Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Back in March 2022, I had a chance to speak briefly with Lee Zii Jia about what racket he was using at the Yonex All England tournament and he told me that he was using the Victor Thruster Ryuga. I have received plenty of requests to review the Victor Thruster Ryuga but to be honest, I don’t know many top-end pros, other than Lee Zii Jia using this racket. Please let me know in the comments section below if any of you do.
Recently at the World Championships, Victor launched the second generation of the Thruster Ryuga. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get my hands on the second generation Thruster Ryuga so today, we’ll be looking at the first generation Ryuga instead. Huge thanks to Central Sports for loaning me this demo racket and, by the way, remember to use my discount code “CKYEW” for additional discounts when you are purchasing from Central Sports.
In terms of aesthetics, I really like the orange/pearl colour combination on the shaft and cone area, as well as the lilac/white/orange colours on the frame. The colours pop and look amazing. The photos of the racket on Victor’s webpage are not doing it justice as they are overexposed and do not show the exact colours, so you won’t see any of the nice light blue, lilac pastel colour on this amazing-looking matte racket. Additionally, on closer inspection, the holographic details on the decals are amazing and they look like the scales of a dragon around the insides of the frame at 10 and 2 o’clock areas. There are also fingerprint-like details on the shaft. You guys know I’m a sucker for shiny holographic decals on matte finishing so I’m certainly loving the looks of this racket big time.
In terms of tech, the Ryuga has Victor’s Power Box design, which is a box shape frame design for better stability, alongside the hardcore technology which gives this racket a more solid hitting feeling. It also has the Whipping Enhancement System or WES, which is basically different layers of materials at specific areas of the racket to allow the racket to flex differently at those areas, creating a whipping effect - hence its name.
Technologies like these reinforce why I don’t simply take a racket and bend it to feel for stiffness, which you may have seen many people do. It’s because modern rackets are designed and built with different types of carbon and layups in different areas, including the shaft and frame. Just like Yonex’s Pocketing Booster technology in their recently released Arcsaber rackets which has softer material around the frame area to improve shuttle holding properties. Advances in manufacturing technologies allow designers to play and experiment with different materials and techniques, so simply taking a racket and flexing it like that will not give you a full picture of its flexibility. You have to play with the racket to be able to feel its characteristics and performance level.
The Ryuga has a relatively long shaft at 22cm, but a pretty standard diameter of 7.1mm. It’s also got an ever so slightly smaller frame at 23.8cm in height and 18.5cm in width alongside a frame thickness of 10.1mm. The frame is only top-half recessed. In terms of handle length, it certainly has the shortest handle length that I’ve ever measured, out of the rackets that I’ve reviewed so far, at only 16cm. You are certainly going to have a big whip with a shorter handle and a longer racket shaft. So get ready for some power moves and main character energy right there.
The demo racket that I tested was a 3UG5, strung with the Yonex Aerobite at my usual 27lbs by 29lbs in tension. In terms of hitting feeling, the Ryuga is just solid like a sledgehammer. You will understand why Lee Zii Jia loves this racket and how this racket is suited to his incredible power game. If you are currently using something even balance or head-light, you will immediately notice the overall weight and head heaviness of the Ryuga.
If you are currently using a head-heavy racket, then it depends on whether you are used to this 3U weight beast, although according to Victor’s website the Ryuga does come in 4U and 5U weight classes. The Ryuga isn’t extremely head heavy, but certainly has more than enough weight in its head to help with power transfer. Plus, the general stiffness which can be felt across the whole racket, the Ryuga gave me a really steady and solid hitting feel when it comes in contact with the shuttle. Net shots and blocks are incredible. The shots where you almost just hold the racket there and feed off your opponents’ pace of shots feel incredible as well. Just hold the racket face out there and it will just take care of it. It feels like this racket was designed for singles through and through. However, if you are already late to a shuttle, unless you have incredible grip power, then I’m not sure the Ryuga is going to save you much.
Obviously, as this is a power racket and at 3U weight, you are not going to struggle to get power out of it, but what you will struggle with is being consistent with it, especially after multiple games. I played 5 games back-to-back with a combination of doubles and singles with this racket and after all that, my shoulders were dead tired. Its overall weight, head heaviness and stiffness make the Ryuga a rather demanding racket to play with so if you are not physically strong enough or if you don’t have good technique, I’m not sure you are going to love this racket in the long run and especially on your bad days. However, on your good days, the Ryuga will make you feel unstoppable, especially when you get the chance to throw out a big smash.
Overall, the Ryuga really reminded me of Yonex’s legendary Armortec 900 Power. I find that they have a lot of similarities and qualities and at the same time, are equally demanding. For those who are wondering if Yonex has a current equivalent, I think the Ryuga sits directly in between the Astrox 99 Pro and the Astrox100ZZ. It is similar to the Astrox 99 Pro in terms of racket balance and akin to the Astrox 100ZZ in terms of hitting feeling. If you only do singles, you will definitely love the Ryuga!