DHS W968 review

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Let me start with a story again, since nothing can kill a good story. (or how was it in GoT?) Christmas was here so my girlfriend wanted to give me a gift. In the past, I was kinda torn to get a W968 provincial but in the end, it never materialized. Now she insisted that she will get me one, and actually now I was probably the most against it due to several reasons. One is that I was pleased with my Joola ZQ S-ALC blade and didn't particularly believe a W968 would be much better.
I had a Fang Bo 2 carbon and still have a Fang Bo 2X, I know how they play so I was a bit worried about my BH, to be honest. The Fang Bo blades are not particularly crisp, especially since the normal FB2 vibrates a lot. I actually liked them quite a bit since I like DHS blade quality, their headshape is better for me than BTY, I actually quite liked the Fang Bo handles, normally I wouldn't since it's thin and flat, but I really liked them. Anyways both blades' backhand side is kinda meh, not crisp, kinda slow, and holds the ball back a lot. I used them with Vega Asia on the BH in the past, which was a good combo with them.
Anyway, my girlfriend got in touch with Gan and asked to buy one W968 provincial and in the end, she bought 4 since I told her I can probably shift the other 3 in Europe this way the shipping cost per blade is better too.


More pics of my blade

When I received the blades at first glance they don't look much different from commercial blades. My normal Fang Bo 2 by look had a nicer-looking top limba ply, while the FB2X a worse. But then I noticed that the handle is very different from other DHS blades, it's much fatter. I like it fatter. On even closer inspection I thought my blade doesn't even have an ayous core. Ayous has very visible holes in it. I guess these are some water channels for the tree. But the core of these W968 has very small holes and the number of holes is much fewer than on other blades with ayous core. The 2nd layer is also ayous, which has on all blades a normal amount of holes. Really these are the only differences I saw by looking.
If you expect the W968 pro to have perfectly sanded/milled/sawed carbon at the edge of the blade you better chase away this dream, they literally look like the cheap DHS blades and you can see some strands hanging out. I don't particularly care about this tho, since it doesn't impact the performance.

Some forum members have asked me to write my opinion of the blade. I appreciate the interest, dare I say someone valuing my opinions/ramblings.
It's really hard to be objective about something that I like, and as much as I try I think I mostly fail miserably. (in my opinion)

Let's start with backhand:
Oh, Zwill is mad? Talking about a W968's backhand from the start when it is said that it's not for BH-oriented players, more like for FH pivoters? If you want BH use Viscaria like every sane person!!1!
LIARS! Well, liars if they used real W968 and not just HL5 or Fang Bo carbon blades. Actually, I can't really remember how HL5 feels like since I only tried one briefly.
But, I will say the backhand was the most impressive thing about this blade as my first impression. On my first try, I glued a blue V15 Extra on BH. Now I quite like the V15 extra for BH, I used it before on my ZQ S-ALC but not the blue. I don't like the blue one, it's hard, deadish, not as grippy as the black, doesn't bite the ball as much, and has much less catapult. It's also significantly heavier. 53g for the blue while 49g for the black cut to the same size.
Anyways I used this since I didn't wanna take of the MX-S from the ZQ SALC.
W968 is fast on BH, and shockingly crisp. I was kinda like a deer staring at the headlights on my first hits and just couldn't understand what is happening. I had expectations due to the Fang Bo blades (and to some extent due to the Innerforce ZLC I used before) and my expectations were dismissed immediately.
W968 has a fair amount of catapult built in the blade and I can only "blame" the very dense core it has. Once the ball hits down to the core the blade is just so nice. It is not particularly hard to hit down on the core either, the blade wants that, and it invites me to do it as much as possible.
This made me change the blue V15 extra to my MX-S since the blue V15 is not a very good rubber. MX-S has a shorter and more curvy trajectory compared to V15 extra. It's more spinny, but it's a bit more difficult to handle, I mean you can't do half-assed hits with it. If you do that the topsheet won't grip the ball well and the ball will fall into the net. MX-S on FH where giving enough momentum is normally not an issue is very like a T05, probably the most T05-like rubber from ESN, however on BH where giving enough momentum is not always trivial can act like a D80, it feels harder. Anyways I got the hang of MX-S tonight (2nd training with it) and it's good, however due to the short trajectory and high arc of the rubber I think it is not very suitable for W968.
W968 has a catapult effect, but also naturally makes the ball arc more than a Viscaria type blade. My ZQ S-ALC shoots the ball more forward it doesn't lift or arc the ball nearly as much as W968, and with that blade the MX-S makes more sense.
I think with W968 T64 type of rubbers on BH are the way to go. Now I know that is not a very popular type of rubber and so not many clones exist.
V15 extra is not a clone but close enough, MX-P is probably a good option, Rakza 9??? I never tried, but that should be a T64 clone as well.
When I started to play with Chinese gear a Chinese coach told me a good setup is HL5 blade, H3N39 OS and Vega Asia. So I have Vega Asia incoming for my BH which is also a T64 clone. Vega Asia is light too, like 46-7g cut if I remember well, that is 3-4g lighter than the previously mentioned rubbers.
This way the blade has a natural ball lifting ability and Vega Asia is easy to handle since the top rubber sheet is softer than T05 clones, and Vega Asia is quite fast too. I suppose no wonder Chinese are using H3 on the backhand which also has a flat trajectory.
Blocking is so stable guys, like I said it's crisp and just stable as hell. Can't wish for more.

