3 Biggest Table Tennis Tournaments in the World

By Roel Comporal
March 8, 2024
Ma Long Celebrating His Win Back to Back Gold Medal

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Table tennis tournaments are always fun to watch. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to learn from the greats of the sports. While there are thousands of national and international tournaments that occur every year, there are 3 big tournaments that all table tennis enthusiasts in the world are particularly excited about.

1. Olympics

In my opinion, the Olympics is the biggest stage in table tennis for one simple reason: rarity. The Olympics happens only every 4 years. Players who win gold medals at the tournament are ultra special. Ma Long made a rare feat at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics by winning a back-to-back gold medal (the first he won in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics) for the Men’s Single Event by beating his teammate Fan Zhendong. This cemented his legacy as the greatest table tennis player of all time.

Ma Long Celebrating His Win Back to Back Gold Medal
By winning his second Olympics Gold Medal, Ma Long is widely considered the greatest table tennis player of all time.
Photo credit: worldtabletennis.com

In the last 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the table tennis events and gold medalists were:

Men’s Single (Ma Long – China)

Men’s Team (Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, Xu Xin – China)

Women’s Single (Chen Meng – China)

Women’s Team (Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu – China)

Mixed Doubles (Jun Mizutani, Mima Ito – China)

Table tennis debuted in the Olympics at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

2. World Table Tennis Championships

The World Table Tennis Championships happens every 2 years and is one of the biggest tournaments organized by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) – the world’s governing body in table tennis.

It’s important to note that the World Table Tennis Championships has an individual and team event which has separate dates and locations. For example, the latest individual events happened in 2023 in Durban, South Africa while the latest team event happened in 2024 in Busan South Korea.

Furthermore, individual events happen in ODD-numbered years (2023, 2021, 2019, and so on) while the team event happens in EVEN-numbered years (2024, 2022, 2020, and so on). (Note in either case, events happen every 2 years)

Five events are played in the ODD-numbered years namely, Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.

In the last 2023 Durban ITTF World Table Tennis Championships, table tennis events and gold medalists were:

Men’s Single (Fan Zhendong – China)

Men’s Double (Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin – China)

Women’s Single ( Sun Yingsha – China)

Women’s Double (Chen Meng, Wang Yidi – China)

Mixed Doubles (Wang Chuqin, Sun Yingsha – China)

Only one event happens on EVEN numbered years which is a team event.

In the last 2024 Busan World Team Table Tennis Championship , the men’s event was won by Team China which was composed of Fan Zhendong, Liang Jingkun, Lin Gaoyuan, Ma Long, and Wang Chuqin.

The World Table Tennis Championships was first held in 1926 in London, England.

Jang Woojin pulled out an upset beating Wang Chuqin. Team Korea almost made history but Team China rallied to won the final match in the 5th game.

 

3. World Table Tennis (WTT)

World Table Tennis (WTT) is a new series of international table tennis tournaments organized by the ITTF.

Before WTT, the World Cup was the 3rd biggest tournament of the sport held every year. In 1996, the ITTF World Tour was introduced and held annually and open tournaments across the world were conducted.

Citing the need for ” change and innovation ” in the sports of table tennis by the WTT Council Chair Liu Guloailng, WTT was introduced and the World Cup and ITTF Tour events were suspended.

Considered a successor of these tournaments, WTT promises innovation, professionalization, and commercialization of the sport of table tennis. Tournament prizes are considerably higher. The ongoing  Smash Tournament in Singapore has a prize money of $1.5 million.

WTT has a completely different event structure from its predecessors.

The Grand Smash is the most important event of the table tennis calendar with Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Double Events for Men and Women.

Then there’s the WTT series which is split into tiers namely, Cup Finals, Champion Series and the Contender Series.

To be honest, I believe WTT is still in the experimental stages and will likely undergo changes in the years to come. However, I appreciate the intention behind increasing the commercialization of the sport, as it would bring more financial value to the athletes and promote more its mainstream recognition.

Summary

            The 3 biggest table tennis tournaments in the world are the Olympics Table Tennis Tournament, World Table Tennis Championships, and World Table Tennis (WTT). For more information about these tournaments, visit  World Table Tennis and the Olympics Table Tennis website.

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