This year will be remembered for a lot of reasons. Its been absolute chaos in just about every aspect and this is before even getting into the boot industry itself. We’ve seen remakes, rereleases, colourways for cancelled tournaments, and an incredible deluge of regular releases. Even for people who don’t normally pay too much attention to boots, its been impossible to ignore and more and more people seem to be drawn into the fun and craziness that is the boot market. So I’ve sifted through everything to give my personal awards of the year to various boots and companies. As per usual, remakes do not qualify for the overall boot of the year and only boots released this calendar year are eligible. Enjoy!
Remake of the Year: Unisport F50 adiZero X Ghosted
There have been so many remakes this year, going from colour updates, like the Future DNA Pack from Nike to proper remakes, like the Japan Blue Mania from adidas. But nothing quite encapsulates the spirit of a remake like the Mermory Lane Pack F50 X Ghosted from Unisportstore’s JayMike.
On paper, it seemed like an awful idea combining the original Chameleon adiZero with the 2014 Crazylight but, they produced in absolute banger. What’s great about these boots is that JayMike and his friends did not play it safe and went totally bonkers with the design and it absolutely paid off. Although not everyone liked the boot, a majority of people responded positively, and they sold out in minutes. Kudos to JayMike for coming up with this design that will be remembered and referenced for years to come. (Also, the Mizuno Wave Cup did get a remake this year but since there was also a remake two years ago, I wanted to be fair. Otherwise it would’ve taken this category.)
Loser of the Year: Nike
You’d have to be a real crappy company to lay off employees in the middle of a pandemic. Fortunately, Nike has never bothered to not be awful to its employees or sponsored athletes. A company worth $34.8 Billion, with a CEO who could earn up to $45 Million in stock and cash, and could earn $18.5 Million in base salary as well as some performance-related bonuses in a year that has seen Nike hit record profits and market value and yet still found it necessary to lay off employees as part of restructuring. I’m sure Nike’s severance package is quite generous, but it doesn’t change the fact the company laid off 700 employees at their headquarters in the middle of a nightmare situation. I’d say do better but I’m not sure they know how.
Brand of the Year: Mizuno
You would expect with all of the releases this year Mizuno would end up getting buried underneath it all but the launches of the Morelia Neo 3 Japan, Morelia Neo Beta Japan and the Rebula Cup Japan got plenty of people talking. Add in the fact the Morelia II Japan was updated this year and sold like crazy in Japan, and you have to imagine Mizuno are pretty pleased with themselves, all things considered. Every single boot was a great performer and not really anything could be found missing from these releases. They pretty much made a boot for just about everyone, and giving every another chance to grab a pair of Wave Cups is something we should always welcome. Fabulous year from the Runbird and an excellent platform to build on and grow this next year. Absolutely solid.
Soooooooooo close Boot of the Year: adidas Predator Archive
This boot had it all, a collab with two of the most well-known Predator collectors, The Pred Collective and The Predator Pro, a mix of elements from Predators down the years, super soft kangaroo leather, a limited release and… then they decided to go with a blue upper. Everyone knows the Predator colours are black, white and red. Whoever at adidas decided that upper had to be blue should hang their heads in shame. Sure, the boots will be remembered for a long time, but the impact is not as strong as it would be if they decided to use the colours that Predators are most well-known for. Many people I know who managed to get a pair have talked about blacking the boots out. Come so close, and just missed it. Otherwise, these probably would’ve been the remake of the year because all of the elements that were included and how they were included was really clever. Shame.
“Ooops I was wrong about that one” Boot of the Year
When the Nike Phantom GT dropped there was a lot of fanfare about the boot. It seemed to hark back and try and replicate all of the things that was remembered fondly about the Hypervenom Phantom. Even when the reviews came in and they were just decent and not spectacular, I still backed them and wrote an entire article about how the boots could just be good and didn’t have to be mind-blowing. Then the boot released. And the fit issues, the sizing issues, the fact that they didn’t seem to have been made with a proper mold meant that people quickly turned sour on them. A lot of people I know tried to return their pairs or sell them on as quickly as possible. Yes, there are a lot of pros who wear them and yes, they have a good touch on the ball, but that seems to be all they have going for them. I backed the wrong horse this time. Oh well, live and learn.
