Victas Short-Pimpled Rubber Sheets - a comprehensive review of Spinpips D2, VO>102, and Spectol S2
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
I have been using short pimpled rubbers, including the legendary Spectol rubber from Victas’ sister company TSP, in my BH for the past 8 years. I was, therefore, super excited to be given the chance to test three modern short pimpled rubbers from Victas: the Victas Spinpips D2, Victas VO>102, and Victas Spectol S2 . The three rubbers feature Victas’ built-in “High Energy Tension” technology and have the same sponge hardness, i.e., 37.5±3 degrees on the Japanese scale. However, the rubbers are manufactured in three different countries (i.e., Germany, Japan, and China, respectively) and have individualized playing characteristics that cater to different player types.
According to Victas, the geometry of the short and slightly wider pips of the VO>102 enables different spin variations, rendering them suitable for absolute top players. The Spectol S2 is recommended for players who want to attack every ball and put pressure on the opponent. The Spinpips D2 rubber is said to produce a slightly harder feeling and being capable of generating lots of spin due to the special geometry of the pips, enabling a dangerous and variant-rich pips-out style.
Victas lists the following speed, control, spin, and trajectory ratings for the VO>102, Spectol S2, and Spinpips D2: 8.5/7.8/7.2/8.5, 8.3/8.2/7.3/7.5, and 8.1/8.3/7.6/9.0, respectively. In other words, the VO>102 is expected to be the fastest, the Spinpips D2 to be the spinniest and most controllable, and the Spectol S2 the lowest throwing of the three.
The three short pip rubbers are packaged in identical black cardboard wrappers that list the respective model names on the front using large silver letters. A brief description of the rubber characteristics is provided on the back in four languages (English, German, Japanese and Chinese). The packaging looks very stylish.
I was surprised how different the three rubbers look to the naked eye and how much their weight differed considering that the sponges, supposedly, are of a similar hardness.
The deep-red VO>102 sheet is very shiny, almost sparkly, and the only of the rubbers with a sweet booster smell. The pips are the tallest and widest, and with the smallest separation between the pips. The pips are also by far the softest to the touch. The pips, which have the shape of a uniform truncated cone and ribbed tops, are horizontally aligned. The topsheet feels grippy. The sponge is lemon-colored, with microscopic pores, and felt much softer than the other rubbers. The uncut sheet, which is very floppy, weighed 49 g (height x width: 169 mm x 169 mm), while the cut sheet weighed 35 g.
The dark-red Spectol S2 has a matte, highly uniform surface, and a rubbery smell. The vertically aligned pips are relatively short and narrow, with a lower base that has the shape of a truncated cone, and an upper part that is cylindrical. The pips have ribbed tops. As far as I could tell, the pip separation is the greatest among the three rubbers. The topsheet feels grippy. The orange sponge has microscopic pores. The uncut sheet weighed 40 g (height x width: 168.5 mm x 168.5 mm), while the cut sheet weighed 28 g, rendering the Spectol S2 as the lightest rubber in this test, and one of the lightest rubbers that I have ever tested. A word of caution: whilst attaching the Spectol S2 sheet onto the test blade, I noticed that the sponge tended to crumble. The use of super sharp scissors, knives, or scalpels is, therefore, very important when cutting the Spectol S2 rubber.
The bright-red Spinpips D2 rubber has a shiny, hard, and somewhat non-uniform surface (the contours of the sponge can be discerned below the topsheet), and a rubbery smell. Surprisingly, the topsheet feels slightly less grippy than the other two. The horizontally aligned pips have ribbed tops and are short and in the shape of a truncated cone. The distance between the pips is average. The white sponge has a high density of medium-sized pores. The uncut sheet weighed 55 g (height x width: 169 mm x 168 mm), while the cut sheet weighed 41 g, which renders the Spinpips D2 as the heaviest of the three rubbers by far. The sheet is also very rigid and I would expect it to be the sturdiest and most durable of the three test rubbers.
