So this is my first review of a stick that I have previously reviewed before, I reviewed last years Voodoo Shogun Blue and it was one of my favourite sticks from last season. So I was obviously very keen to review this seasons offering when Voodoo offered me the chance. This stick weighs in at 525g, has a high balance point, an extreme low bow, textured and dished face, grooved shaft, squared reverse edge and a BossFHockey Pro Grip (Ok I put that on myself), so it is a real box ticker for my preferences.
So straight of the bat the feel on the ball is improved from last year, the feedback through the stick when you are dribbling is alive and responsive. The stick is quite stiff so you can be confident that the ball will respond as soon as you make the move. This is obviously a double edged sword as the stiffness makes the stick very unforgiving when you are controlling the ball, combined with the low bow this means if you’re not getting your left hand over the ball and using your ‘soft hands’ to cushion the ball, it is very easy to lift the ball. The dished face is fantastic for doing quick drags and rolls as it holds the ball in the dish, so you can have a high level of precision when you move the ball. This gives you a lot of confidence to perform high speed drags, but bare in mind that the dished face and groove in the shaft are designed for move the ball up the shaft when dragflicking so it is very easy to lift the ball, if you can learn to control this then it can be very useful, but more on that later. The reverse toe is twisted forward so that it doesn’t mirror the angle of the face, this makes it easier to control the ball on reverse without the ball lifting, because of this it also helps prevent reverse traps bouncing back towards your feet, and also easier to go straight forward without lifting the ball.
The guys and gals over at team Voodoo EU have been tweaking the Shogun since last year. ONe of the major refinements they have made is that they have reduced the depth of both the dished face and the shaft groove, this change is a big improvement for hitting. So last year I made a point that because of the depth of the dishing it was easy to lift the ball when hitting, this year the more subtle dishing makes it far easier to hit the ball flat to the ground. You can still ping the ball into the top corners of the goal with ease as well and, as odd as it sounds (reads?) to say (write?) it feels more controllable. But remember it is still a full low bow stick with a dished face so if you do not properly compensate for this with your technique then the ball is going to lift when you are hitting the ball. The Shogun still packs plenty of power when you are hitting, you can really get a lot of ooomph on the ball.
When your getting down low and slapping the ball the more subtle shaft groove comes in, again similar to the subtler dishing to the face, I think that this makes the power the stick offers more controllable and thus more usable. But you can still make use of the grooved shaft to add a little whip to slider passes or disguised passes, so you can generate a bit of extra power. Again there is still some concavity to the shaft so if you rock the stick back then the ball will lift, while this is a useful ability to have if you don’t pay attention you can easily lift the ball dangerously.
So this stick features a twisted toe as I mentioned earlier, this means that the toe of the stick doesn’t match the angle of the face but is instead closer to 90 degrees to the ground in the (my) usual carry position on reverse. This is excellent for controlling incoming passes, as it gives you a nice angle for trapping and cushioning the ball. The angle is also very nice when running down the line on reverse as it allows for keeping the ball close to the line without much adjustment. Because it is twisted it is a little more difficult to do small reverse lifts, the toe is thinned and shaped to help with this but it is more difficult then with some other sticks. I found that rather than a 4-5 inch lift (12-15 cms) over about a foot (30 cm) when running with the ball, they tended to go a couple of feet in the direction I was going, this I think could be great for you if you are a pacey forward wanting to quickly attack the space behind the defender, but im not. The skill is still very usable but you have to be aware in tight spaces to keep it under control. The toe is great for hitting upright hitting on reverse as it gives you a big area to hit with and doesn’t direct the ball to the right because of the angling of the face, I think this is why the people at Voodoo make this change as it makes it easy to hit on reverse. The stick also has a nice reverse edge, it is not super thick so you have it focus on getting your technique right, but if you aim to hit through the centre of the ball with the red Voodoo Square I found that I got a lot if power and was able to aim with high levels of accuracy. It was easy to lift the shots on tomahawks towards the roof of the net as well as hitting the ball flat for passes.
The stick still comes with a dished face, though it is more subtle, this makes picking up the ball and rolling it up onto the face very easy. Once you have the ball on the face of the stick it’s then up to you where you want the ball to go, do you want throw it over a stick into space to run onto or do you want to fire the ball into the roof of the net past a diving goalkeeper. When taking a flicked shot at goal if you can roll the ball up onto the grooved shaft, you can generate additional power, but the extra time on the stick needs to be taken into account when aiming as the extra time might close the window of time to get the shot off. If whipping a shot you also have to use the correct technique, because if you don’t the extra power may cause you to fire the shot wide or over the bar. If you can get this right though it is effortless to fling the ball into the corners of the goal. You can also use the dished face for quick lifted passes to team mates, if it is over a long distance then you can use the groove as well to add whip but also spin to the ball causing the pass to curve slightly, which can be used to swing the ball just past an outreaching defender but to the end of a team mates stick. The dished face is great for 3D skills, again once the ball is on the dished face, you can lift the ball over an incoming tackle, keeping the ball on the stick. You can throw the ball in another direction while in mid air, because the ball is on the stick you have to go under the ball rather than over the ball to get the best control of direction. This is also true on reverse with the shaped twisted toe, this helps guide the ball up onto the face if you turn the stick to a 45-60 degree angle, you can use this so you can get power on your reverse shots. But the toe itself is excellent for reverse 3D skills, with a little practice you can get the motion to do mid air redirection skills in the same way as on open stick.
Dragflicking is what this stick is really made for. The dished face makes the pickup very easy as the contours of the face channels the ball into the central point of the head’s sweet spot. As you step through to the drag and get low the ball rolls into the groove as you use the bow of the stick. You then whip through for the release and the groove steers the ball down the shaft of the stick before the dished face ‘catches’ the ball so you can accelerate the hand of the stick towards the goal. The Whip through with the ball on the face is very straight forward, you can launch the ball in any direction, and with the power generated the ball will go there. The dished face and shaft groove make it easy to hold up the ball before you release it as long as you can stay low meaning its easy to drag around a fast runner or to spin and plant to the ball for a team mate to pick up from your left. It is easy to aim your dragflicks with this stick so you can rocket them into any of the four corners or right over the keepers head. I found it much easier to flick flat compared to last years model I don’t know if this is down to the more subtle dishing of the face or something else but there were still times (usually later in the games I have played with this stick) where I found the ball starting to lift slightly again, so this is still something to watch out for especially when you are running a deflection routine.
The stick is fantastic for throwing aerials, the low bow, dished face, and grooved shaft makes it easy to get under the ball and roll it into the bow. Once its in the groove you can whip up through the ball to launch the ball 40-50 yards down the pitch with a small amount of effort. You have to be careful to whip straight through to where you want to aim the ball and continue with the follow through, because the release is a fast process it is easy to misdirect the aerial pass.
This is a surprisingly big improvement from last seasons stick, Voodoo EU have improved on the sticks weak points from last season without hurting it’s strengths. The feel on the ball is still excellent and the balance for clicking and dragflicking is still one of the best I have used. They have reduced the issues i had with the hitting by making the subtle tweak to the groove and the dished face. Truly a fantastic upgrade by Voodoo on this years Shogun.