After months of grasping at how awesome these kicks, let’s put it to the test in my in-depth Way of Wade 8 review – Dwayne Wade’s 8th signature shoe by the Chinese brand Li-Ning.
It’s an important review to make: I’ll be breaking down the shoe’s fit & comfort, indoor & outdoor on-court performance, build quality, and overall value for the price.
Are these really worth the $200+ price tag in the US? Li-Ning? Should we put our trust in those guys? Why is it the most secure modern hoop shoe to date?
Let’s break it all down.
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I. FIT & COMFORT
Let’s start with the sizing. The shoe sure looks like a rugged spaceship and it might look intimidating for some comfort-wise. If we’re talking sizing though – things are pretty standard. They’re on the average side width-wise but will feel snug for wide footers, especially at first.
Length-wise, the shoe fits most foot shapes a bit long, as far as reviews & user feedback go. So, everyone with traditional shaped feet or feet on the narrow side – you’ve got two options. True to size should be okay for some but you might end up with a little more room up at the front than you’d prefer.
With that can also come heel slippage and containment issues. Not everyone has the same foot shape and not everyone can be simply categorized into “narrow”, “regular”, and “wide” feet, as there is plenty of cases in between.
However, going down half a size for most foot shapes will likely be the best option as you’d take care of the length situation and the upper does allow for some stretch in case you’re feeling a little suffocated at first.
Your toes will likely be right at the edge of the toebox but I’d recommend that over possible containment issues any day of the week.
For wide footers like myself, true to size is a better approach. I’d rather take a little bit of wiggle room at the toebox than play with apparent discomfort and suffocation for my feet.
The shoe will feel snug and tight at first if you’ve got a wide & thick foot like mine but give ’em time to break in, play around with the laces, loosen up the bottom eyelets (which is where most of the tightness comes from) and you should be good to go!
I wouldn’t put these among the absolute best options for wide footers comfort-wise but it works. Can’t deny that.
As mentioned, the WoW 8 might give an iffy impression based on how crazy these look. But it’s all about giving these time – as long as you stick with the process of materials and other components breaking in & softening up, you’ll have a great time in the shoe.
The shoe is comfortable, feels super secure provided you get the size optimal for you, containment is undeniably tank-like, and the step transitions are smooth. There’s some internal padding but the real winner is the ultra-soft Achilles foam pillow which feels like my Achilles is in heaven once it’s hugged by that thick slab of foam.
The higher-than-average heel piece looks weird, gotta be honest. But it never got in my way, even though it’s backed by a strong material and doesn’t move much. I do feel the heel portion colliding with my Achilles during a torsional movement at times but nothing to cause issues/discomfort.
The shoe is on the heavier side on paper but once I got used to it and started focusing on the game, it’s really not that bad. People have to break out the numbers and fancy tech names rut and start trusting their own body & mind.
Does the shoe feel a bit heavier than an average lightweight knit model Nikey puts out? Sure. Is that difference big enough to cause concern on the court? Not at all, in my opinion. Guys who are used to playing in compact, minimal low-tops will feel a difference, of course, but I highly doubt that will cause any issues for you.
Overall, a very sturdy and secure feeling shoe that manages to pack all this stuff inside, yet it doesn’t feel like you’re running on a pair of clogs. Well, that’s new.
The Way of Wade 8 features translucent rubber outsoles but the times where we’d automatically assume translucent is bad are over. The traction on the WoW 8 is phenomenal. Probably top 10-level. However, there are a few key points you need to know.
Since the shoe is a couple of years old, I still managed to play in it indoors in a medium-condition gym. That was surely a while ago but I do remember having great bite with a few exceptions.
Firstly, any kind of moisture sure does shake up the traction of the shoe. I’m sure you’ve seen this reported already but as weird as it is, these just don’t like catching moist into the pattern. At all. Now, I didn’t personally have a lot of instances where I’d slip from my own sweat or moist lying on the floor.
I don’t think a lot of you would either but if you do – watch out, as slips CAN happen. Perhaps the “issue” is just a bit blown out of proportion.
Secondly, take a fairly dense traction pattern and slap some seriously sticky translucent rubber and you got yourself a dust magnet.
This was mainly felt indoors, as the floor is a flat, non-abrasive surface, so if debris gets into the pattern and I don’t wipe ’em down every so often, the overall bite response does “lag” a bit. It was never deal-breaking but I could feel a difference.
So wiping every few plays/minutes will be needed if you’re playing on a not perfect court or perhaps one that hasn’t been cleaned a while.
