Say hello to Telstar 18
What on Earth is Telstar 18? Several heads were left being scratched on Thursday after Russia used some hardcore techno beats in a dark auditorium decked out to look like an underground dance club to present the official 2018 World Cup ball.
The orb in the spotlight followed the edgy motif of the presentation by being adorned with black-and-grey checkered rectangles that could have featured in one of Hollywood's latest sci-fi thrillers.
It resembles the work of a studious graphic design artist who just happened to be handed one of the world's highest-profile assignments.
So how does the ball actually feel?
Argentina's rather sheepish-looking superstar Lionel Messi was confronted with that question by a hyped-up MC who made his way through swarms of dancers and reporters in an artsy Moscow exhibition hall.
"I like the design, I like the colours, and I would like to try it out on the pitch," Messi said through a translator while a head-bobbing DJ paused in between spinning disks.
The entire event was part entertainment and part an advertisement for Adidas -- the ball's maker that hopes to reap rich rewards from the June 14-July 15 competition.
Messi will actually try to spin some of his magic on the Telstar 18 when Argentina take on Russia in a friendly at Moscow's completely refurbished Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday.
Adidas has said little about Telstar 18 except that it is a modern interpretation of the original Telstar design used in 1970 and 1974 -- golden years for Pele's Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany.
The name itself is a derivative form of the "star of television" -- the first black-and-white ball made to look sharp in an era when colour TV sets were rare.