One area where Nike have really excelled in the past few years is delivering boots tailored to specific players on the pitch, and the new CTR360 Maestri II again fits the playmaker mold. You only have to take a look at the players wearing these (Cesc Fabregas, Landon Donovan, Andres Iniesta) to see exactly what type of player they are designed for.
Nike’s goal with this release was to create a boot that masters control while allowing players to receive and distribute passes with ease. After testing them, I can tell you almost every player on the field will benefit from the high performance level you get while wearing these. Below is my in-depth breakdown of how effective they actually are in action and how they compare to the original CTR360 Maestri release. For testing, I wore a size 9US in the Challenge Red/White/Black.
Surprisingly, the CTR360 Maestri II Elite broke in pretty well! I have found that the carbon fiber soleplate found in the Nike Elite range can be especially hard to break in, but with this boot that wasn’t really an issue. After one 20 minute jogging session, they felt ready for game action. And when it came to wearing them in a game they worked very well, although there were some hot spots up around the top of the boot that caused concern. The non-Elite version of the CTR360 felt more comfortable through the break in period. Overall, they worked well and thankfully it didn’t get anywhere near blistering.
Compared to the CTR360 Maestri
The new versus the old! There are some updates to the second range including a re-engineered pass and receive pod region and some design upgrades. I wouldn’t say there is a great deal of difference between both releases, but the II definitely holds a slight overall advantage. If you are deciding between each pair simply choose the boot that suits your budget – the II is worth the money you pay, but the original CTR360 release still rates extremely high and will offer better value if you find them on sale.
Whats with the Pass and Receive Pads?
This is one of the more unique aspects to this release. The black region on the instep and the smaller red zone make up the pass and receive pads. The black zone is designed to improve control. Similar to the TPU fins seen on the T90 Laser III, it is designed to improve control by dampening the ball as it hits the surface of your foot. In testing, there is a noticeable difference as you make impact with the ball in that region. I found that it lies in the appropriate region as you control the ball. While striking the ball, it also offers additional spin as the fins give you extra grip on the ball.
The red region is advertised by Nike to offer similar attributes to the grooves seen on the face of a golf club. I didn’t necessarily find this region to be useful. Ultimately, I am not sure why you would actually need to add backspin while passing the ball! It might be useful for striking long balls, but it doesn’t lie anywhere near the right region. After testing, I didn’t find any conclusive evidence on how it is useful.
One last comment on this feature, many of you are going to ask how the control and pass pad compares to the Mukaiten panel seen on the Mizuno Wave Ignite. They are positioned in different regions, and also serve different purposes. The Mukaiten panel is more beneficial for striking long balls and free kicks, while the CTR360 is designed for shorter passes and quick through balls – just like playmakers are required to make throughout a game.
I absolutely love the design of these boots. One of the things I really like is the black stripe that sits between the red and white areas. It adds a completely different look to the and in my opinion it is what makes them really stylish. The challenge red color almost has a metallic finish to it. Under the lights, they have an unusual shimmer that allows them to stand out. I have found through feedback that some people like the white Nike tick that has been added along the front of the boot. Personally, I like it and think it goes well with the overall design, but again opinions are mixed on this.
On field, these boots work out exactly as you would expect – and better! While dribbling, you are able to keep the ball closer to your feet by using the dampening pods up around the front of the boot. The dampening pods are raised slightly off the boot and are basically padded regions that allow for a softer touch on the ball. The side pass and control pads and the control region serves a valid purpose.
I also had an opportunity to test these out in wet conditions (we have had many rainy days here in LA recently!) and the results were very positive. Traction on the surface was never an issue, with twisting and turning not causing any problems. One thing to note is that the stud design on the Elite version differs from the regular version. Overall, performance was impressive and the boot felt like it molded easily to give a solid feel in game.
I can’t offer too many negatives on this boot. The overall design looks good and the on-field performance was excellent. The only area where there might be questions is in durability. The original CTR360 Maestri release received criticism in this area. I found that this new release held up really well and thus far I haven’t had any major durability problems. In the 3 weeks of testing, the front of the boots has scuffed slightly which is a concern. I will update if I find any issues going forward.
Nike have found the right balance with this release. To be honest, I still rate the original CTR360 Maestri release very highly, but I like the updates Nike have added to the second generation. They offer pretty much the complete package for any player who fits the playmaker mold, or any player that aspires to be a playmaker. But the best thing about the boot is how they suit nearly every player on the field! I can see many different style of players wearing them. They weigh in at 8.8oz, which in my opinion is a pretty ideal weight as you know you are still getting a decent level of protection. Overall, a great boot that is definitely top of my list right now. I don’t think that too many players who get their hands on a player will be disappointed with this release!
*Boots supplied for review by Nike