I tested the brand-new Victas short pips (red, 2.0 mm) in my BH on the Victas Swat Power 7-ply all-wood blade (see review here), using a DHS Hurricane 3 rubber with a 40-degree blue sponge in my FH. I attached the rubbers to the blade using 1 (blade) + 2 (rubbers) layers of the Revolution 3 glue. I evaluated the set-ups over 3-4 sessions playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my normal high-level practice partner and a weekly club tournament against intermediate level players using 40+ ABS training balls. I tested the rubbers in the following order: Spinpips D2, Victas V>102, and Spectol S2.
Playing impressions – Victas Spinpips D2
The combination of the Victas Spinpips D2 short pips and the Victas Swat Power blade yields an awesome and loud cracking sensation on BH drives. The rubber feels quite stiff and direct, and there is little to no catapult effect. In other words, it is a rather linear rubber. I found the Spinpips to be surprisingly fast – at least low OFF. The BH drives have long, flat trajectories. Spin inversion is minimal. >
The fast nature of the Spinpips is also evident whilst blocking. Thus, passive BH blocks against powerful, high-quality topspins need to be played with a slightly closed bat angle to avoid overshooting the table. Once this adjustment is made, fast and crisp passive blocks can be played with high consistency. And again, a satisfying cracking sound is produced on these shots.
I enjoyed even better results when playing active BH blocks as this, to an even greater degree, seemed to ensure that the shots did not overshoot the table. The resulting blocks were lightning fast, flat, and very dangerous, all whilst still clearing the net with room to spare on most occasions. I only noted minor levels of spin inversion on any of the blocks. Thus, the danger of these shots is a consequence of their speed, not deception. Successful chop blocking with the Spinpips require very soft hands due to the fast nature of the rubber. And even then, the chop blocks did not seem to be particularly dangerous due to limited level of spin inversion.
Hitting through backspin
My BH short pip 3rd ball attacks against long pushes were very consistent by my standards and accompanied by a satisfying cracking sound. Whilst the throw angle of the Spinpips is quite low, it was sufficient in most cases for the shots to clear the net. The blade’s moderate speed harmonized well with the relatively fast nature of the Spinpips, especially when I used relatively soft hands, as this ensured that most of the shots still landed deep on the table, rather than overshooting it. However, quite a few of my 5th ball BH attacks overshot the table and I had to moderate my wrist speed. Once again, the Spinpips D2 are a surprisingly fast rubber.
Fishing shots from afar
The Spinpips D2 are easily one of the best short pimpled rubbers that I have tried for fishing shots far from the table. Normally, it is a death sentence for aggressive BH short pip players to get caught far from the table, as most short pimpled rubbers simply don’t have the grip, speed, and throw angle, to guide the ball back on the table. The Spinpips are different, however. Their direct, fast, and grippy nature allowed me to hold my own in topspin-to-topspin rallies. The fishing shots floated over the net with sufficient clearance over the net and depth on the table to be somewhat troublesome for my practice partner.
The Spinpips work quite well for BH flicks as the rubber has enough bite to guide the ball over the net when it is hit in its zenith. The contact point felt sharp and gave me the confidence to snap through the ball as needed.
The fast and direct nature of the Spinpips, combined with the crisp feeling of the Swat Power blade, gave me the confidence to fire off some dangerously fast BH smashes.
The fast and relatively grippy nature of the Spinpips worked well on long pushes. Thus, I was able to produce fast, deep, and respectably spinny pushes that gave my practice partner some headaches. In fact, some of the pushes were so fast that they could almost be viewed as offensive shots. The linear nature of the Spinpips, also allowed me to play excellent quality short pushes, at least when I used soft hands.
Chopping far away from the table
While the Spinpips clearly are not designed to be utilized for defensive chopping given the high speed of these pips when used in 2.0 mm, it is possible to play these shots with respectable quality. Once again, it is important to use soft hands and not to overdo the chopping motion. Simply let the rubber do its thing. The shots are not phenomenally spinny, but they manage to float onto the table, with a shallow trajectory.
