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Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Performance Review

The Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 impresses after wear-testing. Find out more in our Way of Wade 8 Performance Review.

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Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Traction

I was concerned a bit with the Way of Wade 8’s traction due to the line’s track record. The annual WoW model isn’t necessarily known for its positive remarks on its ability to cover you on the hardwood. However, the WoW 8 did a solid job and handling the court.

I played with the Way of Wade 8 on numerous floors and each time I was pleasantly surprised by how good it held the floor. The only time I had any issues was not when dust was present — which was another pleasant surprise — but only when I’d hit one of the sweat droplets coming off of everyone at the gym. For some reason, a little bit of moisture was this rubber compound’s kryptonite. Luckily, I didn’t hit too many of those sweat droplets, but boy was I in for a slippery surprise when I did.

Outdoors, the WoW 8 was great. No issues at all — and we’re talking about outdoor winter hoops. When debris is all over the court due to winds and random rain storms out here in the Sacramento area. There was some noticeable wear and tear on the outsole after two hours of outdoor playing, but it was very minor. Honestly, it looked very similar to the slight fraying you’d see on a lot of soft rubber compounds after some indoor hoop sessions.

Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Cushion

The Way of Wade 8 uses what Li-Ning calls BOOM cushion. It’s a Pebax based foam that is similar in feel (in-hand) to Boost, but not as soft.

When you first wear the model they’re a bit stiff all-around, but once you start running around in them the BOOM cushioning starts to sine. It absorbs impact really well and is able to bounce back from impact in a way that almost mimics Nike’s Zoom Air technology.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I can’t believe that we now have foams that can mimic the feel of Air so well. It’s a testament to both Nike’s technology and how far foam cushioning has come.  Nike has been using it’s Air cushioning systems since 1978. They’ve tweaked the way it’s structured and implemented since then, but the same basic function of the cushion still applies all these years later. It’s shocking to think that brands are still trying to catch up to Nike’s Air system 42 years later, however, foam has come very far since the days of rubber cup soles and PU that we now have a few foams that may rival Air. These are things I find to be fascinating in the sneaker world and I hope some of you agree.

Outdoors is where the BOOM cushioning really showed what it can do. We all know how unforgiving the blacktop can be and the WoW 8 held it’s own really well. Yes, I was still sore and in a bit of pain the evening and day after playing, but this was also me coming off of my third day straight so I can’t attribute everything my body was feeling to the blacktop.

Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Materials

Cordura’s Nylon was officially licensed by Li-Ning and the Wade Brand and used as the main component to the Way of Wade 8’s build. There are still some TPU Fuse panels in certain areas for reinforcement and strength, but overall, the Cordura Nylon is what you get.

There wasn’t much stretch to the material, but it wasn’t really allowed to stretch. Your foot is cradled by the midsole tooling so well that it takes the brunt of you lateral force. For added security there are lines of reinforcement stitching from heel to toe to help prevent stretching upon lateral moves as well. This wound up making the build strong for basketball style moves, but also provided me with the feeling that the upper was already broken in from a linear standpoint. Flexibility of the build was fantastic without losing support. This is often what happens when fabrics are used for the upper on basketball shoes, but not this time.

Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Fit

For the fit of the Way of Wade 8 I’d recommend going down 1/2 size. The Wade’s have been fitting a bit long since the Way of Wade 6, so that 1/2 size down should help with overall lockdown and internal shifting of the foot.

Speaking of lockdown, the shoe is very secure all the way around. The lacing is fairly traditional [on this version] which is great as I prefer actual laces on my shoes. Not only do I feel it looks better, but I prefer being able to adjust and customize my fit with the laces. This is something that laceless designs haven’t quite yet perfected. Don’t get me wrong, there are some solid laceless basketball shoes out there, but nothing truly replaces laces as far as being able to adjust and customize the fit to your foot. I will say that the Wade Brand has tried with the dual Boa-style design on the laceless version, but that is a lot of extra weight and build just to shove a laceless design on the shoe. You’re adding more weight the model as well. Unnecessary weight on top of that.

Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 Support

The support on the Way of Wade 8 is Hall of Fame level. Normally, that isn’t a great thing as it typically coincides with a shoe that is so supportive that they’re extremely restrictive. However, the WoW 8 is extremely supportive without restriction. Sweet Christmas.

The BOOM cushioning is caged by EVA and TPU. A bit excessive? Yes, but it works. It works really well too. And with a few modern day shoes using EVA to cage the foot laterally literally bursting open at the seems… the TPU reinforcement may be a good thing. Then there is the overall fit. If you go true to size and wind up with a sloppy fit then it’s likely because the shoe fits too long. Again, I went down 1/2 size and wound up with a perfect 1-to-1 fit. The little outrigger is just enough to catch you on lateral cuts, stops and changes of direction only further proving that a small outrigger is better than no outrigger.

Then we get to the Carbon Fiber shank — which is implemented in more of a spring plate fashion like past Air Jordan models [the AJ 11 and AJ 12]. This was what I was most concerned about as I’m a small guy so all this restriction can often times be too much. Luckily, that wasn’t the case here and while I did experience a bit of foot fatigue in my first few runs, the more I wore the shoe and broke-in the Carbon Fiber plate the better things got. By the end of testing I was just lacing these up and playing without ever thinking twice about the giant plate running from heel to toe.

So, Hall of Fame level support… in a good way. If you hurt yourself in these [and most other shoes] the size you’re choosing to wear is likely the issue for the lack of support and containment. That whole thumbs width amount of wiggle room is enough to cause an issue with these shoes made of softer materials.

Overall, the Way of Wade 8 was not only a surprise, but it’s just a nice playing shoe in general. The model addresses what a lot of consumers have been ranting about and takes care of them — I.E. the lack of shank plates/torsion support. However, all this awesome-ness comes at a cost… $218 to be exact (now $225). Well, plus shipping. Yeah, nearly $300 later and at least I can say I got exactly what I paid for. No corners were cut and the shoe is damn-near perfect.

I think the larger price tag could have been a bit less had the Wade Brand not licensed Cordura’s Nylon fabric. I feel they could have come up with their own textile build, reinforced it with stitching, and had a shoe that plays the same. Although, Carbon Fiber like the one used here isn’t cheap either. So those two things combined likely caused the retail price to exceed the $200 mark. Again, at least I got what I paid for.

If you were interested in trying out the Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 and they sound as if they offer exactly what you’ve been looking for in a basketball shoe then I’d say go ahead and try them out. You may end up being pleasantly surprised.

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