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Champions League Men - 29 Apr 2013

SAMSONOV`s 10th crown the hardest-won


The most exciting MECL season is behind us, as unique final decided by such a narrow margin. Orenburg clinched its second title in a row being just four points ahead of Chartres – 3:1, 1:3 (16:16 in sets, 315:311). Just two more finals could be compared b

The most exciting MECL season is behind us, as unique final decided by such a narrow margin. Orenburg clinched its second title in a row being just four points ahead of Chartres – 3:1, 1:3 (16:16 in sets, 315:311).

Just two more finals could be compared by this one. The inaugural one, in 1998/99, when Caen Tennis de Table beat Borussia Dusseldorf (4:3, 3:4, 20:18) and in seventh edition, when TTV RE-BAU Gönnern managed to overcame Royal Villette Charleroi (1:3, 3:1, 18:13). And what in common thing all three finals have? The answer is: Vladimir SAMSONOV!

If you want to see Men’s European Champions League history, you just need to look at great Bielorussian and understand his nickname – Mr. ECL. He started in opening chapter, wearing Borussia`s jersey in 1998/99. And he is still here. Last Friday he became 10th time European champion (2 Cup of Champions and 8 MECL. First three he took with Borussia (1997, 1998, 2000), next five with Charleroi (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007) and last two with Fakel Gazproma Orenburg (2012, 2013).

SAMSONOV (7-5 score in 2012/13 MECL season) is now just one title from former Soviet Union woman player Uljana SEMJONOVA (213 cm) who is Champions League’s record holder in all sports and all competitions (man and women). Second best TT result belongs to Jorg ROSSKOPF who was eight times continental champion (6 with Borussia and 2 with Gonnern). Italian basketball legend Dino MENEGHIN (5 with Varese and 2 with Milano) and famous Spanish handball goalkeeper David BARUFFET (all seven with Barcelona) have seven titles each.

The 2012/13 MECL season will be remembered also by very confident play of reigning champion Orenburg: all three players participated in all ten games (9-1 team’s score). Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (11-5) did an excellent job in first final leg, beating GAO Ning and Par GERELL, while Alexey SMIRNOV (10-1) is the best no.3 MECL player for years (in one match he was posted on no. 2).

Regarding to individual performances, this season belonged to Chartres` GAO Ning (12-1). Just OVTCHAROV managed to beat him (in five games). Singaporean had fantastic four wins in a row, from quarter finals to semi finals, defeating four medalists from last two European championships – Saarbrucken`s Bojan TOKIC and Bastian STEGER and Borussia`s Timo BOLL and Patrick BAUM. Having an impressive 12-0 set ratio in these four matches.

Chartres must be considered as the biggest surprise, while it’s clear that Borussia and UMMC didn’t reach their aims. Other French side, AS Pontoise also had season to remember, playing its very first MECL semis.

It will be interesting to see who can prevent Orenburg to reach its third title in a row in 2013/14 season. In MECL era, just two clubs did it: Charleroi (4) and Borussia (3).

Alex MILETIC, EWT

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