The new adidas Predator
adidas has decided to pull out their biggest trump card long before we turn our gaze to Russia this coming summer. Bringing back their most iconic silo, adidas has made sure that 2018 could be the year of the adidas Predator. It’s not just a re-release or a modern interpretation of a classic, but a full-on Predator to dominate the market and the pitch. The ‘old’ adidas ACE has been sacrificed for the future of adidas, and it’s now time to see whether we’ve moved into another generation of Predator dominance or merely adidas trying to snag a few extra headlines before Russia.
The ACE gave us our first look at the laceless adidas future, and it appears that the Predator is prepared to carry that laceless torch so we were quite anxious to see if the German giants can utilize everything they’ve learned from the ACE and blend it with the nature of the Predator to make an incredible boot. Is this Predator back to dominate like the Preds of old, or will this classic franchise be found old, tired, and wanting? Let’s dive in and find out!
The new Predator 18+ looks incredibly streamlined. There might not be a single Predator in the history of the boot that didn’t look like it was going to be fairly bulky, but the 18+ looks like it could have been designed in a wind tunnel. While you see ridges in areas that you’d expect from a Predator, the boot is still fairly minimalist for a silo that is defined by large shooting elements and kangaroo leather. The bronze on the heel and some parts of the soleplate helps the boot stand out a slight bit, but even with the nods to Preds of old, it’s a colorway that isn’t going to leap off the screen.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the look of this boot has to be what happens to the knitted area when you slip your foot in the boot. On the launch colorway, the black gives way to a bright orange/red that hearkens back to Predator colorways of old. It will be incredible to see what adidas does with this feature on future colorways, but it takes a fairly understated launch colorway and propels it into one of my favorites of the year. It also never hurts to have the old school “PREDATOR” emblazoned on the boot, it’s a logo that we’d be tempted to purchase on every and anything.
The immediate desire whenever you slip a pair of Predator boots is to start blasting shots from anywhere within your own half of the field. However, it’s been a long time since the Pred has been in the game, and it’s going to take some proof before we let the Predator take back that special place in our heart. The ACE 17+ was an impressive boot, but there were a few issues that kept the laceless ACE from being a complete show-stopper.
The first thing you notice when you slip on the boot is how soft the upper is on the ball. Your first few dribbles and passes are quite plush, and that’s a big change from how a stiff ACE 17+ and ACE 17.1 model felt out of the box. Despite the raised areas in the forefoot and on the instep of the boot, it isn’t a classic Predator element and given how boots are expected to perform in the modern era of the game, this is probably a good thing. There’s no hindrance of touch and you get a uniform feel for the ball whatever part of the boot you use. That uniform feel gets buoyed by a perfect level of padding used by adidas on this Predator. It’s enough to aid comfort, allow a clean touch on the ball, but that’s not where it truly shines.
As with any Predator, it’s all about attempting to destroy goal posts, launch crossfield lasers, and rip holes in the back of the net, this truly is a beast! It’s easy to pitch the Predator as having the cleanest striking surface on the market (laceless, remember?), but it’s the slight padding that makes driving through the back of a ball a dream. It’s tough to not see this as an evolution of the ACE, but this version of the boot is easily the most fun to strike a ball with. It’s something definitely reminiscent of one boot and one boot only: the Predator. There’s nothing to get you pumped about curling a ball around a wall with a bit of extra curl, but if you catch the ball cleanly on the Predator 18+, the ball absolutely leaps off your foot.
After you’ve tired yourself out driving dead balls into oblivion, dribbling and passing show why the Predator is going to top a lot of wish lists going into 2018. Moving at speed feels smooth with the ball at your feet, but some fans may notice a wider last altering some of their favorite moves a bit (not a negative, just a possible learning curve). The definition on the boot helps aid in offering some friction, but we never found ourselves getting the ball stuck under our feet or running beyond the ball during a mazy dribble. Almost billed as a “control boot” nowadays, the Predator is going to be a winner for anybody trying to zip the ball to their teammates.
