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The Critical
Review Date: 15 December 2015

Reviewed by:
Storm/Roto Grip staffer John Brockland
Style: Stroker Rev Rate: 280-310
PAP: 5.50" over and 1" up

The CRITICAL is Roto Grip’s newest addition to the HP3 sector of the Roto lineup.  It brings back into circulation the asymmetrical TrilipticTM core that was one of my earliest favorites after having the privilege of joining #TeamRG.  You’ll remember this core from the CRITICAL THEORY, a ball now in Roto Ancestry but which Norm Duke has often still turned to in recent years opting for the up-and-at-‘em approach to tackling some of the PBATour’s  tough animal patterns.

The coverstock on the CRITICAL is a new and improved hybrid cover for Roto Grip.  It’s technical 67MHTM label associates it in terms of its grit rating of 67 and its grime rating of Medium Heavy volume with the solid cover that was most recently on the HYSTERIA at a factory polished finish.    I was forewarned, however, that this hybrid cover is “new and improved” in a way that would make it a “beast.”  I have to say, so far it’s performance characteristics definitely put it in a completely different league strength-wise than the HYSTERIA.  In fact, releasing this fantastic asymmetrical core with this particular hybrid cover at an HP3 price point has given bowlers a ball with “High Performance” potential at “Mid High Performance” ball accessibility.

For a layout on my CRITICAL I went with a no-nonsense, favorite pin up layout.  The specs come to 55 x 5.5 x 45.  

My CRITICAL’s first trip down the lane was during practice before league in a center where the wet side of typical STL wet/dry tends to be heavier volume than most.  Granted I wasn’t at all warmed up and the ball was fresh out of the box at box finish, but on a shot coming from 17-board at the arrows out toward the 10-board it hooked 2/3 of the way down the lane and clipped the left side of the two pin.   Seriously, this ball is strong!  Even fully warmed up, with my now old-guy moderate ball speed and medium-weak hand, there is no typical house shot situation here in the STL in which this is the right ball for me at box finish.  I haven’t tried adjusting the surface or polishing it because I have other options to serve those purposes.

Since the CRITICAL has been released, our STL Fall Sport League has been bowling on WTBA London (44 ft. and 26.5 mL).  The host center has hard surfaced original Brunswick synthetics and no matter what pattern is put down, the graph-reported length and volume always seem underestimated by comparison to the way they play --- everything plays tighter than the specs would indicate it should.  The CRITICAL gave me the best look of any of the high performance balls I have in my bag on London.   It also gave me my best look in a local Sport Shot Series tourney conducted also on old Brunswick synthetics and a 37 ft. and 31 mL pattern from a recent collegiate Boilermaker Classic.  Finally, it also gave me my best look in a local center with an HPL surface during a recent workout with some of the Lindenwood University bowlers on a super long, super tight pattern from a collegiate tourney in Atlanta, a pattern the kids refer to “Atlanta Sucks.”

The Triliptic core in the CRITICAL doesn’t create the rev-too-early worry that bothers some bowlers about asymmetrical balls.  Even at box finish, as long as there’s enough volume, it gets easily enough to the break point but is for sure ready to make a move when it gets there.  It’s RG at 2.49 in 15lb weight is right in the sweet spot for me in that regard.  At the same time, this hybrid cover and core combination has a Diff of .058 at 15lbs creating a really generous amount of flare!  Boy is that combo least for me!  This ball corners every bit of twice as aggressively as my HAYWIRE – its HP3 sector neighbor. 

I have never yet had a worry about it overshooting a break point, even on the heavy volume patterns I’ve tried it on.  It has always recovered enough to leave me something that I can pick.  That’s huge for me!  It sees and responds to friction at the end of even these long, high volume patterns well enough that, when other balls that get as easily to the breakpoint would cause me worry about having to rein back on even comfortable ball speed because I have less hand, or when they’d cause me to worry about not getting the ball down into a roll soon enough, the CRITICAL has allowed me to relax and trust that it will recover down lane with no problem. 

The CRITICAL is a heck of a lot of ball performance for the HP3 sector of the Roto Grip arsenal.  In my opinion, that makes it a steal at its price point!

Critical Layout

Lbs. RG Diff. PSA
16 2.49 0.051 0.012
15 2.49 0.058 0.013
14 2.54 0.049 0.011
13 2.57 0.032 0.012
12 2.59 0.029 0.008