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Donic's Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition Blades Complete Review

19 April 2017  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick Hrdlicka

Patrick 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’s Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition Blades

Jan-Ove Waldner - the 1992 Olympics Champion, 6-times World Champion, 11-times European Champion, 7-times Top 12 Winner, 2-times World Cup Winner, and 9-times Swedish Men’s Singles Champion – retired from competitive table tennis in 2016. To honor the “Mozart of Table Tennis”, Donic has produced two limited edition blades that sport the unique “drop” shape that was introduced by Waldner himself, which is longer and narrower than standard blades. 

The Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition – which also is known as Donic Waldner Offensive - is a thin and lightweight blade (approx. 159 mm x 147 mm, 5.5 mm thick, ~80 g) that is built using a 5-ply limba-spruce-ayous-spruce-limba veneer construction. The Donic Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Limited Edition, on the other hand, has a 5+2-ply limba-ayous-carbon-ayous carbon-ayous-limba veneer construction and is equally thin and lightweight (160 mm x 149 mm, 5.6 mm, ~78 g). Both blades come in a black box that lists Donic-sponsored players and characteristics of Donic’s blades on its back. The blades have a retro look with a classic lens, a handle with two vertical blue and yellow lines (i.e., the colors of the Swedish flag), and a print of Jan-Over Waldner on the lens side of the blade. The rounded straight (RST) handles are comfortable and sufficiently long (~101 mm) to fit relatively large hands. The RST handle of the Donic Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Limited Edition is slightly more oval and hollow (i.e., the Senso handle). Visual inspection of the two blades suggests that the level of craftsmanship is good; both blades have minimally sanded wings and have a pleasant balance that is tilted slightly towards the head. A bounce test revealed that a significantly higher pitch is produced by the Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition than the Donic Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Limited Edition, suggesting the former is faster and/or stiffer. Both blades appear to have a relatively narrow sweet spot, as evidenced by the significantly deeper pitch when bouncing the ball near the edges.

Testing Procedure:

I started by sealing the blades overnight with one thin layer of a water-based lacquer. I then attached DHS Hurricane 8 (2.2 mm, black, 40-degree sponge, ~10 h) and TSP Spinlord Waran (1.8 mm, red, ~40 h) as my FH and BH rubbers, respectively, using one layer of Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested the two Donic blades for three sessions each, playing a mix of simple drills and practice matches and using seamless 3-star 40+ plastic balls.

Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition - Playing Impressions:

Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited EditionThe first couple of FH drives quickly revealed that this is a blade in the OFF- range that offers a reasonably crisp and well-defined contact point. The unusual drop shape took me a minute to get used to, as the blade clearly felt ‘longer’; initially, I felt like I was scooping the ball over the net. However, this feeling quickly subsided, and soon FH drives felt very natural. The combination with the DHS Hurricane 8 rubber is not overly fast, and I definitively needed to provide a little bit more effort than with my usual OFF+ rated blade. BH drives with my Waran short pips, on the other hand, were very fast, yet reasonably controlled; the blade is sufficiently hard to cause the ball to dip when hitting with the short pips. FH loops with this setup are moderately fast but very controlled, which allows for a high degree of variation in placement. The DHS Hurricane 8 is normally a medium-low throw rubber but generated enough of an arc to provide safety over the net. I would characterize the dwell time as medium, offering an excellent balance for looping and smashing. Certainly, there are OFF- rated blades that offer a softer and more flexible feel for the same amount of speed, which some might prefer for looping, but I enjoyed the more direct feeling of this blade. Although not a speed monster, the Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition is more than fast enough to enable dynamic play from mid-distance from both wings. Blocking with this setup was comfortable and controlled, and flat hits and smashes were fast enough to result in direct winners. The blade offers excellent control in the short game and on serves. The blade has many gears and allows for a varied game style. Although I tested the blade using a DHS Hurricane 8 in my FH, I think the blade would pair even better with slightly softer and bouncier European/Japanese rubbers, such as Tibhar’s Evolution MX-S, EL-S, or, if one can wield it, MX-P. I expect this would yield a fast, yet highly controllable set-up for a modern offensive game style. The Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition offers an outstanding price-to-performance ratio and players with a variable aggressive game style, looking for a lightweight blade, ought to seriously consider this blade. I can see many types of players benefit from this blade with proper rubber selection, from intermediate to highly advanced players, from young to old. It is a great blade.

Read Waldner JO Shape Customer Reviews & Get Our Best Price >>


Donic Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Limited Edition - Playing Impressions:

Donic Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Limited EditionThe Donic Waldner Senso Carbon is clearly a notch slower than the Donic Waldner JO Shape Limited Edition – I would categorize it as solidly in the ALL+ range. FH and BH drives were very controlled but required me to put in more effort than normal, especially on the FH side as I was using the tacky Hurricane 8 rubber. The blade’s moderate speed required more power generation from the legs and/or a bigger swing on FH loops. Don’t get me wrong, the control is great and the throw sufficiently high to clear the net, but I got a good workout playing with this setup. Blocks and smashes are controlled, but I prefer a crisper sensation upon contacting the ball. Unsurprisingly, the control in the short game and on serves is very good. The blade has an above-average dwell time and a flexible and soft feeling, which translates in excellent spin generation. It is hard to discern that this is a carbon blade – I ascribe the soft all-wood-like feeling to the fact that the carbon layers are placed between the ayous core and middle ayous plies. In fact, the shape, moderate speed, and excellent control of the blade prompted me to practice classic two-winged defense, as well as, modern one-winged defense for an hour. In my opinion, the blade is well-suited for both these styles, although modern defenders will want to use a faster FH rubber to facilitate counter-looping from mid-distance. Even the most aggressive chops against loops and smashes somehow floated over the net with a ton of backspin to the dismay of my usual practice partner. The Donic Waldner Senso Carbon also has much potential for developing young players and more senior players who will value its low weight and excellent control.

Read Waldner Senso Carbon JO Shape Customer Reviews & Get Our Best Price


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