When you receive a pass or try to thread the needle, there’s a great feel for the ball. It’s a fun boot to try and get underneath a ball with, and trying to connect or bring a pass down from the other side of the field is great. Everything adidas has updated and changed blends together to a boot that any brand or silo would be happy to have. It seems like the biggest hiccup that fans and adidas are going to face is the “Predator” label. For us, it’s a great next step for the ACE and we can see how the three stripes has attempted to shift towards more of a Predator vibe but even this impressive iteration doesn’t have us ready to proclaim the Predator as king of the boots just yet.
The soleplate on the adidas Predator 18+ is something we feel like we say every single time i.e. that adidas makes “changes” to the bottom of the boot. It feels oddly familiar and it’s as dependable as adidas soleplates tend to be despite being a fairly new look however we can’t help but feel that we’ve seen these types of studs and plate from adidas before. The days of AG/FG from adidas seems to be falling behind us though the boot makes sure you aren’t worried about slipping at a pivotal moment. One of the nicest things is that it feels very Predator, but it avoids the classic “Dear Gawd, this 2X4 on my foot is so stiff” feeling of older Predators. Responsive and dependable is how we’d describe this, what every soleplate should be.
The fit out of the box is definitely superior from the last ACE, and immediately softer. The collar and exposed PrimeKnit across the top where you would expect the laces to be is super soft and stretches to accommodate a multitude of foot types. The three stripes section on the outside of the boot, an area of the boot that was very stiff on the ACE 17+, is nice and soft while still feeling like the boot is squeezing your foot.
The previous laceless boots from adidas were all impressive, but they’ve all suffered from the same issue: lockdown. The newest adidas Predator continues to try and address this by changing up a few small things in the make-up of the boot, but ultimately still leaves the boot without the level of lockdown that laces can provide. The heel is soft and doesn’t have you slipping around (because of the knitted collar and heel build), so blisters don’t occur from just slipping around constantly but saying that there’s no movement inside this boot would be a lie. Still, with all that said, the collar has been improved and there’s a softness that wasn’t there with the last ACE, so we’re excited that adidas is upgrading the boot year after year.
The synthetic that makes up the upper isn’t going to stretch a ton, but the PrimeKnit makes sure that it doesn’t need to by making sure that it is soft and comfortable out of the box and only improving after break-in. All in all, adidas continues releasing comfortable releases across the board and I feel if that you leave out the X 17.1, there isn’t a top notch adidas release on the market right now that doesn’t boast incredible comfort. The new adidas Predator might not be kangaroo leather, but the comfort on the foot is still impressive and it avoids the first few wears of being a “stiff board” that early Predators *cough* Predator X *cough* used to bring along with it.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
The adidas Predator 18+ is definitely a boot that is at the top of the financial food chain. The Pred might be an impressive boot, but it is a major investment for a player at any level. If you want to experience laceless and one of the best synthetics that adidas has on offer, then the 18+ is a great option, but you’re going to have to justify the price to yourself because it isn’t cheap.
WHO’S WEARING IT?
adidas has large stables of players in all of their boots, and they’ve got the faces of this adidas Predator in Paul Pogba and Mesut Ozil. There are going to be players on nearly every major pitch rocking the 18+ and we think it will take a bit brighter colorway before we realize how many players have actually shifted into the newest version of the Predator.
The adidas Predator 18+ is a top-notch boot. adidas continues to move forward with their laceless talent, and the brand continues to show that they might be the kings of synthetics. It might not look like a Predator to most traditional Pred fans but we can buy in to this being the Predator of the modern world. It’s not leather, it’s not a 10 ounce boot of stiff bulk, and there’s not really a shooting element, but none of that stuff would work in today’s boot market. If you can stomach the price tag and get the right fit without laces, it’s going to be an impressive experience. The beast is back, the adidas Predator is back.