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Great blade for close-to-table attacker
Pros
  • flick
  • loop kill
  • serve
  • receive
  • block
  • close to table play
  • control
  • traditional penhold backhand
  • looping underspin
Cons
  • feeling
  • far from table play
This is a fantastic blade that allows you to play some really amazing shots with ease. It's made specially for Ma Lin's style, and that shows. I am reviewing the penhold version of this blade (the version that Ma Lin used).

Design: Ma Lin Extra Offensive is designed for playing penhold in the traditional Chinese style (close-to-table attacking and blocking). Shakehand players can still imitate this style -- there is a shakehand player at my club who plays extremely well with this blade -- but be aware that this blade was not designed for shakehand players.

Beginner players: Some people say that this blade is too fast for a beginner. I think this might be a little bit true -- it is pretty fast for a wood blade. But I think anyone can learn well with this blade if you put some slow tacky rubbers on it (I'd recommend Skyline 2 or Hurricane 3, unboosted). If you have experience in another racket sport, or you're at a level where you can keep a consistent rally going, this is a great blade to learn and play with.

Flick & Loop-kill: The place where this blade shines is the forehand flick and the forehand loop-kill. These strokes are so easy to play, and they're very effective at the club level because not many people play the traditional penhold style any more. Penholders will have a great time.

When to hit: Taking the ball right off the bounce is really easy with this blade -- even when looping underspin -- and taking such shots can be incredibly satisfying. You can take the ball at any time, but it's most advantageous to try to play the ball right off the bounce.

Backhand punch: The traditional penhold backhand punch is another place where this blade shines. It's very easy to redirect an opponent's smash and block it to an inconvenient location. This is because the blade has an amazing level of control. You can punch the ball really well with the reverse backhand stroke as well.

Feeling: The feeling of this blade is kind of funny. It doesn't feel like other wood blades, and it doesn't feel like carbon. If I had to describe it, it feels almost like it's hollow when you touch the ball. It gives a lot of feedback in terms of vibration, which some people like and others don't. Vibration is good for learning, though, which is why I think this blade can be good for beginners.

Spin: This blade can create spinny loops from brushing the ball, but they tend to be pretty slow. The low speed can give your opponent an opportunity to counterattack, which is not ideal. Brushing loops will produce a slow (but spinny) ball. Brushing shots are not so satisfying to play, and they leave you feeling like you mishit the ball. Beginners who learn to play with this blade will learn a lot of good techniques, but they will not learn how to play a brushing loop because brushing loops do not feel good.

Fast looping: If you want a fast loop, you need to engage the core of the blade and hit very quickly. This means that looping far from the table will have very low control, compared to other blades which let you hit fast loops with a slower stroke.

My style: I am not very agile and I don't have the best reaction time, but I am tall with a big wingspan, so I tend to play far from the table for a lot of my game. Because of this, the Ma Lin Extra Offensive does not suit my style so well. It's a shame, because I like everything else about this blade, and no other blade competes with this one in the close-to-table game. I played with Ma Lin Extra Offensive for a while and ended up switching to Nittaku Miyabi because of the far-from-table game.

Who should use this blade: Players (particularly penholders) who are agile and reactive enough to play close to the table should seriously consider this blade. Beginners who want to play a fast attack-based game should also consider this blade. Anyone who admires Ma Lin and wants to play like him should try this blade.
Speed
7
Control
9.5
Hardness
9
Durability
8.5
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Best rubber for loopers, especially penholders
Pros
  • spin
  • control
  • short game
  • loops far from the table
  • loop-kill
  • sidespin
  • you need to use good technique
Cons
  • you can't flat hit
  • you need to use good technique
This is my favorite rubber of all time. Before I found this rubber, I was using Hurricane 3. All of the characteristics of Hurricane 3 that I like, this rubber has even more. If you like Hurricane 3 I highly suggest trying this rubber.

