Butterfly Dignics 09C vs Butterfly Tenergy 05 - When new and old gold standards meet
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
While I have reviewed over 100 rubbers and blades from a wide range of table tennis manufacturers since 2015, there is one brand that I have had minimal exposure to, i.e., Butterfly. I am, therefore, ecstatic to be given the opportunity to review two gold standard rubbers from Butterfly in my inaugural review for Megaspin, i.e., Butterfly Dignics 09C (D09C) and Butterfly Tenergy 05 (T05).
Most table tennis players know that T05 was considered the gold standard non-tacky rubber for more than a decade since its introduction in 2008. It was used by a plurality of professional players, with many European and Japanese offensive players using it as a FH and BH rubber, and many Chinese players using it as their preferred BH. While several pros still use the T05, the switch to the 40+ ball - and especially the newer generation of 40+ balls – created a demand for harder-sponged rubbers. This, in turn, motivated the development of the D09C, which is emerging as the new gold standard non-tacky rubber.
According to Butterfly, the combination of the High Tension topsheet and the Spring Sponge affords the T05 a unique feeling. The pimple geometry that is used with T05 has been optimized for topspin shots. The T05 has speed and spin ratings of 13.0 and 11.5, respectively, while the sponge is rated as having a hardness of 36 on the Butterfly scale.
The D09C is described as a high friction and high bounce rubber, resulting from synergy effects between the upgraded high-tension top-sheet and the hard Spring Sponge X. The pimples used with the D09C are asserted to enable both offensive and defensive playstyles, including counter-topspins. Butterfly gives the D09C ratings of 13.0 in both the speed and spin categories, while the sponge is rated as having a hardness of 44.
Like all Butterfly rubbers, the T05 and D09C arrive in a shiny black cardboard wrapper that features a central holographic Butterfly logo on the front that is surrounded by multiple multicolored concentric circles, i.e., white-orange-green-blue-violet-purple for T05 and dark red-blue-purple-violet-orange for D09C. Rubber-specific information is provided in several languages on the back. The D09C (but not the T05) is protected by a transparent adhesive plastic film.
The T05 top-sheet is very grippy but entirely non-tacky. The pimples are clearly discernible through the topsheet. The salmon-red sponge has a high density of small pores and a hardness I would categorize as medium. The rubber sheet has a sweet rubbery smell and weighs 70 g uncut (black, 2.1 mm, height x width: 180 mm x 168 mm) and 47 grams when cut to the Viscaria test blade (158x150 mm).
The D09C top-sheet is very grippy but only very minimally tacky (capable of lifting and holding a ball for a fraction of a second). The pimples are only very weakly visible through the topsheet. The dark-red sponge is hard and has a high density of small pores. The D09C has a sweet rubbery smell and weighs 72 g uncut (black, 2.1 mm, height x width: 180 mm x 168 mm) and 50 grams cut to the Viscaria blade (158x150 mm).
I tested the brand-new T05 and D09C rubbers (black, 2.1 mm) on a Butterfly Viscaria blade while using a well-used sheet of my usual driving-style short pips in my BH. I attached the rubbers using two layers of Butterfly Free Check Pro. I tested each rubber over 4-5 sessions playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my regular high-level practice partner (two-winged looper) using 40+ ABS training balls throughout this test.
Dignics 09C Playing Impressions
The D09C/Viscaria combo produces a very crisp, yet non-metallic feeling on FH drives. Based on Butterfly’s description, I expected the D09C to be a springy speed monster, but I found it to be surprisingly docile rubber. The D09C is a low OFF-level rubber with a marked – but not hugely prominent – catapult effect. The throw angle is quite high for such a hard-sponged rubber, being somewhere between medium and medium-high. As a result, FH drives clear the net with plenty of room to spare and then dip relatively early, resulting in outstanding control and consistency on these shots. These inherent characteristics, in turn, allow for the utilization of more aggressive biomechanics, resulting in deeper and faster FH drives.
Standard FH warm-up loops are a pleasure with the D09C. The throw angle tightens up on these higher impact shots, resulting in faster, flatter, and more dangerous trajectories. Nonetheless, players enjoy ample clearance over the net. Spin levels are on par with other rubbers in this hardness segment when FH loops are executed as loop-drives. However, I was able to produce unusually high spin levels (for a non-tacky rubber of this hardness) whenever I used a more upward and/or wristy motion as evidenced by the greater-than-normal proportion of blocks that overshot the table.
