Wang Chuqin, the most valuable player
A vote for the most valuable player over the nine days of action in the Chinese Super League, play concluding in Guangzhou on Tuesday 29th December; unanimously the decision goes to Wang Chuqin.
The 20-year-old, on duty for Shandong Luneng, remained unbeaten throughout the whole tournament but more importantly when colleague, Ma Long, the ace in the pack, faltered, Wang Chuqin responded and responded in a most assured manner.
Always he played in the first match of the fixture, the doubles, always with Fang Bo, never with Ma Long with whom he won the men’s doubles title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships. Undoubtedly Fang Bo being the partner was a massive advantage for Shandong Luneng, he plays in just the same style as the reigning Olympic and World champion!
Shandong Luneng progressed to win the title beating Shandong Weiqiao 3-1 in the final and thus completed the whole tournament unbeaten; a feat no club in the women’s division could achieve.
However, in the group stage when facing Shandong Weiqiao, that record was in grave danger; it was in that fixture above all others that Wang Chuqin showed his worth.
Played on Saturday 26th December, the eighth series of matches; he partnered Fang Bo to doubles success against Yu Ziyang and Zhou Qihao (13-11, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7), before with his team trailing two matches to one, he beat Lin Yun-Ju (11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7). In the immediately preceding matches Ma Long had lost to Lin Yun-Ju (11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9), Fang Bo had suffered at the hands of Zhou Qihao (6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 13-11). Ma Long duly accounted for Yu Ziyang (11-5, 14-12, 12-14, 11-8) to seal the victory.
Notably the success against Lin Yun-Ju was the only singles match in which Wang Chuqin was extended the full five games distance; moreover, in the doubles there was only once contest that needed a deciding game. Facing Shantou Mingrun, in the fourth series of matches on Wednesday 23rd December, the duo found Sai Linwei and Zhou Yu most testing opposition; success but success by the minimal two point margin (11-13, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5, 11-9).
Focus maintained and that was also the situation when on the one further occasion Ma Long experienced defeat.
In the fifth series of fixtures on Thursday 24th December, when facing Shenzhen Bao'an Ming Jinhai, after Ma Long had lost to Yuan Licen (11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9), Wang Chuqin put the young pretender firmly in his place. He beat Yuan Licen in straight games (5:11, 9:11, 6:11).
Impressive against a young man who in early 2018 prevailed on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Oman, Wang Chuqin was also impressive again players who have shone on the ITTF World Tour and beyond.
At the semi-final stage against Shanghai Real Estate Group, he moved into different gears to overwhelm Xu Xin (10-12, 11-2, 11-1, 11-4); earlier in the third series of group fixtures against Shantou Migrun he had accounted for Lin Gaoyuan (11-2, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3), before in the seventh series in opposition to Shanghai Real Estate overcoming Zhao Zihao (11-2, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3).
Zhao Zihao may not be able to match the list of title won by Lin Gaoyuan and Xu Xin, but the win is relevant.
On Wednesday 13th November, at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum, bet-at-home.com Austrian Open, in the concluding preliminary round men’s singles match against Zhao Zihao. Wang Chuqin lost the first three games, he recovered, levelled but lost the deciding game (12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-9).
Disappointed, in the heat of the moment at the end of the third game, he threw his racket at the table, he was suspended by the Chinese Table Tennis Association for three months.
It was a very mature Wang Chuqin who played in Guangzhou. Overall, 10 doubles matches, 10 wins, nine singles, nine wins; in such elite company outstanding.
Editor: Ian Marshall