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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Badminton tournament post Olympics

With the end of the Olympics, the world of badminton has witness an even playing field.

Unlike the London Olympics, China the powerhouse of world badminton, did not sweep the gold medals.

This allowed non-power house countries like Spain, wining the women's singles and Japan winning the women's doubles to achieve Olympic glory. The former power house of world badminton, Indonesia managed to get a gold in the mixed doubles. However, China retain the golds from both the men's singles and doubles. Malaysia, a former powerhouse managed to get 3 silver medals, her best achievement in Olympic badminton to date.

What this means is there is an emerging parity in terms of skills partly driven by technology, training and nutrition. Last but not least with many ex-national players from traditional powerhouse countries working as coaches overseas, the coaching knowledge, technical skills and experiences are transmitted all over the world.

The next super series will be interesting, seeing perhaps a blooding of new players to gain big game experiences from these tournaments.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Victor Jet Speed S 12 vs Victor Brave Sword 12 physical armchair review

 Victor racquets have most of the specs written on a piece of sticker wrap around the racquet handle.
 The racquet frame has the single pass grommets at the 11 O'clock and 1 O'clock position.
The high end Victor racquets have a 'Made in Taiwan' word engraved on the shaft. A simple bending of the shaft, i.e. holding the handle with one hand while holding the frame with another hand indicates that the racquet is not that flexible and it felt stiff just as indicated by the Victor rating system.
 For a 3U racquet, max tension recommended is 30 lbs.
The racquet has an Aero-Sword type of aerodynamic frame which is more rounder on the edges than the chiseled angular frame of the Brave Sword series.

Here is the swish sound of the Jet Speed S 12 forehand cutting thru the air in comparison with the BraveSword 12. The Jet Speed S 12 sound cutting thru the air has meatier lower pitch sound compared to the 'shriller' swooshing sound of BraveSword 12. The racquet head speed felt the same but regarding the swing, I felt the Jet Speed S 12  has more momentum on the downwards stroke. In theory and on court, I felt the same way, Jet Speed S 12 has better momentum on the full swing strokes like clears and smashes.

On the backhand swing sound, again the Bravesword 12 has a more apparent sharper swooshing sound than Jet Speed S12. In theory, the Bravesword 12 has a better backhand swing with a fantastic sharp swooshing sound than the duller sound of Jet Speed S 12. What this means is Bravesword 12 is better and easier in generating racquet head speed on the backhand. On court, I felt that the Bravesword 12 is extremely wieldy on the backhand strokes like lifting, clear, drives and even smashes. The Jet Speed S 12 is no slouch either but BraveSword 12 is just a fantastic backhand racquet.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 Badminton Olympic Gold medal match final report-an autopsy

Third time's the charm? That adage may hold true for the challenger Lee Chong Wei who entered the men's singles finals as a favourite and top seed based on World ranking.  Lee Chong Wei indeed managed to beat his most formidable opponent, Lin Dan in an actual Olympic game. Third time's the charm indeed.

The match between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan was everything we hope to see either as a badminton purist or a rabid nationalist supporter's point of view. It was that good. The anti-climax to Lin Dan's Olympic dream to achieve the golden hat-trick or three-peat. The game had the making of a titanic struggle fit for the Olympian gods. Alas, it was a semifinal through sheer chance of the draw.

Chen Long the other competitor in the finals was arguably going through an easier draw beating the upcoming Danish star, Viktor Axelsen. Credit to Chen Long for dispatching his opponents in a clinical no nonsense fashion.

The game between Chen Long and Lee Chong Wei in the 1st set was tense with both players using the allocated challenges on the call of the linesmen. The challenges were used as a psychological tool to create self-doubt in the minds of the opponent and buying extra time to think. With the Hawkeye apparatus, the camera captured whether the shuttle landed in or not. Kudos to the linesmen who made the correct and impartial calls.

The pressure of competing in the pinnacle of men's badminton comes with expectations of a nation- creates a psychological pressure cooker, one can only imagine if one is in either man's shoes. Every opportunity to attack comes with the risk of making errors. This created a perfect storm of defensive posture in both men. However, this strategy suited Chen Long who is taller and has a better reach; thus able to intercept or retrieve shots earlier. This created pressure movement for Lee Chong Wei who has to find a way to avoid his movement being dictated by Chen Long. Hence Chen Long has control of Lee Chong Wei. Owing to this movement pressure, Lee Chong Wei being 'late' to the shuttle was 'coerced' to make errors as Lee Chong Wei was in a less stable and commanding positions most of the time.

Being unable to dictate the pace, Lee Chong Wei could not force his will on Chen Long and hence lost the initiative. To attack, is to take risk but in a pressure situation Lee Chong Wei was unable to summon the risk taking, explosive and high pace game that only hitherto he or Lin Dan was capable of. Therefore, it's only a matter of time; that Chen Long has the lead and running up the score, ending in Chen Long's victory 21-18, 21-18. All and all, the coaching staff of China made the correct strategy for Chen Long which played to his strength. As a team, they deserved the credit for Chen Long's success and Olympic gold medal.

