1.  Introduction

Stiga has been famous by many legendary table tennis blades. Most of the legendary blades made by Stiga are all-wood blades. But, Stiga has also tried to make good fiber blades, and the result is very successful ‘Carbonado’ series. ‘Carbonado’ series is successfully competing against fiber blades of Butterfly. Although Stiga is now concentrating on fiber blades such as ‘Carbonado’ series, the tradition of legendary all-wood Stiga blades is still alive. Stiga is also continuously developing new all-wood blades those fit for current environment of table tennis. Two most recent all-wood blades of Stiga are ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ those have been launched during 2016~2017. (It is expected that Stiga will launch more new models in early 2018.)

Arctic_and_Celero_Fig01
Fig.01 ‘Arctic Wood’ & ‘Celero Wood’

‘Arctic Wood’ is an expensive blade whose top layer is very unique wood. And, ‘Celero wood’ is a reasonably priced blade whose top layer is common wood.

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Fig.02 Stiga ‘Arctic Wood’

Above picture shows ‘Arctic Wood’. As its name expresses, the special wood of arctic area is used for the top layer of ‘Arctic Wood’. ‘Arctic Wood’ is a brand new version of high class ‘special wood’ of Stiga.

Arctic_and_Celero_Fig03
Fig.03 Plywood construction of ‘Arctic Wood’

The construction of ‘Arctic Wood’ is based on common Stiga 5-ply offensive construction which has been the tradition from the age of ‘Offensive Classic’. The symbol of traditional Stiga 5-ply offensive construction is the dotted pattern of middle layer which is made by the cold climate of Northern European or American region. We can see similar construction from many Stiga 5-ply wood offensive blades such as ‘Ebenholz NCT V’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’ and ‘Infinity VPS V’ although the top layer of one model is different from that of another model.

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Fig.04 Stiga ‘Celero Wood’

Above picture shows ‘Celero Wood’. The top layer of ‘Celero Wood’ is limba which is one of most common wood materials for table tennis blade.

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Fig.05 Plywood construction of ‘Celero Wood’

The construction of ‘Celero Wood’ is similar to that of legendary ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Allround Evolution’. Middle layer looks like harder wood than Ayous which is used for middle layer of ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Allround Evolution’. The kind of wood for middle layer of ‘Celero Wood’ is unknown. But, anyway we can expect that ‘Celero Wood’ is faster than ‘Allround Classic’ or ‘Allround Evolution’.

By ‘Performance Indices’, we can examine the characteristics of two new blades and compare those two with some existing blades.


2. Blades to be compared

Following blades will be compared with ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’.

  • Stiga Allround Classic – Reference for Performance Indices
  • Stiga Offensive Classic
  • Stiga Infinity VPS V
  • Stiga Intensity NCT
  • Stiga Ebenholz NCT V
  • Stiga Rosewood NCT V
  • Stiga Emerald VPS V
  • Nittaku Acoustic
  • Butterfly Korbel

The comparison will be mainly done with seven existing Stiga 5-ply wood blades. And, Nittaku ‘Acoustic’ and Butterfly ‘Korbel’ will be additionally compared with ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’. Please also refer to former article “Classic 5-ply wood blades – Comparison” for the information of Performance Indices of more 5-ply wood blades.

‘Allround Classic’ is the representative of traditional all-round blades. And, it is the reference blade of Performance Indices in TTGear Lab. All indices for ‘Allround Classic’ is 1.0.

‘Offensive Classic’ is a legendary offensive 5-ply wood blade which has middle layer with dotted pattern. It is the base of all Stiga 5-ply wood offensive blades. Many blades such as ‘Infinity VPS V’, ‘Intensity NCT’, ‘Ebenholz NCT V’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Emerald VPS V’ and recent ‘Arctic Wood’ are following the basic construction of ‘Offensive Classic’ and distinguished by top layer and thickness.

But, ‘Celero Wood’ is not based on the construction of ‘Offensive Classic’. Also ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’ are in different world from ‘Offensive Classic’.

 

Comparison will be done by performance indices. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :

 


3. Comparison by Performance Indices

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Fig.06 Comparison by Elasticity Indices

Fig.06 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices

Ep (Primary Elasticity Index) is directly concerned with the rebound speed of blade. In general, Ep of 5-ply wood blades is in the range of 1.0 and 2.0. Around 1.5 can be considered as the standard value of Ep of 5-ply wood ‘offensive’ blade. Ec (Central Elasticity Index) is concerned with additional ‘kick’ when player hits ball very hard. In general, Ec of 5-ply wood blade is lower than Ep of that blade. This makes the feeling of most of 5-ply wood blade even softer than its actual softness.

