In the world of soccer equipment, no brand looms larger than Nike.
Far from the first brand to find favor within the world’s game, the Swoosh can see its rise to the top as a fairly young journey. As the months roll on and as the Oregon-based behemoth continues to keep all other competitors settling for the space that resides in Nike’s wake, it’s amazing that complacency has yet to set in. However, it would be a foolish statement to think that the top of the pile has existed with a flawless track record. Perhaps no boot showcases Nike’s ascent better than the new Hypervenom 3. A boot built for strikers…a position plagued with the brightest spotlight, and blessed by the simplest job description.
The Hypervenom 3 has received praise from any and all that have wandered into its waters, but its path to being one of Nike’s elite options is an interesting tale. It might have always been a striker’s boot, but it hasn’t always been the boot for the striker. While the Legend does stretch back a bit farther, for our moment of regaling, we’ll start with the introduction of the T90 Laser. Thus, our journey begins…
The T90 Laser 1, and those that would follow in the T90 series, was an obvious attempt from Nike to steal fans from one of the biggest names in the industry: the adidas Predator. A name that still carries a hefty weight within the boot world, Nike merely needed to give an option to players that were becoming enamored with boots that possessed elements that could “alter” their shots. The Laser offered that idea, and also continued the T90 silo’s commitment to aggressive off-center lacing. The bigger the string surface, the greater accuracy for your shots…a simple concept to use as Nike pushed to gain ground on their three-striped competitor. It didn’t hurt that the T90 was already a easily recognizable silo, and a boot that had a decent professional stable of players.
The T90 Laser 2 was only a slight departure from the success of the original Laser.
The shooting element descended into high contact areas on the side of the foot, conical forefoot studs were traded in for blades, but Nike stuck with the extreme asymmetrical lacing, the main shooting element covering the bulk of the boot (with slight alterations), and certainly fit the move we’ve seen from brands of not changing something too much when it’s felt success.
However, it was still a boot that people loved to use to strike the ball, but it still didn’t feel like a striker’s boot…and the T90 was about to face serious competition from under its own roof.
The T90 Laser 3, and Laser 3 Elite, still holds a spot in most boot lover’s hearts. Whether it’s from the fins on the bulk of the instep, the ad campaign that accompanied the boot, the ability to snag a version with Carbon-Fibre on the soleplate, or the World Cup colorway…it’s a boot that was a comfortable, and successful step forward for the silo…or, it would have been, but Nike unleashed the CTR360 on the market, and adidas was letting the world know what lightweight speed looked like. If you were playing as a striker, you opted for close control and speed…if you were a midfielder, the fans not still in love with the Predator, found a home in the newly minted Kanga-Lite of the CTR360. The T90 Laser 3 could have had blaring lights, a cooler for your Gatorade, and a tracker for your stats…it still would have fallen through the cracks. Even a bicycling Wayne Rooney and red-hot Fernando Torres couldn’t help speculation start to rise with the T90’s future…where would it fit within Nike’s future?
Perhaps the T90 Laser 4 was doomed from the start, but it didn’t help that the launch colorway was bland, the synthetic never softened up a ton (until the too-late switch to Kanga-Lite), and the faces of the T90 were experiencing quite a downturn (Torres missing simple chances while wearing the new boot didn’t help…at all). As if to add insult to misery, Nike’s other headliners were adding to the T90’s misery. The CTR360 III was a massive success, and still one of my favorite boots of all time. Nike had also turned down the path of the super lightweight, and many strikers were now happy to call the Vapor VIII home. The T90 IV, faced with a difficult path on all sides, saw the end of the iconic silo. What Nike chose to do next was anyone’s guess…but a countdown clock and skull/crossbones had us thinking Nike was about to take a big, Neymar sized swing at a T90 V.
Enter the Hypervenom.
A boot claiming deadly agility and a fancy new upper, but bearing little to no resemblance to the recently deceased T90…what were we to make of this new concoction? Well, despite some durability issues, fans fell in love with the upper. The massive striking surface provided by the off-center lacing gave an incredible feel when driving through the back of the ball. However, despite glowing reviews and a fresh-faced Brazilian to headline the charts…the Hypervenom faced some serious growing pains early on. With its lightweight nature, many saw it as a competitor to the Mercurial Vapor. If it was a soft upper you wanted, the Tiempo always offered that with ease. Plus, Nike’s CTR series also offered an off-center lacing to maximize the strike zone…so why go for agility?
A second Hypervenom would only increase speculation that the T90 heir might suffer a similar fate. A stiff upper was met with the star Hypervenom player opting for a heavily customized (often, entirely different silo) of the Hypervenom. An about face to the original Hypervenom’s upper saved a bit of the free-fall that the HV was experiencing, but the success of Nike’s FlyKnit Magista and FlyKnit SuperFly overshadowed the Venom in nearly every way.
The story does end happily, and crafts the possibility of the Hypervenom carrying on long into the future.
The Hypervenom 3 gloriously joined the FlyKnit revolution, finally offers a completely different feel to other options on the market (and under the Nike umbrella), and finally obtained that which the T90 Laser set out to be so long ago. No longer just a boot for a striker…but a striker’s boot. Don’t believe us? Snag a pair yourself…and get ready to see what has finally brought the T90 Laser’s journey to a fitting conclusion. Nike has finally crafted the perfect strike.