Top | #23
      zeio is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by RidTheKid View Post
      What about the matches against Ma Lin, Wang Liqin, KLH, LGL etc?
      Quote Originally Posted by NextLevel View Post
      You do realize that Waldner was in his early 30s when those.guys were getting good?
      Before WTTC 1999, Waldner was 3-1 up against KLH. Waldner won in that WTTC. Right before the Athens Olympics singles final, their record was 50-50, so KLH's up with that final win.

      Against LGL, Waldner lost 6 in a row b/w 1992 and 1999, before figuring him out and won the next 3. There are some discrepancies with Waldner's own recount, but his autobiography indicates he lost 6 in a row as well.

      Against MLin, Waldner is 3:8 according to his autobiography.

    5. Top | #24
      RidTheKid is online now
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      It would be very strange if Ma Long had no difficult opponents ML still has more wins than losses against WH although by a slim margin.

      Quote Originally Posted by NextLevel View Post
      Sure. We all have our views. Recency bias is also a big deal as well as downplaying the issues that were rife in prior times.

      I agree Ma Long is the greatest player but I defer to the experts who have seen such things more closely as well as broader statistics. And I think Ma Long's choking vs. Wang Hao doesn't help his case. But just about every other thing does.

    6. Top | #25
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      All sports are getting better training, nutrition, analytics, money, attention, etc, i.e. the bigger/faster/stronger argument. Given the number of major titles Ma Long has won (Olympics, World Championships, World Cups, ITTF Grand Finals + Asian Cup/Championship), it is hard to argue against anyone else. He is without a doubt the greatest of the past 15 years, I mean is ZJK 2nd enough, maybe Ma Lin or Wang Hao, but he's better than all of those, so hard to see where he is #1 of this era.

      No debate on how great Waldner is, but the sport is better now and Ma Long has won more compared to a deeper field of competitors than Waldner did.

      As much as I don't want to say recency bias, it is hard to argue for anyone but him. Personally, I'm not even the biggest Ma Long fan, I'd much rather watch Xu Xin, Michael Maze, or even Ma Lin in their primes, but Ma Long is flat out better.

    7. Top | #26
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      In terms of singles events, ML is undoubtedly the GOAT.

      ML: Olympic gold - 2016; WTTC - 2015, 2017, 2019; World Cup - 2012, 2015 = 6 gold from 3 major tournaments
      ZJK: Olympic gold - 2012; WTTC - 2011, 2013; World Cup - 2011, 2014 = 5 gold from 3 major tournaments
      Waldner: Olympic gold - 1992; WTTC - 1989, 1997; World Cup - 1990 = 4 gold from 3 major tournaments

      ML has won ITTF grand final 5 times, more than any other players.
      ML has 27 ITTF world tour titles (tied with Samsonov, but ML has more platinum titles than Samsonov).
      Unlike ZJK and Waldner, ML is still an active player. So ML will likely keep adding more titles under his belt.

      I'm not going to list doubles and team titles, because ML is either better or equal in those categories, compared to ZJK and Waldner.
      I can't think of any other stronger candidates than ZJK and Waldner.
      If ML is more accomplished than both ZJK and Waldner, than I have to conclude he is my GOAT tt player.

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    9. Top | #27
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      Quote Originally Posted by AKB5 View Post
      All sports are getting better training, nutrition, analytics, money, attention, etc, i.e. the bigger/faster/stronger argument. Given the number of major titles Ma Long has won (Olympics, World Championships, World Cups, ITTF Grand Finals + Asian Cup/Championship), it is hard to argue against anyone else. He is without a doubt the greatest of the past 15 years, I mean is ZJK 2nd enough, maybe Ma Lin or Wang Hao, but he's better than all of those, so hard to see where he is #1 of this era.

      No debate on how great Waldner is, but the sport is better now and Ma Long has won more compared to a deeper field of competitors than Waldner did.

      As much as I don't want to say recency bias, it is hard to argue for anyone but him. Personally, I'm not even the biggest Ma Long fan, I'd much rather watch Xu Xin, Michael Maze, or even Ma Lin in their primes, but Ma Long is flat out better.
      What do you mean that the sport is better now?

      I think with the 30 mm ball and when you got the hide the serve and had 5 in a row i think the sport was very different. In my opinion maybe the sport was harder then because it was difficult if you played a guy with a really good serve? With more spin from the ball everyball was also more different. It would be interesting to see how the top players of today would do when you could hide the serve. Serve must have been much more important then.

      The sport also was much faster before with the speedglue.

