It’s been arguably one of the best years for football boot releases in the last few years. We were treated to some lovely remakes, some great colourways, World Cup packs, limited edition releases galore, some good, some bad. We are still seeing release issues and some bizarre decisions, like Nike’s recent limited edition boots not coming to Japan. Mizuno finally made a killer speed boot, Adler refreshed their entire lineup and brought some fresh ideas to the market while New Balance and Puma also had some seemingly great releases. Of course, it wasn’t all good things, prices have continued to rise beyond sensible levels, and we still have far too many colourways releases. But we did also have the brilliant Women’s Euro’s and the excellent Men’s World Cup. I have also managed to do fourteen boot reviews this year across a variety of styles with some standing out more than others. Let’s go!
Disappointment of the Year
Much to the chagrin of many of Mizuno’s overseas fans, Mizuno continues to raise their prices overseas. The Mizuno Alpha really seems like it is the boot to make the brand more appealing to a lot of people outside of Mizuno’s normal fanbase, but unfortunately the high price of the boot means that many of the people who could be potential customers are priced out of even trying the boots. Sure, the boots are made in Japan but considering the boots are not even leather you would expect the prices to be slightly lowered. Instead, they are now even higher than the brand’s other boots. The Alpha has the potential to be a true killer boot, but if Mizuno continues to keep their prices at the level they are at now, it will not get them into the mainstream market.
Why, why, why? Boot of the Year
Adidas Predator Edge 94+
This is one of the boots that I am not sure anyone asked for. I mean, yes people want leather Predators, and people want (some) Predator remakes, but a combination of the two on the Predator Edge platform does not seem to make sense. Part of it is because the leather upper shows how poor the synthetic upper of the regular Edge is, and most people would probably prefer a proper 94 Predator remake over a weird one-off limited edition. They mostly sold out though, so I doubt adidas even cares, but I would argue that such a boot does damage to the inline products since the limited edition model is better to a point. Making the boot laceless is also a weird move since I am sure they would have been even more desirable if they were based on the Pred Edge.1 Lows.
Worst Inline Boot of the Year
The adidas Speedportal has not been reviewed by the blog and maybe it will be at some point. But the reason why it gets this award is because it is such a massive step back from how impressive the Speedflow was. It can be argued that adidas made it difficult for themselves since the Speedflow was so good, but it feels like adidas took all of the lessons of what made that boot good, and then ignored it with the Speedportal. The upper is stiffer, the fit is worse, and the heel feels overly bulky. A truly bizarre move. The Predator Edge gets an honourable mention.
Worst Reviewed Boot by The Blog
ASICS usually does a great job of their boots so I was excited when the Acros Pro was announced and was going to use the soleplate from the X Fly Pro. A synthetic speed boot option seemed like a great idea but unfortunately the execution was lacking. Sure, it had the nice Acros Fit located in decent parts and the overall fit of the boot itself was good. But the entire boot was let down by the stiff and slick upper that refused to break in until several sessions in and was lacking so much in friction in the upper that if the conditions were even slightly wet, it became a chore to control the ball. ASICS themselves seem to have realised how poor the upper was and within 10 months of the initial release, the Acros Pro 2 was released, which is a boot that should be reviewed in the coming year. It does make one wonder what the point was if ASICS had to correct their mistake within a year of the initial release. They’re not Puma after all.
Remake of the Year
adidas F50 adiZero IV Leather Speed Legacy
Adidas had some great remakes this year and probably the one most people will go for is the Predator Mania remake. It does make sense, not only was it limited edition, but it was also actually numbered. But for as much as I am a Predator fan, no other remake this year made me want to splash the cash like the adiZero remake in leather. Taking the already great fit of the adiZero IV and slapping it on the CarbiTex soleplate is not the most unique idea, but it is still one of the best ideas. On top of that, making the boots pure white just made the whole boot look very clean even if they are almost impossible to keep clean. Even now I am still tempted to give in a buy a pair. What a boot. Honourable mention goes to the Mizuno Wave Ignitus remakes. They would be the winner but really, we all wanted the original Ignitus to be remade.