On the flip side, Lee Chong Wei, a great badminton talent and sports ambassador achieved a unique silver medal hat-trick, a huge achievement itself. Fairly or unfairly, Lee Chong Wei shoulders a huge burden of expectation for his country, Malaysia. Chen Long on the other hand established himself as the alpha dog in badminton men's singles. On top of his Olympic gold medal, Chen Long is the reigning World Champion himself.

Prior to the Gold medal match, Viktor Axelsen defeated an exhausted looking Lin Dan to claim a Bronze medal. The changing of guard has been established with both Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan not competing in 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Victor JETSPEED S12 Review

Racquet Type: Victor JETSPEED S12
Specs: 3UG5
Flex: stiff
Balance: even balance
Strings: Yonex BG66
Tension: 25lbs, pre-stretched using Yonex ES5PROTECH
Grip: Toalson overgrip + cushion wrap + original grip
Technology: Pyrofil, Aero-Sword, TERS
Shuttles used: Victor Master Ace

Preview: Initially, I was hesitant to try a Victor flagship racquet given the increasing cost of high end Victor racquets over the years. However, seeing that it is an unofficial update on the popular Bravesword 12, I gave this racquet a go. Not only that, the marketing strategy of Victor sponsoring Korean, Indonesian and Malaysian national teams coupled with their exposure in the 2016 Olympics, I was attracted and thought, why not? The Olympic wining team of Liliyana Natsir/Tontowi Ahmad, together with many Korean and Malaysian players using this racquet in the Olympics became a self marketing success for Victor racquets.

Description: This racquet has an even balance with a stiff flex. A direct successor to the popular but uber stiff JETSPEED S10, this racquet is an update with a flexier shaft, with the same frame shape named AERO-SWORD but with a new material called TERS, Twin Eposy Resin System. TERS are found on the frame and on the shaft with a material called Pyrofil by Victor. The main colours of the racquet are luminous yellow, slate grey, silver and some blue highlights. The colours and physical shape can be found in Victor website and reviews by other badminton reviewers.

Final comprehensive review

Warm Ups:

Warming involves baseline to baseline forehand clears.

Clears are long and far owing to the aerodynamic frame of the racquet and how fast the racquet swings, you can literally hear the slicing sound of the racquet cutting through the air, just like a Bravesword 12 but more lower pitched.

When contacted on the sweetspot, the force imparted on the shuttlecock can be felt acutely on your hands, i.e. the repulsion. Although, these could also be attributed to the strings you used, in my case the trusty BG66. Even I was new in wielding this racquet, I feel I can get the sweetspot easily which is an improvement on the BraveSword 12 imho.

Drives are pretty fast owing to the 'aerodynamic' aero sword-like frame. The racquet is maneuverable and good for fast reaction although the 3U meaty mass makes it slightly sluggish at the net.

The racquet shaft is normal size and felt that the stiffness is as advertised as Victor's stiff flex rating. The kickpoint of the racquet, i.e. where it 'snaps' when whipped felt it's more towards the frame hence by swinging it fast, it still bends little giving it excellent control. Perhaps, using material science technology like TERS, Victor improve the elasticity of the shaft. I need a high speed camera to confirm this though.

Game Time:

I won't go into detail each and every shot tried.

Generally since I am playing doubles, receiving of serve and serve are great as expected for a fast and aerodynamic racquet.

The even balance of the head of this racquet is apparent, as one can comfortably and easily whip the racquet to hit shuttle comfortably with the backhand strokes for fast jabs.

Owing to the balance and aerodynamic frame, this racquet is very easy to handle, easy to go short handle grip to long handle grip

Front court:  As a 3U racquet, it's aerodynamic frame allow fast handling to perform netshots, netkills and crosscourt net shots. Though no headlight front court killing machine, it is adequate to control the net and force turnover lifts.

Midcourt: This racquet plays great in the mid court range area as it is both good in attack and jabs. The fast handling and aerodynamics allows fast reaction. As for drive shots, this racquet is good on the backhand but hits like a sledgehammer on the forehand.

Back court:

Basically smashes, drops and clears in backcourt. This racquet is great at the back, pumping smashes and full length clears. The racquet hits like a head heavy racquet on the forehand even though it's an even balance racquet. Doing the full swing, it is still very accurate to control your smashes or clears owing to the sitff shaft.

Control is excellent, slicing (normal and reverse) and checked drops are precise, fast and accurate. Even if the pace is faster, control is very good owing to the large sweetspot imho.

A great all rounder racquet, although even balance, it's more powerful on the forehand strokes than backhand strokes. Has great control with little or no torque/twisting and less off center shot making. Surprising big sweetpot and generating meaty smashes/clears with ease. I felt that it is like an updated Bravesword 12 with better control and power on the forehand but weaker at the backhand.

Feel: 9.5/10

Control: 9.5/10

Power: 9.5/10

Defence: 8.5/10

Maneuverability: 9/10

Suitability: intermediate/advanced players 4U for doubles and 3U for singles

Player type: Fast racquet for counter-attacking and pure attacking.

I played mostly doubles (and half court singles)

TOC (time on court) when making review:

total of 20 hours of game play.

Footnote: this review was done as a hobby and as an interest to inform fellow badminton enthusiast. This is my personal opinion and in no form to promote this racquet.

Conflict of interest: None

Reference: Victor website (accessed @ 20/8/16)