Yes, this is a blatantly commercial post. Sorry. But adidas took me to a Chelsea match, have given me a lot of free booze and drink, had me meet Salomon Kalou, were generally lovely, and gave me a pair of pre-release adiPower Predators and had me game-test them. Writing a post about the boots is the least I could do. I think we're amongst the first media outlets to get our hands on these things - the official release is later today (Tuesday), players started wearing them on the weekend of the 14th and they'll be available in stores from June.Anyway, I've always been a Predator boy in my hilariously mediocre football playing career, having lusted over the things since I was small child (and they had the old ones there too - they look utterly ridiculous), so odds are going to be that I'd like these ones. I was slightly distressed when the developer said that they were deliberately moving away from the 'power' aspect of the game to focus on control and short passing, but that's the way the game itself is going, and who am I to try to stand in front of the march of progress?
For the new release, adidas mostly focused on making the boots a) lighter and b) better looking, two things which I heartily endorse. They did a fantastic job on the weight, cutting it down by something approaching a third (they're not significantly heavier than a Nike Mercurial Vapor). Adidas also claim that they managed to do so without really decreasing the power or stability* of the boot, which is excellent - more on those claims later.
*As a structural engineer I'm pretty sure they actually mean stiffness here.
As far as looks go, I love the shape. The Predators are launching with a... bold colour scheme which I like looking at but am not sure about on the pitch. Lightning blue and electric yellow made me feel like I was looking at a boot specially designed for the Seattle Sounders, so make of that what you will, with the caveat that I'm quite boring.
Apart from those two big pushes, what else is going on? Wellll, the boot supposedly fits better now that they've gone to a new base and a different tongue design, and they've made the swerve plate on the inside of the boot smaller, removing the outside one altogether. As a guy who likes using the outside for shooting, I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to get the type of spin I'm used to on shots.
Having been introduced to the boots, we were offered the chance to take them for a spin. Off we went to Tooting and Mitcham FC, whom some of the more hardcore of you will know as the home of the Chelsea FC ladies (Stamford Bridge was taken by the reserves) where we played ninety minutes of football. Unfortunately the idea that I asked for a 9-1/2 boot American didn't really get passed along, so I ended up with 9-1/2 UK, half a size too big, so I couldn't really test out the fitting-like-a-glove-ness, but there were rave reviews from everyone else involved in the testing.
The pitch sucked, incidentally. It was sandy, uneven and generally terrible, which made the control and slick passing a little tough to test, but the power aspect of things was quite easy. I found the claims that the adiPower has just as much heft to it as the Predator X difficult to believe - I certainly wasn't getting anything like the power I'm used to generating, although I haven't played in several months and it's entirely possible that my leg muscles have wasted away after I became a professional blogger.
So, the shoes didn't fit me correctly and I wasn't getting the heft I'm used to. What did go right?
Pretty much everything else. The weight, in particular, was a godsend - I was both noticeably faster and much much much less tired at the end of the match than I'm used to, which is impressive considering how I haven't really done anything that could be construed as exercise over the last few months.
The sole design was also brilliant - it's got a really stiff centre and it's a little lower to the ground, which ultimately made for a more comfortable ride (until I started getting blisters because the damn thing didn't fit). I was little worried about hurting myself on the pitch, but the boot held up better than anything I've ever played in. Full marks there.
The outside turned out not to be too much of a problem. I didn't take any shots but I played a few passes with spin using the outside of the boot, and I didn't notice any major performance decrease from my old boots (I use Predator Absolutes). I'm looking forward to getting a new, better fitting pair and testing them out when I get back home.
Anyway, I guess everyone else is bored about me talking about shoes, so I'll wrap this up. The adiPower Predators are, essentially, the best boots I've ever seen and/or worn. They're top-end and therefore very expensive - whether they're worth that money is dependent on how serious you are about playing (and I guess how much money you have too) - but if you are spending that much money on a pair of football boots I don't see a way you could go wrong here. They're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they're a huge huge improvement over what adidas did with the Predator X, and I'd have to say a long way ahead of where Nike et al. are sitting right now.
And just so everyone's clear, adidas did not ask me to write this post. All opinions my own, etc. Sorry if this bothered you. I like boots. Pictures of me embarrassing myself on the pitch will be up shortly.