Similarly, I enjoyed excellent consistency on third ball attacks against long pushes, though I rarely was able to generate enough power to earn me the point outright. Instead, I typically had to follow up the third-ball attack with an aggressive fifth or seventh ball driving-type shot. This shot sequence, i.e., 3rd ball attack, followed by a 5th or 7th ball drive/loop-drive is something that the D09C rubber excels at as the rubber feels very solid on high-impact shots. And again, whenever I decided to switch things up and play a slower and spinnier 3rd ball FH attack, the resulting block had a tendency of sailing long. Another point of note: the D09C seems to grip the ball very well and “eat through” backspin effortlessly, rendering it very easy to open against pushes. Thus, I only had very few FH loops go into the net.
The D09C is comfortable in FH loop-to-loop rallies far from the table. The rubber feels very stable but lacks perhaps a little bit of catapult and inherent power on these shots. However, the rubber’s stability allows the user to titrate their power more precisely. In other words, the D09C is a rather predictable rubber. What you put in, is what you get out. Accordingly, I enjoyed excellent consistency thanks to the adequately high throw angle, which ensured that the ball easily cleared the net and resulted in a “kicking” trajectory on my opponent’s side.
The crisp feeling provided by the D09C/Viscaria combination gave me the confidence to execute aggressive FH pancake-type flicks. However, the shots have to be well-timed as the harder nature of the D09C renders it less suitable for the execution of more traditional style flicks, i.e., mini-loops played with a wristy motion while the ball is in the descending phase. Pancake-type FH flicks are facilitated by the moderately springy nature of the D09C, which gives the shots an additional kick.
Passive FH blocking with the D09C feels crisp and secure as the rubber is fully capable of absorbing the incoming energy from high-quality loops. In fact, one of the D09C’s greatest strengths is aggressive blocking and counter-driving from mid-distance. The use of a short wristy motion converts the incoming energy into a blazingly fast block with a low trajectory that is very hard to counter, resulting in many “burns”. The D09C is entirely spin-insensitive which further facilitates blocking.
The D09C/Viscaria combination works supremely well for smashing and flat hitting. The D09C does not budge on these high-impact shots, which are quasi-unreturnable.
The high grip level of the D09C allows for a firm contact with the ball whilst pushing. This, in turn, allows for more aggressive biomechanics to be used whilst pushing, resulting in pushes that are flatter, faster, and spinnier than with other comparable hard-sponged rubbers. As a result, my practice partner had less time to prepare for high-quality loops, giving me an edge in the rally. However, care must be taken when pushing against dead serves, as the D09C’s fast and moderately springy nature otherwise results in pushes that overshoot the table end. The use of soft hands, which extends the ball contact, is the way to go on these shots. The D09C is reliable on short pushes due to the absence of a strong catapult, though it was a little harder to feel the ball.
Initially, I struggled a little bit to develop a good feeling for short pendulum backspin serves. The serves were short and low, but not particularly spiny. As a regular Hurricane 3 user who normally relies on the rubber’s tack for an extended contact time with the ball, I had to use especially soft hands to brush the ball lightly with the D09C. Once mastered, my backspin serves had respectable spin levels. The D09C seemed to work better on long top/side-spin serves, presumably since it is easier to produce more friction on these serves. Irrespective of the reasons, I was able to load up the ball with high amounts of spin.
The Butterfly Dignics 09C is a rather linear rubber that allows a mix of strategies to be utilized. It excels at high impact driving shot types from close to the table and mid-distance, i.e., loop drives, counter drives, pancake-type flicks, and aggressive blocks, while also offering good control in the short game. Players who predominantly execute soft and spinny topspins, will probably benefit from using the Tenergy 05 instead (see below). Also, the lack of a strong catapult, means that players must expect to use considerable physical effort when playing far from the table. This is a top-end rubber that will appeal to advanced, expert, and professional players.
Tenergy 05 Playing Impressions
The T05/Viscaria combo produces a nice feeling on FH drives that is softer than with the D09C. The T05 is considerably bouncier than the D09C, which gives the impression that the T05 is significantly faster on FH drives. In fact, the T05 feels like a mid-to-high OFF-level rubber on most low-to-medium impact shots. The throw angle is also more pronounced, i.e., medium-high to high. As a result, FH drives clear the net even more easily than with the D09C yet have longer trajectories. I enjoyed outstanding control on FH drives, provided I didn’t go overboard in terms of aggression.
