It's been over 2 years now since the plastic ball was formally introduced into competition and, like most players, I have come to accept the new ball and continue on with playing. Most of my quarrels with the ball have been diminished but there is one which comes back to sting me over and over again. Humidity is probably my biggest pet hate when it comes to table tennis, that feeling of hopelessness in humid conditions when the ball constantly fails to make any kind of quality contact with the rubber at all. As a 5th ball attacker, moisture is my biggest enemy when trying to make a good quality heavy spin opening.
While it was difficult before, I never recall it being as difficult as it has been since we changed ball and there is a perfect scientific reason for that. One of the reasons that the plastic ball produces less spin is because of the surface of the ball.
It is commonly known that celluloid has an almost unseen layer of grip on the outside, you may remember that new celluloid balls have a certain grittiness (if that's a word) to their surface. Plastic on the other hand has a smooth surface. The difference is easily seen with the ball in normal playing conditions, the amount of spin achieved with celluloid is much greater than with plastic.
Add humid conditions into the mix. With the celluloid ball that microscopic level of grip seems to make quite a significant difference. I have found it much more difficult to play in damp or muggy conditions since the ball changed. It's more difficult to play slow spin and also to make soft blocks without the ball completely sliding off your bat. Also previously the level of humidity was visible in difficult conditions and usually left a ball mark. Now even with the slightest film of moisture on your rubber it becomes far more difficult to play.
I don't feel there have been significant advancements in rubber production to combat the effect and I'm left wondering if in future development of the ball, ITTF will look past the fact that they want less spin and at least make the ball more playable in wet conditions by adding some grip to the surface of it.
A slightly ranty post, be sure to let me know what your thoughts are and whether it is something you have found problems with. Also if you have noticed other issues give me feedback! :)