Converting USATT Ratings and UK Rankings

Table Tennis Rankings and Ratings

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with table tennis rankings and ratings. Like many players I used to track my ranking each month and often know before I left the tournament hall how many points and I gained (or lost) during the day.

After reading Alex Polyakov’s brilliant book, Breaking 2000, and learning about his journey to a USATT 2000 rating I began to wonder how that would convert to a UK or ETTA English ranking.

Then I started the Expert in a Year challenge in January 2014 with of goal of getting Sam into the top 250 players in England. Once again I was curious to work out roughly how that would convert to a USATT rating.

This post will show my progress comparing a converting an ETTA ranking into a USATT rating (and vice versa) and I hope also start a debate/discussion to help us narrow in on the most likely estimated conversion.

The first person I reached out to was, US table tennis coach, Larry Hodges.

He told me he wasn’t sure… but that he knew somebody who might be able to help.

Michael Levene’s Best Guess

That somebody was Michael Levene, a table tennis player from the UK who moved to the US in 2003. He has experience playing in both countries and was able to estimate where certain players would be ranked if they were playing in the other country.

Here is what he said…

I was ranked 57th in England Men’s in the early to mid-90’s but was around 100-120 in the men’s for many years. I visited the UK a few years back and reached the final of the Over 40’s Bristol Grand Prix, losing to Abdul 3-1 in final. As a result I was ranked 15th in the Veterans.

I’ve lived in America since 2003. The standard here has improved dramatically since then – when I visit the UK I still beat players like Jimmy Walsh and Dov Katz and they are top 100 in England. I would estimate their US rating, at best to be around 2300; which is top 500 in the USA.

In the US with immigration there is much more strength in depth but less talent on top. I am currently around 2200 and would be top 150-200 in England.

Ben Johnson is a GREAT player – fabulous. Wicked backhand – he should be banned for having such a great shot. He is in the range 2400-2500. Top 30 in England I would think. The 100th rated male in the USA excluding foreign players, who has played since 1st June 2012 is rated 2440.

So here are my guesses – very approximate:

2400+ British League Premier
2200-2400 British League 1, 2
2000-2200 British League 3, 4

2400 = England top 50
2300 = England 50-150
2200 = England 150-250
2100 = England top 250

I think that is an extremely helpful analysis and I’d like to send Michael a huge thanks for working that out for me. I also spoke to Ben Johnson and he confirmed that he thought Michael had it pretty much spot on.

How this relates to Expert in a Year and Breaking 2000

My Expert in a Year challenge is quite similar to Alex Polyakov’s Breaking 2000 project but let’s look at how they compare standard wise.

Alex reached a 2000 rating after two years and four months, a very strong achievement. However, Michael Levene estimates that a top 250 ranking (our aim with the Expert in a Year challenge) would equate to a 2100 rating in the US.

In short, we are trying to get Sam to a higher level than Alex… in less than half the time!

It looks like Alex managed something like novice to top 300-400 (in English ranking terms) in two years and four months. We are trying to get Sam into the top 250 in just twelve months!

To convert Sam’s challenge to USATT rating terms would be… Breaking 2100, in one year.

It’s worth pointing out as well that I am currently ranked about 170th (I think) in England, which would put me at about the 2200 rating. So we are basically trying to get Sam one level lower than me, in a year.

I should point out that it took me about 10 years to get to my current level, although I wasn’t training with anywhere near the quantity and quality of practice that Sam is receiving.

So is it possible?

It certainly looks like it’s going to be difficult. When we started this challenge I assumed that the top 250 in England was pretty much equal to the 2000 rating level in the USA. Apparently that isn’t exactly true.

If you’ve enjoyed this post then please leave a comment. If you are from the UK or USA then please let me know what your rating or ranking is and what you estimate it would be in the other country.

Also if you think you can help us to narrow down the range on our conversion any better then leave a post and let us know. If you have experience playing competitively in both of UK and the US then your knowledge could be really valuable.