I currently use Skyline 2 on both sides when I play penhold, and I use it on my backhand (my stronger side) when I play handshake grip.

I do not boost this rubber, as I like to play with it unboosted. I am quite strong so it does not bother me to have to put in extra effort to get a fast ball. Make no mistake, when you hit the ball hard with good technique, it goes FAST, even faster than Tenergy. However, if you do not hit with power and correct technique, the ball will go very slow. This can be beneficial for control in the short game. Because of this I am not sure how to rate the speed of this rubber.

One of the main features of this rubber is that you need to use good Chinese technique -- power comes from your legs, and you need to lightly brush the ball (rather than hit through it). In some ways this is a pro, since it reinforces good technique and makes you learn good technique quickly -- when you hit the ball correctly, you will feel it and it feels very good. However, this is also a con, since you need to make a good quality effort with every single hit. You cannot be lazy, even for a single stroke.

The spin on big loops far from the table is unparalleled. The loop-kill (Ma Lin's signature shot) is incredible -- I see why Ma Lin used this rubber. Control in the short game is amazing. Throw angle is very low (even lower than Hurricane 3).

The main thing I like about this rubber is the feeling -- the ball stays on the rubber for a long time, and you can really "pick up" the ball and "throw" it with Skyline 2. In the short game, you can "pick up" the ball and "drop" it where you want.

There is one downside of Skyline 2, which is that you can't flat hit the ball. Every stroke you make must have spin on it, it's the only way to get a consistent shot. If you try to flat hit, the ball will fly away randomly -- I think it is due to the rubber being extremely sticky.

If you do not boost this rubber and make sure to clean it, it will stay sticky and last for many months.
Speed
8
Spin
10
Durability
10
Control
10
Interesting rubber with unique qualities. Sidespin monster!
Pros
  • sidespin
  • counterspin
  • looping
  • fishing
Cons
  • backspin
  • loop-kill
I got my hands on a sheet of Xuperman Powerplay-X and tried it for a 3-hour playing session tonight. I thought it had some really unique qualities, and wanted to share my thoughts about it.

A bit about me:

I'm around 1500 USATT rating and I typically play 1-sided penhold (with occasional RPB, which I am still learning). Xu Xin is one of my favorite players and I really try to imitate his playing style, so when I heard that he developed a new rubber, I had to try it. Like Xu Xin, I am tall, quick, and strong, and my backhand attack is inconsistent, so I typically try to cover most of the table with my forehand. I also like to hit powerful sidespin loops from far behind (and below) the table -- this is my main strategy for winning points in games.

Most of my playing experience is with tacky Chinese rubbers (Hurricane and Skyline series) and a bit with hybrid rubbers (D09c, K3, Rakza Z) so this is generally what I am comparing to Xuperman when I say it is fast or spinny or whatever. My main reference is Skyline 2, which is what I have been using for the past year.

Skyline 2 is a rubber that was developed for Ma Lin, and used by Xu Xin in his professional career. It's slower and spinnier than the popular Hurricane 3 and it excels at
- short game control and blocking
- loop-kill (somewhere between a loop and a smash, one of Ma Lin's signature shots)
- spinny arcing loops when you take the ball from far behind/below the table (Xu Xin's signature shot)

Usually my racket is Nittaku Miyabi (a 1-ply hinoki blade) with DHS Skyline 2, unboosted, on both sides. Today, I put Xuperman rubber on the forehand of my blade, and left Skyline 2 on the backhand. Unfortunately, the Xuperman rubber only comes in black so I only put it on one side. I did not boost the Xuperman rubber.



Physical properties of the rubber:

Xuperman Powerplay-X is slightly tacky -- not nearly as tacky as DHS Hurricane or Skyline rubbers, but it will briefly hold the ball on the paddle upside down. The sponge feels slightly softer than DHS rubbers. The topsheet and sponge are both quite stretchy.