Okay, forehand:
Yeah, it's good. Do I need more explanation? I only tried it with a Young Shine Dingtian rubber at 40deg. (Falco boosted) Basically, this rubber is very similar to a H3 blue sponge. Not as tacky, not as spinny, but faster and possibly has a higher lift than H3.
As I mentioned before the blades loves it when the ball is hit down or through the core. On FH this is super apparent. It makes a fantastic cracking sound, and I think the Dingtian rubber also helps in this a lot. It's very catapulty in this setup.
On strong hits, the core strength is clear it's apparent how the blade is lifting the ball naturally. Of course, I am mostly comparing this lifting capability to the ZQ S-ALC blade.
There might be other blades that do this better than the W968, I just don't know which ones.
But W968 is pretty fast too I don't notice a speed downgrade compared to the ZQ S-ALC, and that is basically a Super Viscaria type of blade which should be faster on paper. 1360hz vs 1510hz what I measured for the two blades, so W968 should be noticeably slower, I notice the opposite so I am baffled.
I honestly can't say much more about the FH, it's just great and everyone has mentioned that before me many times.
I can't stress enough how strong the core feels and the ball lifting capability, this is not something I noticed in other blades.
Blocking is just as nice and stable as on BH.
If one doesn't want to use Chinese rubbers on FH, I think good options are stuff like Bluegrip C2, Tibhar K3, V>20, Omega Chinas, D09c...
And probably Tibhar K2 would be veeeeery suitable since that rubber is such a good boosted Chinese rubber copy and the dense sponge probably helps to hit down the core.

Over the table play:
Funnily this is where I had some trouble. It has this catapult effect on small touches too. I need to get used to it. This is very uncharacteristic of an inner construction blade, but here it is.

Another few things worth mentioning:
Dingtian + W968 + V15extra blue = 197g, that is a chunky boy. I know there are some mad lads here who play with 200g+ blades, and I don't wanna be called a wimp but 197g is a bit much for me normally. Funnily enough, it didn't feel heavy. I "blame" the good handle for not feeling heavy.
Dingtian + W968 + MX-S = 194g, still not light so I think I will very welcome the Vega Asia and I hope I will be kissing the 190g psychological barrier.

A guy bought one of my blades and he tried it yesterday and he called me today that he's very much considering getting another one just as a spare since he likes it so much. He has a shit ton of BTY blades and used an OSP before but he says nothing is like this.

