05 Aug 2018

The gap on the first day just too great, on the second day of action, Sunday 5th August, at the 2018 Asia-Europe All Star Challenge in the Chinese city of Nantong, the old continent salvaged a degree of pride.

Nevertheless an overall 7-3 success was the resounding outcome for the host continent.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Under the leadership of Sweden’s Ulf “Tickan” Carlsson, the European contingent of Marcos Freitas, Jonathan Groth, Kristian Karlsson, Vladimir Samsonov and Bastian Steger had a mountain to climb, having experienced a 4-1 reverse in the opening series of matches.

Scaling the mountain proved too great; a 3-2 outcome in favour of the quintet comprising Chuang Chih-Yuan, Lee Sangsu, Koki Niwa, Wong Chun Ting and Zhang Jike, with Ma Junfeng in the role of coach sitting courtside, was the end result.

A daunting task ahead but it was the European outfit that made the better start; Bastian Steger beat Koki Niwa (11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7) but when Lee Sangsu accounted for Kristian Karlsson (11-5, 14-12, 11-4), after Zhang Jike had narrowly beaten Jonathan Groth in a full distance five match contest (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7), the die was cast.

“It is a team event between Asia and Europe. I am very happy that our team won. There are many experienced and good players here; by playing here, I got to know how they practise and I could learn from them.” Koki Niwa

Playing for pride, Marcos Freitas, the one European winner of the previous day when he had accounted for Lee Sangsu (11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9), once again responded to the clarion call, only this time it was defeat. He suffered by the narrowest of margins when facing Wong Chun Ting (11-4, 12-10, 2-11, 7-11, 12-10).

“I won one and lost one. I am very satisfied with my performance; this is my first time playing in the Asia-Europe challenge. I am very pleased to be here. Of course this is a wonderful event with many world top players. I learned a lot through this opportunity. I will keep improving in the future.” Lee Sangsu

A brave effort by Marcos Freitas, matter concluded with a most comprehensive effort; Vladimir Samsonov beat Chuang Chih-Yuan to close the curtain (11-8, 12-10, 11-7).

Notably as with Wong Chun Ting, Zhang Jike remained unbeaten, he was named the Most Valuable Player.

“I am very happy to help the team win this tournament. Everyone in our team should be recognized, including the coach, the team manager and the players. It is my third time competing in the Asia-European challenge. In the national team, we represent our own country; here, we are Team Asia and Team Europe; every one fought hard. We played out our best.” Zhang Jike

Success for Zhang Jike and spare a thought for Jonathan Groth; he lost both his matches in five games; the previous day he had caused Chuang Chih-Yuan a host of problems (14-12, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6). He could leave Nantong with head held high.

Day One – Saturday 4th August: Results

Koki Niwa (JPN) v Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9
Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE) v Jonathan Groth (DEN) 14-12, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6
Wong Chun Ting (TPE) v Kristian Karlsson (SWE) 14-12, 11-4, 11-7
Lee Sangsu (KOR) v Marcos Freitas (POR) 9-11, 14-12, 7-11, 9-11
Zhang Jike (CHN) v Bastian Steger (GER) 11-2, 11-4, 14-12

Day Two – Sunday 5th August: Results

Koki Niwa (JPN) v Bastian Steger (GER) 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11
Zhang Jike (CHN) v Jonathan Groth (DEN) 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7
Lee Sangsu (KOR) v Kristian Karlsson (SWE) 11-5, 14-12, 11-4
Wong Chun Ting (HKG) v Marcos Freitas (POR) 11-4, 12-10, 2-11, 7-11, 12-10
Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE) v Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) 8-11, 10-12, 7-11

2018 Asia-Europe All Star Challenge zhang jike