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Review: Donic Bluestorm Pro VS Tibhar Evolution MX-D

18 February 2022  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

Donic Bluestorm Pro and Tibhar Evolution MX-D 

     I have been impressed by Donic’s BlueGrip and Tibhar’s Evolution series (and used the MX-P as my FH rubber for several years) and was therefore pleased to evaluate the Donic Bluestorm Pro (BP) and Tibhar Evolution MX-D rubbers, this time around. 

Testing Procedure

      Given the expected faster nature of BP and MX-D rubbers compared to my regular Hurricane 3 FH rubber, I evaluated them – without any additional boosting – using the Neottec Magic Control blade and well-used sheets of Spinlord Waran II (2.0 mm, red) short pips in my BH. I attached the rubbers using two layers of Revolution 3 medium viscosity glue and tested them over 3-4 sessions playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my regular high-level practice partner. Neottec Neoplast Pro 40+ training balls were used throughout this test.


Donic Bluestorm Pro

     Donic describes the BP as a rubber that is used by professionals, yet ideal for all ambitious players. The 50-degree sponge is purported to deliver an extremely good catapult effect, whereas the grippy topsheet is said to enable topspins even when shots are hit out of position. Supposedly, this results in an extremely dynamic, spinny, yet controllable rubber that offers a direct touch. Donic lists speed/spin/control ratings of 11+/11/5+ for the Bluestorm Pro. For comparison, the BlueGrip C2 and Bluefire M1 Turbo rubbers have speed/spin/control ratings of 10+/11++/6- and 10++/10+++/6, respectively. Thus, the BP promises to be faster and spinnier than the Bluefire M1 Turbo, and significantly faster but less spinny than the BlueGrip C2.    

     The Donic Bluestorm Pro arrives in a blue-on-black cardboard wrapper that lists rubber-specific marketing information on its back. The inside cover lists a description of the Lifetime PLUS, Catapult PLUS, and Tension PLUS technologies that have been used in the fabrication of this rubber and which promise:

 1. An increase of 50% in possible playing hours

2. A catapult effect that allows for more precision when returning balls, even from difficult positions

3. Improved inner tension, resulting in a more pronounced speed glue feeling 

     The BP is protected by a thin paper sheet, and it has a prominent rubbery odor that is indicative of heavy factory boosting. However, the rubber only curls minimally. The topsheet is non-tacky and moderately grippy. The underlying pimples are visible below the topsheet. The blue sponge has a high density of large pores. The sponge is listed as being 50-degrees but feels a little softer than that to the touch. 

     The uncut BP sheet weighs 71 g (max black, height x width: 170 mm x 170 mm). When cut to the test blade (which is 155x151 mm, though I left a ~5 mm edge), the sheet weighs 51 g. Thus, the BP is lighter than Donic BlueGrip C2 (53 g), Donic Bluefire M1 Turbo (53 g), Tibhar Evolution MX-S (52 g), and Tibhar Evolution MX-P 50-degree (52 g). 


Playing Impressions 


     The Donic Bluestorm Pro felt surprisingly soft on FH drives. This, coupled with the lack of an audible click, initially gave me the misguided impression that the BP is a rather slow rubber. However, as it turns out, this is only because the strong catapult effect is not fully activated on these low-intensity shots.    


     The true speed of the BP is only revealed on higher intensity shots like FH loops. At this point, a very strong, but largely inaudible, the catapult is activated that markedly lengthens the shot trajectory. The throw angle is quite high, and the strong catapult and soft feeling meant that I had to take some care not to overshoot the table. Although my loops were quite fast (mid OFF), they were not particularly spinny. My third ball attacks were faster than with the MX-D, but the low spin imparted on the ball meant that it was very easy for my hitting partner to put me under major pressure on the fifth ball. Given the strong catapult effect, I was more comfortably retreating into mid-distance to play loops with soft hands, varying the placement with reasonably good consistency. The rubber’s catapult comes to full fruition in loop-to-loop rallies from afar, and I had to take care not to overshoot the table. 


     Akin to my subsequent observations with the MX-D, I had to use some restraint to prevent my FH flicks from going too long. The main challenge was knowing when the catapult kicks in. 


     Blocking with the BP is solid, especially when using a flat bat angle. More aggressive FH blocks, i.e., counter drives, however, activate the catapult rendering it challenging to land these shots if played close to the table. I enjoyed better consistency on my FH blocks when I stepped a little further behind the table and used soft hands and the rubber’s inherent speed to bring the ball back on the table.


     The comparatively soft feeling and variable catapult effect, caused me to overshoot the table on a couple of occasions when smashing. 


     I had to use very soft hands when executing long FH pushes, to avoid overshooting the table. Once I figured this out, I was able to play pushes with reasonably good consistency. However, I found it necessary to stay very focused and the pushes seemed to lack spin, rendering it easy for my partner to attack. Consequently, I had to be ready to quickly move out into mid-distance following a push. 

      The situation was quite different on short pushes, as I needed a surprising amount of power to bring them over the net, presumably since the catapult is not activated on these low-intensity shots. Once mastered, I was able to play the pushes low and short. 


     For similar reasons, I had to swing the paddle surprisingly hard to ensure sufficient length on pendulum backspin serves. Once again, the serves did not seem particularly spinny.    


     The Donic Bluestorm Pro is a rather soft-feeling rubber that generates a very strong catapult effect on high-intensity shot types. In other words, it is a very non-linear rubber, which renders it challenging to play with, especially since it isn’t initially clear when the strong catapult is activated. It is beneficial to use soft hands to place the ball around the table. For these reasons, I consider the BP a rubber for advanced players only, and it is best suited for those who play a clean aggressive game from mid-distance with less emphasis on spin.  


