Boasting Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Wang Hao, ranked first, second, and fourth in the world respectively, the Chinese men’s table tennis team was expected to repeat their Olympic success from 2008, when the team category had replaced doubles at the Games. Zhang and Wang had already won the gold and silver medals from the singles event and Wang, the only Olympic veteran on the team, was back to defend the gold medal earned in Beijing. Seeded second and third were South Korea and Japan, but each team had only one member ranked within the top ten, leading most observers to expect an easy Chinese victory.
As with the women’s event, no team defeated a higher-ranked team in the first round, which left the quarterfinals consisting of the top eight seeded squads. The biggest upset came when sixth-ranked Hong Kong earned a hard-won victory against third-ranked Japan by winning three matches to two. They were then toppled by South Korea in the semi-finals, leaving them to battle for bronze with Germany, who was outmanoeuvered by China. South Korea fought valiantly against the Chinese team in the finals, but the skill of the tournament favorites was unmatchable and the Chinese retained the Olympic title with relative ease. In the bronze medal match, Germany was able to respond to Hong Kong’s challenge with a 3-1 victory, earning them the final podium spot. Thus, although Germany and South Korea changed spots, the same three nations from 2008 remained on top in London and, for the second time in a row and fourth overall, China swept the Olympic table tennis gold medals.