The T05 is a looping rubber extraordinaire. Just as with FH drives, the feeling produced on warm-up FH loops is softer than with the D09C. The FH topspins are also accompanied by a prominent and satisfying clicking sound, which gave me flashbacks to the 1990s speed-glue era. The throw angle remains high on these shots, resulting in ample clearance over the net and excellent consistency. FH loops against long pushes (as in 3rd ball attacks) are fast and very easy to execute, due to the T05’s high throw angle and catapult effect. It is important to understand that T05’s springier nature facilitates 3rd ball attacks, as one normally only uses medium to medium-high physical effort on these shot types. Spin levels on 3rd ball attacks are higher than with the D09C since the ball digs in a little more into the rubber. Where the T05 has limitations – especially relative to the harder D09C – is on highly aggressive loop drives, as the T05’s softer sponge doesn’t transfer as much power from the user to the ball.
The fast and bouncy nature of the T05 works great in loop-to-loop rallies far from the table. I found it important, however, to let the rubber do the work, i.e., play the shots with good technique and high arcs, rather than leaning into the shots with brute force (to avoid inefficient power transfer).
The softer and springier nature of the T05 vis-à-vis the D09C also manifests itself on FH flicks. While I preferred to use pancake flicks with the D09C, I preferred the more classic “mini-loop”-type flick with the T05. In other words, I enjoyed greater consistency when lifting the ball over the net using a rolling, rather than snapping motion, as the ball digs into the sponge a little more. This, in turn, meant that the flick where a little less dangerous and that I had to be ready for the following shot.
Regular FH warm-up blocking felt comfortable with the T05. The incoming energy was quickly reflected as controlled blocks. However, during randomized drills that emulate more match-like situations, the higher throw angle and springier nature of the T05, as compared to the D09C, became evident, and a higher percentage of my FH blocks overshot the table. This might be the characteristic that has led some players to describe the T05 as being spin-sensitive (which I don’t think it is). The more aggressive the block, the more pronounced this effect, which is a fundamental difference relative to the D09C. I found it to be more productive to take a step away from the table, let the ball lose a little bit of its energy, and counter-loop with soft hands.
I struggled to use the T05 for flat hits and smashing, as the rubber felt like giving in on these very high impact shots and resulting in weaker smashes than with the D09C. Once again, I found it to be more productive to let the ball drop a little and topspin it instead.
The bouncy nature of the T05 means that pushes against backspin serves must be executed with soft hands, as it otherwise is easy to overshoot the table. Once the technique is mastered, it becomes possible to play very spinny pushes that are challenging to attack. However, the margin for error is significantly smaller than with the D09C.
The softer, yet very grippy nature of the T05, gave me high confidence and excellent feeling on short pendulum backspin serves. As far as I could gather, these serves were short, low, and spinnier than with the D09C. The T05 works supremely well on long top/side-spin serves which were fast and loaded with spin.
The Butterfly Tenergy 05 is a bouncy rubber that excels in topspin-oriented game styles. As a FH rubber, it is best suited as a looping machine from mid-distance but can also easily be used as a FH rubber by modern defenders far from the table. Its characteristics render it particularly useful as a BH rubber, as it facilitates flicks and loops. The soft and bouncy nature of the T05 will render short game, counter-driving, and aggressive blocking a little challenging for some players.
Final Thoughts on T05 vs D09CIn my opinion, the Butterfly Tenergy 05 and Dignics 09C cater to two different player types. The T05 is a springy looping and traditional flicking rubber that requires good hand feeling in the short game and which has some deficits in aggressive blocking and smashing. It is easy to see why it is a very popular BH rubber as the shorter BH stroke mechanics favor springier rubbers. Following the introduction of the 40+ ball, I think the T05 will be too soft as a FH rubber for most highly advanced players capable of imparting a lot of power on the ball. However, the T05 will still be great for intermediate players which need their rubber to do more of the work for them. Conversely, the D09C caters to players who can impart more, precisely titrated power on the ball for a more direct game style. Blocking and short game is much more stable with the D09C since it is slower and less springy. Do an honest assessment of your skill level and style and choose accordingly and you will be rewarded with an excellent rubber.
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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