While table tennis is one of the racket sports that has a decent global following, it’s still miles away from getting the kind of traction that tennis receives. Or even what pickleball has done in the recent years.
Which is why a table tennis league like the Major League Table Tennis could give it the kind of boost that it needs to become a more popular sport than it already is.
In the article below we look at everything related to Major League Table Tennis and over time will update it with the latest from the world of MLTT (as it’s abbreviated right now).
What is Major League Table Tennis?
In what was a major boost to the world of table tennis and its fans, it was software entrepreneur and table tennis aficionado Flint Lane who conceptualized and conceived Major League Table Tennis or MLTT as it’s called.
Much like the other sporting leagues in the USA, Major League Table Tennis will be a team-based table tennis event that will see respective owners sign up for players from around the globe through a draft system.
One of the mission statements of MLTT, according to their official website, mltt.com, is to improve the status of the sport “by providing the ultimate table tennis experience for all involved.”
It also says, “We are dedicated to growing our league and supporting our athletes as they compete at the highest levels of the sport.”
Who is Flint Lane?
Flint Lane is a founder and former CEO of Billtrust, an automated accounts receivable software solutions firm which began in 2001. This was later acquired by Swedish private equity firm in a deal that was worth $1.7 billion.
He is also the owner of Princeton Pong and Naples Pong, two very famous table tennis clubs in the USA.
Lane has also been a part of the USATT Clubs Committee and has promoted table tennis throughout his life.
But What Really Will the Major League Table Tennis Consist of?
In the following sections, we look at the Major League Table Tennis in greater depth and this includes its format, schedule, teams and players and the live streaming options.
What is the Major League Table Tennis Format?
Like the other major leagues in the country, MLTT will see eight city-based teams select their players via a draft and face off against the other teams in the competition.
According to the latest news, each of the eight teams will have five players who will compete in singles and doubles along with what’s been termed as a Golden Game. Each tie between two teams will be worth 21 points with the team winning 11 scooping up the tie.
The table below explains how the MLTT format will run.
What are the MLTT Teams?
While we are still awaiting information on the eight teams which are expected to participate in the first season of the MLTT, what’s known so far is that these will be city-based. These teams will be assigned to the East and West Division and will have their home bases in their respective cities.
Each of these eight teams will be able to pick six players via a draft system of player selection apart from a few reserves.
Each of the team will play three ties against the other three teams within their own division on a home and away basis, making it six ties. A seventh tie will be played in the cross-divisional play in December 2023, with the top four teams at the end of the regular season making it through to the Final Four.
What is the MLTT Schedule?
The first season of the MLTT will kick-start with the draft in Summer 2023 and the actual league will begin later in the year.
Here’s the tentative schedule road-map for Major League Table Tennis, Season One:
- May 2-June 30, 2023: Draft Registration
- Early August, 2023: Team Lottery
- Mid-August 2023: MLTT Combine, East, then West
- August End 2023: Draft Day
- September 8: MLTT Regular Season Starts
- East Coast Teams Tie Dates in 2023: September 8-10, October 13-15, November 10-12
- West Coast Teams Tie Dates in 2023: September 22-24, October 27-29, November 17-19
- East Coast Teams Tie Dates in 2024: January 12-14, February 9-11, March 8-10
- West Coast Teams Tie Dates in 2024: January 26-28, February 23-25, March 22-24
- Cross Divisional Play: December 8-10, 2023
- Final Four: April 13-14, 2024
Which Players will be Involved in the Major League Table Tennis?
For now, player information is still awaited since we are in very early days of the pre-season.
Again, what is known is that the league will look to sign up players like Damien Provost, Daniel Gonzalez, and Enzo Angles, and allow any other players to sign up for the draft. Then, it would be up to the teams to select their best six (plus reserves) players for the season.
What is also known is that MLTT has committed to aggressively promote local talent which means there is a possibility that there will be a minimum requirement of teams to pick two or three American players.
What’s the Prize Money Associated with MLTT?
According to the MLTT CEO, Flint Lane, “There will be roughly $250K in prize money in our first year with first place team winning $50,000. Think that’s 5x the biggest team prizes in the US.”
How to Watch the MLTT Live?
More information on this is still awaited as the organizers look to sign up with broadcasters but the one possibility is that the entire league would be live streamed on the official website, mltt.com. It remains to be seen what will the pricing for the fans to watch the MLTT live be.
- What are the Different Types of Table Tennis Serves?
- Why do Table Tennis Players Inspect Each Other’s Serves?
Other Table Tennis Variations & Tournaments in the World
Table tennis is also called ping pong or whiff-whaff in more colloquial terms and over the years has seen a few innovations and changes.
Having been a part of the Olympics since 1988, table tennis has seen a steady growth before pickleball threatened to take its place in the world sporting order.
Before the advent of Major League Table Tennis, a very different format of the game by the name of Table Tennis X (or TTX) was launched prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The biggest difference between the more traditional form of table tennis and TTX is that the latter is time-bound, on the lines of soccer or hockey! Serving rules are more relaxed in TTX and there are other rules that have been designed to make it more attractive to the Gen Z.
Another table tennis format that has been introduced in recent times is the T2 Diamond Table Tennis, a tournament on the lines of the UEFA Champions League of soccer.
The Ultimate Table Tennis League was kick-started in India in 2017 and has returned in recent times after the pandemic.
While MLTT won’t be changing the rules of the sport itself, they are looking to add innovation to the sport by adding different elements to table tennis, things which haven’t quite been seen before.
What Does the Future of Major League Table Tennis Look?
If Flint Lane, the league CEO is to be believed, the first season of the MLTT is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of other innovations have been planned and are in the pipeline including having minor leagues which will give more table tennis players an opportunity to be a part of the system.
Some of the biggest challenges that many of the new leagues face is to sign up for the big-ticket players in that sport, get hold of sponsorships which could make the league self-sustaining and get fans excited about the league.
We are in very early stages of the start of something new and possibly innovative and there is no doubting that table tennis needed this injection. It will now be down to precise execution that could distinguish between success and failure.
The early signs of interest seem to be good and one way or the other, a league like MLTT will allow table tennis to get a lot more recognition than it earlier had.