Limited Edition Boot of the Year
adidas Speedportal.1 Messi Leyenda
I mean, he won the World Cup them thus not only guaranteeing that the resell value skyrockets, but that adidas will one hundred percent have a remake of these at some point. Shame the boot itself does not seem to be up to snuff. Still, they look good enough and there are a lot of cool details on the boots, so a win for adi, I guess.
Credit Where its Due Boot of the Year
Nike Tiempo Legend 9 Elite Montebelluna
To say I am critical of Nike and its boots would be somewhat of an understatement. I have not been convinced of their boots in sometime, but it seems like the Montebelluna edition of the Legend 9 is a boot that will make me take that all back. Well, or some of it at least. But any Nike boot that has not only received high praise from everyone around while at the same time making me want to get a pair deserves a mention. I figured that if I am going to review the Legend 9, it might as well be the best Legend 9. Nike does deserve criticism for not telling people ahead of time how quickly the boots will get discoloured but like the title of the award says, Nike deserves credit for putting out a boot that even I want to try.
“Give them a shot!” Boot of the Year
It is somewhat the forgotten boot of the Alder lineup since it does not have the KaRVO inserts like the rest of the boots that Adler makes. But the Jarumakan is a great boot in its own right. The fit is excellent and if you are wanting a boot that is leather but still has the stability of a synthetic midfoot the Jarumakan is the way to go. It is still obvious the boots are handmade, and the leather is fantastic. It is a great alternative to the other boots that Adler makes, and I would argue that it is a great entry point to the Adler brand.
“Everyone definitely needs to load up on these” Boot of the Year
Yeah, they released last year but I reviewed them this year, so they just barely make it in on the basis of a technicality. This does not take away from the fact that the Speedflow+ is the best laceless boots ever made in my opinion. The upper is excellent, the fit is really good, and they are brilliant all around boot that fit most foot types. It really is crazy how outstanding the boot is, and they are ones that I definitely should have bought more of. In the next few years I can see them becoming more and more sought after as people realise what they missed out on. Get a pair.
Best Performing Boot of the Year
The reason Mizuno’s prices have been criticised so heavily with regards to the Alpha is because the boot is absolutely brilliant. The combination of great tech along with a fantastic fit means that Mizuno have finally made the boot that could take them mainstream. The Alpha seems like a direct response to the criticisms leveled at the brand over the past few years. It has an aggressive soleplate with great springback from the KaRVO insert and there is so much grip available in the inside of the boot that it not only eliminates the need for grip socks, but even in the wettest conditions I have not felt my foot sliding around in the boot. The upper has just enough grip on it to be noticeable but it only ever seems to enhance the touch on the ball, rather than taking anything away. The Mizuno Alpha is a showpiece boot and one to pull out of your bag to wow others who have bought similar boots from Nike and adidas. It is awesome boot and I cannot praise it enough.
Boot of the Year
Now, I have to say that I work part time as a salesman for Adler. But like I have mentioned before, I would not have signed on if I did not believe in the project. The Yatagarashu is just brilliant. The fit, the leather, the KaRVO insert are all superb. Every single practice, match, or kickaround the Yatagarashu was with me. It was always going to take something special to beat out the Morelia II as my go to boot and the Yatagarashu are that special. The KaRVO wildcard means that the Yatagarashu performs at a higher than would be expected of a boot that looks the way it does. The great Itogo laces along with the lacing set up means there is also a ton of lockdown on offer. And the final piece, the ReaLine insole, also means that there is a good amount of support in the boot as well. Add these to the fact that the boots are handcrafted in Japan makes the Yatagarashu a very special boot. Adler have done their homework and figured out what works with a classic boot. It is a boot that any leather boot fan must try and a deserved winning of my Boot of the Year Award.
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