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Up Close – Detailing the Nike Mercurial “LVL UP”

Nike Mercurial Superfly LVL UP

It is a boot that has got a lot of attention on pitch the last few weeks; the Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 ‘LVL UP’. Released as a boot intended to celebrate 20 years of iconic Nike Mercurial boots and the embodiment of explosive speed through color and design, these are unmistakable! There is so much more to them that you’d imagine, with intricate pieces of detailing right throughout the upper and soleplate.

We received a pair in last week and have taken some time to break down the flashy new look, with notes on performance and what you can expect if they are to become your next boot!

You can find the Mercurial LVL UP currently available at soccer.com

The original plan for this colorway was to be a signature Cristiano Ronaldo release, part of the CR7 collection. That changed with recent events, and instead Nike decided to drop them as a standard release celebrating Mercurial history. Without the stigma of being associated with a single player, they have a far broader reach with much more appeal to players who are fans of the silo. And that has been the case given the attention they have received across the market since their introduction.

Detailing is absolutely key here, and there is so much to them that might not be visible in PR images. The white upper seems very basic from afar, but up close there is a lot of texture and intricate pieces of color. It is the band around the forefoot that immediately captures your attention, with individual sections highlighting prior Mercurial releases. It is the combination of safari, silverware, cheetah, galaxy, gold and lava-inspired patterns that are blended with neon hues, metallic and volt. And you also find the graphic displayed uniformly atop the tongue.

Nike Mercurial LVL UP Forefoot

Nike Mercurial LVL UP Upper

Flip them over and that signature brand comes even more into focus, as a stripe runs right down along the sole, from the forefoot through heel. Again, up close the detailing is incredibly intricate. What makes it even more unusual is the fact it continues up along the heel, finishing just below the lip of the dynamic fit collar.

Nike Mercurial LVL UP Soleplate

Nike Mercurial LVL UP Soleplate Up Close

Adding to the dimension of the upper, Nike use a reflective white-on-white safari print that is inspired by the Nike Air Safari running shoe introduced in 1987 and seen on a Mercurial boot for the first time in 2010. The heritage of this print is also reflected on the black-on-black Swoosh. Below is how it looks under the flash of lights, again something you don’t really get to see from images. Your best bet to see it in action is when playing night games, under lights.

Of course, the one issue with a release like this is keeping them clean! They are going to pick up their own unique shade of black after a few wears. Some people like to call it the shadow effect. Just note that if you want to keep them looking fresh, you will need to spend some time cleaning them after each wear!

Nike Mercurial LVL UP Reflective Effect

There are a few notes in terms of performance to take into consideration with this model of the Superfly. Starting out, they are not going to be a boot that provides immediate comfort. The upper material is stiff and you have to contend with the undulated soleplate. If or when you receive your pair to wear, I’d stress the importance of getting them out of the box and on your feet to walk around in, allow them to loosen up slowly. This is not a boot you are going to want to break into a game on first wear. Time will be key to getting the most out of them long-term. Allow for the materials to gently stretch over a few training sessions.

One of the things Nike did with this release was infuse ACC into the Flyknit upper material, essentially eliminating a layer. That is in theory. But what it actually does is make the upper more rigid, meaning you are losing out on the natural level of touch on the ball. After a wear wears, the material does loosen so it becomes less of an issue. The addition of micro-texturing across the Flyknit provides extra traction on the ball. You can see it clearly in the images above, and it really is as prominent as it looks. This helps increase control at top speed.

Size wise, compared to previous Mercurial releases, this boot is a lot more accommodating and provides some additional width to suit a wider audience. In saying that, they are still a Mercurial geared toward speed, so the silhouette is intended to be sleek and aerodynamic. I have a medium/wide fit, and they felt just “OK.” Through the forefoot, I had the right amount of space for them not to impact performance, but I can’t say with confidence that the same would be true for a wide fitting player.

You can find the Mercurial LVL UP available at soccer.com

 

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About Bryan Byrne

The mastermind behind the revolution that is SoccerCleats101. Bryan started this website back in 2008 and has been testing boots on a daily basis ever since. Check out our About Page for more details on Bryan and the website.

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