First impressions: Nike PhantomVSN

We look at the new control boot replacing the Magista.

From magician to space-age ninja, the control boot gauntlet have been passed on to the Nike PhantomVSN. 4 years ago, Nike debuted the Magista to great acclaim. It paved the way for knitted uppers and the infamous “sock” construction that are now the norm in football boots.

Nike looks to have polished that formula with the much sleeker PhantomVSN. While we loved the thin upper for the Magista 1, the second generation Magista was a radically big shift with a pillowy and cushioned upper that helped with dampening touch but reduced the contact between ball and feet. The PhantomVSN aims to merge 2 of the best elements from the Magista line – improving your touch and producing comfort and a perfect fit out of the box for the modern playmaker.

Nike PhantomVSN

A total reconstruction under the hood

The inner skeleton of the boot is made with a new Quadfit mesh, a technology that is promised to make an appearance in future Nike footwear. It conforms to most if not all feet shapes and makes the boot soft enough to wear out of the box without having to be broken in.

Quadfit mesh
Quadfit mesh

Laceless? Only on the outside

Upon first view, you’d think Nike jumped upon the laceless bandwagon popularized by adidas. The PhantomVSN’s laces can actually be found underneath the soft upper, requiring only a single pull to ensure full lockdown across your foot. This design, named Ghost Lace, ensures that you get the clean striking zones of a laceless boot with the customizable fit of laces.

“We’ve done tremendous amounts of research, talking with players and analyzing data in the lab,” explains designer Phil Woodman, “and the results are unanimously in favor of lacing to provide that customized fit each player desires.”

Was that a jab at the three stripes? The swoosh is definitely throwing some shade with ninja precision.

Nike PhantomVSN
An inner peek at the Ghost Lace system

A return to its passing roots

While most of the upper is relatively clean, you will notice subtle triangular patterns on the instep of the boot. This is reminiscent of the last CTR boot, the CTR360 Maestri III, which kept it’s surface relatively clean with 3D control pads lining the instep. We reckon these textures help dampen the impact upon receiving the ball. We also see a return of the circular stud patterns on the soleplates that were popular with CTR lovers.

Another thing we’re happy to see is a shortened dynamic fit collar. We weren’t very keen on the Magista Obra 2’s collar which made putting on and taking off the boot a major pain. The shorter collar would easily make inserting your feet easier without losing much of the seamless boot to foot sensation that Nike intended to provide.

The stud pattern inspired by the CTR 360
The stud pattern inspired by the CTR 360


We really love the new clean design of the Nike PhantomVSN. It looks sleek, modern and is a perfect fit for leading playmakers like Kevin De Bruyne and Philippe Coutinho. Personally, this writer would have liked more textured elements on the boot to better support passing and receiving the ball. We were big fans of the CTR line after all.

However, this feels like more than a new boot. Just like in 2014, the Magista opened new doors for Nike to adopt new innovations for the next generation of boots. Fast forward to 2018 and we believe that Nike has just begun with the first of many new innovations that will change the trajectory of the boot game. This step feels like that defence splitting pass that puts Nike through to score. After all, isn’t that what playmakers do?

The Black, Grey and Crimson colourways will be available from 18 July, 30 July and August respectively.

Founder and editor of BOOTHYPE, Hats loves nothing more than a control/power boot that'll add a little something to his first touch. He counts the Puma evoPower 1 and the Nike PhantomVSN as some of his all-time favourites. The one that got away? The adidas Predator Mania in champagne.
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