1. Introduction

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In 2014, Stiga joined the mainstream of table tennis rubber – ‘New Generation’ tension rubber – by the launching of ‘Airoc’. One year later, Stiga announced ‘Airoc Astro’ which is faster variation of ‘Airoc’. ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’ are fundamentally different from former Stiga rubbers for example ‘Calibra LT’ or ‘Magna’. ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’ are the first weapons for Stiga to seriously compete with Butterfly ‘Tenergy’ series and most of German rubbers those are made by very similar technology as ‘Tenergy’.

And, 3 years after the launching of ‘Airoc’, Stiga finally introduced one step advanced model of New Generation Tension rubber. Stiga named it as ‘Mantra’, and positioned it higher than ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’.

Stiga Mantra 02

At present, there are three different series of ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers in Stiga range – ‘Mantra’ series, ‘Airoc Astro’ series and ‘Airoc’ series. And, of course the top model is ‘Mantra’.

Before the introduction of ‘Mantra’, customers can select between ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’ by simple classification : ‘Airoc’ for spin, and ‘Airoc Astro’ for speed. But, the role of ‘Airoc’ was a bit changed because ‘Mantra’ is advanced from ‘Airoc’. For that reason, at present the criterion of the selection of Stiga ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers is as follows:

  • Mantra : For the best spin performance.
  • Airoc Astro : For high speed.
  • Airoc : For best control.

Stiga Mantra 03A

 

 


2. Features

Stiga Mantra 04
There are three variations in ‘Mantra’ series – Mantra H, Mantra M and Mantra S. H, M and S mean hard, medium and soft relatively. Average sponge densities are 53.0º, 48.0º and 43.0º relatively. Because there is deviation of sponge density, actual sponge densities will be 51.5~54.5º, 46.5~49.5º and 41.5~44.5º relatively.

Stiga Mantra 05

Three variations share everything except for sponge hardnesses. But, three variations are separately registered to ITTF. For that reason each variation has its own registration number.

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The registration numbers of Mantra H, M and S are 68-031, 68-030 and 68-029 relatively.

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The sponge of ‘Mantra’ is new version of ‘OCS’. Former version of ‘OCS’ is already being applied for ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’. The color of new version is orange red. Not only sponge color but also sponge formula has been improved.

Stiga Mantra 07

Feeling and performance of new ‘orange red’ OCS has been noticeably improved from former ‘light blue’ version of OCS. (Of course the performance of sponge is not concerned with sponge color. Stiga applied new color for new sponge just for distinguishing.) Further, new ‘orange red’ OCS isn’t curled up any more. Differently from ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’, ‘Mantra’ is almost flat. It makes applying glue much easier.

Stiga Mantra 09

Top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is not transparent but opaque, while the top sheets of ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’ are transparent. Also, differently from ‘Airoc’ and ‘Airoc Astro’, the surface of the top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is not glossy. The friction of surface is very strong although it isn’t sticky. Like the top sheet of ‘Airoc’, the proportion of natural rubber in the top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is very high. Both of ‘Mantra’ and ‘Airoc’ are the rubbers which lay emphasis on ‘spin’. But, the top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is noticeably harder than that of ‘Airoc’.

Stiga Mantra 10

Pimple geometry of ‘Mantra’ is identical to that of ‘Airoc’ or ‘Airoc Astro’. It is categorized as ‘Type A’, i.e. ‘high density + Cylinder shape’. (Regarding the pimple geometries of ‘New Generation’ tension rubber’, please refer to ‘Three typical pimple geometires of ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers‘) Distance between center of pimple and center of pimple is about 2.2mm. The height of pimple is about 0.8mm. Although the top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is somewhat hard, it is not for speed but for spin. The ability of drawing good arc trajectory is the fundamental target of ‘Type A’ geometry. And, ‘Mantra’ is made by the basic philosophy of ‘Type A’ geometry.

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3. Court Test

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For testing of ‘Mantra’ series at table tennis club, I selected two blades – Stiga ‘Clipper CR’ and Butterfly ‘Korbel’ because those two are very good for understanding the basic characteristic of covering (= rubber). I’m considering to also test with Stiga ‘Carbonado 45’ and ‘Arctic Wood’.