I am very impressed by the Victas Spinpips D2 short pips. They are a fast, stiff, and direct type of short pips that are well suited for offensive players. They support traditional short pip playing styles close to the table, i.e., driving, aggressive blocking, smashing, and hitting through backspin, but also enable offensive shots to be executed from mid-distance and beyond, which is a rarity for short pimpled rubbers. I think that players interested in converting from regular inverted rubbers in their BH, would find the Spinpips D2 short pips relatively easy to play with, though they would need to realize that is a pretty fast rubber. Due to its stiff nature, I don’t think it is as useful as a FH looping rubber, but I could see penhold players use it in their FH if they use an uncompromising hitting style.
Playing impressions - Victas VO>102
The VO>102 is a very fast, extremely soft-feeling, and bouncy short pimpled rubber. I would rate it as a high OFF level rubber. The ultra-soft pips grab the ball efficiently, resulting in a long and curved trajectory on BH drives that offers plenty of clearance over the net. However, having tested the Spinpips D2 just before, many of my BH drives initially overshot the table, as I was forcing the shots too much. As I relaxed my stroke mechanics and let the VO>102 do more of the work for me, my consistency improved noticeably. As with the Spinpips, a loud cracking sensation was prominently felt and heard.
The very fast and bouncy nature of the VO>102 is perhaps most evident during blocking. Successful passive BH blocking of powerful, high-quality topspins, therefore, required a more closed bat angle and softer hands than with the Spinpips to prevent the shots from overshooting the table. Needless to say, the blocks were very fast, but the level of spin inversion seemed to be lower than with the Spinpips. As a result, my practice partner had an easier time looping against the blocks, provided that he was correctly positioned relative to the ball. And once again, the cracking sound that the VO>102 produces is awesome.
The VO>102 works even better on active BH blocks as the soft rubber wraps itself around the ball to give the perception of curving the ball over the net with high levels of speed and precision. At times, it felt as if I was close to almost hitting through the sponge, but it rose to the level where it felt uncontrollable.
Chop blocks were harder to execute than with the Spinpips and also seemed to be less spin inverted. Given the high tempo of the VO>102, it is not surprising that one needs exceptionally soft hands whilst chop blocking to prevent the shot from going long.
Hitting through backspin
Akin to my observations whilst BH blocking, I felt that the soft VO>102 wrapped itself around the ball when I attacked long pushes, resulting in curved trajectories, increased net clearance, and excellent consistency. In many respects, the VO>102 feels like an inverted rubber when attacking backspin. This also leads me to speculate that the VO>102 is suitable as a FH short pip rubber as it will allow for some level of FH topspin. As I found to be generally the case with this rubber, it is necessary to use respectful amounts of input power, as it is inherently fast, soft, and bouncy. Big movements often resulted in BH topspins that went too far. I had much more success using compact flick-like rolling motions.
Fishing shots from afar
Just like the Spinpips D2, the VO>102 also works great for BH fishing shots and topspins far away from the table, albeit for different reasons. The fast, bouncy, soft, and grippy nature of the VO>102 allows you to play long, nicely curved shots that clear the net and land deeply on your opponent’s side of the table.
The VO>102 works supremely well for BH flicks, due to its soft nature, sharp feeling, and high inherent speed. As the pips wrap themselves around the ball, you can guide the ball over the net with good clearance. Judging by the bounce and my practice partner’s reaction, down-the-line BH flicks were quite loaded with sidespin.
Unsurprisingly, the VO>102 can produce very fast and essentially unreturnable BH smashes, though the rubber is so soft that it almost felt as if I was hitting through the sponge and into the blade, resulting in an upper power limit. Occasionally, I twiddled my paddle in order to use the VO>102 for FH smashes. It produces fast and flat FH smashes, but once again I felt that the power coupling is limited as the sponge is too fast.