I was one who didn't understand why WCQ, LJK switched to W968 since both have pretty excellent backhands, I kinda get it now. It matches with low arc, tacky, hard rubbers, and it is more stable than VIS. I think it's easier to use than VIS with high arc rubbers and because low arc rubbers tend to have a long trajectory it helps to push your opponent off the table and engage in rally. I mean this is Ma Long's game pretty much.

EDIT: 16/01/2023
I'm gonna add this to the first post as an update.

So regarding the backhand side I've been experimenting a bit.
Initially I tried V15 Extra which is pretty suitable in my opinion. It's one of the better ESN rubbers too, fast, crisp, not too spin sensitive, quite spinny and tolerates hard hits. It's good rubber and I guess it's no wonder Jang Woojin used this it on his W968. The only thing about the V15 Extra is which I mentioned before, maybe I got a not so great blue sheet... The black is great tho, not sure about the red one. The blue one for me is 53g which is a lot, the black is 49g and that is normal.
It's very good for banana flicks and blocking, I can see why so many high ranked pros chose this rubber.

Afterwards I tried MX-S which I found a bit hard to use. The topsheet is pretty hard for BH side, one needs constant wrist action otherwise the topsheet just doesn't bite. The ball just skids off the sheet and that is unwanted. On the other hand if you can create the friction it releases a very high quality ball.
I guess the best thing about MX-S is that it's very good with pushes. If it bites the ball during a push that is also very high quality underspin and fast.
It's pretty hard to do banana flicks with it since it doesn't bite that well, I always feel like it's a risky shot with this rubber.
It's a bit heavy rubber at 50-51g. I can imagine it being really good on FH for someone who prefers spin-tension rubbers over sticky. I think on FH MX-P is a mistake lol, MX-S is much better. BH I would probably choose MX-P since it's easier to use.

Xiom Vega Asia, so I borrowed one. I thought I will like it. I didn't. After playing with V15 and MX-S for a long time Vega Asia felt like it's made for kids. It is very stable and easy to use, it grips the ball automatically unlike the MX-S, which is a really positive point, but it lacks the stretch and "snap strength" of V15 and MX-S. The topsheet is soft and lazy. Now that being said if someone prefers the feeling that they are creating the spin and not some catapulty-stretchy rubber wizardry then I would totally recommend it. It's not slow either, on blocks and flat hits it's pretty bouncy. You can access the bounce effortlessly, but on hard swings I feel the rubber just "rolls off" like subwoofer over 150hz lol. I feel the max grip of the topsheet is much less than the previous 2 rubber. Now this actually opens a few possibilities I noticed. If you get spin loaded slow opening loops on your backhand from the Vega Asia the ball just slips off. It makes that hiss sound and the ball just slips if you touch the spinny ball very very softly. This can be abused since your opponent will step back and expect a high ball as a return, but you can just drop the ball right behind the net. It's like an anti rubber if you can use it this way.
Also I guess it has this mushy feeling which I don't love, but I can see the appeal of it actually.
It's pretty light at 46g too, so it has some things going for it, but it's just not for me I think.

