Nike Plays A Near-Perfect Ball: Our CTR360 Maestri III Review

Nike CTR 360 Maestri III

After spending time at Nike's headquarters to learn the ins and outs of the new Nike CTR360 Maestri III, we had some quality alone time. The most major talking point about the boot: it lives up to all of the hype.

The original Nike CTR360 Maestri was a special boot. It was something new, the first "control" boot, and a revolution in soccer footwear. Before the original CTR, boots really fell into three categories: power, speed, and heritage. Nike created a piece of equipment that brought together the best of those three worlds in a well-designed, technologically advanced package. The greatest innovation that the CTR brought was the Kanga Lite upper: a durable synthetic upper that offers many of the properties of natural Kangaroo leather while decreasing moisture absorption.

The second iteration, the Nike CTR360 Maestri II, fine-tuned the experience. The slimmer fit, redefined control pods, and simplified pass pad were a natural progression for the series. The CTR II, however, was not a major departure from the original.

For the third and most recent version, Nike really upped the ante with a complete rethink and redesign of the CTR image for the CTR360 Maestri III. In doing that, Nike provided us with a bold black and yellow boot with a number of improvements that were obvious right from the off.

The Technology

One of the biggest changes for the CTR360 Maestri III was the completely redesigned pass pad. In the two previous versions, the pass pad was a solid rubberized piece with fins on the instep of the foot to help pass and receive the ball. For this latest version, Nike rethought the entire idea of the pass pad and instead opted for eight separate fins of different sizes, covering a larger area of the instep. As promised, the new pass pad certainly does provide more surface contact with the ball when passing and receiving.

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Another major departure from the first two silos was the lack of control pods on the forefoot. Instead, Nike opted for a golf ball style texture with a number of dimples that runs from the toes all the way up through the laces. This move got rid of the bulky look that the old pod design provided while allowing for a much more streamlined shape and a feel of total control.

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The KangaLite upper returns for the CTR360 III but this time is lighter, thinner, and feels much more like kangaroo leather. It's extremely soft and provides a fantastic fit right from the first wear, giving you that vacuum seal sound as you slide your foot in. The boot now also features a brand new coating dubbed All Conditions Control that promises the same touch in wet and dry conditions. The coating and upper combination did provide extremely good grip on the ball without being overpowering (meaning that it was too sticky and thus could drag the ball away from feet), allowing for a much easier time of bringing the ball down.

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The Design

By comparing the launch colorways of the CTR360 Maestri III, you can get a real sense of how much bolder it is than its predecessors. The launch colors for the original CTR were a bold combination of black/red and black/white while the CTR II launched in blue/white and red/white colorways. While those were more classy than anything else, the yellow/black look for the newest version is loud, in-your-face, and sleek. I am not really sure what the design inspiration was for the CTR III but if it wasn't an electrified shark, I would be shocked.

It's a great looking boot with a design sure to grab attention. The original press photos from when the boot launched made the yellow seem much more muted than it actually is. In fact, they're very bright on the pitch and even brighter in direct sunlight.

That said, for those looking for a more traditional looking boot, say the Nike Tiempo or adidas adiPure 11Pro, will likely be turned off by the CTR's sharp lines and bright colors. The alternate launch colorway is a black/"bright crimson" which is just slightly more understated than "sonic yellow."

The Verdict

It really is incredible how much better Nike managed to make an already great boot. Receiving passes and bringing down a ball with pace from the air quite literally become easier. The Nike CTR360 Maestri III is noticeably lighter than the two previous iterations and comes in a sleeker package.

The designers and engineers took a comprehensive look at the CTR360 III's predecessor and asked themselves "how can we make every single aspect of this better?" And you know what, they did. Just about every piece of the CTR is new and improved, from the heel counter to the front-most studs.

The Nike CTR360 Maestri III earns itself a very well deserved 9/10. It is just about perfect. What
stops the boot from being perfect? The fact that this boot simply isn't for everyone is what keeps it from getting a perfect score. The KangaLite upper will certainly convert some of those players that must have a natural leather boot but it's the bold look that will turn others away. They also aren't cheap at $200. Out of the current Nike lineup, they are more expensive than the Tiempo Legend IV but less than the Mercurial Vapor VIII and T90 Laser IV. Their cost is on par with the adidas adiZero F50.

With all of that said, if you happen to be in the market for a new boot, the Nike CTR360 Maestri III is one you absolutely must consider.

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