Since the inaugural meeting in 2009 in Beijing, China; on home ground Asia has always prevailed. On Saturday 1st August at the ZFTC 2015 Euro-Asia Challenge that record came to a conclusion.
Europe recorded a three-matches to two win in the Jiangsu Gymnasium in Zhangjiagang to record its first ever win in the east and only its second overall; on European soil, the Old Continent had won in Istanbul in 2009 and in Vendée in 2012.
Richard Prause at Helm
Directed by Richard Prause (Germany), the quintet comprising Marcos Freitas (Portugal), Andrej Gacina (Croatia), Robert Gardos (Austria), Vladimir Samosonov (Belarus) and Bastian Steger (Germany) responded to the challenge.
They emerged victorious by three matches to two against the formation of Noshad Alamiyan (Iran), Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Gao Ning (Singapore), Ma Long (China) and Tang Peng (Hong Kong).
Chuang Chih-Yuan versus Bastian Steger
Chuang Chih-Yuan gave Asia the ideal start by beating Bastien Steger (11-3, 4-11, 11-9, 13-11); a contest in which the Chinese Taipei star arguably started the slight favourite.
Undoubtedly the two are no strangers, both playing in the German Bundesliga but on the international scene Chuang Chih-Yuan had won two of their three encounters.
All in ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles events, Chuang Chih-Yuan had won in Kuwait in 2006 and in Austria in 2008 but the most recent meeting, in Slovenia in 2010, had gone the way of Bastian Steger.
Gao Ning versus Robert Gardos
The opening contest as history predicted; it was the same in the second duel with Robert Gardos beating Gao Ning (11-6, 11-6, 11-9).
The pair had met on four previous occasions in international competition; Robert Gardos had won three times.
In 2007 he had won when they met at the Liebherr Chile Open but then later in the year, at the Liebherr World Championships in Zagreb, he had suffered a narrow seven games second round defeat.
However on the two most recent occasions, he had prevailed. He emerged successful in a full distance five games duel at the Evergrande Real Estate 2008 World Team Championships and two years year later in four games at the Liebherr 2010 World Team Championships.
Ma Long versus Marcos Freitas
Matters level, Ma Long gave Asia the advantage. He overcame Marcos Freitas in three straight games (11-7, 11-4, 11-7); to a great extent repeating their one previous meeting when he had also beaten the Portuguese star without conceding a single individual game.
They had previously met in the third round of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Kuwait Open.
Tang Peng versus Vladimir Samsonov
Three matches played, all ending as previous outcomes reasonably predicted. It was the next duel that turned the tide in favour of Europe.
Vladimir Samsonov may have won many more titles and accolades than Tang Peng but he had never previously beaten the 34 year old from Hong Kong. Furthermore, he had only won one game in each of their two previous duels.
Tang Peng had prevailed at the Evergrande 2008 Real Estate World Team Championships and more recently last December at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok.
Wise and shrewd, Vladimir Samsonov, turned the tables to record a four games win (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6) and set the set for Andrej Gacina to write history.
Noshad Alamiyan versus Andrej Gacina
The 29 year old Croatian duly obliged, he beat Noshad Alamiyan, a player he had never previously encountered, in four games (9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4) to seal a momentous victory.
Success for Europe in the first fixture in Asia, the second follows on Sunday 2nd August.
Order of Play: Chuang Chih-Yuan versus Andrej Gacina, Noshad Alamiyan versus Robert Gardos, Tang Peng versus Marcos Freitas, Ma Long versus Vladimir Samsonov, Gao Ning versus Bastian Steger.
Overall the prize fund is €100,000; the winning team receives €60,000; the losers €40,000.