The curtain rises on the last act of the saga Black Crown which promises to be thrilling. In the running are two astonishing models, gems of engineering and design, which are not just basic rackets, but ultra-high-performance creations. Their bold and refined design reflects the passion and skills of Black Crown, where every detail has been carefully thought out to provide a pleasant visual experience as well as maximum performance.

Moving away from the rounded designs of the Pitons and the hybrid architecture of the Patrons, the Special series introduces two new teardrop-shaped references that bring together all the qualities I look for in a pala: maneuverability, balance, power and aesthetics.

The etymology of this series is not due to chance. The primary meaning of “special” is particular to a person, thing, category, or situation and is opposed to what is general and common. By extension, “special” can also mean exceptional, out of the ordinary. It is something remarkable, which arouses admiration or astonishment. And that's exactly what comes to mind when we admire these two references. From the first glance, these models immerse us in an exceptional universe, where the know-how of Black Crown reveals itself in all its splendor.

A neat aesthetic

The magnificent bridge, a central element common to both rackets, alone embodies the double facet of the word “special”. The Spanish company extends the boundaries of engineering by creating a one-piece bridge using architecture carved from the mass. This innovative method manifests itself in breathtaking design and enhanced performance, providing players with an unparalleled gaming experience. Not only is this design visually appealing, but it is also designed to optimize performance. The 3D structure ensures excellent vibration absorption, providing unparalleled comfort during each strike. This feature allows for more comfortable and precise shots, while guaranteeing remarkable stability to players.

Draped in deep matte black, the Special Master reveals a discreet carbon checkerboard pattern. The logo in a soothing sea green shade is proudly displayed on the faces, softening the power of black and infusing a touch of freshness into the whole. The deck, again, is not left behind, sporting a captivating green that instantly catches the eye, being strategically placed at the heart of the racket.

The Special Pro comes in an intense matte black, enhanced by shimmering copper nuances in the heart of the logo and on the bridge. This bold marriage between the depth of black and the warmth of copper gives this pala a chic and striking look.

The rackets feature a (too) classic handle length, a padded wrist strap, a Sand Spin textured finish on the faces and a small “Good Game” mark on one side to indicate who serves first. The ergonomic handle of these two references is designed to offer comfort and optimal control to players. It features a contoured shape that conforms to the natural curves of the hand, as well as a non-slip surface that improves grip. Extended Sweet Spot technology Black Crown, present on these two models, aims to enlarge the ideal hitting zone in order to facilitate precision and comfort during off-center hits. To achieve this, it uses a unique combination of materials that distribute the weight and flexibility of the racket in a way that optimizes the size of the punto dulce.

The Special Master is distinguished by solid technical characteristics. It is equipped with a low density SSB core (meaning it feels soft and comfortable), combined with two layers of Piton Glass fiberglass and a final layer of 12K carbon, to reinforce robustness and reactivity.

The Special Pro stands out with its multi-density 3XPly foam, designed to adapt to the power of your shots. The harder you hit, the deeper the foam sinks, bringing you closer to the inner core which is much denser, amplifying the power and precision of all offensive hits. Conversely, for a more controlled and smooth game, the upper layer with a more welcoming foam offers optimal comfort and an unrivaled feeling of ball touch, allowing you to place your shots with comfort and elasticity, especially during phases defensive or transitional. To guarantee impeccable strike quality, even during the most muscular sequences, this pala is equipped with two layers of fiberglass and a final layer of 18K carbon on the faces. This combination of materials, which has proven itself in the past, offers a perfect balance between power, precision and ball release.

Let's move on to testing in real match conditions

The Special Master is a perfectly balanced racket, to the point that, with your eyes closed, you could believe it had a round shape as the weight distribution is ideal. This configuration gives the pala excellent maneuverability, which proved particularly useful during fierce swing rallies where I needed great swing responsiveness. The Special Master also stands out for its defensive performance, thanks to its exceptional maneuverability which constitutes a considerable advantage, as does its low density SSB core. The latter allows you to put less weight in the ball while ensuring efficient forward propulsion, thanks to the trampoline effect characteristic of this type of rubber. The offensive aspect is not left out, since smashes and finishing shots can be executed with perfectly controllable precision and power. Thus, the Special Master offers satisfactory performance for the majority of players who prefer a manageable and docile racket, rather than a finishing racket, which is often dry and delicate.

