Apolonia ZLC


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Well-Known Member
Aug 2010
Read 72 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

Butterfly Tiago Apolonia Blade
Weight: 90g
Thickness: 5.7mm
Type: Carbon OFF
Composition: 7 ply (Limba, Limba, ZLC, Core, ZLC, Limba, Limba)
Rubbers used with blade: Tenergy 05

Hi everyone, in the Video Review below I am joined alongside world number 18 Tiago Apolonia, one of Portugal’s and Europe’s finest players. Together with Tiago, Butterfly launched his new personal blade, the Tiago Apolonia ZLC which has been designed for players looking for a soft touch and lots of spin.

Video Review:

Written Review:

The blade itself has a high quality premium feel which you always expect from Butterfly, it comes in a really nice box and is adorned with the colours of Portugal. This Portuguese theme is continued on the blades surface where it has elements of the national flag printed on to it. The blade’s handle and surface feel super smooth and comfortable to hold.

The composition of the Tiago Apolonia ZLC is slightly different to traditional Carbon Blades. For example the Zhang Jike ZLC has 1 outer wood layer and then a layer of carbon whereas the Apolonia ZLC has two outer wood layers followed by the Carbon layer. The Carbon layer on the Apolonia blade is placed nearer to the core of the blade as opposed to the Zhang Jike ZLC Carbon layer, which is nearer to the surface. The outer wood layers used in the Apolonia ZLC are made of Limba which is a naturally softer wood which results in high absorption. The Zhang Jike’s outer layer is Koto wood which is harder than limba resulting in a harder contact on impact. The Apolonia blade has a similar build to the Innerforce series where the ZLC fibres are closer to the core of the blade, again promoting a softer touch.


Both blades we used weighed 90 grams and has a thickness of 5.7mm.



As soon as we started playing I could feel the crisp sensation you get with high quality carbon blades. Having reviewed the Zhang Jike and Mizutani super ZLC I could definitely notice more feel and longer ball contact time with the Apolonia. I could topspin with a lot of control and precision and was able to produce ample speed when needed.

The amount of spin Tiago produced on his backhand was phenomenal. At the beginning I really struggled to keep the ball low to the net. But once I closed the angle more I adapted and really enjoyed the solid feeling and pinpoint accuracy you get with this new blade. Tiago noted that what he liked the most about the blade was how he could topspin early with a lot of speed and spin whilst maintaining the control and feeling.

During 3 point forehands I felt I could go for maximum power in my shots without the fear of missing due to the blades great balance and large sweetspot.


The Tiago Apolonia ZLC’s great feeling and long dwell time really helps produce a lot of spin on the ball, especially when playing against backspin.
The combination of Tenergy 05 and the Apolonia blade works really well and we were both able to produce a lot of rotation on the ball.


Even with the extreme power Tiago produces, I was pleasantly surprised how I still was able to control the ball well with this blade. I had a lot of accuracy even on shots where I had to react really quickly and just get my bat behind the ball.

Counter Topspin:

Another outstanding attribute to this blade I noticed was during counter topspins. Due to the ball soaking into the core of the blade countering topspin was almost effortless and this was against a player a thousand levels above me.

Flicks & Chop Block:

Tiago really liked and mentioned that his backhand worked really well with this blade, especially when playing a modern backhand flick against my serve or a push ball. The spin and placement Tiago generated forced me into making many errors. The chop block which is used by players occasionally demonstrates the feeling this blade possesses with the ball fizzing with spin.

Away from the table:

Although this blade has a woodier feel than faster carbon blades using Koto, the Tiago blade using limba did not lack power from mid-distance to the table and the blade is great for topspin and power shots.


The Butterfly Tiago Apolonia ZLC overall is another fantastic addition to butterfly's carbon blade series. The combination of Tiago’s input and Butterfly’s craftsmanship means that this blade will be of a great choice for players who want great control with good speed with a slightly softer feel than their Kotowood carbon blades such as the Boll and Zhang Jike series. The crisp connection you get with this blade is fantastic and provides a soft feeling which aids control.The outer limba plys provide a longer ball contact time and feeling than harder blades using koto which helps in counters, serving and blocking. As well as producing great spin the Apolonia ZLC is also really good at handling incoming spin, a big feature of this blade that I liked a lot. Tiago said before the plastic ball era he used the Butterfly Liu Shiwen ZLF blade, however he felt he needed something a touch faster which maintained the same control and spin. The speed of the Apolonia ZLC is not as fast as a Zhang Jike or Mizutani ZLC and is similar to the innerforce series.
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New Member
Jun 2016
Read 1 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

