I have tried more blades and rubbers than I am willing to admit. When we talk Butterfly, I tried all ALC blades, a few ZLC and ZLF, one super ALC and one super ZLC. I also had the opportunity to play with Tenergy rubbers, namely T05, T80, T64, T19 and T25. Now I play with Dignics 05 on both sides. Before this setup, I used to play with Dignics 09c on the forehand side and Dignics 05 on the backhand side for a couple of months.
Since isolated reviews are of questionable usefulness throughout this review, I will be comparing this blade to both Viscaria and TBALC. I believe it's always helpful to put things into perspective.
The structure of this racket has been proven many times over three decades of history in tournaments around the world. It is a legendary Viscaria-based blade with the following structure: Koto -ALC- Limba - Kiri - Limba - ALC - Koto. However, in my deep belief, that's only part of the story when trying to answer the question of what kind of performance a blade provides. Although it is a familiar structure, Butterfly has for the umpteenth time done their ingenious fine tuning and released a racket that has its own special character. First of all, what is obvious is that the thickness compared to the Viscaria has been increased by 0.1mm. FZD ALC is 5.8mm thick. Although the veneers are officially the same compared to for example TBALC or Viscaria, what we don't know is how they were treated. Whether it is a question of chemical treatment, the production process itself, glue, treatment with UV rays, it is difficult to say for sure.
What is certain in my opinion is that the aforementioned blades in the game show different performance, feel and overall gaming experience.
As I already mentioned, on both sides are Dignics 05. I think it is important to say a few words about the rubbers because they are a critical part of every racket. Some rightly say that rubbers are the soul of every racket. I think Tenergy rubbers were and remain an excellent choice for many. They are the rubbers that have taken their place in table tennis history. I always liked them, but I still thought they were kind of wild horses in the hands of a less than excellent player. They demand(ed) a high technical level from the players. Now, the Dignics rubbers are different animals. They are truly an engineering masterpiece from Butterfly because they somehow managed to achieve almost impossible - to improve something as good as the Tenergy line but at the same time change the character of the rubbers, again compared to the Tenergy series. I have never tried rubbers that have as many different gears as the Dignics. At the same time, they are very advanced, fine-tuned instruments, and on the other hand, they are really not that difficult to use. They are just perfect for short game, have a lot of feel and also offer a lot of power 2 meters from the table. They can be „dead“ but they can also be catapulty when you pull the trigger. They cover all aspects of the modern game. They can be Fast and furious when needed but also controlled and forgiving when needed. If there is one word that describes the Dignics series of rubbers, it is – dynamics. Extreme dynamics. I have not found other rubbers that can be remotely compared to the Dignics series. They are simply superior.
Compared to Viscaria and TBALC, FZD ALC represents a significant leap in all aspects. Viscaria is a great wood for topspin play but lacks the talent for flat shots and smashing. TBALC is a great wood as well - for block, drive, push. However, due to its increased stiffness, it has a nano-dwell time, so the spin game really requires high technical competence.
In this sense, FZDALC is a highly balanced blade. It is excellent for both backhand and forehand, smash, feel shots, drive, topspin, push... When I say this, I certainly do not mean “jack of all trades, master of none”. The wood is extremely good for all shots and suitable for less technically fluent players. It's truly amazing what the Butterfly engineers have been able to achieve. For me, this is the best ALC blade. It's as if at Butterfly they used the accumulated know-how from their extensive experience in ALC blades design and applied it to a single blade. I would especially emphasize the forehand aspect of this wood. The forehand is crisp and clean, gets a new higher quality and is easier to hit than with the aforementioned ALC blades. Additionally, backhand flip with this combo of wood and rubbers is relatively easy. This is especially important because this shot is crucial in modern table tennis when it comes to returning serve. It changes the dynamic of the game and allows the skilled player to gain an advantage and change the momentum.
Although I play with the ST handle, I had the opportunity to try the FL handle as well. Compared to Viscaria the handle is definitely thinner which is good news from my perspective. I never liked the FL handle on Viscaria. I don't think it's comfortable, far from it. The FL handle on TBALC suited me better, although it was a bit too small for my liking. The handle on the FZDALC is somewhere between Viscaria and FZDALC in size. I haven't had any problems with ST handles on these three racquets. However, I must say that ST handles on TBALC and MJZLC are still my favorites by a huge margin.
In conclusion, I encourage everyone to try this blade/combo. It is really worth looking into.
Which handle are you interested in - FL or ST? You should definitely find and try all 3, at least hold them in your hand. Handle shape is really important. And each hand is different and our preferences are different. I am 6 4 tall and have bigger hands. I prefer FZD handle than Vis and LGY if we talk ST handle.
BTW, FL handle on Vis was really bad for me, huge and not comfortable at all.