While we might not all have the 2020 vision Kevin De Bruyne possesses when spotting a striker’s run, we can now have the 2020 Vision that he wears to work his magic. We’ve laced up in the second generation Nike Phantom VSN II football boots to see if the performance is as good as that crowd-pleasing launch colourway.

Yeah, you were on board the moment you laid eyes on them thanks to that first-generation CTR360 colourway, but we’re here to see what they’re all about on the pitch and on the ball as Nike drop the first update on a series that replaced the much-loved Magista.

No more Magista talk, please. We’ve moved on. In fairness, everything the VSN represents makes sense. A boot aimed at the playmakers of the team with a strong focus on lightweight touch, ball control and agility in tight spaces. It’s a genuine attacking midfielder's boot and is defined as such by the array of talent, led by KDB, wearing them.


If you’re pushed for time we’re gonna level with you early as we won’t overcomplicate things here; there isn’t much noticeable difference from the first-gen. If you liked that edition, you’ll like this one. Possibly a little bit more.

If you’re still here we’ll go into a bit more depth after we’ve bigger up that CTR colourway one more time. Nike know what they’re doing don’t they? How do we get players to instantly think positively about a new boot? Dress it as one of the most popular control silos of all time. Done. Not only is that colour combination reliably smart, but it pushes all the right nostalgic buttons.


Out of the Box

When the first generation PhantomVSN was launched we remember being sceptical about its “American Football Cleats” aesthetic on first impression. As with all new technologies that quickly became the norm and there are no doubts about that when you take the second generation boot out of the box. It’s a stunning piece of work with immense detail across the upper. It looks and feels like it’s built for control.

Interestingly, Nike have lowered the height of the collar a little bit on the Phantom VSN II. We say “interestingly” because adidas have done the opposite on the Predator 20+, a move influenced by player feedback.

In short, Nike have taken everything that worked from the original VSN, including the Ghost Lace system and Quadfit technology, and wrapped it in a new, sleeker silhouette, tweaking the fit while they were at it.


On Feet

As part of these tweaks Nike have brought the height of the collar down a touch, shifting the Swoosh and signature control triangle forward to emphasise the move to a faster, attacking mindset.

When you put the PhantomVSN II on (which is surprisingly easy to do for a collared boot by the way – the new full tabs help) the most noticeable difference is the new heel counter which feels far more cupped and compact than the previous generation – the heel slots nicely into place. The overall fit is definitely true to size and once again uses that impressive QuadFit technology. What’s QuadFit? QuadFit is the inner sock-like part of the boot under the lace cover which the laces are attached to: you’re pulling the laces to tighten the Quadfit sock around your foot, the rest of the upper remains in its original shape. In short, you don't see the tightness happening, but you certainly feel it and it is ultra-snug.

The Quadfit sock is very soft & flexible and will smooth out any knobbly areas on top of the foot so that striking the ball is clean.

We mentioned that the Phantom VSN II has basically been improved slightly and we’d put these improvements down to three things: it’s a bit lighter, more streamline and slightly tighter.


Balls Out

The texturised control elements have been reengineered and spread across key zones on the upper, on both the lateral and medial sides, with the idea to add a bit of control when shooting, passing and dribbling – supplying the control when needed but not too much that the ball gets stuck to your foot when dribbling. The improved feel on the ball has been achieved by reducing layers internally, removing a layer of mesh to amplify sensitivity. This in turn has led to that decrease in weight, which is a nice little bonus, and one that just adds to the overall comfort of the boot.

If we had one criticism of the first-generation Phantom VSN it was that it felt a bit chunky, like there was a bit too much material between your foot and the ball. The Phantom VSN II has addressed that and that’s basically the theme of the new boot – slight technical upgrades.

So these texturised control elements, are they like the Predator? Nah, they're not. It isn’t a technologically that’s built to enhance spin or power if you’re on set pieces, instead it targets adding a little bit more grip when dribbling at speed. Is it noticeable when you’re on the ball? Debatable. But if you touch them with your hands you can feel how they'd work so it can only be a positive. Plus, you wouldn't want to feel excess grip on the ball, that would mean that they’re hindering the speed at which you could dribble. They’re doing their job, trust them.


What about the soleplate?

It’s the same as the first gen. Far more aggressive than the conical studs of the Magista. The studs cut through the turf for sharp turns as proof that Nike are focusing the PhantomVSN on more attack-minded midfielders. With that aggressive soleplate in mind, we wouldn't recommend wearing the PhantomVSN on artificial pitches. The studs are designed to cut through turf rather than sink into an AG surface.

The Verdict

Again, if you liked the first gen, you’ll notice the slight improvements on the second gen. If you haven’t worn the silo before then the Quadfit tech and Ghost Laces are a big yes from us. It’s a bit of an all rounder in the best possible way. More rounded than the striker focused VNM, and edgier than the Tiempo (that can hold while we bomb forward in the VSN.) That’s probably Nike’s strength right now, all four of their leading silos are very different. Lightweight, harnessed fit and a bit of added texture to aid touch.


Shop the full Nike PhantomVSN II football boots collection at prodirectsoccer.com