Be aware though, this rubber is extremely tacky, so a quick wipe we’re so used to doesn’t always fully take care of it. I can wipe off some visible dust on the outside but once you play a bit longer, the nasty stuff that gets into the grooves of the pattern is IN there. For good.
I’d recommend deep cleaning the outsoles for the shoe, preferably before you’ll be playing on an older/dirtier court that day. Really get into the pattern, scrape off the remaining dust and clean the rubber to make sure you’ll be good to go for longer before needing to stop and wipe.
Outdoors though, which is where most of my playtime recently happened, is a different story.
I’m mostly playing on either a synthetic rubber surface court or a classic blacktop. Both are abrasive, rough surfaces and here, neither moisture nor dust was a clear factor. The shoe just straight up gripped the floor, no matter the spot, no matter the angle.
Sure, I did wipe the outsoles down occasionally out of habit and you’d probably feel a bit of a difference in the bite if you’d completely refuse to wipe for a couple of hours but it’s not nearly as noticeable as on hardwood. A few wipes here and there were all I needed to keep that aggressive traction the WoW offers.
How about durability for outdoors? Fortunately, Chinese brands actually focus more on outdoor audiences as a lot of their casual player base mostly plays outside, so that’s exactly what we’re seeing on the Way of Wade 8 – strong, thick rubber that should last you multiple seasons.
Li-Ning’s full-length BOOM cushion is used throughout the shoe and it’s really damn good. It is Pebax-based foam modified by Li-Ning to suit basketball needs and it sure as hell works in my opinion.
You can compare it to Boost, or full-length Zoom, or MicroG. But for this time, we’re looking at a very well-crafted, well-thought-out shoe by Li-Ning, and the cushion offered here is its own thing.
You can pick up on things that do feel similar to adidas’s Boost or even Nikey’s Zoom but I believe this cushion is good enough to stand on its own without comparison. Well, the shoe retails for $225 so it better be good!
This ride that you get is bouncy, plush, it’s super comfortable to step and run in these, and there’s loads of impact protection even for the largest of players. However, it doesn’t end there – this BOOM midsole is heavily caged in foam and TPU laterally, as well as in the heel & forefoot portions.
It’s everywhere but despite the subduing of the foam’s level of compression – it’s STILL really damn awesome. This caging stabilizes the cushion, so despite riding high off the ground, I always felt stable and precise with my movements.
However, make sure to give these some playing time before judging the midsole – it does start out a bit stiff, mainly due to the fact that the huge carbon fiber shank plate needs to soften up to let the foam do its thing – compress and rebound the way it was intended to.
Heel-to-toe transitions are solid. Even though the shoe is very rigid torsionally, the front & rear portions are slightly curved and the forefoot portion does flex to a certain point. Don’t be afraid that these will feel like clown shoes – it’s far from that on the court.
Lovers of maximum court feel and staying glued to the ground won’t find these components here but for just about anyone else who loves a good cushion setup that doesn’t go all-out in one direction or another – this is a very good option. It didn’t slow me down, it kept me stable and offered me protection & comfort. It’s all there.
Make sure you remember it’s not all about adidas, Nike, or Jordan. Li-Ning is entering the conversation and it’s making waves.
This is the big one. The WoW 8 is a well-rounded shoe that offers what most players/situations need but people’s biggest concern AND interest were because of how much stuff it’s packing. All the support features, the materials, the fancy-looking lacing system – all of that make these look super clunky on the outside.
Good news – after a bit of adjusting and breaking in, the shoe turned out to be one of the most supportive/secure shoes I’ve EVER played in, all without the restrictions & sacrifices in comfort we’re used to seeing on builds like these.
The shoe packs beefy heel counters for heel & ankle lockdown and the heel portion does come up quite high. They’re taller than an average mid-top sneaker, so some people might find it a little unnatural. Not a big deal though – a couple of games in and I forgot about it.
The earlier mentioned midsole caging is everywhere, and it comes up cupping your foot and ensuring excellent containment. The upper isn’t very thick but strong enough to contain your foot at all times, which is awesome.
Then there’s the additional stitching laterally in case your foot does end up wanting to roll out of the footbed. Spoiler alert though – it never did.
For torsional support, the midsole is already rigid and caged which is a good start but you simply can’t miss the huge carbon fiber shank plates. Those took the longest to adjust to and soften up but in the end – it’s worth it if you’re looking for something extremely supportive when it comes to torsional movements.
This is also a decent option if you’re a flat footer.
And then there are the lateral outriggers that help catch the foot laterally, the platform of the shoe isn’t the widest but it’s almost entirely flat, further promoting stability. In case you want even more lockdown up at the front, you can pull on the elastic strap to really push the boundaries of how secure you can feel inside a hoop shoe.
