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Nittaku Ma Long Seven Review – An Elastic 7-Ply Blade With Many Gears

03 August 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.

Introduction
In this test, I was given the opportunity to evaluate two recently released blades from Nittaku, i.e., the Ma Long Seven and the Bloodwood. You can read the Bloodwood review here. I tested these blades using DHS Hurricane 8 (FH, 2.2 mm, black) and Spinlord Waran (BH, 1.8 mm, red), which were attached to the blades using Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I evaluated each blade over 2-3 sessions, playing a mix of simple drills and matches against my regular practice partners using seamless 3-star 40+ plastic balls. 

Nittaku Ma Long Seven – An elastic 7-ply blade with many gears

Nittaku describes the Ma Long 7 as a blade “full of touch and feeling combined with power for topspin strokes” that offers a middle feel and mid-fast speed. The 7-ply wood composition of this “Made in China” blade has been selected by Nittaku and Ma Long for the Japanese market. 

The Nittaku Ma Long Seven comes in a box that is kept in silver and blue color tones with key blade characteristics listed on the front. The blade is slightly larger than normal (head size: 160 mm x 151 mm) with a thickness of ~6.3 mm and weighing 90 g. To the naked eye, the ply construction of the Ma Long Seven resembles the DHS Power G7 except that the plies surrounding the core ply are not dyed. The blade surface has a very light color. The blade’s name, a summary of its characteristics, and Ma Long’s signature are featured on the FH side of the blade. The handle, which is blue with a salmon-colored curvy line, has a black and yellow lens with red and silver text, and a silver Nittaku tag on the bottom of the blade. Although Nittaku calls the FL handle ‘large’, it is fairly standard-sized, resting comfortably in my hands (length x width x height: 101 mm x 28-35 mm x 26 mm). The blade surface is smooth, but the edge had a couple of rougher spots that could have smoothened out more. Also, the wings do not appear to have been sanded. The test set-up was slightly head heavy.

Nittaku Ma Long Seven

The Nittaku Ma Long Seven is a 7-ply all-wood blade with speed characteristics at the border of the OFF- and OFF range. The ball impact is on the softer side even though the blade is of average stiffness. The blade provides good control on FH/BH drives and sufficient speed for shots from mid-distance, especially since it has a slight catapult to it. My FH loops had a tendency to go a little long at first because I could not feel the hard Hurricane 8 rubber very well, but after some adjustments, I grew accustomed to the feeling. A medium throw angle was produced by the test setup on slow, as well as, power loops. Spin levels on slow opening loops are high. Blocking and flat hitting with the Ma Long Seven is delightful. The energy from incoming loops is absorbed comfortably, allowing for precise and controlled placement of blocks. Flat hits are facilitated by the blade’s slight kick. One of the strongest characteristics of this blade is that it offers excellent touch and feeling in the short game, especially when considering its speed reserves in open play. My FH and BH pushes and drop shots were of a high quality - low and very short. The blade has an average dwell time which is long enough to allow for a strong brushing contact on serves, producing high levels of spin.

Ma Long

Conclusion
The Nittaku Ma Long Seven plays like a slightly more elastic and less stiff version of DHS Power G7 or Tibhar Samsonov Pro Black Edition. In other words, it is slightly less linear, providing higher speeds and throw angles on high-impact shots, yet low speed on touch shots. The softer nature of the Ma Long Seven renders it more suitable for rubbers that are softer than the DHS Hurricane 8 such as Nittaku Fastarc G-1, Tibhar MX-P, or Xiom Omega V Tour. This is a blade for the advanced player who wants to upgrade from a classic 5-ply limba/ayous all-wood blade to something slightly faster while maintaining high levels of blade elasticity.

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