All-time leaders China are expected to rule the upcoming Asian Games table tennis competitions, although it's never been an easy kick for the paddlers to conquer all.
Despite a collection of 48 gold medals on the sport from the previous eight editions of Asian Games, China's table tennis, which didnot debut on Asiad until 1974, only made it once a clean sweep in Bangkok 1978.
Busan witnessed the lowest score by a Chinese table tennis team eight years ago when then women's No. 1 Wang Nan suffered a series of blows and couldn't help but see the team missing the titles of women's team and doubles, as well as the men's and the mixed doubles.
In Doha 2006, China restored its reign, bagging six golds out of seven in a total without top players Wang Liqin and Zhang Yining, only giving up the men's doubles to Hong Kong's Li Ching and Ko Lai Chak.
After the sport's superpower swept the singles podium and won both team events at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and did the same at last year's world championships in Yokohama, voices are saying that this may be the time for China to win it all at Guangzhou Asiad.
However, it seems not what the Chinese coaches mind most.
Liu Guoliang, China men's national head coach, announced late Saturday that the team has dropped three-time world champion Wang Liqin and called in the 20-year-old Xu Xin instead.
The 32-year-old Wang has not played an international event since failing to earn a Moscow worlds berth. "We made the decision for the better future of China's table tennis," Liu explained during a phone interview.
"To make sure that we can repeat the Olympic glory in London 2012, we must give our young players, like Xu Xin, more opportunities to get experienced."
Xu, a southpaw pen-hold player, will join world champion Wang Hao, ailing world No. 1 Ma Long, Olympic gold medalist Ma Lin and China's national champion Zhang Jike to make a more competitive squad for the team event.
Their arch-rivals will be the Japanese team led by upstart Jun Mizutani and world's best chopper Joo Se-Hyuk's South Korea team, though none of the men's elites from accosiations other than China could power against China's Wang Hao and Ma Long in the singles.
On the women's part, head coach Shi Zhihao has signed all his best players in for the Asiad, as the team continued its effort on searching for a backbone to lead the new generation after Wang Nan and Zhang Yining both retired.
The 2007 world champion Guo Yue and her doubles worlds title winning partner Li Xiaoxia now see their best chance to impress as the two are both to represent China in the singles.
Guo and Li will also join current No. 1 Guo Yan, No. 2 Liu Shiwen and the sixth-ranked Ding Ning in the team event, which await the Chinese team to revenge on new world team champions Singapore.
The Asian Games' table tennis competitions, having drawn a participation of 174 players from 29 countries and regions, are slated from Nov. 13-20, with the draw to be staged on Wednesday.