The lacing system is traditional for the US version of the shoe, and it works well.
The overall setup is pretty insane but the best part is – it doesn’t feel that way on the court. A strong sense of security is there but it doesn’t get in your way which is simply brilliant given the looks and components that came into this build.
So go break a leg! Oh wait, you just can’t do that in the Way of Wade 8. And if you do – it’s probably not the shoe’s fault.
V. MATERIALS & BUILD
The upper mainly consists of Cordura’s fabric which was licensed by Li-Ning and likely one of the main reasons for the hefty price tag. If you take the name away, you’re left with a durable, supportive material that’s pretty thin, has a minimal amount of stretch in case your foot needs it and feels comfy for the foot.
Based on the description of this material, Cordura’s fabric is thin by nature but very durable. It can fray if you really push it for a while but it does it in an untraditional manner. Usually, once a spot starts fraying, it starts spreading following the path of stitching. Not the case for this particular textile.
I have to confirm the durability part is nothing but the truth. Though funny enough – I’m over 6 months in with this pair, and I’m not even seeing any fraying so I can’t really comment on the fraying part. All I know is that this build is well-made, well-stitched, and feels nice while providing the performance you need.
Stepping away from Cordura’s fabric, there are also Fuse pieces in key areas for additional strengthening of the upper and the tongue is made of mesh, backed with foam. The outsoles don’t seem like they have XDR rubber but Li-Ning claims this rubber is 30% more durable than what you see on most traditional rubber outsoles.
The shoe sports a half-bootie construction most of us are accustomed to by now, as the tongue goes into the forefoot as a single piece, so you get a secure feel inside the shoe, the tongue isn’t separated so it doesn’t move around but this might present an unusual feeling at first.
If you’re not used to such construction – it’ll feel a little weird knowing that you can’t really adjust the tongue in any way but once you forget about it and just play, the end result is a great form-fitting fit.
WORTH THE PRICE?
Truth is, I barely know a shoe that’s worth a $200+ price precisely based on what the consumer is getting in return. I don’t believe any of the fabrics or foam compounds used cost that much to redistribute the shoe for that much. But I’m not here to judge a brand’s decisions.
I’m here to evaluate the shoe’s value for the consumer, just like myself. If you’ve got the cash – you’ll get what you pay for. If you’re not looking to spend this much on a single pair – there are PLENTY of awesome performers that cost half as much. These are just facts.
Or, you could get ’em on sale and get a win-win but I’ve rarely seen these go on sale, to be honest. The bottom line is – it is up for you to decide if this is a good deal. For me, I think it’s a solid investment as these will last you a long a** time but I just don’t see many reasons why the shoe couldn’t have cost $150 or something.
The Li-Ning Way of Wade 8 is the first WoW shoe I’ve ever tried and I’m super happy I did. It’s got the daunting looks of a spaceship, it’s got all kinds of untraditional-looking pieces and it’s also got an untraditional price tag. All of those reasons are enough for a lot to be scared of.
For me – it was merely interesting to try them out and the end result caught me off guard. Whether you’ll be able to afford these or not – you can’t deny the shoe is a fantastic all-around performer that will last a long time.
They will fit most people a bit long, so going down 1/2 a size will be needed, except wide footers. Traction is deadly, though be prepared to wipe quite often if you’re playing indoors on a dirtier court. BOOM cushion is super fun and offers a bit of everything, and the shoe easily sits at the top 5 most secure hoop shoes for me.
The upper likely bumped up the price to an extent, as the officially licensed Cordura’s fabric is used. It’s strong and supportive but fairly thin and doesn’t take away any comfort from you.
A GOOD one from Li-Ning. I’m now waiting for the WoW 9 and even though it looks nothing like this model, these guys skyrocketed my expectations. One sneaker at a time!
? GET THE LI-NING WAY OF WADE 8
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ON A TOUGH BUDGET? I GOT YOU.
I’ve had an awesome time putting this review together for you – I hope you found it informative! I know this is not going to be for everyone, mainly for the price.
This is why I’ve put together multiple shoe lists targeting different budgets, so everyone will likely find what they’re looking for! Check ’em out below!
And as always, I’m super curious to hear your thoughts on the WoW 8. Do you like it? Will you be getting it? Perhaps you’ve got a question?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
Li-Ning Way of Wade 8$225
Fit & Comfort8.5/10
Value for the Price7.0/10
- Runs long: regular/narrow footers go 1/2 size down
- Wide footers: true to size is optimal
- Give these 1-2+ weeks to fully break in
- Superb all-around performance
- All positions
- Explosive/athletic players
- Players requiring maximum security