Yasaka Mark V Review

Yasaka Mark V Rubber Review

The Yasaka Mark V is one of the most iconic rubbers in table tennis. The creation of this legendary rubber is often regarded one of the most important technological breakthroughs in table tennis history.

The Mark V is a rubber with an indisputable legacy. It was used by the sport’s elite for decades, hence its slogan, “Every shot aimed at glory”. However, more than 50 years have passed since its initial launch, in 1969, the year in which men first landed on the moon.

To this day, the Mark V is still produced. However, what was once the go-to, top-of-the-line offensive rubber has today taken a different place in the world of table tennis equipment.

The advent of newer technologies begs the question: Is the Yasaka Mark V worth buying more than half a century after its initial release?

YASAKA MARK V REVIEW SUMMARY
The Yasaka Mark V is a medium soft rubber with little speed and not much grip by today’s standards. Although it’s not great for offensive power play, it’s an exceptional rubber for feeling and controlling the ball, and its relative lack of spin also makes it quite insensitive to incoming spins. These playing characteristics make the Mark V ideal for players who like to play a wide variety of different shot types, alternating between drives, chops, pushes, and the occasional loop. In addition, it is exceptional for one of the most important shots in the sport, the passive service return. The main feature of this rubber is its versatility and its ease of use.

Perfect for: Allround players who value control over everything else, offensive beginners who want to use a fast blade from the get-go, players who feel uncomfortable on either the forehand or backhand wing. 0-15+ years of playing.
Serve
Drive
Loop
Block
Chop
Benefits
Control
Spin insensitivity.
Ease of use.
Durability.
Consistency
Lightweight.
Great passive serve receive.
Drawbacks
Lack of speed for a high-level offensive game.
Below average spin.
3

Good

Design of the Yasaka Mark V

The Yasaka Mark V comes sealed in a retro-looking package. 

A picture of the Yasaka Mark V Package

Once I opened the package, I was taken aback by its strong, fishy smell, similar to the one present on the Hurricane 3 NEO

A picture of the Yasaka Mark V

To my surprise, the Mark V was a bit dusty out of the package. Aside from that, the rubber is slightly tacky and it has a grippy topsheet.

The rubber has a slight tension, but not too much, and there is no indication of factory boosting. This possibly contributes to its long durability, with stories of people who have had 10 or 20-year-old Mark Vs that still grip the ball just fine.

If we press into the rubber, the sponge on the Mark V is medium-soft, around 43 degrees on the ESN scale.

If we perform a bounce test, the ball does not bounce much, an inkling of what its speed level would be while playing. Keep in mind that we are reviewing a MAX thickness Mark V on an offensive blade, and this rubber ended up being very slow for my liking.

The Yasaka Mark V uncut sheet weighs in at 62 grams, and cut slightly oversize for my Tibhar Stratus Power Wood, it weighs in at 44 grams.

If I had cut it true to the Stratus’ head size, it would have weighed a few grams less, and considering that this is the maximum thickness variant, this rubber is really light.

A picture of the Yasaka Mark V Weight

We have tested the Yasaka Mark V on both sides of the racket.

Playtesting the Yasaka Mark V

Before we start our review of the Mark V, I wanted to mention that this is definitely the slowest rubber I’ve tried so far.

Its speed levels are well below the Xiom Vega Europe and the Hurricane 3 NEO, and slightly below the Friendship 729 Super FX and the Huieson Thunder.

Throughout the review, I found it virtually impossible to get past my opponent with sheer speed and spin. The culprit? This ball:

A picture of the DHS DJ40+ Ping Pong Ball

The problem with the ball is neither the brand nor the model, what’s more, it is an excellent ball. The point is that the Mark V was not designed to hit this ball. We need a quick history of the table tennis ball.

The Yasaka Mark V was designed with the 38mm celluloid ball in mind. Back then, it would generate lots of speed, even more so if it was “boosted” with speed glue.

In the early 2000s and with the advent of the 40mm celluloid ball, the popularity of this rubber began to decline compared to others that employed newer technology such as Butterfly’s Bryce, and later, the Tenergy line.

From 2014 onwards, with the new ABS ball, very high technology is required to be able to propel the plastic ball in order to score points by attacking. Even the Butterfly Bryce has become slow by today’s standards.

We didn’t feel like the Yasaka Mark V had enough speed or grip to get past an intermediate or advanced opponent. Open-ups didn’t have enough quality and powerloops weren’t very fast.

We also felt that when we were looping, the rubber didn’t “bite” or “catch” the ball, and the trajectory was very flat. The rubber does not make the ball go down by itself, if you want the ball to go down you must aim downwards. It doesn’t “artificially help” topspins.

Also, I personally had a hard time using the Yasaka Mark V since I use the backhand passive block quite often. With the Mark V, I felt like the ball was not bouncing off the rubber, which many times led to me dumping the ball in the net.

In the first clip, we see that passive blocking is tricky with the Mark V. If you want to block passively, you have to open up the racket angle, which threw me off a lot since I’m used to closing the angle instinctively if my opponent powerloops the ball.

In the second clip, we can see this effect in a match situation. Using my forehand rubber, the Donic Baracuda, I attack my opponent, and I want to block the ball with the Mark V, it just falls down to the net because the ball doesn’t bounce back to the other side as I’m used to.