And today I tried a Fastarc G-1. Well I have to admit I think this is the first time I played with a G-1. I got it used to test it out. Actually the topsheet is in pretty good nick for being used. So I can get why people say it is very durable. I think before I tried a P-1 just on someone else's racket, it left me with not much impression. But the G-1, damn I get why it's popular. Honestly speaking the topsheet is very grippy, I can't recall a non-sticky rubber that is more grippy than G-1. It's not a speed monster by default but I think it has a decent amount of catapult if one has the technique. I feel like it imparts more spin and speed on the ball if you try to hit down on the blade. In a way this resembles what Chinese rubbers are doing so no wonder it would work well with W968 too.
Since in EU there is a bit of an energy crisis the gyms are not heated properly, I actually play nowadays in ski underclothes which I bought in Aldi. (actually those would deserve a review how great they are for 10EUR lol)
Back on topic while V15 extra and especially MX-S topsheet gets harder below 18degrees it is a testament to G-1 how even in cold it has super grip and suppleness while V15 and MX-S is a struggle.
It is not a speed monster, but like... during blocking I did some flat punching. It is very spin insensitive and I didn't really have to punch hard to make the ball fast. I wouldn't say it's a slow rubber, just not as extreme as the above 3. Well since mine is used and all it shrank like most ESN rubbers (and maybe it was cut to a small head blade too) so when I glued it on the 968 it looks like a pen FH rubber. Well I just glued a piece of red rubber cutoff in the "empty" area. Yeah it's very ghetto. So without cut and some glue layers it was 47g, I predict it will be like 49g new fully cut to the W968. Oh I got it in superthick, which is 2.0mm. My friend said it's better in 2.0mm than in MAX. I believe him since you really need to hit down with it on the blade to make it work the best.
Yeah, I really like it, I like that it gives me stroke options. Hit hard, or just try to do a slow spinny BH open, banana flick should not be an issue with this level of grip.

TL;DR for backhand use:
Opening loops G-1>MX-S>=V15>Vega Asia
Fast attack V15>G-1>MX-S>Vega Asia
Underspin pushes MX-S>>G-1>Vega Asia>V15
Blocking V15>G-1>Vega Asia>MX-S
Countering MX-S>G-1>=V15>Vega Asia
Max Spin MX-S>G-1>V15>Vega Asia
Ease of rotation G-1>V15>Vega Asia>MX-S
Arc height MX-S>G-1>V15>Vega Asia
Speed Vega Asia>V15>MX-S>G-1

PS. If BH is your very weak side and you mainly push and block I suggest to try Tibhar Aurus Select, Joola Rhyzen CMD or Vega Asia and abuse the crap out of the soft touch slippage of Vega Asia. I am not joking that will totally mess with your opponent's brain!
If you want a light BH rubber, V11 extra or 2.1mm Tibhar Aurus Select. Both are sub 45g and very good.

Okay let's make a small detour for forehand too. (this is gonna be a love song)
Young Shine Dingtian... I have not touched that rubber since I glued it on. It is truly an amazing rubber. I think I actually like it more than H3N national blue sponge. There was a small learning curve with it but this rubber needs to be hyped to no end. Sure I'm sure W968 is a huge factor but this combo is really insane.
This combo with the right technique literally has "unlimited" power. Before with Rakza Z EH, Bluegrip C2, or H3N orange or be it H8-80 or even D09c on faster blades I used 80% of my power to impart good spin and speed on the ball. Of course, all of these are pretty hard rubbers so to achieve sponge compression and blade support I need a lot of force. But with W968 and the Dingtian I can just use 40% of my power and achieve more than with previously mentioned rubbers. W968 isn't a speed monster either, I played with faster blades before with those rubbers but like lol. Not even the same ballpark.
I can play so loosey-goosey on my FH now, I know with loose 40% power I can put away balls because they are so fast.
And guys make no mistake, the best hit is what your opponent cannot react or reach! Speed wins over spin!
I have been saying it before in some posts that I really don't feel how Chinese rubbers like H3N BS or even hybrids like Rakza Z create the spin. I still vouch for this, I don't know when or where it happens. With spin tension rubbers like V15 or MX-S or G-1 I can feel the topsheet stretching, but not with Chinese sticky rubbers. Normally with spin-tension rubbers you hit the ball tangentially and the topsheet stretches more and then it snaps back and the spin is generated. It is very simple and I can feel it happening in the process.
With sticky Chinese rubbers like H3N BS or especially the Dingtian I have to be very aware to just leave the bladeface totally vertical! If I hit the ball fully dead center and my arm is going upwards and my wrist is loose and moving upwars too this generates so much spin that is insane. And since it feels like I am basically smashing the ball it has incredible speed too. If course I am using my legs and hips, turn of my torso too this is why I can just use 40% of my power and the ball flies super fast. I remember H3N BS did this too, pretty well but I think Dingtian is even better. I hit my partner on the nail with a 80% power shot and he had to sit down since he was so much in pain.

