One of my all-time favorite players, Chen Long, is a very unique player compared to the rest of the top. There is almost no player with the same playstyle as him playing at the professional level.
As the 2016 Rio Olympics Gold Medalist, Chen Long shows off a different set of skills that pushes him to number one. Let’s dive right in.
As of November 28, 2018,
Date of Birth: January 18, 1989
Racket Model: Li-Ning 3D Caliber 900
World Ranking: 5
Highest Ranking: 1
Career Titles: 29
Dominant Hand: Right
Type of Player: Men’s Singles
Strengths and Weaknesses
Chen Long’s greatest strength is his defense. Many players such as Lin Dan has even quoted, “Playing against Chen Long is like playing against a wall.”
But what really allows Chen Long to have such good defense? It’s a combination of solid footwork, reaction speed, and patience.
Chen Long plays most of his rallies at a slower pace. His footwork isn’t all that fast, but it’s very efficient. His long limbs allow him to reach out for shots better than many players. His reaction time is also godlike. If you watch Chen Long play, you’re going to see him block drives to his face like no one’s business.
Playing like this also requires lots of patience. Chen Long patiently stalls and frustrates his opponents by playing this style and then he capitalizes on mistakes with his legendary cross drops and half-smashes. But this strategy does not come with its own weaknesses.
A common weakness for players that play like this is that they rely on their opponent too much. The first major flaw is, what if your opponent is more consistent than you?
This is one of the exact reasons why Chen Long started to fall out of favor. Players that show more consistency and have just as much or even more patience are able to beat Chen Long.
Another problem with relying on your opponent means that you lack control over the rallies unless you can predict your opponent’s attack. Chen Long was able to predict Kento Momota’s attack in the Fuzhou China Open 2018 where Chen Long knew where Kento Momota was going to smash. Although he still lost, he managed to push Kento Momota very hard.
But if Chen Long is unable to predict the shots from a player such as young Lin Dan, he’ll undoubtedly lose the match.
Another problem with Chen Long is that his attack is weak. Although he has a very good counter-attack with sudden drops and half-smashes and his full-smash isn’t too bad either, he cannot force an opponent onto defense and successfully close out his attack.
His attack is relatively inconsistent and often ended in making a mistake of some sort at the net. If Chen Long is going to remain a threat in 2019, he needs to up his attack.
We’ve already touched on Chen Long’s playstyle in the strengths and weaknesses section. As mentioned, Chen Long is a player relying on his defense to beat out his opponent.
This playstyle is one that many people at the top stages do not play which is why Chen Long is such a unique player.
When Chen Long plays, he plays lots of cross-lifts. This is to give him lots of time to get ready and also make it harder for his opponent to smash and attack. Then when they do smash, he’ll return it with a block and then lift again when they net shot and reset.
If the opponent does different things, Chen Long has solutions as well. If the opponent starts driving, Chen Long will merely reply with drives. With his fast reaction time, it’s tough for his opponent to kill shuttle.
If the opponent decides to push the shuttle back after Chen Long blocks, he’ll just play a drop or clear and go back to his stable position and reset.
Only when Chen Long’s opponent plays lifts or clears will he do something else. Often times he would return with a clear but sometimes while Chen Long looks like he’s on the defense, he’ll play an unexpected cross-smash or drop to catch his opponent off guard.
With this playstyle, it has been challenging for many players to get past him and they’ll often get frustrated and burn out.
Chen Long kind of came up during the age of the Lin Dan-Lee Chong Wei rivalry, but he actually managed to surpass the two on multiple occasions and acquire some of the most elusive titles. Of his 29 career titles, here are some of his best:
- 2012 London Olympics Bronze
- 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Gold
- 2014 Copenhagen World Championship Gold
- 2015 Jakarta World Championship Gold
- 2017 Wuhan Asian Championships
And among many more!
As an accomplished Chinese badminton player, Chen Long has a unique playstyle that no other player in the top ranks has. Relying solely on his defense, Chen Long has managed to take an Olympic Gold Medal as well as multiple World Championships, Thomas Cups, Sudirman Cups, Asian Games, and Asian Championships.
Winning against Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan multiple times, Chen Long was definitely a star player. Let’s see if he can get back into the number one spot and spark a new rivalry of one between him and Momota!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. Have a great day!