Float Like a Butterfly…
Player Level and Style
Attacking: Shakehander with inverted both sides, 2000+ USATT level. Used on a Imperial Matchpoint Vario Offensiv attacking blade.
Defensive: Combination bat player with long pips on the backhand – 2000+ USATT level. Used on an Imperial Liang Ge Liang Sensor Def defensive blade.
Butterfly Sriver inverted rubber, Red/Black, with 2.0mm and 1.5mm sponge. Butterfly have also produced a number of other Sriver variants – such as Sriver-G2 (the high tension version), Sriver-FX (a softer sponge to suit speed glue even more) and Sriver-EL (supposedly the speed of Sriver and the control of Sriver-FX), but I’ll stick to the original version in this review.
Sriver is one of the benchmark table tennis rubbers of the last 40+ years. Initially one of the fastest rubbers around, these days it is generally considered to be more of an aggressive all-round rubber, as technology has produced more powerful rubbers over the years. But Sriver remains a popular choice among new and experienced players, and for good reason.
Who Will Like It
Attackers who are looking for speed and spin but without sacrificing control will enjoy Sriver in 2.0mm+ sponge, unglued. Attackers looking for that extra bit of speed and spin will also like the way Sriver responds when speed glued or boosted. Defenders who want to retain some attacking capabilities will also find 1.0-1.5mm Sriver to have excellent control with a bit of sting when required.
Who Will Hate It
Players who are looking to generate extremely heavy topspin or backspin won’t enjoy Sriver. And those players looking for extreme pace should also look elsewhere.
Sriver is a fairly middle of the range rubber compared to what is available these days. The topsheet is not tacky, and probably a little less grippy than something like Mark V, but still far from being slick. It also has probably a little softer topsheet and sponge than Mark V, in my opinion, but still fairly firm. I’d also say it is a little lighter than Mark V. This gives Sriver good qualities for producing mechanical spin, and the softer sponge works well with speed glue.
I have used ordinary Sriver (nothing fancy, just the vanilla version) in the past both with and without speed glue, and to attack and defend, as I varied my playing styles over the years.
Without speed glue, Sriver in 2.0mm or thicker sponge is fast, with a reasonable amount of spin, and very good control. It’s very easy to control the ball over the table with touch strokes, and looping against backspin or block is not a problem. Counterlooping is possible as well, but requires good technique. I’d also say that Sriver blocks better than Mark V, but is a little less powerful for hitting winners. When you add speed glue or booster to the mix, Sriver really goes into turbo mode, since its sponge responds so well to the glue effect. You’ll retain most of your control in the touch game, but now your drives and loops will be truly vicious due to the extra pace and spin, and relooping becomes much easier as the speed glue helps you counterloop with ease. I’d also say that it throws a little lower than speed glued Mark V, making it easier to hit low bullets from topspin balls.
In the thinner sponges (1.0-1.5mm), I found Sriver to have excellent control when defending, and adequate spin variation (you can float easily and chop with medium spin easily, but it’s tougher to produce a really heavy backspin – it doesn’t have quite the grip you need – or maybe it’s just my technique!?). Since the topsheet isn’t tacky, you won’t have too many problems controlling heavy loops, and the rubber is fast enough to allow good counterattacks. Although I have other rubbers that I prefer for defending these days (such as Dr.Neubauer Domination or Joola Tango Defensive), Sriver is still a good choice for an allround player who wants to combine defence and attack.
In this day and age where many table tennis rubbers appear and disappear within a few years, Sriver continues to produce the goods. Yes, there are faster rubbers out there, and yes, there are spinnier rubbers too, but Sriver provides a mix of power, speed and spin that has remained popular among the top ranks for over 40 years (although in modern times you won’t see Sriver on many professional players rackets – they are using faster and spinnier rubbers like Tenergy 05 or Hurricane 3).
Good players don’t need tricks when they play, they want a rubber that allows them to implement the technique that they have worked so hard to perfect. Sriver is a great example of a rubber that will allow you to use it in your own way to get results, instead of forcing you to adjust your technique to match the rubber!
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