The fast and bouncy nature of the VO>102 demands respect whilst BH pushing. Thus, I had to use soft hands and controlled strokes when playing long BH pushes to prevent the ball from going long. The pushes are very spinny for a short pimpled rubber, which I attribute to grippy and soft nature of the topsheet. My opponents struggled to loop effectively against these BH pushes. Interestingly, if I used a short direct motion, the BH pushes almost became an offensive shot, due to rubber’s high inherent speed and bounciness (i.e., almost like a BH tennis volley). Given this, I was a little concerned how well the VO>102 would work on short pushes but my worries proved to be unfounded, as I was able to place the shots short and low with a reasonable amount of backspin, though soft hands are needed.
Chopping far away from the table
Obviously, the VO>102 is not designed to be a chopping rubber, at least not in 2.0 mm thickness. Accordingly, it was challenging to play consistent BH chops against FH topspins far from the table. It is necessary to use very good technique and supremely soft hands to absorb the incoming energy. Whenever I managed to contact the ball properly, the resulting BH chop was quite spinny forcing my partner to slow-loop the subsequent shot.
The Victas VO>102 is a very fast, bouncy, grippy, and soft short pimpled rubber. For a short pip rubbers, it performs very well on all topspin strokes (loops, flicks, fishing shots), while offering typical, though very fast and not particularly spin-inverted, short pip behavior on blocks and flat hits. While I used it as a BH rubber, I could also see FH short pip players wanting to try the VO>102. Given its high inherent speed, it definitively is a rubber that caters to advanced players.
Playing impressions – Victas Spectol S2
The Victas Spectol S2 short pips are moderately fast (high OFF-) and feel slightly more muted compared to the Spinpips D2 and VO>102 short pips. The arc of my BH drives was noticeably flatter than with the two other rubbers. I attribute this to the vertical pip alignment of the Spectol S2 and its moderately stiff topsheet. Consequently, the Spectol S2 doesn’t grip the ball like the two other rubbers, which, in turn, requires the use of a flatter stroke. This should not be construed as criticism. The Spectol S2 is simply a different type of short pip rubber that requires a different playing technique (one that happens to suit my style quite well). Although the throw angle is quite flat, I still had sufficient clearance over the net on my BH drives. Moreover, Spectol’s moderate speed and lack of excessive bounciness meant that my BH drives had a medium-long trajectory and landed on my opponent’s side with good consistency.
The Spectol S2 is quite insensitive to incoming topspin. Passive blocks can, therefore, be played with a relatively flat bat angle, without running the risk of overshooting the table. The moderate speed and largely linear nature of the Spectol also help in this regard. The sponge of the Spectol S2 absorbs a decent amount of energy from incoming high-quality loops, allowing for controlled BH blocks. Although I produced fewer lightning-fast BH kill blocks than with the two other rubbers, I won more points in match situations as I was able to land a higher percentage of my BH blocks near my opponent’s endline. Also, the Spectol S2 produces slightly more spin inversion than the Spinpips D2 or VO>102. As a result, my opponents found it slightly more challenging to loop against my BH blocks. However, the level of spin inversion and disruption is only moderate and should not be the primary reason for using this rubber.
I only attempted a few BH chop blocks with the Spectol S2. The reduced grip levels seemed to render chop blocking more challenging than with the other rubbers, as the ball had a tendency to glide across the surface and go long. However, I think chop blocks are possible if one uses super soft hands and has good feeling.
Hitting through backspin
As mentioned above, the Spectol S2 doesn’t grip the ball in the same manner as the Spinpips (grippier, horizontal pip arrangement) or VO>102 (ultra-soft, horizontal pip arrangement; ultra-soft pips wrap around ball). This, coupled with its lack of spin sensitivity, encourages flatter strokes when attacking long backspin pushes rather than loop-like strokes. This, in turn, requires good placement relative to the ball and proper stroke timing, as it is important to hit the ball in its zenith. While Spectol’s moderate speed and linear nature reduce the risk of overshooting the table, it is important to stay focused. The BH hits are not super-fast but can be played with good consistency, and some deception as the rubber transfers some of your opponent’s spin. Moreover, the flat trajectories of the shots are uncomfortable and can catch your opponent off guard.
