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Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Performance Review

Li-Ning Wade 808 2

The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 feels like a Kobe Bryant shoe with its drop-in midsole and lightweight materials.

Colorway: Energy

Release Date: 2022

Price: $119 $109

8.5/10
Total Score
Buy Li-Ning Wade 808 2

The Way of Wade brand is having a terrific year. With the Way of Wade 10, All City 10 V2, and now the 808 2, the brand has three high-level performers at varying price points. Both shoes have made our list of the best basketball shoes on the market. They also made our Best Basketball Shoes for Shooting Guards and Best Li-Ning Basketball Shoes lists.

The 808 2’s standout design feature is the use of drop-in midsoles, which means these are drawing Kobe comparisons left and right. Are they an affordable Kobe alternative? Let’s find out.

There are two versions of the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 – the Standard version retails for $119, and a slightly-upgraded Ultra version retails for $159. I’ll explain the differences below.

Traction

This is the Li-Ning Wade 808 2’s best feature, hands down. Both models use the same pattern, so performance is identical. The pattern is thick and multidirectional, and it doesn’t just squeak, it screeches. The outsole is rounded on the medial side, which is great for shifty players. One thing to note is that both shoes I played in have solid rubber outsoles, and I’d recommend getting colorways that feature solid rubber. Allen, one of our other testers, has a pair with translucent rubber, which isn’t giving him the same level of performance that the solid rubber outsoles provide.

This handled every court I played on with no issues, and because the rubber used here is pretty thick and durable, this would be a great option for outdoor use.

Cushion

This is one of the bigger differences between the Ultra and Standard versions. Each shoe features a drop-in midsole, which is interchangeable if you have both. If you don’t know by now, drop-in midsoles are exactly what they sound like: the shoe’s entire cushioning system, sometimes along with a shank plate or other support pieces, is completely separate from the rest of the shoe. You can’t substitute these midsoles for an insole, and you can’t put an insole on top of the drop-in midsole, either.

The standard drop-in is made of Li-Ning’s Cloud foam, which feels similar to the Lunarlon drop-ins from older Kobe models. It’s light, not the softest but it’s comfortable and smooth on-court. Impact protection is adequate for me, but it definitely prioritizes court feel and responsiveness.

If you’re looking for something a little softer, that’s where the BOOM drop-in on the Ultra version comes into play. It’s the same shape and thickness as the Cloud drop-in, but the foam is softer. Because the midsole is completely encased within the shoe, the foam doesn’t have much room to compress, so the softness of the Boom is subdued, but it’s still a noticeable difference from the Cloud foam.

Overall, the cushion setups are similar, with great court feel and stability, but if you want something a little softer, go with the Ultra. The Cloud midsole is Lunar-esque, so it still holds its own.

Materials

This is my least favorite part of the shoe, and there’s a noticeable difference between the Standard and Ultra versions. What both shoes feature is an upper that’s somewhere between Jordan Brand’s Lenoweave and straight-up fuse, which means they’re durable and super breathable, but they’re not the most comfortable on foot, and they’re not as flexible as a knit, engineered mesh, or leather. You also have some additional heat-welded material in high-wear areas. With that said, the materials aren’t bad – they’re just not my favorite. At the end of the day, though, they’re functional- they’re strong, hold their shape, they’re light, and all that good stuff.

Where the Ultra steps things up is in the back half of the shoe. Whereas the Standard version has a traditional tongue and lacing setup, with a not-too-comfortable synthetic piece attached to the tongue, the Ultra utilizes a knit collar that attaches directly to the tongue and forms an inner bootie. The knit material is much more comfortable than what the Standard version has to offer, and it also hugs your ankle a bit higher than the cut on the Standard version, so if you don’t like the feeling of a super-low-cut shoe, the Ultra is a good option that still offers the same mobility as the Standard.

The Ultra also features a carbon fiber heel counter that’s more sturdy than the TPU on the Standard, however, I didn’t feel it really made a difference on-court. It looks cool, though.

Fit

I got my true size in both pairs, and that’s what I’d recommend for most players. If you have wide feet, a half size up would be best, since these are pretty snug through the midfoot. You do have a little more space in the forefoot, but I never found my foot shifting within the shoe.

