Liam Pitchford was the top pick in the Major League Table Tennis draft as the Florida Crocs picked him to spearhead their campaign for the new season beginning in September.

Pitchford joins David McBeath in the second season of MLTT – McBeath was retained by Texas Smash having played a key role in their Championship-winning inaugural season.

In the draft system, the four lower-ranked of the eight teams in the league get to pick ahead of the four which reached the play-offs. Crocs were assigned the first pick and they selected Pitchford.

Crocs coach Frank Arias also chose Kaden Xu (USA), Yuan-Yu Wu (TPE) and Seunghwan Lee (KOR) to join the four players they retained from this season – Daniel Gorak of Poland, Marc Duran of Spain, Matilda Ekholm of Sweden and Puerto Rico’s Daniel Gonzalez.

McBeath was one of five played retained by Texas Smash, along with Hiromitsu Kasahara of Japan and US trio Nandan Naresh (USA), Amy Wang (USA) and Darryl Tsao (USA).

They will be joined by new picks Amirhossein Hodaei of Iran, Artur Abusev of Russia and India’s Jeet Chandra as coach Jorg Bitzigeio finalised his squad for the title defence.

Among the other highly ranked players to sign up for next season are Emmanuel Lebesson of France, who was picked by Chicago Wind, Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej (Seattle Spinners) and Benedek Olah of Finland, who will play for Princeton Revolution.

Pitchford, who appeared on a live interview during the draft programme, said: “I’m excited to join, it’s a new experience for me and I can bring more to the team and we can go all the way.”