Ep and Ec of ‘Arctic Wood’ are 1.35 and 1.05 respectively. And, Ep and Ec of ‘Celero Wood’ are 1.37 and 1.12 respectively. Both of ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are faster than ‘Allround Classic’ by more than 30%. On the contrary. the additional kick of ‘Arctic Wood’ or ‘Celero Wood’ is not significantly bigger than that of ‘Allround Classic’. Between two new blades, ‘Celero Wood’ is a bit faster than ‘Arctic Wood’. The difference between two blades is not significant.

Among Stiga blades under comparison, two classic blades – ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Offensive Classic’ – are noticeably slower than ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’. Also, ‘Infinity VPS V’, which is one of recent 5-ply offensive blades of Stiga and whose top layers is same as that for ‘Celero Wood’, is also slower than ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’.

‘Hardwood’ blades – ‘Intensity NCT’, ‘Ebenholz NCT V’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’ and ‘Emerald VPS V’ – are faster than ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’. Among those hardwood blades, ‘Intensity NCT’ and ‘Ebenholz VPS V’ are just a bit faster than ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ in primary elasticity. However, those two give noticeably higher kick than ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’. The one with the highest elasticity is ‘Emerald VPS V’ whose Ep is 2.03 which is on the same level as that of some fiber blades such as ‘Timo Boll ALC’.

Elasticity Indices show that Nittaku ‘Acoustic’ is very similar with ‘Celero Wood’. It will be able to classified in the same category as ‘Celero Wood’. Butterfly ‘Korbel’ and Stiga ‘Rosewood NCT V’ are one step faster than ‘Arctic Wood’. But, the difference is not that significant. The three blades with same ‘limba’ surface – ‘Celero Wood’, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’ – are expected to be similar with each other in actual playing.

Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the tendency of elasticity of blades. Fig.07 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.

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Fig.07 Ec/Ep vs. Ep

Ec/Ep expresses the ‘tendency’ of the elasticity of blade. By examining Ec/Ep and Ep at the same time, we can easily understand the behavior of blades.

In former article “Classic 5-ply wood blades – Comparison” we could notice that all the 5-ply wood blades under comparison are in the range of Ec/Ep < 1.0, i.e. ‘Hold’ range. Two new recent blades – ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are also in this range. Even those two are in ‘Deep Hold’ range on the graph. ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are placed even lower than ‘Infinity VPS V’ and ‘Intensity NCT’ on the graph.

On the graph, we can see that ‘Celero Wood’ and ‘Acoustic’ are very close to each other. ‘Arctic Wood’ is not far from ‘Celero Wood’ although ‘Arctic Wood’ has the tendency of deeper hold. ‘Korbel’ has similar level of ‘Deep Hold’ as ‘Celero Wood’ although its Ep is one step bigger than that of ‘Celero Wood’.

Because same ‘Limba’ wood is used as top layers of ‘Celero Wood’, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’, and also because those three blades are placed very close to each other, those three blades can be categorized in one group. Those three will show similar characteristic in actual playing. If we expand the range of that group, six blades including those three and ‘Arctic Wood’, ‘Intensity NCT’ and ‘Rosewood NCT V’ will be able to categorized as one group – ‘Middle Speed & Deep Hold’.

Among hardwood blades, ‘Ebenholz NCT V’ can be considered as the blade which is faster than ‘Offensive Classic’ while keeping the ‘linear’ characteristic of ‘Offensive Classic’. Therefore, if a player wants the blade whose characteristic is similar to that of ‘Offensive Classic’ but faster, ‘Ebenholz NCT V’ will be the solution. ‘Ebenholz NCT V’ is placed far from ‘Celero Wood’ or ‘Arctic Wood’ although its primary elasticity is not much different from that of ‘Celero Wood’ or ‘Arctic Wood’.

Differently from ‘Ebenholz NCT V’, ‘Emerald VPS V’ is in ‘Deep Hold’ range. On the graph, it is placed even lower than ‘Celero Wood’ and ‘Arctic Wood’. However, it is also placed on far right side on the graph. I.e. its primary elasticity is very high. As a 5-ply wood blade, its primary elasticity is astonishingly high. ‘Emerald VPS V’ is noticeably different from most of 5-ply wood blade. It is very close to ‘Timo Boll ALC’ which is a fast fiber blade.

‘Infinity VPS V’ is quite different from ‘Celero Wood’ although it has same ‘limba’ top layer as ‘Celero Wood’, ‘Acoustic’, and ‘Korbel’. ‘Infinity VPS V’ is placed on the border between ‘Mild Hold’ range and ‘Deep Hold’ range. If a player want intermediate characteristic between ‘Neutral (Ec/Ep is close to 0.0)’ and ‘Deep Hold’, ‘Infinity VPS V’ will be good solution. It is placed at middle position between ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Celero Wood’ on the graph.

