By Max Gamarra
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The final day of Week 1 for Major League Table Tennis’ inaugural season capped off a successful opening weekend for the budding league.
“It wildly exceeded our expectations,” Commissioner Flint Lane said. “There’s so much we needed to get right for the weekend and just about everything went right so I was very happy with the results.”
The three-day event was held at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach and featured the East Division’s Florida Crocs, Chicago Wind, Princeton Revolution and Carolina Gold Rush. MLTT became the first and only professional table tennis league in the United States, with an eye to grow the sport domestically.
With the Wind playing against the Crocs and the Gold Rush taking on the Revolution on the last day, each team in the East played against each other during Week 1.
Carolina defeated Princeton by a score of 17-4 to finish the week 2-1. The team match featured one of the closest singles matches the league has seen so far between Romain Lorentz and Jinxin Wang. Each game ended on a golden point, with Lorentz taking all three games for the Gold Rush by a score of 11-10.
“I think we were a little bit unlucky about the Golden Game because we lost all three that we played,” Princeton’s Alexander Chen said after the match. “We lost all three matches really close so we think we’re right there. The goal for the team is for sure to reach the playoffs.”
Florida earned the win in the final match of the week, beating Chicago by a score of 13-8. The Crocs were down 7-8 heading into the Golden Game, but were able to secure the six points, winning 21-19 in the final match. Florida was the only team to win all three team matches, thanks in part to Benjamin Brossier, who performed exceptionally well in each of the Golden Games.
“I came to the MLTT for this kind of feeling that we see at the end of the matches when we play the Golden Game,” Brossier said after the win. “The pressure we feel, we have to be good in a short amount of time. I came for that feeling, that pressure, and to test my boundaries and know myself better.”
After the first week, Carolina sits atop the East Division standings with 41 points behind a strong start from the No. 1 overall pick in the MLTT Draft, Enzo Angles. Just behind them are the undefeated Crocs with 40 points and the Wind with 27 points. The Revolution hold the bottom spot in the East with just 18 points. Those standings are sure to fluctuate throughout the season as the players and teams settle in.
“I think it’s great,” Wind coach Eric Owens said. “We’re still working out some of the kinks but we’re moving very fast. I think the format is unique, having played the sport my entire life, the Golden Game and the individual points per game versus a match, I think it’s unique and I think it’s exciting.”
The next event for MLTT will take place from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24 in Santa Cruz, Calif. at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. From the West Division, the Portland Paddlers, Bay Area Blasters, Texas Smash and Seattle Spinners will be making their MLTT debuts.
The East Division will return to action on Oct. 13 through Oct. 15 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center. During the inaugural MLTT season, the East Division and West Division will alternate playing each official week.