Stiga Stiga Dynasty Carbon (Xu Xin)

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5.00 star(s) 1 ratings

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Carbon blade with wood feeling!
  • wood-like touch in short game
  • carbon-like speed in smashes
  • great spin capability
  • flicks
  • more feedback than other carbon blades
  • carbon activates on spinny balls (opportunity for counterattack)
  • less feedback than wood blades
  • carbon sometimes activates unexpectedly
  • carbon activates on spinny balls (chaotic)
Personally I think Xu Xin has amazing taste in equipment and this blade is no exception. If you like Skyline 2 rubber, Xuperman rubber, or the Stiga Rosewood blade, you will probably enjoy the Dynasty Carbon.

Stiga Dynasty Carbon is not exactly a "carbon" blade. The carbon layer is extremely thin, and for the most part this feels like a wood blade, much like Ma Lin Extra Offensive or Stiga Rosewood. The carbon gets activated when you hit the ball hard.

I have never seriously played with a carbon blade. I've tried a few of them before and never liked them. Dynasty Carbon is making me change my mind about carbon, and I think I will continue to play with it for at least a few months.

The blade that I usually use is a 1-ply hinoki wood. I have also used Ma Lin Extra Offensive for a long time. These blades are my point of comparison when evaluating the Dynasty Carbon.

For this review I use Skyline 2 blue sponge 41deg on the forehand, and Hurricane 3 40deg on the backhand. Both unboosted. I mostly play with the penhold grip (sometimes shakehand grip), and I use the cpen version of this blade.

I've played with this blade for about 6 weeks and I think it has improved my performance (in terms of being able to beat other players in a match). In fact, this blade felt so good the first time that I played a tournament with it the very next day!

Soft touch: I attribute my increased performance to the blade's soft touch in the serve-receive game -- this blade is phenomenal at giving you the ability to return serves accurately, and to place them shallow on the table to give your opponent trouble. It performs better than my 1-ply kiso hinoki blade in the short game. With soft touches, you have to be very deliberate in your stroke -- you have to add some aspect of power and followthrough, or else your shot will not go far enough. If you are making a short push, you need to make a complete slow pushing motion or a quick jab. It is not sufficient to just touch the ball with the racket and back off (like you can do with hinoki or Ma Lin Extra Offensive). If you touch the ball too softly, it will just die immediately on your side of the table. You need to be very careful and precise with your touch.

Smashing & fast loops: Like I said earlier, the carbon comes out when you are hitting the ball hard. I am still adjusting to this feeling but I find it to be better for some shots and worse for others. The throw angle is much higher than I am used to with all-wood blades, so I have to close the racket a bit more. Smashes are much easier to get past the opponent because of the speed of the carbon. At the same time, it is harder to do a brushing loop -- you have to be very precise in order to activate the wood+rubber without activating the carbon. I don't think I am precise enough to use this blade to its full potential.

Counterspin: This is the one part that I don't like. When your opponent gives you a heavy spin, it's very hard to counterloop it without activating the carbon. I feel that even if you touch a spinny ball lightly, the carbon layer will activate and make a sharp cracking sound. If you are not careful about the racket angle, the ball can go very high and fast. When trying to brush-loop for counterspin, it often activates the carbon and goes long. Instead, I am finding that I need to hit through the ball on the counterloop, activating the carbon and thus smashing the ball (rather than brushing it). I think I am not yet skilled/precise enough to use the blade to its full potential.
Edit, after more time playing with this blade: I have found a way to make good use of how spin activates the carbon with my backhand, making for a very fast flicking backhand counterattack. I still need to figure out how to do this on my forehand, which is a much larger, slower stroke than my backhand is.

Blocking: blocking is amazing, allowing you to return the ball short if you need to. But you need to have a soft touch -- if you press too hard on the ball you will activate the carbon.

Flicks: The flicks are also quite nice, as long as you have the technique. The carbon will be activated on a flick and you will hear a sharp cracking sound. I am personally very fond of the backhand flick, and will go for the backhand flick whenever the ball is close to the next. Banana flick works very well, even for a penholder. The forehand flick is nice as well, but not as good as the Ma Lin Extra Offensive. There is not as much feeling on the flicks as there is with Ma Lin Extra Offensive -- you just have to trust that you are making the right shot.

Slicing: I noticed that this blade gives a very stable slice shot. When I play handshake grip (not my usual grip) I can hit a lot of high-quality slices on both forehand and backhand. With the penhold grip I have managed to make some very good backhand slices (both RPB and TPB).

General feeling: This blade doesn't feel as good as hinoki (sad!) but despite a lack of feeling, it still does a great job of grabbing the ball and imparting spin. The contact time on hard shots is less, I think.

Sound: This is not such an important factor, but you will produce a sharp high-pitched cracking sound when you hit the ball hard, almost like you've broken the ball. It's very satisfying, especially when the ball goes on the table. It may also create an intimidation factor for your opponent :D

Compared to Ma Lin Extra Offensive: Generally the Dynasty Carbon feels similar to the Ma Lin Extra Offensive. The Dynasty Carbon has the same level of soft touch in the short game, and the flicks are similar as well. The main differences I can find are that the Dynasty Carbon gives less vibration feedback, has a much higher top-end speed, and allows a little bit more of a brushing loop when compared to the Ma Lin Extra Offensive.

Compared to 1-ply hinoki: The Dynasty Carbon does not have nearly as much feeling, and it is not nearly as satisfying to play with compared to 1-ply hinoki. Playing with 1-ply hinoki makes it very easy to make brushing loops; with the Dynasty Carbon it is much harder to brush and you have to be more precise. I think the Dynasty Carbon is superior in the short game because it is not so bouncy -- with hinoki is very hard to play a short game because of how soft and bouncy it is. The flicks and smashes with the Dynasty Carbon are much faster than 1-ply hinoki. I find it easier to play the Xu-Xin-style game (big-swing spinny loops far from the table) using a 1-ply hinoki. Playing with the Dynasty Carbon has made me move closer to the table and play more short game with aggressive flicking shots. This is not bad, but it is different. And I think it has also resulted in me becoming a better player.

Overall, this blade is an impressive piece of craftsmanship which allows the player to play a huge variety of shots. You can hit the ball very slow, and you can hit the ball very fast. I have never tried a blade whose range of speeds is as big as this one. However, because of the huge range, it requires a master of precision (like Xu Xin) to be able to play with it properly. Definitely not a blade for beginners.

I would like to make a note that the blade I received was in kind of poor condition when I got it. A lot of the wood was splintering, and the blade was very rough. Apparently STIGA is known for giving blades that aren't properly finished. I managed to sand and lacquer the blade (and I hope it will be ok after that) but I would expect better quality when paying $230 for a blade. Anyone who buys this blade should make sure to sand and lacquer it before using it.
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Update: I want to add a comment about caring for this blade. You really need to sand and lacquer this blade (in that order). At least 2-3 layers. I did two thin layers of lacquer and still pulled off some chunks of wood when changing rubbers. The outer layers are very thin, so be very careful with them. Better to add too much lacquer than too little...