This isn't convincing enough? I have more. I have booster the Dingtian with 2 light layers of FTL, like 5-6 weeks ago. I am not a boosting expert but just looking at some online comments around the 8 week mark FTL should start to wear off. I'm not there yet ofc, but the Dingtian's boosting effect has not gotten any worse in fact it might be better? I remember I used this rubber in the summer once without boosting it was dead and slow as f.ck. It reacts to FTL extremely well. This should be pretty good news to you if you don't live in China since Seamoon is a bit hard to get over here, but FTL is easy to get and the price is on par with Seamoon.
Fast attack with Dingtian with open bladeface... guys, it's insane. It hits trough the topsheet, sponge and right on to the W968 and it feels so satisfying. 60% power is more than enough, it is not returnable and even if by some miracle it gets returned recovering from a 60% shot is easy peasy. Before with Rakza Z or C2 I was doing full balls to the wall, yolo hits and they came back sometimes. I have seen the face of my partners so much how they looked back on the table after one fast attach from the Dingtian. It's the look of disbelief and utter despair?
Hey, ok Zwill it plays pretty well, but does it last a week without bubbles? Well I have to say so far yeah. After 5-6 weeks of absolute abuse, it is holding up super well. Sure no bubbles, but that is again not the whole picture. If you have played with H3 topsheed for an extended time you know that the bottom part of the rubber that is close to your body gets a bit dull and then in the middle, there will be a bit of discoloring from all the contacts and dust etc. I would say H3 topsheet is more of the durable ones on the market. If it doesn't bubbles up it can last years. I can proudly say that the Dingtian has only dullness where I rest my thumb in the middle. No bottom side nor middle discolorization.
I think I mentioned it before but the topsheed looks like it has a different sticky layer than H3N, much more thin, and the rubber under feels like the Dingtian has much more artificial rubber/plastic compound than H3N. But I don't give a damn since it's so durable and good.

PSS.: If you like boosted sticky Chinese rubbers I urge you to get a Dingtian! Not sure who makes it, I really hope it's some 80 year old Chinese grandma doing it on the base of Tibet with all the fresh air and clean mountain water, and I can even accept if she used Dodo bird feathers and T-Rex blood in the formula!
 
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I might add, that especially WCQs bh improved by a lot the moment he made his switch, coming from VIS. I mean he even had some mean bh countershots that left FZD standing there without even trying to reach it. And all that with H3 on bh, which i couldnt believe until he destroyed FZD in one of his recent matches.

That alone made me really want one of these, if they wouldnt have those ridiculous pricetags.
 
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How does it compare with your FB2 for speed and flex?

It's faster by a lot, and less flexy. FB2 vibrates a lot and it's a bit annoying too. It vibrates kinda long after impact and it's bothering.
They have some resemblance in play so for someone who wants a cheap clone or slower blade it's totally doable.


I might add, that especially WCQs bh improved by a lot the moment he made his switch, coming from VIS. I mean he even had some mean bh countershots that left FZD standing there without even trying to reach it. And all that with H3 on bh, which i couldnt believe until he destroyed FZD in one of his recent matches.

That alone made me really want one of these, if they wouldnt have those ridiculous pricetags.

Yeah, he's really good. He's getting back impossible balls with great quality. I can't say I love his attitude (lol, sorry?) but I think he's the only player consistently beating Ma Long for a few years now and it was a crime that he wasn't even in top10 until just recently.

I am not a huge female TT watcher, but I really like watching Wang Yidi's game. She's so stable and scary.
 
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It's faster by a lot, and less flexy. FB2 vibrates a lot and it's a bit annoying too. It vibrates kinda long after impact and it's bothering.
They have some resemblance in play so for someone who wants a cheap clone or slower blade it's totally doable.



