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OSP Ultimate II - Review

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patrickhrdlicka View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12/04/2019 at 3:00am

OSP Ultimate II – A 7-ply blade for a controlled spin-offensive game-style

In my continued search for the ‘perfect’ 7-ply all-wood blade that supports an aggressive FH-oriented playing style with spinny opening loops and powerful loop-drives, controlled aggressive BH blocking and driving with short pimpled rubbers, and excellent control on serves, serve returns, and touch shots, I was given the opportunity to evaluate the OSP Ultimate II blade (OSP U2), which has been on top of my wish list for quite some time. I have tested a wide range of 7-ply blades including the DHS Hurricane Long III, Nittaku Ludeack, Donic Ovtcharov Senso V1, Stiga Clipper WRB, and Stiga Ebenholz NCT VII, and so far count the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition and the Stiga Rosewood NCT VII among my favorites. I recently evaluated the beautiful OSP Ultimate II Plus blade, which utilizes Indian rosewood for its outer veneer. I found the U2+ to be fast, very massive and stiff, and low-throwing. Unfortunately, these are not the characteristics that I was looking for. I was, therefore, excited to evaluate the OSP U2, which utilizes softer limba wood as the outer veneer. Going into the test, I expected longer dwell times, allowing for greater spin production, higher arc on topspins, and a move favorable margin for errors.   

OSP describes the U2 as a blade that was created for players who need 7-ply behavior and high levels of spin and speed. The ply architecture of the original OSP Ultimate was redesigned to increase control and cooperation with the new 40+ plastic balls. The result is a new power core and an increased sweet spot. 

OSP sends the U2 in a simple but functional cardboard box that offers excellent protection during shipping. Also included in the box, is a flyer that offers suggestions on how to handle and care for the OSP U2 and a little booklet (with a small sheet of surface veneer for repair jobs), which lists technical data for the blade (dimensions, weight, handle type, build date, etc) and provides a brief description of the blade. The blade itself has a rustic beauty to it with straw-colored limba surface veneers with vertical grain. Neither the FH or BH playing surfaces have any text on them. The ply composition appears to be identical to that of the U2+ except for the surface plies, i.e., the very thin core ply that has a horizontal grain leading me to believe that it is fir or spruce, followed by a rather thick straw-colored ply (limba?) on each side, which in turn is followed by a thin dark-brown ply, and the outer limba ply. The sealed dark handle features the name of the blade on the FH side along with the engraved OSP symbol. The BH side of the handle is devoid of text or lenses. The bottom of the handle is capped with a black and bronze-colored Palatinus tag. As expected, the craftsmanship of the blade appears is exceptional. My OSP U2 specimen had the following dimensions: height: 157 mm, width: 148 mm, thickness: 6.1 mm, weight: 87 g. The SQST handle had the following dimensions: length: 102 mm, width: 28 mm, and height: 22 mm. The blade has a resonance frequency of ~1313 Hz, which is slightly lower than what I observed for the U2+.   


Testing procedure: I tested the OSP U2 using DHS Hurricane 3 (black, provincial, 40-degree orange sponge, 2.15 mm) and Spinlord Waran 2 short pips (red, 2.0 mm) in my FH and BH, respectively. The rubbers were attached using a layer of Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested the set-ups over several sessions, playing drills and matches against my usual training partners using the Nittaku J-Top or Sanwei ABS 40+ 1-star training balls (three and one sessions, respectively)

Playing impressions.

Feeling: I loved the balance of this set-up, which has a center of gravity that is tilted toward the head, making the set-up feeling lighter than its 181 g. The feeling that is generated upon ball impact is relatively soft on the FH side but crisper on the BH side, which suggests to me that the hardness of the sponge plays a greater role than normal in defining the feeling of the blade. Throughout the test, the U2 felt more flexible than standard (semi-)stiff 7-ply all-wood blades and exhibited playing characteristics that were closer to those of 5-ply all-wood blades.

