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Yasaka Rakza PO Review – A Spinny and Relatively Deceptive All-Round Short Pimpled Rubber

13 September 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.

I was recently given an opportunity to evaluate three short pimpled rubbers for Tabletennis11.com, i.e., the TSP Spectol Red, Yasaka Rakza PO, and Nittaku Moristo SP. This post is about Yasaka Rakza PO specifically. You can find links to the other 2 reviews at the bottom of this post.

I have been playing with short pips in my backhand for a little over two years and the reviews should be viewed in this light. During this time, I have tried 10+ different short pimpled rubbers including Spinlord Waran, Spinlord Waran II, TSP Spectol, RITC 802-40, Xiom Zava, Stiga Clippa, Stiga Radical, and Stiga Royal.

Testing procedure
I evaluated the three short pimpled rubbers on the Nittaku Ma Long Seven blade that I recently reviewed, along with a sheet of DHS’ Hurricane 3 Neo (provincial version, 2.15 mm, 40-degree orange sponge, black) in my FH. The rubbers were attached to the blade using Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I evaluated each set-up over at least two sessions, playing a mix of simple drills and matches against my regular practice partners using Nittaku J-Top 40+ plastic balls. 

Yasaka Rakza PO (Red, 2.0 mm) – A Spinny and Relatively Deceptive All-Round Short Pimpled Rubber

Yasaka Rakza POAccording to Yasaka, the Rakza PO short pimpled rubber has an increased spin capacity due to the shape and geometry of the pips and a higher proportion of natural gum in the top sheet. The top sheet is combined with Rakza 7’s “Power Sponge” to give this “Hybrid Energy” rubber. Supposedly, this combination enables the rubber to grip the ball and allow for accurate placement of the ball both in direction and length. Yasaka further states that the Rakza PO allows for easy handling of service returns and that it has excellent durability. Swedish player Mattias Karlsson, who has been rapidly climbing the world rankings over the past couple of years, plays with the German-made Rakza PO in his FH.

The rubber comes in a cardboard packaging that has a purple and silver color scheme with silver, golden, purple and white text. Key characteristics are listed on the back. The sheet has a very strong booster smell, is very floppy, and curls extensively. It is a quite heavy short pimpled rubber weighing 53 g uncut (height x weight: 169 x 169 mm) and 40 g cut to the 160 x 151 mm Nittaku Ma Long Seven blade. The topsheet is shiny, very grippy, and appears to be of high and durable quality. The pips are horizontally aligned (9 pips per 5 cm in vertical direction; 16 pips per 5 cm in horizontal direction), flexible, and have an average height, average width (~2.1 mm), and truncated cone shape with rough tops. The cream-colored sponge is relatively soft (~40-degrees on ESN scale) and has a high density of small pores.

Playing impressions
The first couple of BH drives revealed that the Yasaka Rakza PO is slower, softer, spinnier, more deceptive, but also a little bit harder to control than the TSP Spectol Red. Simply put, the margin for error is smaller with this rubber, in large part because the soft feeling renders the contact point less clear as with harder short pips. Correct timing is important to ensure high consistency on BH drives. In many respects, the Rakza PO plays and feels more like an inverted rubber than a classic short pimpled rubber, which includes a relative high throw angle, necessitating a more closed bat angle. Hitting through backspin is easy, but not as easy as with the TSP Spectol Red. BH attacks against long pushes, in particular, tended to go long and required a more closed bat angle. BH flicks on short serves and pushes, on the other hand, were easy to lift over the net. BH “loops” from mid-distance can be played reasonably competently but correct timing is, once again, critical to the success of these shots. Passive blocking against loops generates quite deceptive and treacherous returns. However, the softer feeling of the rubber, again, decreases consistency in my opinion. Active blocks played right off the bounce and with a lot of wrist snap, worked well with this rubber. Long pushes on serve returns can be played with a lot of spin. Short pushes can be kept very low and can be played with a tremendous amount of touch and finesse. Serves can be played with a surprising amount of spin. It is certainly possible to chop with highly variable spin using this short pimpled rubber, but its strengths are in the controlled offensive game.

Conclusion
In my opinion, the Yasaka Rakza PO is an excellent short pimpled rubber for players who want to use a combination of spin, deception, and mix of aggressive and touch game strategies.

Speed: 8/10
Spin: 9/10
Control: 7/10
Deception: 5/10
Hitting through backspin: 7.5/10
BH “loops” from mid-distance: 7/10
Blocking: 8/10
Short game: 9/10
Chopping: 8/10

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