Budget(ish) Boot of the Year: Adler Reggio
There were a number of kangaroo leather boots I tested this year that were on the lower end of the pricing scale. While I thought this award to go to several different boots, in the end the Adler Reggio won out. The fact that the boots are made in Japan and have an excellent kangaroo leather forefoot went a long way towards this decision, but it was also the fact that the boots are solidly made, and that they are comfortable were also factors that led me to give this award to the Reggio. Sure, some people might point out that I got two goals in my first match wearing them and that could have coloured my views, but it doesn’t change the fact that for around $115 I was able to get a solid, comfortable and durable boot.
The “Siggggghhhhhh, I guess” Boot(s) of the Year: The Nike Future DNA Pack
The whole Nike Future DNA pack except for the Mercurial Vapor was an absolute wash. Great colourways, sure. Popular? Definitely. Was there are point? Ehhhhhh, maybe? The issue with this whole pack is that not only did it come out right as things were shutting down, but also that it was just kind of meh. It only reminded people about how great some of the Nike boots in the past were compared to some of their current offerings. In a year when adidas went (probably too) crazy with remakes, the best Nike offered the market was colourways referencing the past. Adidas absolutely killed it this year with their remakes and it kind of seemed like Nike either doesn’t know how or isn’t brave enough to bring back older boots. I already know that the argument might be that they don’t want to cannibalize their own sales but if they really believe that, then why do the Superfly and the high-collar Phantom GT exist? They have no added benefit and only take sales away from Nike’s other boots, and this extends to the wholly unneeded Future DNA Pack. Its presence only served to further crowd the market. The Vapor was good-looking though, so I guess there was that.
The “Why those?” Boot of the Year: Soccerdotcom F50 adiZero Ghosted
One of the most beloved adiZero was brought back as part of the Memory Lane Pack and it even had the original, massively popular HybridTouch upper. Soccerdotcom then decided to bring it back in one of the most unpopular colourways that ever released for the 2014 adiZero. Seriously. For five different stores, I had ordered eight pairs when that colourway first released. Only 3 pairs sold at full retail. The rest went at almost half off and even then, it was a struggle. One of the most frustrating things about this colourway in particular being used is the fact that there are several other, far more iconic colourways that they could’ve picked. Maybe the original Samba Pack Blue and Orange. The White and Multicoloured Messi signature colourway. Or perhaps the one that made the most sense, Messi’s BattlePack colourway from the 2014 World Cup. You know, the one he won player of tournament in while wearing? Just c’mon.
Best Performing Boot of the Year: Mizuno Morelia Neo Beta Japan
So yeah, I couldn’t quite give this the Boot of the Year award but out of all of the boots I tested this year, the Neo Beta Japan had the best performance. It’s a more technical boot than one might imagine and the way the technologies work together means that nothing seems out of place and because of this, it’s a very focused boot. Sure, there are a few things that could make it a bigger force in the international market, like a more aggressive soleplate or keeping the KaRVO that was on the previous model, but the boot is still a fantastic performer and I’d argue is far more reliable than many other high-performance boots. A brilliant boot and I am excited to see what comes next. Honourable mention to the Mizuno Rebula Cup. Comfortable, great fit, excellent soleplate but needs just a bit more.
Innovation of the Year: adidas’ Carbitex SpeedFrame
It’s still nuts to think that the very brand that pretty much killed the use of carbon fibre in football boots is the same one that brought it back so spectacularly. Adidas really did their homework with the Carbitex SpeedFrame and that inspiration from their running shoes worked a treat with football boots. It’s probably the most responsive soleplate I’ve ever used. It also firmly put Nike in their place by taking a piece of tech the Swoosh was known for and refining it in a way that has a noticeable effect. The designers at adidas deserve a massive round of applause and I am excited to see how adidas’ tech evolves over time. Fantastic.
Boot of the Year: Mizuno Morelia II Japan
Could it really be anything else? There will be some of you who are not surprised by this, but others might be. It wasn’t the best performing boot (now you know why I have that category), it wasn’t the craziest boot. However, every single practice, match, kickaround the boot was always the first thing in my bag. Even if I didn’t use them, it was nice to have them in the bag ready to go. Every time I wore them, I was reminded how excellent the boots are and why I loved them so much. It really is a boot I could wear for pretty much any occasion because I know they will perform and work. Top quality leather, brilliant comfort, and the excellent updated heel cup means that it was hard to look past the Morelia II when it came to this award. Top notch work from Mizuno. Absolute top of the line boot that everyone should try. After all, “only a Morelia can beat a Morelia”.
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