Drives: FH and BH drives are solid and very controlled with speed levels in the OFF- range. BH drives with the Waran 2 short pips, in particular, produced a loud satisfying cracking sound.

Looping: The flexibility of the blade renders it pleasant to execute FH loops against backspin. There is plenty of clearance over the net (throw angle is medium to medium-high), but the shots dip earlier and lack a little in power relative to stiffer 7-ply blades like the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition. I was able to generate above-average levels of spin on FH loops, which I attribute to the medium-long dwell time and flexibility of the blade. I enjoyed above-average control on BH opening ‘loops’ with the Waran 2 short pips against backspin, but these shots also lacked a little bit in raw speed. The blade has an extra gear that kicks in on fully committed FH shots, which gives it extra power from mid-distance. However, the blade still does not have quite enough power to comfortably play FH-to-FH loop-to-loop rallies from afar. I had to use greater physical effort which reduced my consistency. Along similar lines, BH mini-loops from mid-distance were also a little bit difficult as the blade did not have quite enough inherent speed to enable me to get the shots past the net, nor were my stroke mechanics strong enough to activate the blade’s second gear.    

Blocking: Passive FH blocking is solid, although the flexibility of the U2 blade is felt more clearly felt on these shots vis-à-vis the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, resulting in longer and slightly higher trajectories. However, the OFF- level speed prevents the blocks from going too long. Active FH blocking and counter-looping close to the tables requires a slightly more closed bat angle than what I am used to since the blade’s catapult otherwise results in the ball careening off the end of the table. Passive BH blocking with the short pips was controlled and introduced a slight spin reversal. The blade’s catapult worked exceptionally well on active BH blocks and counter loops, as it bestowed additional power to these shots.

Flat hits: The H3/U2 combination allows for controlled but not blisteringly fast flat hits unless very high levels of physical effort are used. I found it wise to focus on ball placement rather than relying on brute force.

Service returns: Pushing is excellent with the U2. Short pushes were shorter, lower and spinnier than equivalent shots played with the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition. Long pushes could also be loaded with very high levels of spin, which made it challenging for my practice partners to make strong longs. The blade’s moderate speed worked well on aggressive service returns, especially on the BH side as it allowed by to make controlled, well-placed, albeit not super-fast flicks, especially with my BH.

Service: The U2 works really well on serves. Its moderate speed and medium-long dwell time allows for very short, spinny serves to be executed with great confidence. My practice partners put many more returns straight into the net than normally. Moreover, long top/sidespin serves can be loaded with spin and the blade’s OFF- speed gave me more confidence to seek out the back edge of the table.

Conclusion: The OSP Ultimate II is, in my opinion, an fairly atypical 7-ply all-wood blade. It is more flexible and somewhat slower than other blades in this category and has more in common with classic 5-ply blades, although it has an extra gear that is activated on fully committed shots. The blade is best suited for spin-oriented players operating close-to-the-table and from mid-distance. It offers excellent feeling and control on serves and in the short game, and it is a veritable looping machine. The blade’s moderate speed probably caters mostly to intermediate and advanced players, although the speed deficit could be overcome by using faster FH rubbers such as Tenergy, Tibhar MX-P, or Andro Hexer Powergrip to name a few. I intend to try this blade out with a slightly faster 40-degree Hurricane 3 National blue sponge rubber in the future, as I expect this combination might provide a little bit more power on loops and power-drives. Lastly, I am dumbfounded just how different the OSP Ultimate II and OSP Ultimate II Plus blades feel. They are really like two completely different blades, catering to two completely different player types, with the U2+ feeling exceedingly stiffer, more massive and better suited for flat hitters and certain types of blockers, whereas the U2 is a looping machine. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/04/2019 at 10:10am
Thanks for the review, great as usual. I like your neutral position, presenting pros and cons.

I'm using OSP Musko for the moment, I'm impressed by the control in the short game, which is more important for me than loops away from table, and I can't say those are bad. The OSP blades have great feeling, not hollow like Stiga.
7 plies provide increased sweet spot without carbon feel.

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