As we approach the 20 year anniversary of the Predator range, adidas as well as fans are celebrating the powerful presence the boot has had on the market. There is no doubting the Predator has been (and will continue to be) one of the most influential bots around, helping to improve player performance and allow those that need it the opportunity to focus on striking the ball with power, swerve and finesse.
In the 20 years since their introduction, there have been 13 official installments released to market. Here we take a look at each one and rank them based on performance and overall value to the market. If you have won any boot in the series, we encourage you to share your experience with that specific boot in the comment section below.
No. 13 - Predator Precision
Key Technology: Traxion studs plus Velcro tongue.
The fifth version of the Predator hit shelves in 2000 and offered players a completely different type of performance for the range. The Predator elements on the front of the boot were dramatically trimmed down and stacked in a vertical line to help improve spin on the ball. They almost had the appearance of a fan vent! adidas also moved the soleplate and stud configuration in a new direction, with a new Traxion system, where players could remove and replace the blades. The problem, was the overly bulky and full-bodied feel of the Precision.
No. 12 - Predator X
Key Technology: Old School design plus Powerspine technology.
It was a case of taking a step back in time with the Predator X, with this boot returning to the ranges roots while bulking up in the weight room. Realistically, it is the increased weight that leaves this boot so low on the list, but the fundamentals of the boot have to be applauded. Along the Predator Zone, a dotted rubber panel was added to increase swerve on shots, while the tongue was removed to create a more streamlined look. Then there was a new upper, with adidas introducing a fresh material called "Taurus" leather. This was a more economical material designed to be slightly more durable than K-Leather used on prior models.
No. 11 - Predator Absolute
Key Technology: Changeable PowerPulse sockliners
To further advance from the Predator Pulse, adidas introduced interchangeable insoles for the Absolute. Basically, you could choose a regular foam version or swap out for a sockliner that featured a liquid filling and acted as a source of increased energy as players swung to take shots. The actual Predator element was also modified, but didn't perform anywhere near as positively as prior versions of the boot.
No. 10 - Predator Pulse
Key Technology: Power Pulse Technology.
In order to further develop the Predator range through its sixth installment, adidas went with a highly advanced insole system.The Power Pulse was basically a series of weights placed in a cavity at the front of the insole that were intended to increase striking power. It was the shift in weight as the boot moved toward the ball that reportedly helped pivot your foot more forcefully and strike firmer shots.
No. 9 - Predator Lethal Zones
Key Technology: Five Lethal Zones
There was so much potential behind the release of the Lethal Zones, with adidas taking a completely new direction. Rather than being a Power boot, it was quickly pointed out by designers that there boots were set to be a hybrid, and Control became the new key word. Each of the 5 Lethal Zones on the boot was intended to provide players with a different type of performance characteristic. Dribble, First Touch, Drive, Pass and Sweet Spot were the specific regions players set about mastering, each with strategically positioned rubber elements. This is also the first Predator with a synthetic leather upper and incorporating the adidas miCoach system. They were definitely advanced, but not the best from a Predator performance perspective.
No. 8 - Predator Touch
Key Technology: Increased fin coverage across the strikezone.
As the third generation of the series, the Predator Touch was released with high expectations. An increased number of fins were added right up around the lacing system, giving players more opportunity to add swerve and power through the strikezone. The tongue was also adjusted to sit across the top layer of laces and create a larger strike area.
No. 7 - Predator Rapier
Key Technology: Introduction of the Fold-over tongue.
adidas second generation Predator release came back with a new aesthetic appearance and all the technology expected from the initial release. This time around, things were slimmed down slightly and the boot was made to be slightly lighter. Then there is that famous fold-over tongue, which set a trend for the range right through till the release of the 2009 Predator X.
No. 6 - Predator Powerswerve
Key Technology: SmartFoam Strike Zone.
The ninth incarnation of the Predator range became one of the most iconic releases of the modern era thanks to players such as Steven Gerrard, Xavi, Robin Van Persie, Dimitar Berbatov, Raul and David Beckham. Along the Predator zone, a layers of SmartFoam, a new more energetic material, was added to increase rebound while striking shots. adidas also increased the size of the fold over tongue to extend right down the lacing system and increase surface area. Falling in line with previous releases such as the Pulse and Absolute, players again had the choice to switch out the insole for a tungsten filled system.
No. 5 - Predator Mania
Key Technology: Increased presence of K-Leather.
When the Predator Mania was released prior to the World Cup in South Korea/Japan there was an immediate intrigue surrounding the boot. Adidas took a radical new approach with the range, with a lighter more streamlined boot the end result. The Traxion soleplate system was again used, so players could change out the blades and accommodate to different field conditions. A distinct layer of fins lined the strikezone and made the perfect tool for bending shots and getting a little extra rebound on shots. The Mania is one of the boots many fans wish adidas would release a remake of.
No. 4 - Predator
Key Technology: First Predator fins.
These were the very first Predator released, the starting point for the illustrious range. Former Australian footballer Craig Johnston was the man behind the design, as he first translated his ideas on pure ball striking into the rubber teeth or fins that line the forefoot of the Predator. As far as performance, adding power and some additional swerve was the designated functionality, with their release revolutionizing the market. power and swerve on strikes of the ball. Throw in the iconic three stripes and some red accents and a legend has been born.
No. 3 - Predator Instinct
Key Technology: Redesigned Lethal Zones
The current model of the Predator range could easily move higher on this list, but only time and player feedback will determine how well they are received. From a visual perspective, they haven't received a positive reaction, but ultimately it is on pitch that really counts. Following in line with the Lethal Zones release, there are 5 areas of the boot where adidas has focused their attention, each intended to offer a different performance characteristic. But where the Predator LZ was all about being a hybrid, the full bodied Instinct is more strongly correlated to the ideals of power and striking shots. Then there is the new Comfort soleplate - I doubt I need to explain its functionality, but from experience I can tell you these are one of the more natural feeling Predators released to date.
No. 2 - Predator Accelerator
Key Technology: Re-engineered rubber fins plus a new soleplate
Seen to be one of the most popular Predator releases, the fourth generation had its fin dramatically reduced and the end result was a stealthier boot that caught the attention of fans. Rather than protruding fins, adidas made the design a lot smoother with the intent of providing players with a cleaner connection on the ball. The laces of the boot were also modified as adidas took to a new asymmetric design, allowing for a wider, more pure striking surface on the lateral side of the boot. There were also several key aesthetic changes, including the inclusion of a more prominent three-stripe design and a fresh, transparent soleplate.
No. 1 - adiPower Predator
Key Technology: adiPower Strike Zone plus a Sprint Frame outsole.
Considering the concept of the Predator range, this version eleventh version was about as close as adidas could get to perfection. The fundamental attributes combine to make a very well balanced boot that performed extremely well and was versatile enough to suit pretty much every playing position on the field. It was also the first and only boot to feature a title before the "Predator" part of the boots name! The adiPower featured a divided Predator element along the strike zone, with the boot both zones comprised of 3D fins and silicon rubber Predator elements that worked to increase power and swerve respectfully. Then there was the Sprint Frame outsole, which provided a very highly respected level of traction. The fact that Robin van Persie still uses the Sprint Frame outsole on his personalized custom boots gives the sense it is the type of traction system that many pro players would easily accept back onto the market!