      But i agree that players proably should have become better and better as the years go by and the sport develops. But it must be hard to argue who is the GOAT when the sport have changes so much with rules and material.

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    11. Top | #28
      zeio is offline
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      Deeper field of competitors? Hmm, how about we look up some stats? Let's count how many non-Chinese World Champs and World Cup holders there have been since the 90s?

      Other than Waldner, there are Persson(WTTC '91/WC '91), Gatien(WTTC '93/WC '94), Primorac(WC '93 & '97), Rosskopf(WC '98), and Samsonov(WC '99, '01, '09).

      Since the 2nd millennium, only 3 Europeans have won the World Cup, Samsonov in 2001 and 2009, Boll in 2002 and 2005, and Ovtcharov in 2018. Even worse for WTTC, only Schlager managed to clinch the singles title in 2003. The rest are all from China.

      I've written this before. The field has been among the weakest since 2015.
      Last edited by zeio; 05-07-2019 at 09:37 PM.

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    13. Top | #29
      RidTheKid is online now
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      Winning % gentlemen! Ma Long has the highest winning % ever as far as I remember. Around 90% of the matches he plays he wins. Put that on top of all the big titles and tour wins I just can't see how this can even be a debate. This is not figure skating, it's about who wins.

    14. Top | #30
      zeio is offline
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      The percentage shows how weak the field has been since WLQ/MLin/WH retired and ZJK finally busted his lower back.


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    16. Top | #31
      suds79 is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by RidTheKid View Post
      Winning % gentlemen! Ma Long has the highest winning % ever as far as I remember. Around 90% of the matches he plays he wins. Put that on top of all the big titles and tour wins I just can't see how this can even be a debate. This is not figure skating, it's about who wins.
      Problem with winning % is that then it's based on outside factors. Then it boils down to the quality of pros at the time they're playing.

      I'll keep banging the drum that you can't compare eras. I'm sure Viktor Barna would like to have some say in this matter and/or take on any competitor with a ball & bat style back in his day. For Ma Long or any other great in the past to play without a sponged paddle.

      If we're talking goat, what ball are we referencing? What bat style?
      Last edited by suds79; 05-07-2019 at 10:17 PM.

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    18. Top | #32
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      As a ML fan, I personally don't really care whether he is seen as the GOAT. It's difficult to compare players from different eras.

      Also, ML is not retired yet. Who knows what more achievements he will make in the future?

      3 WTTC + 1 OG + 2 World Cup + 27 world tours + 5 grand finals + 2 China National Games + 8 Asian titles + 5 CTTSL MVP + 4 times as CNT's Player A in WTTTC finals (2012,14,16,18) + 22 consecutive wins without losing a set in WTTTC + 56 consecutive wins (from Aug 2011 to Jan 2012) + 34 consecutive months as WR1 + 64 months as WR1 + (most importantly) TO BE CONTINUED...

      I just hope ML keep healthy and have a longer career.

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    20. Top | #33
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      Why the field becomes the weakest since 2015? Look at the ITTF winning % of more people, Wang Liqin, Ma Lin, Wang Hao, Zhang Jike, Xu Xin in addition to Ma Long (they are the highest, outside CNT, Timo Boll may be the highest). Look at 2008-2014, the field does not seem stronger than afterwards. Don't tell me Ma Lin and Wang Hao's good days were gone in 2008-2009 when the former got OG gold and the latter got WTTC gold and National Games gold. And don't tell me the dominance of CNT was not challenged in recent years when more and more non-CNT players other than Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov improve and beat CNT.



      Some arguments are about younger players missed the prime time of senior players. This may be partially true because the quotas were limited for CNT to send players to international tournaments (OG 2-3, WTTC 5-7, WC 2-3, world tour 6 previously). But there is no such limitation at China National Games (every 4 year), which is said to be the most competitive TT event in the world, with Liu Guoliang's best result R16 out of 3 attempts and Zhang Jike's best result 7th place out of 4 attempts.
      2001 gold: Ma Lin, silver: Qin Zhijian, bronze: Wang Liqin, 4th place: Kong Linghui (his best result out of 4 attempts)
      2005 gold: Wang Liqin, silver: Wang Hao, bronze: Ma Long, 4th place: Wang Liqin
      2009 gold: Wang Hao, silver: Ma Long, bronze: Wang Liqin, 4th place: Xu Xin
      2013 gold: Ma Long, silver: Fan Zhendong, bronze: Xu Xin, 4th place: Wang Hao
      2017 gold: Ma Long, silver: Fan Zhendong, bronze: Wang Chuqin, 4th place: Xu Xin (semifianl WO)


      Not considering the winning % and head-to-head, I think there is no room for argument who is the best Chinese player ever because only Ma Long wins Grand Slam AND China National Games (the other three Chinese Grand Slam winners did not get a single medal; other China National Games winners did not complete Grand Slam). But of course fans have interesting thoughts. Give you two examples (HT to Zhang Jike fans on Chinese weibo): Ma Long's 3 WTTC titles are the weakest because he never faced a former WTTC champion in the finals. Ma Long's OG title is the weakest because nobody did not drop a set in the OG final!


