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Help With The Holes in My Game

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mjamja View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08/31/2022 at 9:36pm
We all know that players rated below 2000 have holes in their games.  By that I mean that some aspect of the way they play is significantly lower level than the rest of the various parts of their overall game.  After my poor play at my last tournament I did some thinking about how I lost and what I needed to work on to improve.  I did not come up with any specific answers yet, but I did identify a pattern that might be a clue.

In looking at my losses in the recent tournament and thinking about my history of "bad" losses to significantly lower players (200 to 300 points lower) almost all of them   have involved hitters (penhold or shake hand) or off-the-bounce punch blockers who play traditional c-pen or Seemiller grips.  Steady blockers who block more slowly and more at the top of the bounce do not give me that much trouble.  Even when I have wins against these type players it always seems to be a struggle (5 games) despite their much lower ratings.

With this in mind, what kind of things should I be looking for in videos or while practicing that would be the source of my problems?  For each problem you might think of, are there special drills or training to correct that problem?  Your help would be greatly appreciated.

We have one such J-pen blocker and one hitter at the club.  I will try to get some video of me playing against them in the next few days.

Mark - Blocked out and hit past but still trying to stay in the game.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/31/2022 at 10:29pm
It seems that you're not really matching their speed. It's not so easy to play against very speedy players especially those which play flatter unless you have excellent anticipation and footwork. I also hate playing against them especially the penholder versions as they don't have a middle weakness and thus it's very hard to push them away from the table. 

Imo, the big weakness of punch blockers and hitters is placement and spin variation to disrupt their consistency. The lack of topspin means that they are more prone to these kind of disruptions compared to say a 2 wing inverted looper.  For e.g. for BH opening loops I actually have both the fake version (where I just lift the ball really with a fake roll followthrough as if I were spinning the ball) as well as the actual loop version (where I actually roll over the ball and produce heavy topspin). Similarly, I have a fake push (no spin kinda lift) and a real push (loaded with underspin). Similarly placement deception is very important - you want to make your down the line and cross-court strokes to look as similar as possible to really fool them to reduce the quality of their blocks. The other variation is depth and height - if the penholders don't pivot to use their strong FH, sometimes deep high balls to their BH is a killer. Try not to play short game with penholders as they're usually extremely good at it... 

They usually make tons of mistakes dealing with this kind of nonsense - I use this to make them doubt their own strokes and start playing a bit later to gain more consistency, which then you'll be much more comfortable dealing with them. 

You need to make peace with the fact that they'll still hit a few past you or do some kind of outrageous block. Just keep varying the spin/pace/placement and let them beat themselves with the resultant mistakes. 

I think the mistake is trying to overpower them and making a lot of mistakes yourself, when they're already taking the ball so early and moving you around. 





Edited by blahness - 08/31/2022 at 10:32pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jfolsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/31/2022 at 10:46pm
As mentioned, spin variation is important.

I would also include depth, keeping the ball deep.

As someone famous once said "You have to either rally as fast as your opponents can rally, or force your opponents to rally at your pace (by slowing the pace down with pushes, slow loops, controlled drives, etc.)."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BH-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 4:03am
Mark, did you see Emil at the tourney? Maybe he saw you play there and can say three things.

Edited by BH-Man - 09/01/2022 at 4:03am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote vanjr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 9:31am
The best way to beat (style XYZ) is to play as many style (XYZ) as possible and as often as you can.

One way to see how to beat lower rated players is to watch how other players beat those same players. For example maybe something as simple as being a chiseler (mainly pushing with only occasional attacks) or if they like to block and feed off your attacks to block and make them attack first is the way to go.

Anytime you play a much lower rated player there is a reason they are lower rated (now that reason could be a rapidly improving junior or few tournaments played), but they are rated lower for a reason. FIND THAT REASON.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DonnOlsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 9:33am
Hi,

Much length of expression is available and suitable for this topic.  About an elaborated essay is a good estimate for the length of documenting helpful thoughts.

One observation is that this specific play dynamic difficulty is only encountered and elaborated upon by victims who play at the table.  Those that play one step back and two steps back from the table are not so tormented as to describe this phenomenon as the sharpest thorn in their side.  The shots produced by this type of play as so described are typically only moderate by quality of shot standards.  As such, the additional time available from other body-to-table relationships greatly mollifies the effects.

Observe a chopper, with their typical flexibility of body-to-table relationships, playing against the style described.  Note the yawning of the chopper during the typical long points.

Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Love_my_dog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 11:24am
I am a penholder hitter. I smash instead of brush. No chance for opponents to defend when I smash the ball.

My sweet spot on the table is from the left half of the table to the center position of the right half the table. When hitting the balls at my deep FH, I have very poor accuracy unless I am positioned close to the middle of the table. I hate the balls pushed deep to my FH, especially those with side spin that make the ball curved sideway.