The basic characteristic of ‘Mantra’ doesn’t change by blade as long as I tested ‘Mantra’ on ‘Clipper CR’ and ‘Korbel’. There are some rubbers who behaves differently on the blades with different rebound speed. However, ‘Mantra’ doesn’t. ‘Mantra’ show the same behavior on ‘Korbel’ and ‘Clipper CR’ The only difference is overall feeling becomes relatively harder on ‘Clipper CR’ and relatively softer on ‘Korbel’. Also, there isn’t fundamental difference by sponge version – H, M and S. ‘Mantra H’ is just the hardest and ‘Mantra S’ is just the softest. It makes the selection of sponge hardness easy. If a player doesn’t have any preference of feeling, starting from ‘Mantra M’ will be the best solution because it is the standard version of ‘Mantra’ series. Because I think that ‘Mantra M’ is the most important version among three variations of ‘Mantra’ series, I will first describe the result of ‘Mantra M’.

‘Mantra M’ is harder than ‘Airoc M’, ‘Airoc Astro M’ and current version of ‘Tenergy 05’. Especially, top sheet is noticeably hard. Although its top sheet is harder, ‘Mantra M’ is quite close to ‘Tenergy 05’ in feeling. Some players may think that ‘Mantra M’ is like a ‘Tenergy 05’ with harder top sheet.

Basic sound of ‘Mantra M’ is lower than expected. However, sound becomes bigger and sharper if the impact force between rubber and ball for making spin becomes stronger. Moreover, ‘strong impact to the direction for making spin’ is the best way of using ‘Mantra M’. Feeling of ‘Mantra M’ is very good, although it is not as good as that of ‘Tenergy 05’ due to harder top sheet of ‘Mantra M’.

Rebound speed of ‘Mantra M’ is not as high as that of ‘Airoc Astro M’. For that reason, if a player plays mainly with direct hitting. ‘Mantra M’ will not be the best choice. But, the main purpose of ‘Mantra M’ is spin. Ball with topspin is very powerful, and draws very dramatic arc. Ball from ‘Mantra M’ makes better arc than the ball from ‘Airoc M’, and stretches stronger after bounce than the ball from ‘Airoc Astro M’.

Not only the power but also the ease of use is the advantage of topspin with ‘Mantra M’ series. Pulling up the ball at very low position is very easy. It is very important advantage because from the introduction of poly ball there have been many cases that ball sinks down after bounce. Dealing with that kind of ball is very easy with Mantra. And, the amount of spin is bigger than expectation. That makes counter-attack of opponent difficult. As a result, managing rally with ‘Mantra’ is very comfortable.

‘Mantra M’ is the rubber for spin. Very skilled players will also be satisfied with the spin performance of ‘Mantra M’. And, the players who has thought that the power of ‘Airoc M’ is not sufficient will be satisfied with ‘Mantra M’. However, ‘Mantra M’ may be inadequate for hard hitters because it is not the rubber for smash. For that kind of players, ‘Airoc Astro M’ will be better choice. Also, entry players may feel that ‘Mantra M’ is somewhat difficult rubber, because of the hard feeling of its top sheet.

Then, let’s check two other variations – ‘Mantra H’ and ‘Mantra S’.

Stiga Mantra 13

‘Mantra H’ provides higher ‘maximum’ spin performance than ‘Mantra M’. However, it is useful only when player can utilize it. So ‘Mantra H’ is the one for pure professional. Its feeling is of course harder than that of ‘Mantra M’. In case an ordinary player wants to try ‘Mantra H’, 5-ply blade with middle speed range may be better than thicker/harder blade such as ‘Clipper CR’. I expect that many highly skilled players will like the feeling of the combination of ‘Clipper CR’ and ‘Mantra H’ because they have the ability of utilize it.

The arc of topspin from ‘Mantra H’ is even more dramatic than that from ‘Mantra M’. And, there is one point that ‘Mantra H’ is easier to use than ‘Mantra M’. That is the amount of spin when the impact of topspin stroke is thin. With ‘Mantra H’, the arc of topspin by thin impact is also much better than expected. It makes using ‘Mantra H’ at close-to-table area much easier than expected from the hard feeling of ‘Mantra H’. Not only highly skilled players but also the players of middle level will be able to enjoy this characteristic. On the contrary, for the topspin from mid-distance area, ‘Mantra H’ requires the power of player. If the power of player is sufficient, ‘Mantra H’ will be able to make very powerful topspin from mid-distance area. However, if the power of player is insufficient, ‘Mantra H’ will not be better than ‘Mantra M’ or ‘Mantra S’ for topspin from mid-distance area.