The Tiago Apolognia ZLC Blade is a very good Blade for Topspin. You have a soft ball feeling on contact and also the arc of the Topspins is very good :)

Blocking is also very good and you can play very Safe with this blade Thanks to the sweetspot. Counter Topspin is also very easy, the Blade is crisp but is soft too and that makes it really good for topspin players wanting a lot of control in strokes.
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Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Mar 2012
Read 20 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

The TA ZLC comes in a beautiful presentation box in the colors of the Portuguese flag. The handle of the blade has the same color scheme and on the front side of the blade Tiagos name and the coat of arms of Portugal which is containing five blue shields forming a cross and seven golden castles. On the blade it is shown in black.
On the back of the handle the new green holographic sticker is placed.
The quality and finish is superb as always when you buy a Butterfly blade and it looks like a has a fine layer of sealing from the factory.






Composition: Limba-Limba-ZLC-Ayous-ZLC-Limba-Limba
Handle: Flared
Head size: 157x150mm
Thickness: 5.8mm
Weight: 88g

Test setup: FH DHS H3 Neo 2.15mm and BH Tenergy 05 2.1mm


When driving with the TA ZLC I didn't expect that the blade had the amount of feel and the control it had. The Zylon-Carbon layer adds lightness, stiffness and flexibility to the blade. Another thing that was noticeable was the large sweet spot.

Looping with the TA ZLC was a dream! This blade is a pure spin machine and the dwell was good even with the H3. The arcs with H3 was low to medium and with the T05 it is more medium. The balance of the blade was to the middle even though playing with heavy rubbers. The blade gives a lot of flex and an enormous dwell which is obvious in the loop to loop game. This also noticeable in Dan’s review.

In the passive game I could really feel that the blade gave a lot of control, stability and consistency due to the large sweet spot and the composition of Limba and ZLC. Still if I was a bit active on the ball the blade still felt controllable. If you are a bit tense you will still hit the ball on the table.

Flick/short game
As I mentioned earlier in the review the TA ZLC has a lot of dwell which is one of the pro’s in this part of the game. On service receive I was able to put quality balls on the table. Flicks are made with ease and the ball just feels like it stays forever until you have unleashed a spinny banana flick. This was one of the fun parts playing with the blade.

Butterfly has made a signature blade for Tiago Apolonia. The price is high at 189.90 Euro (in Europe) or 259.99 USD (in US) compared to the Innerforce ZLC 189.90 Euro (in Europe) and 236.99 USD (in US). In Europe is price is the same but in the US there a 20 USD difference. So is it worth buying the TA ZLC? The thickness of the blade is 5.6mm and the IF ZLC 5.7mm. The TA is more flexible and feels just a nodge faster. Also the design is just flawless. If you are looking for those features then, yes!

I would recommend the blade to players who focus on an allround game with spin and speed and plays close to mid from the table. Also the player that favors the short and over the table attacking game. Then this looping machine is what you are looking for.
says Check out my Podcast Talkin' Smash!
says Check out my Podcast Talkin' Smash!
Oct 2010
Read 12 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

I made a hard decision after nearly 6 years of using the Donic Waldner Senso Carbon blade that it was time for me to look for something new, something with a bit more speed but still a softer carbon touch.

I tried the Mizutani ZLC on the advice of one top international player but found it was a little stiff for my liking. When I heard about the Apolonia ZLC I messaged the man himself to get an idea of what it was like. He appeared to be loving it, so I figured I would give it a try.

Initially I found adjustments a little tough as the WSC was a great control blade and not quite as fast. After trying the blade for 5 or so sessions I felt it had worn in and I had made the necessary adjustments and the improvements have been clear.

I love the inner layer carbon concept and the Apolonia combination of carbon close to the core cushioned by a double layer of softer limba wood really creates a unique situation. The speed of the ZL Fibres along with the improved spin and touch from the outer wood layers creates an amazing composition for playing with incredible spin and great speed but without being too stiff to control the game.

I have been playing with it daily for a couple of weeks now and it grew on me really quickly. I'm happy to say it will be a permanent fixture and I have decided to make the changeover!

