The Best 6 Ping Pong Players in the World (Including 3 Honorable Mentions)

Although table tennis is among the most recognized and played sports, professional ping pong is not as popular as one might think. The world of competitive table tennis is full of mostly players of Asian descent.

We have compiled a list of the current best ping pong players along with honorable mentions of the best ping pong players of all time.

top ping pong players

Top 6 Ping Pong’s Best Players in 2022

We have selected the current best ping pong players according to the ITTF rankings of World’s No. 1.

All the players in the list of honorable mentions have earned the Grand Slam, which means winning singles crowns at all 3 major championships: Olympic Games, World Championships., and World Cup.

6. Harimoto Tomokazu

Harimoto Tomokazu serving
By Peter Porai-Koshits – Own work,

Nationality: Japanese
Year Born: 2003
Playing Style: Offensive
Unique Trait: Youngest winner of ITTF World Tour men’s singles title

Born on June 27, 2003, the Japanese player astounded everyone by winning the junior world championship title at the age of 13. He is the youngest player to have ever won the ITTF World Tour men’s singles title, he is also among the top 10 in the ITTF World Ranking right now.

Harimoto was born in China and both of his players are former professional ping pong players. He became a citizen of Japan in 2014. Mostly coached by his father, his smaller size enables explosive power, allowing him to demonstrate rapid backhands and thunderous forehand counters.

His strengths lie in his powerful forehand topspin close to the table.

5. Chen Meng

Chen Meng - top player
XIAOYU TANG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1994
  • Playing Style: Offensive
  • Unique Trait: Ranked No. 1 for 38 months (she is the third player in the history of table tennis to be ranked for more than 30 months)
  • Nickname/s: Da Meng

Chen Meng is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s singles. She was born on January 15, 1994. She started playing at the young age of 8 and joined the Chinese National Team at the age of 13.

The double gold medalist has several feathers in her cap including the title of women’s singles champion in the ITTF Women’s World Cup. She also won the ITTF World Tour Grand finals four times consecutively from the years 2017-20 and first secured the World No. 1 ranking in 2018.

The rising player demonstrates a huge potential as she is among the best female ping pong players right now. She currently uses the Butterfly Viscaria with Hurricane 3 Neo National Blue Sponge on the backhand and Hurricane 8 on the forehand.

4. Xu Xin

Xu Xin ATTC
XIAOYU TANG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1990
  • Playing Style: Offensive with Explosive Spin
  • Unique Trait: Spent 23 months in the NO. 1 ranking
  • Nickname/s: XUperman, the couldwalker, showman

Xu Xin was born on January 8, 1990, and he is among the best ping pong players of all time. He appeared in the NO. 1 ranking in 2013 after winning the ITTF World Tour Grand Final. Since then, he went on to win 17 World Tour Titles.

He is also a 3 times winner of the World Championship in men’s doubles and has won the mixed doubles twice. ITTF has currently ranked him NO. 3 for men’s singles. Xu Xin uses a rare penhold grip and his main strength lies in rapid forehand looping.

His elongated frame enables him to more easily reach and hit the ball. He is known for unpredictable and deceptive serves and is among the few players with flawless footwork. His wild, spinny shots have dubbed him a crowd entertainer. He is loved by his fans due to his playful nature.

3. Timo Boll

Timo Boll WTTC
XIAOYU TANG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Nationality: German
  • Year Born: 1981
  • Playing Style: Forehand topspin drive and quick backhand loop
  • Unique Trait: Ranked No. 1 in 2003, 2011, and 2018
  • Nickname/s: Timo Magic Boll, The Legend

Timo Boll is among the very few non-Chinese players who have graced the table tennis scene with their winning techniques. Born on March 8, 1981, the German player has won the Table Tennis World Cup, The European Championship, and the World Championship Singles.

The left-handed player has secured the NO. 1 ranking in 2003, 2011, and 2018. He is known for an exceptional forehand topspin drive and a thunderous backhand flip and was among the very first players who perfected the two-winged loopers technique.

He uses the Timo Boll ALC blade with Dignics 09c rubber on both sides. He can generate explosive spin which gives him a huge advantage over the opponents.

2. Ma Long

Ma Long - One of the greatest TT players of all time
XIAOYU TANG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1988
  • Playing Style: Best Looper in the history of table tennis
  • Unique Trait: Greatest player of all time (GOAT)
  • Nickname/s: Captain Dragon, The Dictator

The Chinese player was born on October 20, 1988. Ma Long is considered the best ping pong player of all time. He has established his dominance through his consecutive wins in the last four championships. He won the Rio 2016 and World Championships from the years 2016-19.