Yeah, he's really good. He's getting back impossible balls with great quality. I can't say I love his attitude (lol, sorry?) but I think he's the only player consistently beating Ma Long for a few years now and it was a crime that he wasn't even in top10 until just recently.

I am not a huge female TT watcher, but I really like watching Wang Yidi's game. She's so stable and scary.

My understanding is that FB2 is stiffer than HL5 (i'm not sure if that also means it is faster). But you said W968 is stiffer and faster than FB2. So does that mean that W968 is much faster than HL5 and much stiffer?

 
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WCQ and LJK switched to the newer W968, not the one ML first used.

The newer W968 has a smaller head, more crisp and less flex.

The older W968 (ML using 2015-2016) is a FH monster. The catapult effect is obvious and the ball just dives after the second bounce.

Now that is confusing. 1st gen and 2nd gen w968 that play different?

Is ML using 1st or 2nd gen?

 
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I thought I would tag on to this review with some thoughts of my own on my W968, rather than starting a new thread - hope that is ok Zwill?

My blade is a 2019 letters model (new) which has the smaller head but larger handle - I also have a base HL5 and an HL5x but my recent blade has been the FZD ALC. I have enjoyed using both the HL5 and 5x but felt both were lacking something - the HL5 was a very small handle and a little mushy feeling unless I used very hard rubbers and the 5x was much stiffer and harder and more like an outer ALC blade in speed and feel, which I liked but always felt a lack of control. Both has bits that I liked (mostly the feel and confidence around FH/BH loops and the ability to spin the ball)

I am an intermediate player - I play in the local top division league but am only 12 months back into the game having played a lot as a younger man. I probably play 9h/week and have coaching once a week. I am an offensive player on both wings and my focus is on opening up and topspin whenever I can make that opportunity. My weakness is being drawn into pushing rallies on half long balls to my BH that I really should be opening up on...

I used rubbers on the W968 that I am very familiar with in order to make some meaningful comparisons - these are Tibhar K3 on FH and Rakza 7 on BH (neither were new but not well used) My session last night was a typical club session of 3h consisting of some practice, a match vs a guy I play a lot (evenly matched) and then some competitive doubles (always good for my BH practice)

My impressions;

1. Handle - 10/10 and I really appreciated the larger size and more chunky feel. Much more like my FZD that I am very comfortable with.

2. Feel - I could tell when bouncing a ball up and down before playing that this had a very different feel to either the HL5 / 5x, and this was borne out when playing with it. I would best describe it as having more "feel" but less vibration - it feels very solid rather than hollow and that in turn gives a feeling of the ball being absorbed through the sponge onto the blade before the shot is complete. This might be described as dwell or hold I guess and certainly means there is a feeling of more spin and control being imparted to topspin shots. Interestingly, I am never someone who uses backspin behind the table but last night I found myself hitting this shot for fun when practicing because there was just a higher confidence level around the ball being absorbed into the sponge.

3. Speed - frequency of circa 1390 put this somewhere between HL5 and FZD/5x and I would say this is about how it felt. There is no doubt it has plenty of speed when you put the effort into a decent topspin, but it never felt too bouncy or fast when playing slower shots of a topspin nature. I will agree with Will however that it felt a little bouncier than Hl5 when playing short touch around the net.

4. Weight - mine weighs 90g which is perfect for me, and with these rubbers weighs in at 188g. It felt perfectly balanced, helped by the handle size no doubt - not as head heavy as the HL5/x feel.

Early days but initial impressions very positive and meeting my expectations - certainly very different from the 5 and 5x. I had planned to keep these as back up but in all honesty they are not that similar (5x may stay at a push but if anybody is looking for an HL5 to try give me a shout)

Rubbers were a good fit - K3 is perfect given it is fairly hard but feels relatively soft. R7 - not sure but will be trying a few others (T05FX that felt too soft on HL5 and also T80) - I am also intrigued by the Vega Asia recommendation so keen to know more about this one when Zwill puts it on.

