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Poll: Who is Greatest?

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  1. Baal is offline
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    #181

    He and Persson were the last of a long line actually.


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    #182
    What is the basis for considering Waldner a possible candidate for the GOAT spot?
    From people charitable to the claim, one argument I've heard is that he pioneered a lot of the techniques that pushed the sport into the modern era

    From people uncharitable to the claim, I've also heard the (somewhat snarkily offered) explanation that people hold him in high regard because he's a white guy in a sport that's been dominated by Chinese players for the past ~50 years. I understand that this explanation for his popularity feels lazy and unfair, but I admit that I sometimes wonder whether it might have *something* to do with it - if not the racial angle exactly, then at least the framing of a single individual taking on a collectivized hegemony (Waldner vs the "Chinese Wall").

    From the standpoint of Waldner's playing record (impressive, but others have equaled/surpassed) and his head-to-head against his rivals (not great), I don't completely understand why he is consistently elevated above a half-dozen or so others who could have a similar claim based on their accomplishments. I realize that the "greatness" of a player in our minds is something that's difficult to fully explain or quantify, but I've always been interested in understanding why Waldner, for the past 20 years or so, has been seen as the self-evident standard of all-time-greatness that all others are compared to.

  3. latej is offline
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    #183
    Quote Originally Posted by Trismegistus
    What is the basis for considering Waldner a possible candidate for the GOAT spot?
    The WAY he played of course :-)

    From people charitable to the claim, one argument I've heard is that he pioneered a lot of the techniques that pushed the sport into the modern era
    I just don't take the whole of this seriously. It's a human non-sense.

    Baal loves JOW and votes for ML.
    I love ML and vote for JOW.

    This is only an example of human behavior which happens in this ill-posed situation. There is no base. You may argue that this is not about personal emotions, but about results. I however think both are equally valid in this "situation". Same as if you'd answer the question "ML or JOW?" with "Secretin". Equally valid for me.

    From people uncharitable to the claim, I've also heard the (somewhat snarkily offered) explanation that people hold him in high regard because he's a white guy in a sport that's been dominated by Chinese players for the past ~50 years. I understand that this explanation for his popularity feels lazy and unfair, but I admit that I sometimes wonder whether it might have *something* to do with it - if not the racial angle exactly, then at least the framing of a single individual taking on a collectivized hegemony (Waldner vs the "Chinese Wall").
    Btw. when I have mentioned the chinese wave, I really didn't mean it in any way racist, as you may have thought. I think there is a huge mechanism, but why call/see it racist? It's good you're on guard against it, but at the same time, we need to be careful before ascribing it to other person's thoughts.

    From the standpoint of Waldner's playing record (impressive, but others have equaled/surpassed) and his head-to-head against his rivals (not great), I don't completely understand why he is consistently elevated above a half-dozen or so others who could have a similar claim based on their accomplishments. I realize that the "greatness" of a player in our minds is something that's difficult to fully explain or quantify, but I've always been interested in understanding why Waldner, for the past 20 years or so, has been seen as the self-evident standard of all-time-greatness that all others are compared to.
    Understand your quest. Hope someone helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baal
    He and Persson were the last of a long line actually.
    You must be right. I know little about history.

  4. boltnut is online now
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    #184
    From the standpoint of Waldner's playing record (impressive, but others have equaled/surpassed) and his head-to-head against his rivals (not great), I don't completely understand why he is consistently elevated above a half-dozen or so others who could have a similar claim based on their accomplishments.
    Who else has 12 singles medals in Grand Slam events?

  5. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #185
    I stand my ground on the idea that questions like this are intended to be click-bait to draw people in to the discussion. Also, that you just can't compare players from different periods. Victor Barna's dominance in the hardbat era was unrivaled. Should we say he was not as good as Ma Long knowing that the techniques developed in his aftermath (60-80 years) could not have happened without him having been there first?

    Should we not acknowledge with Waldner that, he had a large part in circumventing Chinese dominance in the sport for over a decade? Should we also not acknowledge that, in 1991, when Waldner played Persson for the WTTC championship, that it looks like he let his best friend get the title without a fight? Or, that China, in the 1990s sent players to Sweden to learn this BH technique that seemed to be making penhold players have more trouble dominating? The early results of that experiment were Kong Linghui and Wang Liqin. Shouldn't they be on this list of potential Best Of's? Certainly each were best of for a decent period?

    Ma Long is amazing. He has proved that he was able to overcome some early challenges where he was, from 2009-2013, clearly the best small tournament player but had trouble winning the big titles. Since then, his dominance has been fairly complete. I look at the challenge of overcoming his troubles in the big tournaments as only a positive. And he has clearly played through several generations of CNT players and stayed on top. Big Kudos for what an amazing player he is.

    But we will never be able to compare how he would have played in Waldner's era or how Waldner would have played with all the benefits of the technical advancements that have happened in the sport since his time. (What I hinted at with Barna as well).

    So, I think it only serves to denigrate top players from previous eras to try to compare them to top pros from today based on the techniques of Today.

    When Waldner played Ma Long in 2011, Waldner was, FAT, Out of Shape, Slow, had not been playing TT regularly or training for years, had a bad back that prevented him from playing tournaments, AND was well past his prime. Ma Long was ranked #1 in the world. And yet, Waldner, without being able to move, was able to frustrate Ma Long and take games from him. Eventually Ma Long figured out what to do, but the match was closer than it should have been based on Waldner's age and physical condition.

    And we just can't know what would have happened if Waldner learned to play as a kid NOW, or what would have happened if Ma Long had learned to play back then with such different technical knowledge at his disposal. I have a feeling the both would have been pretty great.

    So, I would suggest, we appreciate the best from each separate era for what they brought to the sport.

    If you watch American Football games or Basketball games from the 1980s and compare them to what happens in each of those sports today, one might say, wow, things have changed. The same is true with TT. Waldner and the Swedish team from the 1980s-1990s developed a lot techniques for play that modern table tennis has benefited from and grown past. Without that inspiration, modern TT might look very different.

    It is worth celebrating the sport and each era. But it is common for people to think "todays era is the best" or "back when I was a kid the game was better." Probably there is a point on both sides but neither is complete.

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  6. gd288288 is offline
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    #186
    Ma Long

  7. Dominikk85 is offline
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    #187
    Love waldner but MA long simply has won a lot more than waldner and also has lost a lot less big games.

    Waldner would have needed to beat Kong in 2000 to have a chance at the goat title.

    Also losing against Johnny huang in 1996 was a big lost opportunity for him, he could have won another gold in 96 as he seemed to have figured out LGL at that point.

    Waldner had plenty of chances to become the goat but in the end he lost some opportunities while ML always won when it counted and in the end had just won more than waldner

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