The area of the shoe that I’ve heard the most complaints about is the heel – the Standard version is a super low-cut shoe. When I first put them on, it just felt weird. I did experience a little heel slippage, but it was something that became less of an issue the more I played. I’d normally have to readjust the laces after playing for 10 minutes or so, and after that, I’d feel much more locked in. The padding within the collar is pretty thick, so it may take some adjusting, but I ended up feeling confident in the fit of the Standard version. The Ultra felt better in the heel, which I attribute to the collar. The padding feels like it sits ever-so-slightly higher on my ankle, though when you look at the shoes side-by-side, it’s hard to see a difference – if there is, it’s very small. The knit collar makes things feel a little more secure in the heel as well. Again, the difference could be more mental than anything – the Standard version feels like it should be too low, but once I got warmed up, and my feet begin to swell a bit, I felt locked into both the Standard and Ultra versions of the Li-Ning Wade 808 2.

Support

It’s on the minimal side, but there are a few things that make it work. First, you need to get the correct fit. If any part of your foot shifts within the shoe, you risk injury.

The shoes have standard support features like a wide base and a nice forefoot outrigger. There’s also a small TPU midfoot shank that isn’t very strong, however, you also have a full-length TPU cage on the lateral side of the shoe that aids in torsional support and helps to prevent the shoe bending in ways it shouldn’t. The Ultra version also has an additional TPU shank in the Boom drop-in midsole, which adds some midfoot stability. If you played in the Kobe 11, which didn’t have a shank plate at all, you can play in these. It’s no LeBron 20, but the support is good enough for most players.

Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Overall

The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 is a solid performer, and the Ultra version ups the ante a little bit. Are they Kobe-esque? Yeah, there are some similarities, specifically with the Kobe 8 and 11. So if you liked those, I think you’ll like these too. If you’re worried about the heel fit, or even just the sensation of having a super low-cut shoe, save yourself the stress and go for the Ultra version. If you want softer cushioning, the Ultra is probably the move for you too. If you want a quick guard shoe that feels like a cousin of a Kobe model, you’ll be satisfied picking up either version of the Li-Ning 808 2.

At $119, the Standard version presents one of the best bang-for-your-buck options this season, especially if you want something light, low, and sleek. The Ultra retails for $159, so it’ll be up to you to determine if the extra $40 is worth the minor upgrades. No matter which one you buy, I think you’ll enjoy your experience in the Wade 808 2.


Way of Wade 808 2 Ultra Initial Review

Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra

The Li-Ning Way of Wade 808 2 Ultra is the slightly upgraded version of one of the best basketball shoes of 2022 and one of the only sneakers with drop-in midsoles.

Colorway: 305

Release Date: 2022

Price: $159

The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra is slightly better than the Li-Ning Wade 808 2. The differences are not that drastic and few in number, but if they’re worth the extra $40 to you, then we’d say you’ll get an excellent basketball performance sneaker. Regarding getting your money’s worth and price-to-performance ration, these two models might be the best in the market today.

What’s in the video?

In the video, Chris provides detailed information from all the usual categories, providing the in-depth information you need. He supplies expert-level opinions on the materials, cushioning, traction, support, and fit. Here’s some of what he discusses:

  • Material differences
  • Stretch knit collar
  • Carbon fiber heel plate
  • BOOM cushion drop-in midsole
  • Incredible, thick traction
  • TPU midsole caging
  • Little tech spec cards
  • No carbon fiber shank plate
  • Sizing recommendations
  • Great stability

Let us know your opinion on the Wade 808 2 Ultra in the comment section below or on YouTube or Twitter.

How to Buy the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra

The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Ultra is available for $159 at Way of Wade.


Spanish Li-Ning Wade 808 2 Review


Way of Wade 808 2 Initial Review

The Nike Kobe 7, Nike Kobe 8, and Nike Kobe 9 all featured drop-in midsoles as did the Nike LeBron 11 released around the same time. The most recent basketball shoe to feature drop-in midsole technology is the Nike GT Cut 2. No brand outside of Nike did this for basketball shoes until the adidas Harden Vol 5. Now, the Li-Ning Wade 808 2 uses the drop-in just like the shoes mentioned above but uses an excellent foam called Cloud.

What’s in the video?

In the video, Chris provides detailed information from all the usual categories, providing the in-depth information you need. He supplies expert-level opinions on the materials, cushioning, traction, support, and fit. Here’s some of what he discusses:

  • Amazing traction
  • Drop-in midsole technology
  • Cup sole wrap
  • Li-Ning Cloud cushioning system
  • Replaceable midsole?
  • Air Jordan 34-like upper
  • Material durability and support features
  • Best for breathability
  • Well-sculpted heel area
  • Curry 4-esque toe box
  • Sizing recommendations
  • Molding to your feet

Let us know your opinion on the Wade 808 2 in the comment section below or on YouTube or Twitter.

How to Buy the Li-Ning Wade 808 2

The Li-Ning Wade 808 2 is available now for $109 at Li-Ning.

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