So, when playing against these players, try to play to their deep FH positions. Practice to long-push to the FH, adding side spin even better. 

When playing to their backhand, make sure the ball is short and spinny (backspin), or long and kicking (topspin).

Add more side spin to make the ball curving, hitters tend to miss or be unable to hit the ball with the right position of their blade when hitting. So you need to practice Mima Ito's reverse Chiquita shots.

Force them to leave the table so they cannot fast block, and have to loop instead of smash. So you need to practice long pushes.

When pushing, add backspin so they cannot smash. Your backhand short-pip pushes usually don't have enough backspin to prevent the smashing unless you exert more force to generate more backspin. So you need to practice short pushes with heavy backspin.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 11:39am
Vanjr suggested watching how other players beat the types players I lose to.  Interestingly at this last tournament I did watch a player I am familiar with beat the player who beat me.  They played immediately after I lost.  I lost 0-3 and the player who beat me then lost 0-3.  Tactically, the matches looked similar.  No serve or serve return domination, no long pushing or blocking rallys.  Most points went into topspin to topspin pretty quickly just like in my match.  

What I did notice was the hitter missed a lot of his Fh flat kills and attempted a lot less of his Bh flat kills.  Also the points seemed to be much shorter than in my match.  Points I won often involved me hitting 4-5 shots to get opponent out of position before hitting a winner  he could not get to.  In the other match the flat hitter just missed against the first or 2nd topspin that came to him.  He did not lose many points where the ball was hit past him.  Instead he lost making errors rather than having winners hit past him.  I will say that I would. consider them forced errors as the other player was hitting high quality topspin, but he was not hitting the really high quality Fh winners I know he can hit if not pressured..  

I would say his ball quality especially the Fh is a 2 levels above mine.  Also he does tend to step back off the table a step more than I do.  We usually play pretty close against each other (lots of 5 game matches) but he has a slight advantage in overall wins.  In those matches I am forced into more blocking than  I do against lower rated players.  By the way, he went on to win the U2000 event we were playing.

The above are my impressions of the matches and may be totally wrong.  I have not had a chance to talk with him about what he saw in my losing match vs his winning one.  Hope to do that at the club tonight.

Mark 


Edited by mjamja - 09/01/2022 at 4:07pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote balldance Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 7:09pm
A basic method to analyze the games you lost is finding how you lost the points. Did you make too many unforced mistakes? Did they won most points by attacking or blocking your attacks?
If they are off-the-bounce blockers, you just won’t beat them with speed unless you are faster than them. Maybe you should avoid attacking too often and too routinely, instead invite them to attack and make unforced errors themselves, until you have clear chance for a kill. You can hit one attack and chop or block the next ball and invite an attack. If you just topspin all the time, blockers will be very comfortable. 


Edited by balldance - 09/01/2022 at 7:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 7:19pm
heavy quality topspins can be quite difficult to flat kill because they dip a lot after the bounce leaving not a lot of direct line of sight - smart hitters usually respect the topspin and simply do some placement blocking and try to move the other player around until they get a weaker shot which they can then flat kill.  It sounds like your opponent is overestimating his own ability against heavy topspin and making some tactical errors too...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/01/2022 at 9:11pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

What I did notice was the hitter missed a lot of his Fh flat kills and attempted a lot less of his Bh flat kills.  Also the points seemed to be much shorter than in my match.  Points I won often involved me hitting 4-5 shots to get opponent out of position before hitting a winner  he could not get to.  In the other match the flat hitter just missed against the first or 2nd topspin that came to him.  

In the other match he missed in the net, off the end, or roughly equal?   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/02/2022 at 1:40am
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

What I did notice was the hitter missed a lot of his Fh flat kills and attempted a lot less of his Bh flat kills.  Also the points seemed to be much shorter than in my match.  Points I won often involved me hitting 4-5 shots to get opponent out of position before hitting a winner  he could not get to.  In the other match the flat hitter just missed against the first or 2nd topspin that came to him.  

In the other match he missed in the net, off the end, or roughly equal?   

Not really sure of exact ratio, but I saw several of each , so guessing roughly equal.

I got to talk a little to the player who won the U2000.  He said he played the flat hitter many times and knows he is steady and opportunistic in his attacking.  Because of that he was very aggressive both in getting in the first topspin and making sure they were strong enough to deter the flat hitters attacks.  He said the flat hitter tended to get frustrated if he did not get opportunities to attack early in the match and start going for kills on balls he should be just returning.

So the key to me beating flat hitters is to make my TT game more like my personality: annoying and frustrating.