      The choice for the best player ever, is simple, Jan-Ove Waldner or Ma Long. Ma Long was asked this question in Liebherr Live, but unfortunately the interpreter mistranslated into who is the currently best. What does Ma Long think of Waldner? He was asked by Spin College during 2019 WTTC and said, "Waldner is a legend"; in Liebherr Live, he said, "The strongest feeling (after winning the third title)...I hope to become as a legend as Jan-Ove Waldner". Although Ma Long does not compare himself and Waldner directly, he shows full respect to Waldner and he may think himself can improve even further to reach the status of Waldner. I of course have faith in Ma Long. He is not playing for titles at this stage but for passion and joy and he is still making more history.
      I hope Waldner can share his own thoughts on the same questions, who is the currently best (he correctly predicted that Ma Long would win 2015 and 2017 WTTC before the tournaments and Ma Long would beat Mattias Falck 4-1 before the final in 2019) and who is the best ever.
      Last edited by rainneverever; 05-08-2019 at 12:08 AM.

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    22. Top | #34
      NextLevel is offline
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      Going strictly by modern numbers, there is no doubt that Ma Long wins. The sticking points are the changes in equipment, especially the change to the plastic ball and the banning of speed glue, and the other changes through the eras. I also never saw Guo Yenhua play . But seriously it is not a serious argument if you assume that plastic ball and cell ball since 1980 are one continuous era.

    23. Top | #35
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      let's all remember that a lot of these rule changes were made to weaken chinese players chances and give others a higher chance, and so I find saying that the rules that were changed make it hard to compare different eras kind of comical in the sense that it should probably even furthermore add to the legend that is already--Ma Long

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    25. Top | #36
      UpSideDownCarl is offline
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      I don't know if it makes sense to compare different eras. But what is sure is, ML is more dominant than any player since Victor Barna! And Wang Liqin was pretty darn dominant. But not like ML has been.

      So, I would say it is fine to call him the best ever. He is pretty darn good. And, all things considered, he is way way way way better than anyone at the moment. And the last person who could really challenge him is the guy who beat him in the 2014 World Cup. And that guy is definitely not in contention for being as good as ML because ML is still dominating and ZJK is modeling sneakers and doing variety shows.

      It would be fun to see some real competition for ML though.
      Last edited by UpSideDownCarl; 05-08-2019 at 03:03 AM.
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    27. Top | #37
      NextLevel is offline
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      Fan Zhendong is matching up better to be honest. The other CNT teammates lack the right level of experience other than XX, who lacks the balance.

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    29. Top | #38
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      ML is the GOAT, no doubt about that. We can use stats to rid of emotion and unscientific analysis which some in this forum commit. This topic has been raised many times in this/different forums. But to tell the truth I love watching Waldner play than ML

    30. Top | #39
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      It was easier to stand still and play using the 38mm celluloid ball and look like a magician, nowadays with the new ball you need to commit physically so it doesn't look as esthetic being "in control"

      Quote Originally Posted by tropical View Post
      ML is the GOAT, no doubt about that. We can use stats to rid of emotion and unscientific analysis which some in this forum commit. This topic has been raised many times in this/different forums. But to tell the truth I love watching Waldner play than ML

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    32. Top | #40
      zeio is offline
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      Gold content. Folks in China always talk about that when comparing the weight of titles. The gold content of the last 3 WTTC titles is among the lowest in recent history.

      ML took out FB to win the title in 2015, FZD in 2017, and Falck in 2019. Ahem...

      ZJK is the last one to take the title from the defender(WH) and former World Champ(WLQ) in 2011.

      Before that, WH took it from then defender WLQ in 2009.

      Schlager took out then defender WLQ and former World Champ KLH in 2003.

      WLQ took out former World Champs Persson and KLH in 2001.

      LGL took out former World Champs Gatien and Persson in 1999.

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