The double Olympic gold medalist has 24 titles on the ITTF pro tour. His blade is the DHS Hurricane Long 5 with Hurricane 3 Neo on the backhand and Butterfly Tenergy 05 on the forehand.

He is the best two-winged looper in the history of table tennis. Ma Long has won every single table tennis title and is the fifth player to have a Grand Slam.

1. Fan Zhendong

Fan Zhendong ATTC
XIAOYU TANG, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1997
  • Playing Style: Offensive with exceptional footwork
  • Unique Trait: Best rising player among the new generation
  • Nickname/s: The Warlord, The Beast

Currently ranked World No. 1 for men’s singles at only 25 years old, Chinese player Fan Zhendong started his professional table tennis career by becoming the youngest ITTF World Tour Champion and World Table Tennis Champion. He was born on January 22, 1997.

Fan Zhendong seems very promising due to his grand style. The right-handed player has a shake hand grip and uses a combination of powerful footwork and explosive forehand loops to attack the opponent.

Compared to the goat Ma Long, his fearlessness and precision have garnered him much popularity over the world.

Zhendong uses the Butterfly Viscaria Blade with DHS Hurricane 3 Neo National sponge (blue) for the forehand and Red Tenergy 05 for the backhand.

best table tennis players

Honorable Mentions

Here are the three best and most famous table tennis players of all time:

3. Deng Yaping

  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1973
  • Playing Style: Strategic combination of offense and defense
  • Unique Trait: First female table tennis player to earn a Grand Slam
  • Nickname/s: The Emperor

Deng Yaping was the only female table tennis player who remained World No. 1 for 8 straight years. She has earned a total of 18 world championships, and won the first national championships when she was 13. She was born on February 6, 1973.

Yaping has 4 Olympic gold medals and is the Chinese female athlete of the century. Coached by her father, Deng is a quick attacker who can play both defense and offense and is quick when it comes to altering her style.

Zhang Jike

  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Year Born: 1988
  • Playing Style: Offensive, with topspin drive
  • Unique Trait: Achieved the Grand Slam in just 445 days
  • Nickname/s: Dao Zhendong (Black Dragon)

Zhang Jike was the fourth male player who achieved the Grand Slam by winning gold in Olympics 2012 men’s singles. The Chinese player’s consecutive wins earned him the Grand Slam in just 445 days. He was born on February 16, 1988.

Zhang is sponsored by Butterfly and uses Butterfly Viscaria with Tenergy 05 on the backhand and DHS Hurricane 3 Neo National sponge (blue) on the forehand. The two-winged shakehand attacker is among the very few players who have the best backhand technique.

He uses thunderous topspin drive, counters, and loops, and mostly plays a spin-oriented game. Zhang Jike gains an advantage over his opponents through his topspin technique and deceptive serves.

Jan-Ove Waldner

  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Year Born: 1965
  • Playing Style: Primarily a looper with focus on spin
  • Unique Trait: Earned the first Grand Slam
  • Nickname/s: The evergreen tree (Chang Qing Shu in Mandarin), The Mozart of Table Tennis

Born on October 3, 1965, the Swedish player has the best blocking skills and his exceptional technique earned him the first-ever Grand Slam in the history of table tennis. At the age of 52, Waldner faces opponents who are 30 years younger than him.

Dubbed the “Mozart of table tennis” Waldner is the only non-Asian player to have won a gold in the Olympics. He is also very popular among Chinese fans who refer to him as “Lao Wa” which means evergreen.

top table tennis players

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the best ping pong player in the world?

The Chinese player Fan Zhendong currently holds the NO. 1 men’s singles title, so he is the most promising player right now. He has the most powerful forehand, as he utilizes a full-body stroke, leg strength and torso rotation to generate hurricane power.

Who is the best left-handed ping pong player?

Timo Boll from Germany is the best left-handed player. He has solidified his title as a legend in over two decades of his career. He has won seven top 12 tournaments and the same number of European championships.

Who is the best female ping pong player?

Chen Meng is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s singles and she is the best female ping pong player right now. Her performance at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open solidified her position as the best ping pong player.

Who is the GOAT in ping pong?

The Chinese player, Ma Long is the greatest ping pong player of all time. His four consecutive wins at major championships endorse his dominance over the game. He has won some of the most important and major titles.

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Wajeeh

Wajeeh was introduced to Table Tennis at a young age of 11. What started as a hobby, quickly turned into a passion that had him compete in several professional tournaments at the district level in his home country. To date, he plays at a local sports club on the weekends and loves helping newcomers master the art of offense in Table Tennis.