Yuan Licen is a professional table tennis player born on 28 May 2000. The left-handed player hails from Anshan City, Liaoning Province, China. Liaoning and Anshan have produced many professional table tennis players, including Chen Feng, Ma Long, Wang Nan, Xu Jing, and Liu Shiwen.
Yuan has a dominant left hand, and his playing style is as an attacker who uses the shakehand grip that allows a player greater flexibility to move the wrist, resulting in a stronger spin and power when attacking the ball.
Yuan Licen was selected to the Chinese Table Tennis team after winning the National Junior Table Tennis Singles Championship when he was 15.
In 2016, Yuan Licen competed on the international stage for the first time at the Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open 2016 ITTF Golden Series Junior Circuit tournament. He won a silver medal in the singles category among juniors, while Yu Heyi won gold and Lin Yun-Ju won bronze. He was the champion in the Junior Boys’ Team event alongside Xu Yingbin and Yu Heyi. The trio only lost one match on their way to the finals after Xu Yingbin lost to Kwan Man Ho of Hong Kong (11-7, 11-9), 7-11, 11-9). Yuan Licen beat Cheng Pak Hei (11-9, 11-3, 11-9) in the third round, and Ng Pak Nam was defeated by Xu Yingbin (11-5, 12-10, 11-6) and Yu Heyi (11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7).
In the quarterfinals, the three players had beaten Pattaratorn Passara, Sirawit Puangthip, and Yanapong Panagitgun of Thailand. They then defeated Lin Yu-Ju, Huang Chien-Tu, and Yu Cheng-Feng of China in the finals; Yu Heyi won against Lin Yun-Ju (11-4, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9), Xu Yingbin overcame Huang Chien-Tu (11-8, 11-2, 12-10) and Yuan Licen beat Yu Cheng-Feng 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4).
Their triumph over the Chinese Taipei was a significant victory considering Lin Yu-Ju, Huang Chien-Tu, and Yu Cheng-Feng had beaten three top-seeded players from Japan in the quarterfinal by three matches to nil; Kojo Kanamitsu, Yukiya Uda, and Shunsuke Togami. The Chinese Taipei had also defeated Kang Jiho, Seo Hongchan, and Jung Namju in the tournament's semifinal stage.
During the same tournament, Yuan Licen won a bronze medal in the men’s doubles category.
At the 2016 China Junior and Cadet Open held in Taicang, China, Yuan Licen became the champion in the team events. They won a bronze medal in the Junior Boys Singles category. He lost to XU Haidong in the semifinals of the ITTF Golden Series Junior Circuit.
In 2017, Yuan Licen played in the Chinese Junior National Championships in Suzhou, China. He came 21st in the Singles event and won a bronze medal in the team category among juniors. In 2018, Yuan Licen won in the team event while representing Liaoning Province and also became 5th in the singles category.
The same year, Yuan Licen won the team juniors and the men’s singles during the Oman Junior and Cadet Open Table Tennis Championship 2018 opening leg of the ITTF Premium Junior Circuit series. The tournament was held in Muscat, and it had notable players such as Qian Tianyi, Kuia Man, Zhang Binyue, Xu Haidong, and of course, Yuan Licen, who had been a semifinalist at the Junior Boys Singles during the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit.
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Yuan Licen won a bronze medal in singles at the Italian Junior and Cadet Open 2018 tournament held in Lignano, Italy. He was also the champion in the doubles and team events after partnering and winning with Yu Heyi and Xu Haidong in the Junior Boys Team. The trio neither surrendered a single match in the main draw for the group stage. In the final stage, they recorded a three-nil win against Carlo Rossi, Gabrielle Piciulin, and Marco Cappuccio of Italy. Yuan Licen beat Marco Cappuccio (11-4, 11-6, 11-3), Xu Haidong overcame Carlo Rossi (11-5, 11-4, 11-1), and Yu Heyi accounted for Gabrielle Piciulin (11-7, 11-5, 11-3).
The Chinese trio had beaten Meng Fanbo, Kay Stumper, and Jannik Xu of Germany before winning over the Spanish trio of Albert Lillo, Javier Soria, and Francisco Miguel Ruiz in the quarterfinals.
Yuan Licen won a bronze medal in the singles and team events at the Polish Junior and Cadet Open 2018 tournament. He also won a silver medal in the doubles event among juniors. He had partnered with Xu Ying bin in the Junior Boys Doubles against Pletea Cristian and Sipos Rares of Romania.
In 2019, the then 19-year-old Yuan Licen played at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open tournament. It was his first time playing at the adult ITTF tournaments, and he advanced to the quarterfinals, where he lost 0:4 to Xu Yingbin in the men’s singles.
He also participated in the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus North American Open held in Markham, Canada. Yuan Licen beat Emmanuel Lebesson of France (7-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6) in the opening round of the men’s singles event. It was a surprise defeat in the qualification round for the top-seeded French player considered the favorite for gold. The defeat was more shocking because Yuan Licen had previously lost to Irvin Bertrand of France (7-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6). He lost in the 1/8 finals to Zhao Zhaoyan in the same tournament.
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In 2020, Yuan Licen debuted in the Chinese Super League with Shenzhen Baoan and participated in the 2020 and 2021 tournaments.
In 2021, he, alongside his teammates, finished fifth in the men’s competition while representing Liaoning Province at the 14th National Games.
In 2022, Yuan Licen played at the WTT Macao 2021 Champions of China. He lost 2-3 to Xu Yingbin in the 1/8 finals of the men’s singles and paired up with Wang Yidi in the mixed doubles category but was defeated 1-3 by Fan Zhendong and Kuai Man.
Licen finished second in the mixed doubles and third in the doubles category at the WTT Feeder Doha series 2022 in Doha, Qatar. He beat Lin Yun-Ju 3-1 in the second round of the singles event and progressed to the quarterfinals at the WTT Contender Doha Series 2022.
Yuan Licen became the champion in the men’s singles after overcoming Dang Qiu of Germany 4-2 in the finals.
Yuan Licen has superior technical skills that have helped him dismantle the challenges posed by his opponents, such as Emmanuel Lebesson, his fellow left-handed player whom he upset at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus North American Open. The Frenchman had started with a 2-1 lead, but Licen leveled at 2-2 with aggressive defense and powerful forehand strokes and went on to win the match 4-2.
Speaking after his victory, Yuan Licen said he did not expect to win since he had just joined the national team.
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Licen’s style of play has been compared to Lin Yun-Jun’s of Chinese Taipei because although they might not be powerful, they have impressive control that makes them strong opponents.
Honors and Achievements
Yuan Licen is a Chinese professional player who has won one singles title. One doubles title at the 2023 WTT Feeder Doha and one Chinese Super League title.
Yuan Licen has accomplished a lot in the table tennis world. He joined the Chinese table tennis team after becoming the champion in the singles category of the National Junior Table Tennis Championships when he was only 15 years old. His training coach in Liaoning is Zhai Ming, who has beaten Ma Long several times, including at the 2010 National Championships.
Ma Long has described Yuan Licen as quicker but weaker in serving and receiving, which puts a lot of pressure on himself. At the 2023 Chinese Trials for the Durban World table tennis championships, Ma Long eventually won against Yuan Licen after two initial losses.