The 2022 CTTSL season turned out to be an exciting one, shining a light on some new heroes.
Same as the season before, this edition of the Chinese Super League featured 9 clubs. The system was simple. All clubs faced each other in the round robin and the four best, advanced to the semi-finals stage.
All the clubs brought the best selection of players possible, and there were just a few internationals, who did not take part in this year’s league edition. One was Liang Jingkun, and the other was Lin Shidong, who currently participates in the Youth World Championships. Aside from these two, the quality of the rosters was top-class. It was also great that rosters were well-balanced and the top players were representing different clubs.
Since all clubs had only eight games available during the round-robin – every game mattered a lot. No club managed to come out unbeaten, and even the eventual champions – Shandong Luneng TTC lost one game against Lexuan Sports Group TTC. The most successful player during the round-robin was the 19-year-old Chinese talent, Xiang Peng. He won 12 out of 14 games. Fan Zhendong finished the round-robin with 8-0 balance and Ma Long went unbeaten for 7 games.
After barely missing the playoffs in the 2021 season, Huangshi TTC led by Xiang Peng made it to the semi-finals, where they faced Shanghai Zhongxing club, led by Fan Zhendong. Huangshi players managed to win the doubles match-up, but the club from Shanghai took all the individual games, and the final score was 3-1. In the second semi-final, Shandong Luneng confidently won over Shandong Weiqiao TTC 3-1. It’s worth mentioning the performance of Xu Yingbin, who did not disappoint his teammates, winning both games, including one against Wang Chuqin. Overall, the 21-year-old played well throughout the tournament and was a good help to Ma Long.
The final presented everything the Chinese table tennis fans would ask for. After winning doubles, and Xu Yingbin getting a hard-earned win against Zhou Kai, Shandong Luneng had a 2-0 lead. The game between Ma Long and Fan Zhendong could have ended the final with a strong 3-0 victory. However, the World Ranking leader did his best to overcome Ma Long 3-1. Then, Xu Yingbin had a chance to become a hero in the final, winning both of his games. His opponent was experienced, but fading veteran Xu Xin. This time, the experience took over the youth, and Xu Xin‘s win made the overall result 2-2. The final game for the title was played between Yuan Licen and Zhou Kai. Both players had great pressure on their shoulders, but Yuan Licen coped with it better and won the decisive game 3-1, bringing the fifth title to Shandong Luneng.