Mark - Who will try to be more frustrating and less frustrated.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/03/2022 at 6:39pm
Lol seriously? Ito is an Olympic mixed doubles champion and Hou Yingchao is 2x Chinese national champion..... very very far away from "failures"... what a statement to make!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Love_my_dog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2022 at 5:44pm
Deng Yaping has the best FH among women players (When Deng YP was little, she spent one full year to developing her FH skills and nothing else) and Joo Sehyuk used to be trained as offensive player instead of defensive so he has the best attacking skills among choppers and can win a looping rally against most offensive players.

Mima Ito's problem is not her BH but her FH. According to Chinese coach's philosophy, BH is used to create opportunities to be used by FH killers. Mima has indeed created enough opportunities through her BH but just misses those winners when using her FH. 

Hou Yingchao is poorer at attacking compared to Joo SK.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 8:50am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

What I did notice was the hitter missed a lot of his Fh flat kills and attempted a lot less of his Bh flat kills.  Also the points seemed to be much shorter than in my match.  Points I won often involved me hitting 4-5 shots to get opponent out of position before hitting a winner  he could not get to.  In the other match the flat hitter just missed against the first or 2nd topspin that came to him.  

In the other match he missed in the net, off the end, or roughly equal?   

Not really sure of exact ratio, but I saw several of each , so guessing roughly equal.

I got to talk a little to the player who won the U2000.  He said he played the flat hitter many times and knows he is steady and opportunistic in his attacking.  Because of that he was very aggressive both in getting in the first topspin and making sure they were strong enough to deter the flat hitters attacks.  He said the flat hitter tended to get frustrated if he did not get opportunities to attack early in the match and start going for kills on balls he should be just returning.

So the key to me beating flat hitters is to make my TT game more like my personality: annoying and frustrating.

Mark - Who will try to be more frustrating and less frustrated.



This is a rare forum post that deviates from technique and equipment into psychology. Very interesting.

Most people play in a range that can be quite wide, like for me it's about 400 usatt points.   I spend most of my time close to the center of that range like normal distribution.  When I get far to the edges, especially left tail around 1750 minimum, it is almost always because I have gone completely on tilt and am smacking the ball around angrily. It sounds like your flat-hitter nemesis has the same weakness.

So if the key to winning is to make the other guy play far below his average level, how do you get there with your equipment and style?  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 5:28pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

We all know that players rated below 2000 have holes in their games.  By that I mean that some aspect of the way they play is significantly lower level than the rest of the various parts of their overall game.  After my poor play at my last tournament I did some thinking about how I lost and what I needed to work on to improve.  I did not come up with any specific answers yet, but I did identify a pattern that might be a clue.

In looking at my losses in the recent tournament and thinking about my history of "bad" losses to significantly lower players (200 to 300 points lower) almost all of them   have involved hitters (penhold or shake hand) or off-the-bounce punch blockers who play traditional c-pen or Seemiller grips.  Steady blockers who block more slowly and more at the top of the bounce do not give me that much trouble.  Even when I have wins against these type players it always seems to be a struggle (5 games) despite their much lower ratings.

With this in mind, what kind of things should I be looking for in videos or while practicing that would be the source of my problems?  For each problem you might think of, are there special drills or training to correct that problem?  Your help would be greatly appreciated.

We have one such J-pen blocker and one hitter at the club.  I will try to get some video of me playing against them in the next few days.

Mark - Blocked out and hit past but still trying to stay in the game.

>We all know that players rated below 2000 have holes in their games.

Actually, everyone has "holes" in their game, relative to their level. For example, relative to his level, Ma Long is "weak" to the wide forehand. But that's only because his overall level is so high and because (style-wise) he tends to crowd his backhand side. You can probably count on one hand the number of players in the world who can take advantage of this. 

Regarding your main question, playing hitters and aggressive blockers, if you have trouble playing a certain style, then the way to overcome it is to play that style as often as possible until you are both comfortable against it and have figured out what you need to do against them. For example, these days many players fear hitters because there are far fewer of them than before, and so players aren't used to playing them. (This is common for juniors, who mostly train with fellow loopers, and struggle when they play one of those "weird" hitters.) 

Once you play a style enough, you begin to not only get comfortable against them, but you start to see the weaknesses they have. But until you do, all most people see are their strengths, and because they aren't used to that style they both play poorly and use poor tactics. Example: Against a hitter, depth and variation are key, but you have to get comfortable doing it against them. You also have to get an understanding and feel for what shots are high- and low-percentage for a hitter, and give him the latter. 

Hope this helps! (Note - my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, has an entire chapter on playing hitters, blockers, and counter-drivers - 16 pages.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 6:14pm
Some posts were removed to keep the thread on track.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 6:33pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

Some posts were removed to keep the thread on track.
Appreciated. I tried to delete my two responses to [He Who Shall Not Be Named], but for some reason no "delete" option is appearing when I go to edit. Am I missing something? Feel free to delete those two postings. Thanks,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 7:34pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

What I did notice was the hitter missed a lot of his Fh flat kills and attempted a lot less of his Bh flat kills.  Also the points seemed to be much shorter than in my match.  Points I won often involved me hitting 4-5 shots to get opponent out of position before hitting a winner  he could not get to.  In the other match the flat hitter just missed against the first or 2nd topspin that came to him.  