The Special Pro lives up to its name. Combining the terms “Special” and “Pro” in the name of a model suggests an exceptional racket, and this is precisely the case, excelling in all aspects of the game without having to really force it. Its balance being more pronounced towards the head, it was obvious that the offensive profile of this reference would be greater than that of the Master. And there is no doubt about it. It's a real pleasure to hit the ball with this pala, as the performance of the core is perfectly optimized. Smashes are the strong point of this racket, which has been specially designed to propel balls out of the court with disconcerting ease, provided the technique follows.

However, it maintains a measured balance, avoiding extremes such as excessive rigidity or weight clearly concentrated towards the head, characteristics often synonymous with discomfort and limited accessibility. In ultra offensive scenarios, I had the impression of always having reserve, as the breaking point seems difficult to reach. The intensity of fire that this racket offers is simply exceptional, and I am still amazed by such offensive performance. The quality of the 3Xply sandwich core, combined with the 18K carbon fibers, is for me the ideal synergy to achieve maximum power without sacrificing comfort. This is the main characteristic of this racket: it is extremely powerful and surprisingly pleasant to play, with a sweet spot that seems inexhaustible and very easy handling.

The defensive performance of this reference is also excellent, thanks to the addition of two layers of Piton Glass fiberglass which guarantee effective ball release even at the end of the move. This racket is distinguished by a double cap, offering the player the ability to play with power when necessary, while allowing them to adopt a more flexible and tactical approach when the situation requires it. It thus meets the needs of players looking for a racket capable of adapting to all playing situations, while offering great playing comfort, allowing them to play in tune without getting tired.

Conclusion

The opportunity to review and evaluate this series over an extended period of time was truly eye-opening. These two models are not only at the forefront of technical innovation, they also perpetuate the tradition of quality and know-how of the family business Black Crown. Every detail has been carefully thought out and created to provide an incomparable gaming experience. I rarely feel such enthusiasm for the material I analyze, and this series of tests, conducted over long sessions, allowed me to explore in depth the characteristics and nuances offered by these 2024 references.

The Special Master stands out as an all-terrain pala, capable of excelling in all aspects of the game without ever faltering in any particular area. Powerful without being formidable, extremely maneuverable, with divine touch on the ball and an attractive design, it will appeal to a wide range of players looking for an ultra-versatile racket combining elegance and performance.

The Special Pro sets itself apart as a benchmark with impressive firepower thanks to a little more head balance and 18K carbon fiber faces. The 3XPly core delivers a personalized hitting experience, whether you're cornered on defense or ready to unleash a devastating blow, guaranteeing precise and comfortable strikes in all playing situations thanks to a very large sweet spot and extremely well contained vibration management. The increased stability makes it possible to effectively stop opposing counterattacks, at the expense of slightly less maneuverability than that of the Master.

You will have understood, this reference is my favorite, and I would like to congratulate the team of engineers who designed this exceptional pala, succeeding in extracting the best from each technology in order to optimize one side without ever neglecting the other. This pala is a true masterpiece that will delight a multitude of profiles, whether you are an intractable attacker, an unwavering defender or an intermediate player looking for progression, I am certain that the Special Pro will satisfy you. I wanted to thank Jordi Rovirosa, the great Manitou from Black Crown, for sending me and allowing me to discover these exceptional palas, and I am convinced that they will be a huge success in 2024.

Stéphane Penso

Fan of padel, Stéphane has become the official tester of the planet padel in Europe. Everything goes through his expert hands. Thanks to his extensive experience in the snowshoeing world, he is able to scan your gear from head to toe!