Throughout this review, I had to get used to playing without blocking passively, as these shots would usually end up in the net unless I really opened up my racket’s angle, which I’m not used to.

I can see how some people might like it as the combination of durability, lightweight, spin insensitivity, and control are great for the right player. However, that player is not the modern attacker.

Driving and looping

From the moment I hit my first warm-up drive, I felt the total control that this rubber offers. Drives gave me a tremendous sense of confidence and control, as the shot I wanted was exactly what the rubber gave me.

Throughout my testing, I have found that drives are the best feature of this rubber due to its tremendous control and the ease with which one can place shots. Plus, if you want to hit the ball harder, you never feel like you’re going to miss the table.

In terms of looping, I did not feel that it has enough grip to load shots with spin, nor enough power to be able to surprise the opponent. However, I did enjoy the consistency of my shots when looping, which is a good attribute for beginners.

This leads to an interesting debate. Yes, I can make the ball land on the table 100 times in a row, but is it any good to be able to attack consistently with little to no power?

If you’re a complete beginner, possibly yes, but otherwise I’d say no. The opponent simply has too much time to react, and it is very difficult to gain points by attacking against proficient players. 

Also, the spin generated on loops makes it very easy for opponents to block the ball back or even counterloop it.

Taking into account that table tennis rallies are usually 2 to 4 strokes long on average, I do not think that this is a useful offensive rubber in today’s game.

If you were looking for an offensive control-oriented rubber, there are lots of great options in the market such as the Rakza Z, the Rakza 7, the Xiom Vega Europe, and the Hurricane 3 NEO, among many others.

I feel there has to be a balance between control and speed, and contrary to what I’ve read in other reviews, I think this rubber doesn’t have a good balance between control and speed when testing it as an offensive rubber.

It does have a good balance between speed and control if we think of it as an allround or defensive rubber. To attack, I don’t feel like I have enough strength to score points.

I feel that, for example, with the Rakza Z or the Rakza 7 I can land around 15 loops on the table in a row, and some of those loops have the potential to finish the point. Those two rubbers have a nice balance between control and speed.

With the Tibhar Evolution MX-P, an ultra offensive rubber, I’ll probably be able to play just 5 or 6 loops in a row, but I only need to get 1 or 2 on the table to finish the point. 

With the Mark V, open-ups don’t have much spin, and follow-up attacks lacked the power to finish the point. I would say that to use the Mark V to its fullest potential you have to try to confuse your opponent with varieties of depth, spin, and different strokes.

Serve and receive

In this area, I liked the Mark V a little better. Though serves didn’t have that much spin, it was super easy to serve short and control the placement of the serves.

However, we fall into the same dilemma. In my opinion, it is more worth learning to serve short with a rubber that has more grip than to use the Mark V one and serve short easily but with less spin.

When receiving with the Mark V, active serve receive was not very efficient. If I wanted to perform backhand flicks, it was easy to deal with incoming spin, but my flick was very low quality. They were very easy for my opponent to deal with.

Where this rubber really shines is on the passive serve receive. Touching short is effortless, and you can push long anywhere on the table without any fear of the ball going long or wide.

In addition, this rubber is ideal for those who find it difficult to receive spinny serves due to its spin insensitivity.

Blocking and chopping

In terms of blocking, paradoxically, I prefer my Tibhar MX-P, a rubber that is much faster and more difficult to control. The reason? If I perform a good block with the MX-P, I instantly win the initiative.

With the Mark V, blocking is easy and above all, it is very easy to block fast, spinny balls. However, you have to actively block balls that come with little power so that you don’t dump your blocks in the net.

Also, blocking will hardly ever put you in a position to attack since blocks will return to your opponent with little speed unless you punch the ball back to them.

Chopping with the Yasaka Mark V is good because of its high control, but my opponent told me that chops didn’t have much backspin and were easy to lift.

Overall reflections on the Yasaka Mark V.

My conclusion is that this rubber is ideal for those players who want to minimize their mistakes. It is very easy to put the ball on the table with this rubber, and that is why it is so loved by thousands of players. It is simply very easy to use.

To illustrate my point, up next is a clip of me playing against long pips. The spin insensitivity of this rubber and the control it has makes playing against long pips a piece of cake, unlike with bouncy tensioned rubbers.

Due to its speed and ease of use, I also recommend it for beginners who want to play an offensive game and want to buy a fast blade from the get-go.

If a new player told me that they wanted to start playing with a fast composite blade, I would have no problem recommending something like a Mark V and Viscaria. As they progress, they can switch to faster rubbers.

If your game is based on exploiting the opponent’s mistakes, or you want to minimize your own errors, the Yasaka Mark V is a great option.

It is also a very good option for those allround players who use all kinds of spins. In the clip below, I’ll show you where the Yasaka Mark V really shines: Stroke combinations and putting the ball on the table because of its spin insensitivity and control.

To sum up, I want to say that this rubber greatly simplifies the game due to not having as much speed and spin as the new tensor rubbers. It is up to you to decide if you need that performance boost provided by modern tensors, which is sometimes counterproductive.

In my case, I felt underwhelmed by its offensive capabilities, but for the right player, this rubber is perfect given its playing characteristics (control, spin insensitivity) and its practicality (lightweight, build quality, durability).

Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 200 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!

Blade: Tibhar Stratus Power Wood | Forehand: Evolution MX-P | Backhand: Rasanter R42
Playstyle: Forehand Looper

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