In the other match he missed in the net, off the end, or roughly equal?   

Not really sure of exact ratio, but I saw several of each , so guessing roughly equal.

I got to talk a little to the player who won the U2000.  He said he played the flat hitter many times and knows he is steady and opportunistic in his attacking.  Because of that he was very aggressive both in getting in the first topspin and making sure they were strong enough to deter the flat hitters attacks.  He said the flat hitter tended to get frustrated if he did not get opportunities to attack early in the match and start going for kills on balls he should be just returning.

So the key to me beating flat hitters is to make my TT game more like my personality: annoying and frustrating.

Mark - Who will try to be more frustrating and less frustrated.



This is a rare forum post that deviates from technique and equipment into psychology. Very interesting.

Most people play in a range that can be quite wide, like for me it's about 400 usatt points.   I spend most of my time close to the center of that range like normal distribution.  When I get far to the edges, especially left tail around 1750 minimum, it is almost always because I have gone completely on tilt and am smacking the ball around angrily. It sounds like your flat-hitter nemesis has the same weakness.

So if the key to winning is to make the other guy play far below his average level, how do you get there with your equipment and style?  

Maybe aggressive in your face choing, celebrating nets/edges, intentional fast serving when ahead and delayed rhythm when behind, trying to claim invisible edges, miscounting scores in your favour, those may tilt the opponent and you can then benefit from them tilting and playing angrily (ie suboptimally). LOLLOLLOL (don't do it though, it's just a recipe to be beaten up lol)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/05/2022 at 9:42pm
Assuming the sum of the holes in our game is a net, let's keep in mind that if we rip another hole in a net, we end up with less holes than before. Could creating a new weakness actually resolve actual ones? if yes, the bigger that new weakness, the more holes in our game we resolve.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Love_my_dog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/06/2022 at 9:33am
Mima Ito's BH is actually the hitter-style play.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eric Fountain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/07/2022 at 7:17pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

He said he played the flat hitter many times and knows he is steady and opportunistic in his attacking. 

I lost to your flat hitter a few days ago in league. I believe I lost the previous encounter as well. I'm 150 points or so higher. This is a player I see once every few months or more so I never really thought about it much. I would have previously simply echoed that they are very steady and don't give away easy points, and that if you don't give any pace then they initiate with slower spinny control looping (also annoying) and can maintain that kind of rally for a long time. This last loss woke me up a little and it seems like they are most dangerous hitting or redirecting/shoving/countering flattish attacks that can be either outright winners or get you stuck in this quick back and forth low spin hitting mess that you don't want to be in because the ball is coming fast enough that it takes enough effort just to get it back let alone reapply quality spin over the top like you need to disrupt their continued hits. They want what they can hit/counter, which is generally any high ball, or any kind of comfortable rhythm, medium topspin pace (the latter which is.. most of my entire offense/game, ouch..). Often I will test myself with these players and see if I can break through the wall but my FH power/technique isn't great so sometimes I have to give up and (with my usual LP setup) just chop and push - super boring. I think this is a really common player archetype among adults around 2000 (expanding to counter-based players in general beyond just flat hitters) where the initiating power/technique isn't quite there to blow through each other and everyone has solid defense and reactions and counters to keep the rally going. Proper gatekeeper test where you have to bring a real quality FH kill and just break through it. Or beyond that (with a full offensive setup), I don't know, just keeping it as non-hittable as possible, so low and spinny, or maybe more short/touch play in general. Tricky..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/07/2022 at 7:31pm
Well at least now I know I am not alone.  I am starting to work on opening with more speed and trying to attack with more power instead of relying mostly on placement to win the point.  Hopefully, the increase in my mistakes will be less than the forced errors I can create with the stronger shots.

Mark - As always a work in progress.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bozbrisvegas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/19/2022 at 5:34am
Originally posted by vanjr vanjr wrote:

The best way to beat (style XYZ) is to play as many style (XYZ) as possible and as often as you can.

Totally best simple answer.  Too many players think they are superior in their play toward 'higher levels' and tend to just train with them, compete with them.  They blindly forget there are QUIRKS they have worked past and have not been exposed to for a while.  

There is a lot to learn from lower levels than you.  Maybe they don't have as much to learn from, but they got something you can't leap frog over and forget.  And in this case it bit you.




Edited by bozbrisvegas - 09/19/2022 at 5:35am
Grubba Variant ALL
fh: Hurricane 38 degrees MAX
bh: tensor MAX
Watch me playing TT
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