Fishing shots from afar
The Spectol S2, in combination with the fantastic Victas Swat Power test blade, enabled me to engage in BH fishing shots far from the table with good consistency, in response to FH topspins. Once again, these shots are best executed with a rather flat bat angle. Since the shots are less arced than with the two other short pips, it becomes important to use the right amount of input power to float the ball onto the ball. Be it as it may, I enjoyed good consistency, although I was not able to truly put my practice partner under pressure. The fishing shots are more like safety shots that buy you time to get in position for the next shot.
Since the Spectol S2 doesn’t grip the ball very effectively, inverted-rubber-like techniques are less efficient for BH flicks against short pushes. Instead, pancake-type BH flicks can be used for controlled, moderately fast shots.
BH smashes are less dangerous than with the other pips tested herein since the Spectol S2 is somewhat slower and less bouncy. However, it is still possible to execute controlled smashes that have flat, uncomfortable trajectories.
The Spectol S2 produces noticeably less backspin on long pushes than the other test rubbers, judging by the ease with which my practice partner was able to loop against the pushes. This is in line with the other observations noted above. The Spectol S2 works well on short pushes as it isn’t a particularly bouncy rubber. Thus, pushes and drop shots can be played low and short.
Chopping far away from the table
The original TSP Spectol short pips have been used as defensive BH rubbers by some defenders over the years. However, I struggled using the Spectol S2 for BH chops far from the table. Thus, although I was able to bring the BH chops on the table, they did not cause my high-level practice partner any problems, because spin levels are low. Let’s be clear – I am not a chopper, nor have I ever been taught proper chopping technique. When I chop (as a left-hander), I tend to brush the ball at the 5-6 o’clock position, which works ok using rubbers with horizontally aligned pips. However, I think needs to be brushed more diagonally (brush the ball at the 3-4 o’clock position) when using the Spectol S2 with its vertically aligned pips. Stated otherwise, proper chopping technique is required, as properly executed BH chops floated onto the table with more spin. I guess skilled defenders would be able to vary the contact point and thus generate deceptive spin variation. All this being said, I still think the Spectol S2, in 2.0 mm on a 7-ply all-wood blade, is too fast of a rubber for consistent BH chopping.
The Victas Spectol S2 is an excellent short pimpled rubber that is geared towards players that want to attack most balls with flat strokes. Thus, this rubber caters to a similar player segment as the Spinpips D2, i.e., players who primarily use blocks and drives. The Spectol S2 offers a more traditional short pimple experience due to its vertically aligned pips. I see it best used as a shakehand BH rubber or an all-out penhold FH hitter. Given that the Spectol S2 is only moderately fast, it can be used by players of different skill levels.
Overall final thoughts
Each of the short pimpled rubbers evaluated here are excellent, but they cater to different playing styles. The Victas VO>102 stands out as a super soft, ultra-fast, and very grippy rubber, which enables curved topspin shots in addition to traditional short pip shots. This makes it a great option for players looking for a FH short pip rubber. The Victas Spinpips D2 is also fast but feels much stiffer than the VO>102, producing a crisp sensation. The pips are very grippy which, allowing for high levels of backspin generation. The characteristics encourage a direct blocking, hitting, and smashing playing style. The Victas Spectol S2 short pips also promote a similar style, but a flatter bat angle is generally recommended due to its vertical pip arrangement. Overall, these are three excellent short pimpled rubbers from Victas, each with unique characteristics to suit different playing styles.
About The Author
Patrick “ThePongProfessor” Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. He progressed to play in the top national cadet and junior leagues in his native Denmark. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for nearly twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and moved to the US as he accepted a chemistry professor position. Since his return to the sport in 2015, he has been combining his analytical skills with his passion for table tennis by testing and writing about a wide range of table tennis equipment. He is a ~2200-USATT-rated left-handed doubles specialist who counts his 2017 US Open (O40 doubles) and 2018 Portland Open (open doubles) titles and Top-16 finish at the 2018 World's Veteran Championships (40-44 year doubles) among his fondest memories. He has a controlled offensive playing style and currently uses a 7-ply limba/ayous based all-wood blade and DHS Hurricane 3 and driving-type short pips in his FH and BH, respectively.
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