Nike is geared for the 2014 World Cup. The latest of the brand’s four silos in soccer was unveiled today in Madrid – the Mercurial Superfly. And while speed has always been the key feature of the boot model since it originally came out in 1998, this new iteration takes things to a whole new level. From the new tech to updated design – Nike VP of sport performance footwear Phil McCartney breaks down everything you need to know about the Nike Mercurial Superfly.
Creating the Mercurial Superfly was a four-year process.
“We gave ourselves four years to prove and test this so it was on-pitch ready for the World Cup. There was multiple challenges along the way,” said Phil McCartney, Nike VP of sport performance footwear. “We had the idea a little before the last World Cup, but we started the efforts of August of that year. Our first prototype was August of 2010.”
The biggest challenge in the design process was keeping the shoe a secret.
“With all the media attention in modern football, even closed training sessions have cameras over fences. So, one of the biggest challenges of this for us was keeping it under wraps. We had to employ a specific plan to be able to get it on the pitch and get feedback from athletes without it being leaked out,” McCartney said.
Unlike the Nike Magista, the Mercurial Superfly is built for speed.
“Our process was to put it into the wind tunnel and remove everything you don’t need at high speeds, where with the Magista we thought about loft, spin and texture for ball control,” McCartney said.
The Nike Flyknit on the Mercurial is thinner than the Flyknit on the Magista
In order to make the boot lighter, designers used a slimmer makeup of Nike Flyknit, as well as incorporated a layer of “Nike Skin” on top, which is a first for the brand. “When you operate at high speeds and you’re taking those touches, it’s really important on the pitch,” McCartney said.
The Dynamic Fit design isn’t just to make the boot lighter, but to give players a better sense of the ball.
“What the dynamic fit really helps players play with instinct. That feels like a huge insight especially in football. We’re using [dynamic fit] to heighten sensation and allow players to play with instinct on the pitch,” McCartney said.
The plate on the Mercurial was redesigned for multidirectional speed.
Speed doesn’t just come from making a boot lightweight. Designers also had to add studs at the boots heel and tinker with the toe to give players more grip in the final 10 percent of their stride. "If you think about how players get that spring and snap, especially at toe-off, the placemat of the studs was something we were really obsessive about. Those microseconds really make a difference in the modern game. We wanted to enhance to sensation of players being able to propel forward."
Christian Ronaldo has been wearing the boots in the Nike Mercurial silo since he was 12 years old.
“[Nike] is always seeking my opinion. I've always been asked about how they fit and these boots are no exception. They always listen to my feedback and this is very important to me,” Ronaldo said.
Look for Ronaldo and other Nike athletes to debut the Mercurial Superfly during the World Cup.
“It's a great innovation, but it's not surprising because Nike is always innovating," Ronaldo said.
Expect for Nike Flyknit to be incorporated in Nike’s new football boots going forward.
“I can’t speak too much about it, but the feedback we’ve heard from players has been sensational. We’re confident in the technology,” McCartney said.
The Nike Mercurial Superfly will be available on June 12.
And be available for pre-order on May 26.