That's about it for now - hope this is of some help to anybody considering this investment...

 
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Edit: I actually started writing my post before Wrighty67 posted his thoughts, seems like he shares my assessment of the HL5 and HL5X.

OP:
The characteristics of the W968 sound very similar to the regular HL5. I suspect the W968 is a stiffer, more powerful HL5 due to using a higher quality, denser core. The HL5X does the same in a cheaper fashion by simply making the core thicker, but it probably sacrifices some dwell and the soft touch because it then has to make the surface plies thinner. This may be why many amateurs prefer the HL5X, as the requirement for the short game is less and it's easier to generate power with softer strokes. I can share some of my impression of the regular HL5, let me know how that compares with your impression of the W968.

First, a bit detail about my equipment. I've been using an old version commercial HL5 sanded down to a TB ALC mold the past week (from 160mm to 158mm). Even sanded down it's 94 grams, and the handle is a bit thicker than the new version of the commercial HL5 which I also have and used the week prior. I also used the CPen HL5 for a month a few months ago when I dabbled with CPen. I have a CPen HL5X as well but I only used it once or twice. At my level of USATT ~1800 I can't really tell the difference between them in terms of playing characteristics. I'm using the older version because it just feels more solid in my hand and has better balance. I'm using D09C on FH and D05 on the BH currently. I've tried T05, T05FX, and H8-80 37 on the BH, and H3P 40 unboosted on the FH as well. And of course I've also twiddled so I've tried all the rubbers on both FH and BH.

Anyhow, my assessment is that the commercial HL5, both the old and the new one, have tremendous catapult when you loop hard, and a pleasant cracking sound that's more typical of all wood blades and very rare in composite blades which tend to make a more "ping" sound. It pairs better with harder rubbers, as you need to loop very hard to make use of the catapult, and harder rubbers won't bottom out when you do so.

For the short game it has a very soft feel. It's not bouncy at all and I have a much easier time pushing short and serving short with it.

On the BH side even the T05 felt a bit mushy. The softer touch and the soft rubber has too much dwell for quick counters. With a hard and moderately bouncy rubber like the D05 it feels much better. I actually really liked the D09C on the BH side, but I already have a sheet of D05, it works well enough and I don't want to shell out another $100 on a red D09C! Even then it can't really match the crispness of say Viscaria + T05 or T05FX. On the other hand, it's pretty good at soft blocks. Like on the FH side, in order to generate pace you need an active stroke. You can't really rely on using the speed/spin from your opponent's shot. I essentially don't use soft counters or active blocks with my setup, it's either a soft block or a hard counter. You see Ma Long do the same, and I think he considers that an advantage as it's a quite big change of pace to go from a soft block to a hard counter.

My strength is footwork and FH power. The HL5 really accentuates those qualities. I'll simply adjust my developing BH game to fit the qualities of the HL5.
 
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I thought I would tag on to this review with some thoughts of my own on my W968, rather than starting a new thread - hope that is ok Zwill?

My blade is a 2019 letters model (new) which has the smaller head but larger handle - I also have a base HL5 and an HL5x but my recent blade has been the FZD ALC. I have enjoyed using both the HL5 and 5x but felt both were lacking something - the HL5 was a very small handle and a little mushy feeling unless I used very hard rubbers and the 5x was much stiffer and harder and more like an outer ALC blade in speed and feel, which I liked but always felt a lack of control. Both has bits that I liked (mostly the feel and confidence around FH/BH loops and the ability to spin the ball)

I am an intermediate player - I play in the local top division league but am only 12 months back into the game having played a lot as a younger man. I probably play 9h/week and have coaching once a week. I am an offensive player on both wings and my focus is on opening up and topspin whenever I can make that opportunity. My weakness is being drawn into pushing rallies on half long balls to my BH that I really should be opening up on...

