13 Oct 2022

There have been many movies produced about table tennis over the years, but it would be hard to find a better movie than what we just witnessed at the Chengdu, China theatre namely: The 2022 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championship Finals, the first of its kind since the 2018 version in Halmstad, Sweden. It was a script written like no other we have witnessed in our history; immense drama, jam packed with action, fun times, and of course wonderful moments of romance. The production was epic in proportions and the producers clearly focused on international relations and peaceful family unity as a common theme throughout the film.

Perhaps what made this film so special was that the drama started before the lights were turned on, when there were some doubts whether the production would even begin. The 2020 version in Busan sadly had to be cancelled for the first time since the 2nd World War. After announcing the release date in the beginning of the year, it was only a day later that it was pushed back to the 4th part of 2022 due to Omicron. Leading up to the new opening dates, it was a roller coaster of emotion with restrictive Covid measures put in place in Chengdu and even an earthquake nearby in Sichuan province. After the previous four years led up, there were moments we worried we wouldn’t make it again or would need a Plan B option. All of this tension created much more anticipation than ever before for the premier.

When we finally took our seats, popcorn in hand the stars of the show were almost faultless by us movie critics and judges. China showed the world again that the little white ping pong ball is their national ball. The event boasted 1272 participants – including 440 athletes and officials from 36 different Member Associations, 222 media personnel and broadcasters from around the world, 40 ITTF Family members, and 570 local staff and volunteers. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the Chengdu Local Organising Committee, and all those who have contributed in one way or another. Every one of you is a star.

On the stage, we witnessed sportsmanship at its finest: Ma Long gestured to the umpire for a point to be awarded to his opponent, after an edge ball went unnoticed. Post-match, many athletes asked for photographs with the GOAT and Team China too, further showing the essence of a good role model. The Chinese Men’s and Women’s teams were glorious in their victory and when both raised the Cups at the end and listened to their National Anthem, there was a sense of pride for everyone in the table tennis world.

Congratulations Team China, we were all proud that our sport is the most important one in your Nation! Throughout the event, China Media Group’s three TV channels broadcasted all matches on Table 1. The 4K high-definition production was also the first in World Table Tennis Championships history. In China alone, the number of cumulative audience reached 1.24 billion; the men’s team finals between China and Germany, apart from the Olympics, was the most watched sporting movie scene in the last 10 years.

Again, it was mainly the actors from Japan that were trying to steal some more limelight. Tomokazu Harimoto was outstanding during the semifinal, taking two points and having the host country holding its breath – some even needing to go outside. He deserves the Oscar for best performing actor in a lead role. In the Women’s event, Japan also made headlights to reach the final but still need their new young talents to get more exposure in front of the bright lights.

The German men’s team, with the help of a lucky plot twist made mid production, got the better half of a lifetime. Without their usual actors who were watching from the comfort of quarantine hotel, the German remake excelled beyond expectations of all the moviegoers. A feat in coaching that should be recognized as one of the best in the history of a World Team Table Tennis Championships and one that will make Jörg Rosskopf even more wanted to lead future Acting School Academies. It was only fitting that the producer could reward them with some silverware and recognize their renewed friendship. Congratulations also to the German and Chinese Taipei teams in the women and Japan and Korea in the Men’s for also playing supportive roles and carving out bronze Academy awards in front of both Olympic and World Table Tennis friends.

The production set itself was of mammoth proportions never seen for a table tennis film before. Starting with the charter flights, which meant the producers had to manage elements quite foreign to them from previous films and budgets. The studio itself though was extremely well controlled in a closed-loop system to ensure nothing could go wrong, and the script went according to plan. Those inside the set, away from the bright lights, were able to enjoy Chengdu and Chinese food, Culture, and arts so they could relax after hard and long days on the set.

Off the main stage there were several real shining stars of this show. The ITTF President Ms. Petra Sörling did an outstanding role in her first time taking the lead act and truly delivered on her promises from the previous stellar performance in Houston. Bringing peace back to the table, ensuring the productions can have positive forward-thinking, sustainable business growth was being delivered in clear, calm, and collected way. It was a very refreshing performance. Mr. Liu Guoliang the President of the Chinese Table Tennis Association and ITTF Executive Committee member was also promoted to the leading male role as he was appointed Deputy President of the ITTF and was elected as Chair of World Table Tennis Board. Their interaction together on the big screen led to us all wanting to pop the champagne cork at the end of the movie.

Our Continental counterparts were also equally important. Representing at the highest level the ITTF and Asia was an actor who has been on set perhaps more times than anyone else here in Chengdu. Mr. Khalil Al-Mohannadi played his role with poise and intent to ensure the movie productions of the ITTF continue to have the best chance to grow at speed. Mr. Pedro Moura was equally impressed how China and Asia embraced European Table Tennis as a friend and played his first-time role with class. It was also great to have Mr. Masahiro Maehara and Ryu Seung-min playing their active and important role to ensure the movie ran smoothly. There were some notable absentee’s who were irreplicable and sorely missed from the EC and Continents but we are sure they will be in full action next time when conditions are less restrictive.

With such a large production it was important to bring in the expert machinery to ensure the movie was delivered with precision. World Table Tennis events management team together with the Chinese events team from CTTA were a powerful combination. The building of capacity during the making of this movie will ensure both the hardware and software for the filming in Durban, South Africa will be as smooth as fine drops of Pinotage. The Egypt Cup now heads back to Africa for the first time since 1939. The ITTF Group team of experienced actors also ensured there was fine balance between the productions and the stars of the different sets. That said, Ma Long did remind the producer from the final scene that its important though to have a lean and healthy constitution.

The Athletes, the real stars of the show, had very high praise for all the back-of-house conditions, management, operations, and services. In a speech near the end of the movie, the representee of the Stars, Mr. Zoran Primorac, was full of praise for the lead actors, the head of productions, and even convinced them to do a remake of the old classic movies called The World Cups.

The movie fans have witnessed history of one of table tennis most impressive film displays ever here in Chengdu, China. The Chinese Olympic Committee, the Chinese Table Tennis Association, the city of Chengdu and all the people of China who supported the production of the movie, but who also watched in the billions on their TV sets and mobile devices, we cannot thank you enough. With this support we believe now we can make even nicer movies with cooler stories and different endings in the future. Together with your strength and courage, and with the newly formed partners who are now ready to invest, we are sure the table tennis movie industry will take off.

A huge thanks also to two of our ITTF Group team members, Ms. Zhou Dao and Tessa Cho, who handled all the location scouting and pre-production operations. Internally, you won our hearts also.

For everyone who was part of the making of this wonderful film thank you and we look forward an even bigger and better sequel in China soon. For those not take part in the next round of productions in Macao and Xinxiang, we hope you had a wonderful journey home and keep improving the sport at your base. For those staying and now preparing yet hopefully resting a bit – let’s continue to make wonderful things for the sport of table tennis with two more stellar films for World Table Tennis here in China and of course not to forget the first ever ITTF Summit taking place in Amman, Jordan in December, and our Upcoming major events – the ITTF Para World Championships in Grenada in November, ITTF World Youth Championships in Tunisia and the World Veteran Championships in Oman in January.

End final scene.


Cheers, Your Chief Executive Producer

Steve Dainton


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