 

Then successively, let’s compare Vibration Indices. Fig. 08 shows the comparison graph of Vibration Indices.

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Fig.08 Comparison by Vibration Indices

Vibration Indices are concerned with feeling. Vp indicates primary feeling which is transferred to player’s palm. And, Vl is the feeling at the wing of a blade. It is felt by player’s index finger or middle finger.

The Vp’s of two recent blades – ‘Arctic Wood ‘(Vp = 0.98) and ‘Celero Wood’ (Vp = 1.01) are not meaningfully different from that of ‘Allround Classic’ (Vp = 1.00). However, there is noticeable difference between Vl’s of two recent blades and that of ‘Allround Classic’. Vl of ‘Arctic Wood’ is 1.24, and Vl of ‘Celero Wood’ is 1.12. ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are as soft as ‘Allround Classic’ in primary feeling. But, those two are felt relatively sharper at the fingertip of index finger.

The one whose Vibration Indices are close to those of ‘Arctic Wood’ is ‘Offensive Classic’. And, ‘Infinity VPS V’, ‘Intensity NCT’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’ are also close to ‘Arctic Wood’. Softness and relative sharpness at fingertip are the common characteristics of most of 5-ply wood blades. Among all the blades in this comparison, the one which is closest to ‘Celero Wood’ is ‘Acoustic’.

 

Examining Vl/Vp is easier way for the comparison of the tendency of feeling. Fig.09 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp for easier comparison.

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Fig.09 Vl/Vp vs. Vp

On the graph of Vl/Vp, all the blades except for ‘Allround Classic whose values are fixed as 1.0 are placed in the range that Vl/Vp > 1.0. I.e. in ‘relatively sharper at fingertip (of index finger) and relatively softer at palm’ range. The blade placed at highest position is ‘Arctic Wood’. ‘Arctic Wood’ has very remarkable characteristic of relatively sharper feeling at fingertip of index finger. On the contrary, ‘Celero Wood’ is placed near the border between ‘relatively sharper at finger’ area and ‘near uniform but a bit sharper at finger’ area. That is the most important difference between ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’.

On the graph, the one which is closest to ‘Arctic Wood’ is ‘Offensive Classic’. And, the one which is closest to ‘Celero Wood’ is ‘Acoustic’. And, those four blades are at left side of graph. It means that ‘Arctic Wood’, ‘Celero Wood’, ‘Offensive Classic’ and ‘Acoustic’ are very soft blades. ‘Infinity VPS V’ and ‘Korbel’ are one step harder but still can be taken as ‘very soft’ blades.

The Vp’s of hardwood blades are relatively high. I.e. hardwood blades are placed at right side of graph. ‘Emerald VPS V’ and ‘Ebenholz NCT V’ are especially hard. When compared with those two, ‘Intensity NCT’ and ‘Rosewood NCT V’ are relatively softer. ‘Intensity NCT’ and ‘Rosewood NCT V’ are a bit harder than ‘Infinity VPS V’ and ‘Korbel’. Some players will feel that those two are ‘soft’ blades.

Arctic_and_Celero_Fig10


4. Summary

The result of comparison can be summarized as follows :

  • ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are basically faster than ‘Allround Classic’ by more than 30%. The elasticity of ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ is moderate as the elasticity of 5-ply offensive blade. But, those two are a bit slower than ‘Rosewood NCT V’ or ‘Korbel’.
  • Both of ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ holds ball deep when player hits the ball very strongly. ‘Arctic Wood’ has a bit stronger tendency of ‘Deep Hold’ than ‘Celero Wood’.
  • Both of ‘Arctic Wood’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are very soft in primary feeling. It is as soft as the primary feeling of ‘Allround Classic’. Both of those two are relatively sharper at fingertip of index finger and relatively softer at palm. That characteristics is very remarkable in ‘Arctic Wood’, but isn’t that remarkable in ‘Celero Wood’. Some players may feel that the feeling of ‘Celero Wood’ is neutral.

 

‘Arctic Wood’ is very special offensive blade which is especially good for topspin at close-to-table area. ‘Arctic Wood’ can be considered as modernized blade from legendary ‘Offensive Classic’. It can be recommend for very aggressive topspin attackers who tends to aim at the rising of ball from bounce. ‘Celero Wood’ can be recommended for most of offensive players because it is a ‘standard’ 5-ply wood offensive which can be a good rival of Nittaku ‘Acoustic’ or Butterfly ‘Korbel’.

Arctic_and_Celero_Fig09

 

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