For backhand side, ‘Mantra H’ may be also too hard. However, there are players who like hard rubbers on backhand side because of better precision of block and higher power of topspin. For me, even ‘Mantra M’ is somewhat too hard on ‘Clipper CR’. For that reason I selected ‘Mantra S’ for the backhand side of ‘Clipper CR’. On the contrary, the feeling of ‘Mantra M’ on the backhand side of ‘Korbel’ is within acceptable range. In any case I couldn’t use ‘Mantra H’ on the backhand side of my racket.

‘Mantra S’ shares the basic characteristic with its harder brothers – ‘Mantra M’ and ‘Mantra H’. However, the trajectory of topspin is somewhat linear. For that reason, I felt that ‘Mantra S’ is closer to ‘Tenergy 64’ than ‘Tenergy 05’ at the beginning of court test. That characteristic is apparent it is combined with ‘Clipper CR’. It makes the topspin from mid-distance area easier, especially in case the impact force of player is not sufficiently strong. Also, it can be very good characteristic for backhand side.

On the forehand side of ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Mantra S’ is somewhat uncomfortable when I play at close-to-table area due to its long and linear trajectory. But, I think that it is just because I’m not familiar with using the rubber of soft feeling on my forehand side. The evidence is that I can use ‘Mantra S’ on my backhand side without any problem. All backhand technic from block to topspin are so easy and effective.

Although ‘Mantra M’ and ‘Mantra H’ are not suitable for entry players, I expect that ‘Mantra S’ will be all right for entry players. The combination of ‘Mantra S’ and mid-speed blade will provide fantastic control for entry players. Also, the combination of ‘Mantra S’ and thick fast blade will provide very good balance for smash and block. In any case of the selection of blade, entry players will be able to improve their skill of topspin easily with ‘Mantra S’.

 

 

 


4. Summary

Stiga Mantra 17
Stiga ‘Mantra’ is focused on spin performance that is the key factor for top players’ rubber. ‘Mantra’ is a ‘New Generation’ tension rubber, and its pimple geometry is ‘Type A’ whose pimple arrangement is dense. Top sheet of ‘Mantra’ is relatively harder than those of former ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers of Stiga, and also harder than those of competitors for example ‘Tenergy 05’. The hard top sheet is one of the key factor of ‘Mantra’ that provides top level of spin performance when it is used with poly ball.

‘Mantra’ provides the best performance in case player plays mainly with topspin. On the contrary ‘Mantra’ is not the best rubber for smash. ‘Mantra’ draws high arc very well while providing top level of spin performance.

There are three versions of ‘Mantra’ – H (hard), M (medium) and S (soft). Top sheet is identical for three versions. Three versions are distinguished just by sponge density (hardness). ‘

 

Official 00

MANTRA series (S, M, H from left to right)

PROS
• Excellent spin performance. Ball draws very dramatic arc.
• Very good stability of topspin.
• Sponge isn’t curled up any more.

CONS
• Not the best for direct hitting.
• Top sheet is somewhat hard. It makes feeling and ease of use a bit worse, when compared with ‘Airoc’, ‘Airoc Astro’ or ‘Tenergy 05’.

The characteristics of thee versions can be summarized as:

Official 01 Mantra H
MANTRA H (53º version)
• Maximum spin performance among three version.
• Player can make good topspin by thin impact.
• Ease of use is not good due to hard feeling. But, very precise control is possible.
• Good for close-to-table topspin. Topspin from mid-distance area requires the power of player. In any case, this version is recommended for highly skilled players.
• Not recommended for entry players or all-round players.

Official 02 Mantra M
MANTRA M (48º version)
• Standard version of ‘Mantra’ series.
• Very good for all kinds of topspin.
• Well balance between power and control. (It provides sufficient power for top players.)
• Highly recommended for skilled players who play mainly with various kinds of topspin.
• Not recommended for hard hitters who like destructive smash.

Official 03 Mantra S

MANTRA S (43º version)
• The softest among three versions of ‘Mantra’ series.
• Trajectory of topspin is a bit linear. But, it still draws very good arc.
• Good for continuous topspin from mid-distance area.
• Very good as a rubber for backhand side because of the safety of block and flip.
• Recommended not only for skilled players but also for entry players.

 

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