General thoughts: Just rallying close to the table, I was really impressed by the HRT Huaruite Wujilong. This rubber is very tacky, and even though I am a Tenergy user, I love tacky rubbers for close-to-the-table rallies. On both FH to FH and BH to BH warm up rallies the HRT Wujilong felt very similar to Hurricane 3. Much like my experience with H3, I was able to easily lift low balls (when able to take a full swing) with ease due to the tacky top-sheet and controllable gears. Unfortunately, the tacky top-sheet and slow-ish “soft-swing gears” worked against me when I had to shorten my swing.
When it came down to putting one foot under the table and reaching for short shots, I didn’t like the Wujilong nearly as much. Personally, as a Tenergy user, my flipping and pushing technique did not work well with the Huaruite. Because it is so tacky and doesn’t produce much output on soft swings, if you don’t really muscle the ball, your flips may end up going nowhere. Some people like this about tacky rubbers because the result really depends on the input from your swing. If you currently use a slow tacky rubber, you will probably be just fine with this, but if you are a non-tacky player looking to make the switch, keep in mind the different technique required by slower tacky Chinese rubbers of which the Wujilong is no exception.
My personal technique requires less muscle and more finesse, letting the rubber do most of the work. With the HRT Wujilong, you will definitely have to do the work on soft shots. This was very noticeable with pushes. If you have ever pushed with DHS Skyline TG 3, you can expect the same from the Wujilong. Pushes require a good deal of user input and less touch /finesse (as would be required with more reactive rubbers, usually tensors). Not necessarily a bad thing, more just a matter of preference as mentioned before.
After warming up with close table play, I took a few steps back and started to rip some loops. I immediately noticed a lack of gears from the Wujilong. At a certain point, my full-swing loops felt like they were causing the rubber to bottom out, producing a shot with underwhelming power and a dead feeling. If I had to compare it to H3 and TG 3, I would say that it has more gears than TG 3 but less than H3. When I rip loops from behind the table with H3 I feel like it opens up a new level of power that you wouldn’t expect from it when rallying close to the table – full sponge penetration on H3 is surprisingly lively. On the flip side, full sponge penetration with the TG 3 is hopelessly slow (unboosted anyways) and left me disappointed. If you are looking for the middle ground between H3 and TG 3, I would say the Wujilong is exactly that.
Once I began to play some practice matches, I was more impressed with the way that the HRT rubber produced, and reacted to spin. When receiving serves loaded with spin, the HRT was actually quite lively and, when I avoided penetrating the sponge deeply and simply blocked or “punched” my returns, my shots were both spinny and fast which reaffirmed my belief that medium sponge penetration produces the best result with this rubber. However, on my serve, I was able to generate a lot of spin while barely penetrating the sponge, this is where the requirement of heavy user input might be a good thing.
Conclusion: I had high hopes for the Wujilong (mostly because of the awesome sponge color) and although I wasn’t terribly impressed, I wasn’t disappointed either. For close / mid table play, I feel this is a great attacking rubber that will allow you to really load up your shots with spin. If your style is to take a few more steps back and play far from the table, you will notice the lack of gears (something you won’t notice as much in the Haifu Whale III rubber that the Wujilong is supposedly cloning). If you would give H3 a gear rating of 7/10 and TG 3 a 4/10, Wujilong is about a 5.5 (this is all unboosted of course). Deep sponge penetration risks bottoming out, while soft sponge penetration requires proper technique and a lot of user input; for pushing and flipping, it is as typical as any other tacky Chinese rubber. The one area that I do believe this rubber really excels in is taking really spinny shots and returning them with a bite, especially serves and loops (provided you don’t over-penetrate the sponge). Blocking, punching, and medium counter-attacks are really deadly against shots loaded with spin.
Aesthetics: When I first placed this order (which also contained the HRT Huaruite Rosewood NCT V 5) I was looking forward to seeing the famous purple sponge in person. I had seen pictures of it on various forums and was convinced that having a purple sponge was the answer. Upon opening the package, I was not disappointed. The purple sponge was sickeningly delicious and I knew that even if the rubber sucked, I would probably pierce a hole in it and wear it around my neck on a needlessly long golden chain. Somewhat less impressive (but still cool) was the 2nd sheet that I had ordered in red. The sponge is actually a light red / pinkish color which I can only predict will be on Adam Bobrow‘s blade as he flaunts his (obviously utilitarian) Santa shorts.