Playing impressions:

The first thing I noticed was the ease of the loop. Even forehand drives will come off with a substantial amount of spin. I can absolutely see why Xu Xin wanted to develop this rubber and why he likes it. The closest thing I can compare this rubber to was a lightly boosted blue-sponge Hurricane 3. It also felt similar to Andro Rasanter C53.


Sidespin: More than anything, I think this rubber helps to add sidespin -- my sidespin was absolutely deadly today. Even though my loops usually include a lot of sidespin, my playing partner missed a lot of my loops today because they drifted too far to the side. Sidespin serves were very spinny and curvy. I'm not sure what kind of material properties create this sidespin capability, but it was really interesting to play with.

Out-of-position hits: The other main thing I liked about this rubber is that it really helps you when you are in a bad position. With Skyline and Hurricane rubbers, you need to hit all of your shots with perfect Chinese technique (power from your legs, light brushing, etc) in order for it to go on the table. With Xuperman, you can still hit pretty-good shots when you are off-balance, stretching for it, or otherwise in a bad position.

Topspin: The topspin was alright, not as good as Skyline 2. I think my loops are usually around 70% topspin and 30% sidespin, but with the Xuperman rubber, the ratio was reversed.

Speed: In terms of speed, the rubber was quite a bit faster than unboosted Skyline 2. It felt like it had a bit of catapult effect, almost like a tensor rubber. Contact time is less than Skyline 2, but still more than most tensor rubbers. Its speed is similar to Rakza Z in my opinion (but with a much lower throw angle).

Fishing: This rubber reminds me of Skyline 2 with its fishing capabilities. The rubber is a lot bouncier, and so the fishing shots end up being higher than they are with Skyline 2. This makes them harder to smash for the opponent.

Counterspin: This rubber really excelled at counterspin. It's not very sensitive to incoming spin, which is very nice.

Backspin: Backspin is my main complaint about this rubber, it was noticeably lacking in comparison to Skyline 2. I probably need to learn how to use the rubber better, but after 3 hours I did not manage to find a good way to create heavy backspin -- something which is usually a big part of my short game. EDIT: after trying some more, I found that you can create backspin by giving a very sharp jab under the ball -- so sharp that your wrist bounces back after. At the same time, you have to be very relaxed in the wrist and arm. Seems difficult to execute consistently.

Blocking: The blocking is faster than Skyline and Hurricane rubbers, so it is taking me some time to adjust. I thought it was a bit less controlled, but not too bad. With Xuperman rubber you need to control the angle and actively block fast onto the table.

Loop-kill & smash: One of the main reasons I like Skyline 2 is because you can make very fast topspin smashes with it. In fact, smashes with Skyline 2 require some element of topspin -- if you smash with Skyline and don't use topspin, your shot will be very unpredictable. Hurricane 2 and Hurricane 3 have this property to an extent as well.

Xuperman Powerplay-X notably does not have this property. Xuperman rubber allows for flat, no-spin smashes, but you cannot get a very good loop-kill with it.

Throw & Trajectory: The throw angle was a bit higher than Skyline 2 but still pretty low. Able to loop underspin easier than Skyline 2.



Conclusion:

I think I will continue to use blue-sponge Skyline 2 until my next tournament, at least. After that, I think I will give Xuperman a serious try and maybe post a better review once I have learned to use it. I may also try to use it on my backhand in the future.

I really enjoyed the sidespin and security in awkward positions, but I don't think that is worth the downsides. It will be a huge disadvantage for me to lose backspin. Additionally, because Xuperman is faster than Skyline 2, it has less control than Skyline 2. I am strong enough to hit hard with Skyline 2 when I need to, so the increase in speed is not very valuable to me, but if you are not so strong you might find benefit from Xuperman Powerplay-X.

I think this is a very good rubber if your playing style is like Xu Xin's. For other playing styles I am not so sure. I may try playing handshake style with it and update my review.
Speed
7
Spin
9.8
Control
9
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