I used rubbers on the W968 that I am very familiar with in order to make some meaningful comparisons - these are Tibhar K3 on FH and Rakza 7 on BH (neither were new but not well used) My session last night was a typical club session of 3h consisting of some practice, a match vs a guy I play a lot (evenly matched) and then some competitive doubles (always good for my BH practice)

My impressions;

1. Handle - 10/10 and I really appreciated the larger size and more chunky feel. Much more like my FZD that I am very comfortable with.

2. Feel - I could tell when bouncing a ball up and down before playing that this had a very different feel to either the HL5 / 5x, and this was borne out when playing with it. I would best describe it as having more "feel" but less vibration - it feels very solid rather than hollow and that in turn gives a feeling of the ball being absorbed through the sponge onto the blade before the shot is complete. This might be described as dwell or hold I guess and certainly means there is a feeling of more spin and control being imparted to topspin shots. Interestingly, I am never someone who uses backspin behind the table but last night I found myself hitting this shot for fun when practicing because there was just a higher confidence level around the ball being absorbed into the sponge.

3. Speed - frequency of circa 1390 put this somewhere between HL5 and FZD/5x and I would say this is about how it felt. There is no doubt it has plenty of speed when you put the effort into a decent topspin, but it never felt too bouncy or fast when playing slower shots of a topspin nature. I will agree with Will however that it felt a little bouncier than Hl5 when playing short touch around the net.

4. Weight - mine weighs 90g which is perfect for me, and with these rubbers weighs in at 188g. It felt perfectly balanced, helped by the handle size no doubt - not as head heavy as the HL5/x feel.

Early days but initial impressions very positive and meeting my expectations - certainly very different from the 5 and 5x. I had planned to keep these as back up but in all honesty they are not that similar (5x may stay at a push but if anybody is looking for an HL5 to try give me a shout)

Rubbers were a good fit - K3 is perfect given it is fairly hard but feels relatively soft. R7 - not sure but will be trying a few others (T05FX that felt too soft on HL5 and also T80) - I am also intrigued by the Vega Asia recommendation so keen to know more about this one when Zwill puts it on.

That's about it for now - hope this is of some help to anybody considering this investment...

People said FZD ALC has the longest dwell time among all the outer ALC blades. Some even said FZD ALC plays very much the same as W968. Can you comment on the catapult effect, feel and dwell time between W968 and FZD ALC?

 
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D05 on the BH currently. I've tried T05, T05FX, and H8-80 37 on the BH, and H3P 40 unboosted on the FH as well. And of course I've also twiddled so I've tried all the rubbers on both FH and BH.

Hey Dingy

Interesting BH rubber references - my other three rubbers to try on BH on this blade are;

05FX - a favourite of mine and one I want to try next (was too mushy feeling on HL5)
8-80 (37) another great BH rubber for when I want a bit more hardness / spin / control
T80 - not yet tried but felt it could be a good fit on this blade

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these having used them.

 
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People said FZD ALC has the longest dwell time among all the outer ALC blades. Some even said FZD ALC plays very much the same as W968. Can you comment on the catapult effect, feel and dwell time between W968 and FZD ALC?

Yes, I would agree with that - I have Viscaria, LGY and have also played Boll ALC and Jike. No doubt the FZD has the most dwell/feeling at the expense of some of the crispness.

I wouldn't say it plays too similarly to the W968 from what I have seen yet - that may change. FZD is still much more direct and crisp and offers up less time and feel, particularly on the FH side.

That having been said, it may well be that the FZD is the one blade I keep as backup and not the HL5x.

 
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Zwill, thanks for the great review.
Could you perhaps briefly write a comparison of the W968 to the Nexy Eucrasia. The idea for the Nexy Eucrasia was the W968, even though the composition is completely different.
 
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It seems there is a trend on the CNT to move to the new w968. Why are LGY and FZD still holding out?

FZD and LGY are sponsored by BTY and will get a shitload of money and their equipment they are getting from BTY for years.
THey wont swap until their contract runs out and even then they probably wont.

 
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