by Wade Townsend & Amy Ding
The Men’s Team event at the China National games in Tianjin has provided some titanic clashes and has not been without casualties.
Most notably, Ma Long’s Team Beijing has suffered a 3-1 defeat to Team Guangdong, and therefore will be absent from the semi-final.
In the first game, Wang Chuqin lost to Lin Gaoyuan 0-3. Then Ma Long was up to the plate to beat Zhou Qihao, a player he lost to in the Marvellous 12 Trials earlier this year. Later Yan An could not overcome Zhang Chao, losing 1-3.
Then Ma Long played Lin Gaoyuan to keep his team’s hopes alive. Ma led 2-1, even having two match points in the fourth game, but failed to seize the opportunity. Lin Gaoyuan cruised to victory in the fifth game, winning 11-4.
Coach Qin Zhijian commented that Ma Long’s injuries slightly affected his speed and power after his defeat to Fan Zhendong in the group stage. However, Ma Long did not want to talk about his injuries in the post-match interview. Instead, he pointed to the fact that he did not deal well with the crucial points andwas not as determined as Lin Gaoyuan in the deciding game.
Lin Gaoyuan revealed that as Ma Long’s teammate in the Super League and training partner during the preparation for the National Games, he had a good handle on Ma Long’s strengths and weakness. Today he felt he executed his tactics to perfection.
With the loss Beijing and Ma Long finished their journey in the team event. The world no.1 will make a return to the competition on September 3 with the Men’s Singles and Doubles.
Also providing a big battle was the clash between Jiefangjun and Shandong. Fan Zhendong led Team Jiefangjun to victory, even notching up a 3-1 against Zhang Jike.
When the semi-finals get underway, Shanghai will face Jiefangjun, while Guangdong will play Sichuan.
The matches will take place today, August 31, at 2:00pm local time.