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Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon Review – A Fast and Direct Composite Blade for the All-Out Attacker

16 July 2017  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick HrdlickaPatrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. Patrick progressed to play in the highest national cadet and junior team leagues in his native Denmark and was among the top 40 players in his age group, which fostered several long-standing members of the Danish National Team. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for almost twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and accepted a position as professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho.

At the beginning of 2014, the mid-life crisis and yearning for table tennis grew too strong for Patrick and he decided to pick up the sport again. Bitten again by the table tennis bug, he plays 4-6 times per week. 

Since his comeback to table tennis, he has enjoyed combining his analytical and experimental skills with his love for table tennis, testing and reviewing a wide range of table tennis equipment.

Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon – a fast and direct composite blade for the all-out attacker
The Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon is named after the 2013 and 2015 Men’s Singles European Champion and 2015 European Games Men’s Singles champion, Dimitri Ovtcharov. Following the switch to the 40+ plastic balls, Dima was looking for a blade to compliment his powerful strokes while enabling him to play the short service and return game with precision and accuracy. The result: the 5+2 ply Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon.

Physical appearance
Donic Ovtcharov True CarbonThe Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon (OTC) blade comes in simple but functional box that is black with silver and rainbow colored text. Pictures and descriptions of Donic-sponsored players are on the back of the box, along with classifications of Donic blades. According to this information, the OTC is one of the fastest Donic blades, being labeled as a blade for OFF to OFF+ play. The OTC has a standard sized head (157x150 mm), is thin (~5.5 mm), and very lightweight (~79 g). It has a thick kiri core which is surrounded by thin ayous plies. Thin Kevlar layers are positioned directly underneath thin koto outer plies. The kiri-composite-ayous-koto-ayous-composite-kiri ply construction is quite rare but also found in Xiom’s Stradivarius blade. The surface is devoid of text and print, while the handle is dark gray, with red and yellow stripes, thus resembling the colors of the German flag. The lens in the front is kept in the same colors. A small circular lens on the backhand side shows a picture of Dima. The bottom of the blade carries a white Donic tag. The ST handle is of a SQST style and has the following dimensions: length ~100 mm, width ~27.8 mm, and height ~21.9 mm. While the OTC’s handle felt smaller than those of the two other test blades, it still rested comfortably in my relatively large hands. The build quality is excellent with smooth edges all around and slightly sanded wings.

Playing impressions
The Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon is an OFF-/OFF rated, very lightweight, and relatively stiff blade. It produces a very direct and intuitive feeling with the Waran short pips on BH drives. In fact, this is one of the most pleasant set-ups that I have used for BH drives - fast, yet excellent control. Interestingly, the feeling on the FH side - where I use the DHS Hurricane 8 rubber – is considerably number, suggesting that the feeling upon ball impact is more rubber dependent than with other blades. FH drives were, nonetheless, fast and executed with high levels of control. This feeling carried over to flat FH/BH hits and blocks, which are this blade’s strength. Blocks, especially on the FH side, are very stable as this blade/rubber combination absorbs most of the incoming kinetic energy and produces fast and flat blocks. BH blocking with the Waran short pips required proper timing in order not to overshoot the table. BH ‘loops’ with the short pips also benefitted from the direct sensation, allowing me to land a high percentage of opening loops. To my surprise, I initially struggled with my FH loops and only slowly managed to develop a good understanding of the mechanics on these shots. The indirect feeling produced upon ball impact by the hard-sponged H8 and the outer koto ply of the OTC had the consequence that I had difficulties properly calibrating the amount of power to impart on the ball. This was particularly evident against heavy backspin balls, where a higher-than-usual number of FL loops overshot the table. Let me stress that the dwell time is sufficiently long and the throw angle sufficiently high to promote a looping game – my struggles were rooted in the ill-defined feeling on ball impact. Another aspect of my game that I struggled with initially were simple BH pushes. If found myself overshooting the table on numerous occasions, presumably due to the hard feeling of the blade. However, as the test progressed, I adjusted my style and ended up playing short and tight pushes and touch shots, although they lacked a couple percent in spin values. The direct nature of the OTC blade was beneficial when executing aggressive serve returns, with the ball going exactly where I wanted it to go. The H8/OTC combination worked very well on serves, as it allowed me to impart very high levels of mechanical spin on the ball. Long and fast side/top-spin serves were particularly vicious with this setup but short backspin serves were also loaded with spin.

Conclusion
The Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon is a great blade for advanced and upwards players with an aggressive and direct game style (think Dima). The blade is probably better suited for European and Japanese rubbers than very hard Chinese rubbers, as the latter result in a numb feeling that I found challenging with FH loops. Beware though, combining the OTC with Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P, Nittaku’s Fastarc G-1 or Xiom’s Omega V Tour will yield a lighting fast setup that will require a very high skill level to master. For those who can wield it, the Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon is a powerful weapon.

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