Is any current top player better than prime Ma Long (2015-2017)?

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Harimoto and perhaps LYJ.

WCQ has lost too much in team event (not like he is much better than FZD in MS) and would likely have lost way more if he doesn't hide his serve.
 
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Hard to stay with kind of level for like two years. WCQ may be in his prime now or soon. But a lot of people still have doubt on him. If he can win the world cup and Olympics single this year, people will have probably more confidence on him.
 
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I don’t think current Harimoto could beat prime Ma Long unless he goes full speed and power and lands every shot, as soon as he gets passive he’s done. He did beat Fan and Wang on the same day which is a miracle but that was a best of 5 game format and all the major events are best of 7 such as Olympics, world champs, World Cup, Asian games… ( tho this is sort of irrelevant cause a best of 5 win is a win as well). He did beat Ma Long before but those were at the time of his injury and post injury.

I’m not sure about Lin Yun Ju.
His most dangerous weapon is his banana flick, speed and use of wide angles which works excellently against current Ma Long and worked against post injury ML but prime Ma was much faster. Also, Lin currently seems to have some sort of injury himself or he’s still recuperating.
He could beat prime ML but not consistently, same with Harimoto.

My best bet currently would be WCQ because of his serve/receive and power. His performance was excellent in Singapore this year. Though, as soon as he gets called out for his serve I don’t think he’ll have anything to beat prime ML consistently.
 
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To me, that's like asking if any current player is better than the best of all time.

Answer: not even close.
It's not "like" asking that, it IS in fact asking if anyone is better than the GOAT in his prime. If anyone can, then he be the new GOAT, which I don't think anyone currently is on track to do so right now.
 
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It's not "like" asking that, it IS in fact asking if anyone is better than the GOAT in his prime. If anyone can, then he be the new GOAT, which I don't think anyone currently is on track to do so right now.
These things are all debates, but the GOAT in his prime doesn't necessarily mean the highest level of play ever achieved. I still consider the single best tournament ever played to be Waldner in 1997 in Manchester (won all his matches without dropping a game). And I also rate 2011 Ma Long during his undefeated streak where he dueled Zhang Jike multiple times pretty highly. Of course, winning almost every event between 2015 and 2017 including two WTTCs and an Olympics is pretty high for both length and results. The one thing I hold against that is the crappy plastic ball that was in use then. It is also clear that the shift to plastic and the reduction in spin effect benefited Ma Long, especially on backhand.

But I can see that if Wang finishes this year the way he started it and also wins the Olympic gold, he is definitely in both the level and the results conversation. This crappy WTT system has made it harder to compare fairly though. But the Singapore Smash performance of WCQ was extremely impressive. But ML didn't have those Jang Woojin losses during the 2015-2017 domination period.
 
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It's not "like" asking that, it IS in fact asking if anyone is better than the GOAT in his prime. If anyone can, then he be the new GOAT, which I don't think anyone currently is on track to do so right now.

I think this depends on what time frame we're considering. ML is the GOAT because of his consistency and winning results. Achievements at the highest level are always going to be the biggest factor in determining greatness in sports. But that doesn't mean rational people can't look at the most impressive single event or a string of events by someone like ZJK and compare it to the best for ML and come away thinking that ZJK looked better.

Throughout entire careers, it's almost impossible to argue against ML as #1. But the thinner you slice the period of consideration, the more possible it becomes to compare peak vs peak.
 
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I think the level of play has been improving fairly quickly, after dropping quite a lot during the transition from the old ball to the new. My guess is that current WCQ and FZD would give prime ML serious trouble.
 
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Lin Shidong when get in his prime can be better then ML
A quote attributed to many people, from the Nobel prize-winning Quantum physicist Niels Bohr to legendary baseball player (and philosopher) Yogi Berra states: "It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future."

 
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A quote attributed to many people, from the Nobel prize-winning Quantum physicist Niels Bohr to legendary baseball player (and philosopher) Yogi Berra states: "It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future."

As an example, how much doubt was there that a 16/17 year old performing at the level of Fan Zhendong in 2013 would at some point be the greatest player of all time? Probably not much from people who are willing to say that Lin Shidong is going to be in the conversation...

 
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I don’t think current Harimoto could beat prime Ma Long unless he goes full speed and power and lands every shot, as soon as he gets passive he’s done. He did beat Fan and Wang on the same day which is a miracle but that was a best of 5 game format and all the major events are best of 7 such as Olympics, world champs, World Cup, Asian games… ( tho this is sort of irrelevant cause a best of 5 win is a win as well). He did beat Ma Long before but those were at the time of his injury and post injury.

I’m not sure about Lin Yun Ju.
His most dangerous weapon is his banana flick, speed and use of wide angles which works excellently against current Ma Long and worked against post injury ML but prime Ma was much faster. Also, Lin currently seems to have some sort of injury himself or he’s still recuperating.
He could beat prime ML but not consistently, same with Harimoto.

My best bet currently would be WCQ because of his serve/receive and power. His performance was excellent in Singapore this year. Though, as soon as he gets called out for his serve I don’t think he’ll have anything to beat prime ML consistently.
Harimoto and LYJ are 2 of 5 non-CNT players with the highest number of wins against ML. ML has praised Harimoto before for being better than him at the same age (12) after their first encounter at Polish Open 2015 and has said that LYJ is one of the main opponents for the CNT at WTT CS Xinxiang 2023. LGL also said no one around the same age has an edge over Harimoto ahead of Team World Cup 2018.

Top 5 in H2H against ML
Samsonov 5 H2H 8 ML
Boll 4 H2H 17 ML
LYJ 4 H2H 6 ML
Harimoto 2 H2H 4 ML
Franziska 2 H2H 2 ML

Harimoto has said in a recent interview with Butterfly that his goal is to prevent the transfer of dominance from FZD to WCQ and LSD.

And no, Harimoto's first win was not at the time of ML's injury. It was at Japan Open 2018, when Harimoto was still a few weeks from turning 15. ML revealed afterward in an issue of Table Tennis World that he feared Harimoto and "pictured him as too superior". For the record, Harimoto beat Jang Woojin, Zhou Yu, Ma Long, Lee Sangsu, and Zhang Jike to take the title.
 
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Harimoto and LYJ are 2 of 5 non-CNT players with the highest number of wins against ML. ML has praised Harimoto before for being better than him at the same age (12) after their first encounter at Polish Open 2015 and has said that LYJ will be one of the non-CNT players to watch for in the next decade after WTT CS Frankfurt 2023. LGL also said no one around the same age has an edge over Harimoto ahead of Team World Cup 2018.

Top 5 in H2H against ML
Samsonov 5 H2H 8 ML
Boll 4 H2H 17 ML
LYJ 4 H2H 6 ML
Harimoto 2 H2H 4 ML
Franziska 2 H2H 2 ML

Harimoto has said in a recent interview with Butterfly that his goal is to prevent the transfer of dominance from FZD to WCQ and LSD.

And no, Harimoto's first win was not at the time of ML's injury. It was at Japan Open 2018, when Harimoto was still a few weeks from turning 15. ML revealed afterward in an issue of Table Tennis World that he feared Harimoto and "pictured him as too superior". For the record, Harimoto beat Jang Woojin, Zhou Yu, Ma Long, Lee Sangsu, and Zhang Jike to take the title.
Too bad Harimoto is not so dominant in this day and age.
 
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