Check out my review below:
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5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

I recently changed form Ebenholz to Apolonia due to the polyball. I felt that I needed a faster blade yet has woody characteristics. I picked my 2 year old Mizutani Super ZLC and posted it online for sale, the blade is a first gen but pretty expensive. I changed it from for sale to for trade and someone offered me a brand new Tiago Apolonia ZLC blade. I agreed and waited for three days because the blade will be coming from Japan. When the blade arrived I glued a Hurricane 3 Provincial and Evolution MX-P aaaaand if you read my MX-P review I replaced the Hurricane with MX-P due to injury and fatigue issues.

For the record this would be my second "Innerforce" blade as the Akrasia I previously used was IF style. I also tried my friend's Samsonov Stratus Carbon which like the Akrasia is Arylate Carbon. I noticed that the Apolonia is bouncier, has more vibration(better feel which I like), and has a larger sweetspot than the two. If compared to traditional carbon blade wood-carbon-wood-core-wood-carbon-core setup my traded Mizutani for example, the Apolonia has better dwell and makes spin production easier.

The control of this blade is ridiculous cause I can topspin consistently and felt like I was still using my Ebenholz but faster and a little harder(in power shots). When I loop the ball it feels like it is stucked in the blade for a moment then shoots it. Backhand looping never felt easier and I felt my consistency went up. I can produce stable, spinny, and fast shots in my forehand and backhand.

This is where I excel at especially in my backhand, as a left-handed player my backhand is abused with attacks lol. Blocking with Apolonia feels very stable whether passive or active blocking. I also found the blade in conjunction with MX-P really easy to punch the ball. During matchplay with the Apolonia blade when my opponent powerloops I rarely block the ball because punching is the better choice. When the opponent heavy loops the touch and great feel of the blade makes is easier to absorb the incoming spin and redirect it to the other side of the table.

Short game:
My short game includes pushing and flicking. Pushing with the Apolonia feels familiar because I feel I am still using an allwood blade. I can push the ball really short and sometimes with no spin which confuses my opponent a lot. I also do the banana flick as my main weapon to receive service, due to the dwell mixed with the bounciness of the blade the success rate of my banana flick rose(lol cause in an allwood blade you need a really precise timing).

I really like the combination of MX-P with Apolonia because the abnormal power of MX-P is manageable and it doesn't feel that fast. It doesn't feel that fast due to the feel yet the ball shows otherwise. Looping and powerlooping with Apolonia is the best because the ball is somehow held by the blade for a moment then shoots out like a cannon. P.S. This is subjective with the rubber used lol :D

The blade is best suited for my style of play, close to mid distance attacker that is ready to block the ball when returned. If you are looking for a faster blade that has woody characteristics (e.g. feel, dwell, and control) this blade is a great choice. IMHO the hande is too small that is why I used a grip tape to compensate. Finally, the blade is beautiful :) +1 pogi(handsome) points as we filipinos say
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New Member
Nov 2018
Read 1 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

Grande Madeira!!
Não é muito pesado, apesar de o peso estar mais centrado na ponta da pá, mesmo assim é perfeito para jogadores de Top Spin de esquerda!!
Madeira com grande sentimento, a bola fica muito tempo na madeira, sentimos sempre o controlo total da bola, e na colocação da bola na mesa!
A minha madeira está emparelhada com duas Borrachas Tenergy 05 Hard, 2.2mm (direita e na esquerda), e funcionam maravilhosamente!!
Sou treinador Profissional (tenho academia de ténis de mesa) e Recomendo esta madeira para jogadores evoluídos tecnicamente (jogadores de Spin e de blocos)
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New Member
Jul 2014
Read 8 reviews
5 out of 5 rating for Tiago Apolonia ZLC

I have bought Tiago apolonia zlc , after trying Freitas alc as well and I felt it very familiar to me from the get go. I was afraid it will have more wood feeling and vibrations then I usually prefer but surprisingly it manages to excite me. It has a crispy feeling and I feel the zlc kicking in strong spins. Excelent touch in serve recieve , nice dwell time , very easy counter looping. I paired it with tenergy 05 on drive and dignics 05 on backhand and its a very nice combination . I like the speed because it is not very fast but still when you have the position u can produce a winner. Overall very good craftmanship mine is 90 gramms of course very expensive as usual with butterfly , but for me it is definately worth its price. If you are looking for a very round blade with very good touch and feeling , nice spin production but not too fast then go for it !.
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