It’s come down to this: one more vote to determine the winner of our Cleat 16 tournament. Two weeks, ago we put together the bracket comprised of 16 supreme soccer cleats to battle for the title of fan favorite.
The best silos in the game have been pitted against each other with your votes separating good from great, excellent from exceptional.
Now but two remain: the Nike Mercurial Vapor and the PUMA evoPOWER.
The former is a trend-setting speed cleat that’s been featured on fields across the world since the Brazilian Ronaldo first slipped it on at 1998 FIFA World Cup France™. The Mercurial Vapor, the gold standard for speed, downed the adidas Crazylight and PUMA evoSPEED SL to reach the final.
The latter is a revolutionary cleat that debuted in Barcelona in February with the backing of world-class stars, introducing a Gradual Stability Frame that allows the outsole to flex in any direction and Accufoam upper that’s unrivaled for the first time. The PUMA evoPOWER bested the Warrior Skreamer and Nike CTR360 Maestri to advance here.
Both are worthy of the crown, but only one can claim it. Who will conquer the Cleat 16? The choice is up to you. Vote below.
Year introduced: 1998
Weight: 6.6 oz
Materials: The upper is made of a soft, micro-textured Teijin upper with a dot pattern to create a second-skin-like touch without compromising speed. Two-layers of glass fiber are fused together on the outsole, meaning energy expended planting your foot is redistributing throughout the cleat, creating support and stability.
The studs are made of direct-injected TPU that grip and release exceptionally. There’s also a speed stud in the midfoot area that helps when sprinting at top level.
Special technologies: Engineered for explosive speed, the Mercurial Vapor is built with versatility in mind, as well. It comes with All Conditions Control (ACC) technology that allows players to possess the ball if its wet, dry or in-between.
The cleat is inspired by track spikes and race cars, which is seen by the shoe’s contoured speed last, low toe box and minimalist speed counter that cups and locks your foot in place.
Colorways: Too many to list here, the Mercurial Vapor has received all sorts of colorful and historic treatments this season.
The most recent two are the Fast Forward ’06 and Fast Forward ’10 editions which pay homage to the Mercurial Vapors worn by the Brazilian Ronaldo and Portuguse Cristiano Ronaldo at the last two FIFA World Cups™, respectively.
Players who wear the cleat: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Pedro (Barcelona), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich) and dozens more
What they’re saying: “For a striker, speed is essential. How fast you run, how fast you are with the ball, how quick you are making decisions—everything has to be quick. It all comes down to speed. I’ve been wearing the Mercurial for years and you can see and feel the evolution,” – Didier Drogba, Galatasary and Ivory Coast striker
Year introduced: 2014
Weight: 7.2 oz
Materials: Rolled out with impressive fanfare in Barcelona, the evoPOWER is built for big, powerful players with innate, natural touch. Its upper is made of a one-of-a-kind AdapLite, a thin, yet durable flexible synthetic that gives players barefoot-like feel.
The outsole is made of lightweight Pebax and has a combination of bladed and conical studs.
Special technologies: PUMA designers offered their “footwear revolution,” via several impressive new technologies. The Gradual Stability Frame (GSF) on the outsole is perhaps the most impressive. It’s shaped like a backbone and lets the cleat flex in either direction, letting the foot bend with natural motion.
Accufoam on the upper provides a clean strike zone for consistent accuracy and a power boost.
The EverFit cage tucking in the back of the midfoot offers support and locks in the heel.
Colorways: The most iconic evoPOWER thus far, the one that debuted in Barcelona, is the Fluro Peach/Ombre Blue/Fluro Yellow combination. There’s also a Camo version that Cesc Fabregas has sported a classy Ombre Blue/White/Fluro Peach and Balotelli’s Stampa, which is wrapped in headlines about the incredible Italian.
Players who wear the cleat: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Dante (Bayern Munich), Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
What they’re saying: “The evoPOWER boot impressed me from the first day I tried it in training, I hadn’t really seen a boot like it before. What PUMA say about it is true, the flexibility helps create a better contact with the ball and generate really good shooting power.” -Mario Balotelli, AC Milan and Italy striker