This week adidas unveiled the Predator Freak: the next generation of the iconic silo, taking it beyond the wild aesthetics of the Mutator for what is a newly evolved beast. So how do you go about improving what was already such a radical concept, both in terms of performance and aesthetics?

The adidas Predator Freak features a number of updates and upgrades from the Mutator, as well as an even more aggressive and animalistic aesthetic. But in an ever-evolving world, to stand still is to fade away, and the Predator, now on its 17th generation, is changing with the times, adapting to the demands of the game and meeting the needs of the modern day player. So where do you start with something as iconic as the Predator, and how do you continually improve on the performance aspects? These were among the questions we put to Senior Global Product Manager at adidas, Artur Markowski, when we spoke with him, getting the lowdown on the story behind the design of the Freak.

freak 4-min.jpg
freak 5-min.jpg

Stabilising your instep, increased ball swerve and the increase of maximum control – has the Predator ‘FREAK’ gone back to the origins of Predator would you say?

It’s part of the rich heritage of the brand. There is a certain DNA running through the Predator family and we will always innovate towards the future of control, so that’s what the DemonSkin innovation is all about. You can say that it’s connected to the roots, but the ambition is always to create something that is very much rooted in today’s game and in what the requirements are.

From a tech perspective, what is under the hood of this boot that make it such an essential product for a contemporary player?

Throughout the history of football there have been so many football boots on the market and today it’s even tougher to stand out. So what we wanted to do this season was bring the notion of 360 degree control to the Predator, with a greater distribution of DemonSkin around the shoe. Also, the size of the DemonSkin has been changed and also the orientation of the spikes, so they actually give the same benefit no matter where the ball is hitting the shoe.

So it’s always about optimising the ingredients that we have to what we currently know in terms of feedback and the research we’ve been doing.

The laceless model sits at the very top of the table. Has the fit evolved from the Mutator? In the development process, have you seen more players switch to the laceless model over the laced up boot?

It’s always a matter of preference, obviously. I think the biggest difference not only in terms of silhouette but in terms of performance between the previous Predator Mutator and the Freak is the two piece Primeknit construction. So the reason we’ve constructed it the way that it is is that you can grab it around the heel and the tongue and it’s not only the stretch from the Primeknit, but also the lockdown comes from the construction itself. You open the shoe, step in, and then you have lockdown in the direction you want, especially in the heel – you don’t want to have any heel slip. So it’s more engineered and more adaptive than our previous Predator versions.

freak 3-min.jpg
First of all we’re wanting to make the best control boot that we are able to create for a certain point in time. And then it’s about standing out on the pitch..."

That ball swerve element, it’s something that was almost invented through the Predator – do you almost expect to change the game with a product like this and the way we say players use the ball?

Sure, I can speak from my own experiences as a kid, back in the day with the Beckham Predators – first thing you do is you go on the pitch and try to score or hit the crossbar from wherever. So obviously it’s supposed to inspire players to play in a certain way. This is a control boot, so we want them to experience that control and maybe even elevate it to the next level. So the product stories are always supposed to inspire players to play a certain type of game. It’s the same with the X, in the way we want them to feel faster and do those sprints that they probably wouldn’t usually do.

Pogba is a front man of this boot, along side legends such as Zidane and Beckham. What players would you say embody the essence of this boot? What makes up their character on the pitch?

It’s a player that is in control, not only of the ball, but also of the game. So it’s very much embodied by Pogba. What that player is definitely bringing to the game is that he is mastering the same direction as the boot and the ball, so that player will use his or her swerve when one is about finishing or shooting the ball.

If you take Beckham, Zidane and Pogba, they are definitely players that stand out on the pitch. So it’s a player that will take on this responsibility, try to win the game, and that’s what the product is all about. We want to provoke and we want this product to stand out. And that’s the same for all Predators, standing out on the pitch and being this game changing innovation.

freak 10-min.jpg
freak 11-min.jpg

It’s vivid and has some venom to the aesthetic – where did the creative process start on this one – what ‘FREAK’-like qualities did you want to capture in the finished product?

Throughout all generations of the Predator it has always been about surprising the audience and the world of football, so this is why we applied this colour to this shoe and not maybe the expected black, white, red, which everyone would have expected.

The starting point of the design is always to look at what we currently have and what we could improve on the current model, which in this case was the Predator Mutator. With the DemonSkin, which was way more geometric, way more placed in certain areas on the shoe, and it was about how we could transform it to this freakish control, to bring it again to a level where people will look at it and first of all think “what is this shoe all about?” They need to experience it to understand it more.

What trends influenced this design away from football? Does the sneaker world form an influence or other sports such as NFL at all?

When we talk about pro player football boot performance, that’s the main focus. So we’re first of all we’re wanting to make the best control boot that we are able to create for a certain point in time. And then it’s about standing out on the pitch, so they are the primary focuses when we’re creating a football boot.

If you look at our range, there are certain trends that might influence what the design language is on our football boots and they might also transcend into streetwear in some way. I think it’s a two way street – there is a lot of spotlight on the world of football.

freak 6-min.jpg
freak 7-min.jpg
Our ambition was to see how radical we could go in terms of visual, at the same taking the performance benefits to the next level"

255 spikes on the DemonSkin. Why that number? The sketchwork probably shows it going from probably thousands of spikes on the demon skin down to this magic number – what makes it optimum?

That came through multiple prototyping processes when we were looking at what was the maximum amounts that we need to get the benefits that we want to have. We also don’t want to over-build the shoe. So only things that will help the player’s control will actually get on to the shoe. That’s how we got to this final number.

The way that we constructed the DemonSkin is that we wanted to cover the areas where the ball might interact with the boot but no more and no less, so that’s why we ended up with that shape and that distribution. That might come from computer algorithms, and it’s a long process where data and feedback comes together.

What has the journey looked like for this boot? What moments would you say defined the process for you and just how radical is the ‘FREAK’ for the game?

I think the moment you realise you’ve done something right in the creation is when you show it for the first time to media, to the pro players who have had the previous version on, and you show it to them and you see a certain smile or or a certain reaction that shows you that you’ve landed in the sweet spot. That’s what, at the end of the process, is very satisfying.

But at the beginning of the design process, our ambition was to see how radical we could go in terms of visual, at the same time keeping the performance benefits, or taking them to the next level. So we started with a very radical mindset when designing the shoe, but we wanted to end up with the optimum product and the optimum performance.

freak 9-min.jpg
freak 8-min.jpg

Pick up the adidas Predator Freak at