At the Euro-Asia All Stars Challenge in Nantong, China, the Asian selection has lived up to its role as a favorite. After a clear 4-1 victory on Saturday, the team around superstar Zhang Jike also won the second duel on Sunday. TTBL star Bastian Steger contributed one of the three European points, Kristian Karlsson came away empty-handed.
Just as expected, Europe lost the 13th edition of the Euro-Asia All Stars Challenge. After two competition days in Nantong, China, the Old Continent led by the Portuguese Marcos Freitas was defeated 3-7 by Asian superstar Zhang Jike and his team. Europe's success from 2015 remains the only one for the time being.
With Düsseldorf's Kristian Karlsson and Bremen's Bastian Steger, two players from the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) had made the leap into Europe's selection, but were unable to prevent the defeat of their continent. In his opening match on Saturday, Karlsson was beaten by Hong Kong-Chinese Wong Chun Ting (0-3), Steger was defeated by Zhang just as clearly. Freitas provided the only European point with a 3-1 success against the South Korean Lee Sangsu.
At least for Steger, however, the clash of the continents ended with a sense of achievement. At the beginning of the second day of the competition, the 37-year-old beat Japan's Koki Niwa 3-1 with a good performance and afterwards told the German Table Tennis Association (DTTB): "It is great, of course, to have been nominated for the All Stars Challenge. These were very nice impressions. So I'm all the more pleased that I played very well in my first duel with Niwa and also contributed a point for Europe."
Europe's second point of the day was made by Belarus's Vladimir Samsonov, who defeated Taiwan's No. 1 Chuang Chih-Yuan 3-0. Previously, however, the two narrow defeats of Freitas (2-3 against Wong) and former Fulda player Jonathan Groth (2-3 against Zhang) as well as the 0-3 loss of Karlsson against Lee had already sealed the defeat of the European selection. "Asia deserved to win, they are just a bit better than we are, although we could have decided one or another close match for us," said Steger.
The All Stars Challenge at a glance
Asien – Europa 7-3
Samstag- Asien – Europa 4-1
Koki Niwa JPN – Vladimir Samsonov BLR 3-2 (11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9)
Chuang Chih-Yuan TPE – Jonathan Groth DEN 3-2 (14-12, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6)
Wong Chun Ting HKG – Kristian Karlsson SWE 3-0 (14-12, 11-4, 11-7)
Lee Sangsu KOR – Marcos Freitas POR 1-3 (9-11, 12-10, 7-11, 9-11)
Zhang Jike CHN – Bastian Steger GER 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 14-12)
Sonntag- Asien – Europa 3-2
Koki Niwa JPN – Bastian Steger GER 1-3 (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11)
Zhang Jike CHN – Jonathan Groth DEN 3-2 (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7)
Lee Sangsu KOR – Kristian Karlsson SWE 3-0 (11-5, 14-12, 11-4)
Wong Chun Ting HKG – Marcos Freitas POR 3-2 (11-4, 12-10, 2-11, 7-11, 12-10)
Chuang Chih-Yuan TPE – Vladimir Samsonov BLR 0-3 (8-11, 10-12, 7-11)
Header photo: ITTF