Tibhar Evolution MX-D

      Tibhar’s vision for the MX-D was to design a rubber that combines the dynamics of the Evolution P series with the spin characteristics of the Evolution S series, in other words, to create a hybrid between MX-P and MX-S. The MX-D is said to feature an MX-P-like topsheet and a new ‘’Red Energy Sponge” with a hardness of 51.3 degrees (± 1 degree). This combination is purported to result in optimized coupling and ball contact time, energy absorption, and energy release resulting in a prominent catapult effect that is particularly evident during topspin rallies. Tibhar gives the MX-D speed/control/spin ratings of 130/75/122 as compared to ratings of 118/100/130, 125/80/120, and 125/80/120 for Tibhar’s K3 Hydrid, MX-S, and MX-P, respectively. In other words, the MX-D promises to be faster, spinnier but less controlled than the MX-P and MX-S rubbers, and less spinny and controllable but significantly faster than the K3. 

      The Tibhar Evolution MX-D rubber is packaged in a cardboard wrapper that has gold, grey and white color tones. A brief description and key technical data are provided on the back. A thin paper sheet on the inside describes the ProTension and Red Power Sponge technologies used in the manufacturing of the MX-D. A non-adhesive plastic sheet covers the topsheet but is not useful as rubber protection once the sheet is in use. The MX-D has a pungent, sweet booster smell like all Evolution rubbers, yet it does not dome. The topsheet is non-tacky but feels very grippy. The pimples are faintly visible below the topsheet. The red sponge has a high density of medium-sized pores and feels like the advertised 51.3 degrees to the touch. The uncut sheet weighs 75 g (2.1-2.2 mm black, height x width: 179 mm x 168 mm). When cut to the test blade (which is 155x151 mm – but I left a ~5 mm edge), the sheet weighs 54 g. This renders is of similar weight as Donic BlueGrip C2 (53 g), Donic Bluefire M1 Turbo (53 g), Tibhar Evolution MX-S (52 g), and Tibhar Evolution MX-P 50-degree (52 g).


Playing Impressions 


    The feeling on FH drives with the MX-D is crisp and reminiscent of the feeling that MX-P produces, albeit less extreme. FH drives are accompanied by a satisfying crack. In terms of speed, the MX-D is slower than MX-P and a little faster than MX-S as I remember them (low OFF). The shot trajectories are relatively flat, but I enjoyed excellent consistency, nonetheless.    


     The MX-D produces a satisfying crack whilst looping. Loops are only moderately fast and relatively flat, but not so flat that they don’t clear the net. Spin levels are reasonable, higher than with the BP. It is clear, however, that the emphasis of MX-D is controlled speed rather than spin. Thus, my third ball attacks were relative fast, flat, and penetrating. However, if my hitting partner was correctly positioned, it became easy for him to outmaneuver me with his blocks. I had to use a prominent upward motion and maximal wrist to generate spinny slow loops that only very occasionally caused my practice partner’s block to go long. Loops from mid-distance are one of MX-D’s strongest suits, as the rubber has the power and moderate catapult effect to render these shots relatively fast and dangerous, but mostly fun to play.  

     The MX-D has enough power and stability to allow for FH loop-to-loop rallies far from the table. In fact, the MX-D felt more stable than the BP. I was able to keep my practice partner far from the table, with long and relatively flat penetrating shots. 


      I had to use restraint to prevent my down-the-line FH flicks from going too long, due to the MX-D’s relatively catapult effect. Diagonal FH flicks, on the other hand, could be played with full commitment, and the result was relatively fast and controlled shots.   


     A cracking sound is produced whilst FH blocking. The MX-D is fast yet seems to absorb most of the incoming energy, akin to the MX-S. Although I enjoyed excellent consistency during warm-up, I struggled to land my shots when blocking close to the table during match-like situations, due to the prominent catapult effect. However, just like with the BP, matters improved considerably when I stepped slightly further away from the table, and simply let the MX-D do its thing, without adding much power myself. It is important to stay focused as the trajectory and margin for error are quite low.


     The MX-D has enough power reserves to finish a point with a smash and it is definitively faster than the MX-S. Moreover, a satisfying loud cracking sound is produced.   


      Being used to slow and tacky rubbers, it took me some time to develop a feeling for long FH pushes. I had to re-tool the dynamics of my return stance and use softer hands to land high-quality pushes (but not as soft as with the BP). Once I had mastered this adjustment, I was able to impart respectable levels of spin on the pushes, so much, in fact, that my hitting partner at least occasionally had difficulties pulling his third ball attacks over the net. The more moderate catapult effect on lower intensity shots rendered it relatively easy to play high-quality short pushes, which were challenging for my practice partner to attack.   


     Short backspin serves required soft hands to remain short and didn’t seem particularly spinny.    


Conclusion MX-D

     Tibhar’s marketing material is pretty accurate. The Tibhar Evolution MX-D has hybrid characteristics of MX-P and MX-S, being more similar to the latter. The MX-D has a relatively prominent catapult effect, which renders it a challenging rubber close to the table (pushes, flicks, off-the-bounce blocks, long serves), but a good rubber for mid-distance play (loop-drives, smashes, counter-drives). The MX-D is a demanding rubber that requires focus, good technique, and hand feeling.   

Final thoughts – comparison of BP and MX-D

     In my opinion, the MX-D is spinnier, more controllable, and more fun to play with than the BP, which in turn is faster and bouncier. The BP, in particular, requires good hand feeling. Given how the game has developed, I can’t help but ponder that the characteristics of these rubbers, at least as they pertain to high-level players, are a little past prime. I consider Donic’s Bluegrip C1 or Tibhar’s Hybrid K3 better choices for modern table tennis.    


About the Reviewer

     Patrick 'Pong Professor' Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.