Just 7/10 at the moment

Regen Dani Alves has arrived at RB. Just landed in January, and I have a deal for Regen van Persie in the works. RVP will cost me £20m and I won’t see any benefit from him for probably 3-4 seasons – but I play Master Leagues for the long haul, typically getting into double figures for seasons, so these kind of signings make sense for me.

Table:League form has of course abruptly fallen into the toilet. PES2020’s ways of stopping the player scoring when it wants to are pretty much the same as all others. This year the AI is allowed to commit outrageously violent fouls that are simply ignored. Even PES2018 – even PES2018 – would have whistled the kinds of fouls on show here.

Passing the ball around is still very nice. Shooting is still very nice – even though it’s crystal-clear that you’re not allowed to score from 25+ yards enough to make shooting from that distance worthwhile.

Master League, intriguingly, so far seems to be one of the weakest editions of the mode ever made. Perhaps it’s just me belatedly waking up to things. Perhaps this really is the Master League that broke the camel’s back.

The only things truly new in Master League are the cutscenes – an entirely cosmetic addition.

The difficulty settings for Negotiations and Budget might as well not be in there at all. I am starting to see random occurrences of hardness in contract negotiations with my own players, but not enough to bother me (for now).

You really can get any player you want, finances willing, at any time you want. Your entire squad can be completely replaced after two transfer windows. Is this what God intended when He created Master League? I don’t think it is, you know. How Satan (myClub) must cackle with glee every time a Default is shipped out in the first window.

Come on, PC modders. What’s keeping you?

I met Arsenal in the FA Cup. This was my first encounter with a top team in PES2020 and it went rather well. I won 1-0. (In the middle of a League run where I could barely complete a pass.)

The winning goal was from Castledine, following one of those embarrassing short-range looping goal kicks that the AI does. (It must be near the top of the ‘Patch This Shit Out’ list, surely?)

I’ve included in this brief clip a final chance that Arsenal had where their player headed away from an open goal



Not planning to chuck Berrio

In the transfer window before Season 3 I made a point of favouring players with a Speed stat of 80 or more. BERRIO is a 30-year-old Free Agent with pretty average stats in most areas – except Speed, which is a preposterous 91 at this stage of his imaginary career.

Berrio’s the type of player who usually vanishes from my squad and my mind following the first or second transfer window after promotion… or is he? I fancy something different this year in terms of the transfer merry-go-round. I might favour Journeymen, Youths, and Regens. Even though the game will clearly let me sign anyone I want no matter what, it’s palpably a better game and a better experience with lesser players. So Berrio might be here to stayio.

In his first match Berrio scored a hat trick. There he is above with the matchball. And this was his hat trick goal:

That searching aerial through-ball was supplied by my other big new signing, one D CROWLEY from Birmingham City. Only 72 for Speed, he makes up for it with a very Castledine-like silky feel about him. He cost me almost all of my £20m transfer budget and demanded the highest wage I’ve yet paid out – £1.1m a year.

I had other negotiations to do with contract renewals in the squad. It would be good if Crowley’s inflated wage prompted resentment and a desire for parity among my other players. But they were happy enough with the pittances I offered. Eventually. Rice caused a hairy moment when he turned me down at first.I went back with a slightly better offer and he was fine. The same happened with a few other players too. Including Beto, my very promising Youth promotee keeper whom I have decided to pick in place of the more experienced Begovic. There’s not much between them, and Beto could do with the games.

That very slight bit of trouble the game threw my way in contract negotiations with my own players was the first real sign of actual difficulty on my Hard Negotiations setting. Which I have otherwise found to be the EASIEST EVER.

My First XI (when all are fit and in form) and the rest of my squad:Ramirez at left back is a Youth player with 84 Speed. Salomonsson at RB (still on the bench for now) is another Youth, a Regen in this case, and has similar stats. Their pace really shows. Never again will I be caught out of position and done for pace at the back the way I was in the Playoff Final. It still hurts.

I’m light at central defence, so a decent CB with good pace is top of the shopping list for January.

After spending all my budget in pre-season, I have already (by December) accumulated £8m in transfer funds and about £4m salary budget. I am also on Small budget settings.

So this is life with a Small Budget and Hard Negotiations. One can only wonder what life is like with a Large Budget and Easy Negotiations!

Heading for mid-season of Season 3, I have a firm intention to win promotion outright. No more Playoff tension for me. A season in D2 is too much work for it to rest on the outcome of three matches. Automatic promotion is the only target.

Here is the table – very exciting:My goal-scoring needs to pick up. You have to go down to below mid-table to find a team that’s scored fewer than mine. But I easily have the best defensive record in the division.

Top Player is still giving me good matches most of the time, although matches in which the AI is curiously passive and doesn’t manage a single shot on goal are becoming a bit too numerous. Superstar might come along soon. Although I will probably wait for the Premier League.

War of the Rosenthals

At about 2:45am Thursday night/Friday morning, I reached the Division 2 Playoffs in my Season 2 of Master League.

I then stayed up until well after 3am to play the most extraordinary single match of PES2020 so far, and one of the most memorable single matches of PES ever.

A 4m30s highlights package is below.

First, some context for the match. I coasted through the latter third of the season, racking up the wins, drawing a few, losing the odd one. The final table:Results picked up massively when I switched formations. Since around PES2012 I have played with a version of a 4-2-2-2. Back four, two DMF/CMF anchors, two wide AMF/SMF types, and two central CF/SS sorts. Nice and simple and effective, year in, year out.

Looking at my players in PES2020, and sensing that this is a different type of PES and I needed to try something new, I have gone back to a version of the 4-3-3 that I used to play with in PES2-PES2011.

In PS2 PES and the first few editions on PS3, I always played with a back 4, a lone DMF, two AMFs (sometimes wide, sometimes central) and 3 CFs. (They were always CFs until all the SS tomfoolery started. The series hasn’t been the same since, if you ask me.)

I’ve now played about 15 matches with the 4-3-3 you see here.

It’s a standard back four, with just the 1 DMF; a close-to-hand CMF who pitches in at both ends; a lone AMF (huge burden on him); and the front three consists of an LWF in this instance (Pjaca’s strongest role) with two CFs.

I really like it and believe I will stick with it all the way. It generates chances and goals, but it does seem to leave me open to counter-attacks, as will be seen…

Full-backs are incredibly important in a setup like this of course. They need stamina and speed. Neither of the ones on show here are entirely satisfactory for different reasons. Both too young and too unfinished. I know what I’ll be shopping for post-season… but which division will I playing in?

I saw off Sheffield United in the Playoff semi-final.

Nottingham Forest were up in the final.

I’d played Forest in my run-in and easily beaten them. I anticipated this final being one of those matches in a Master League where the journey proves more exciting than the destination. This match was a formality, right? Right?

Please release fee, let me Diego

Halfway through the second half of Season 2. I continue to bob around just outside the Playoff spots.I think the game will ‘let me’ get to the playoffs. It’s just being coy at the moment. I can have a consistent run of results, but the game always seems to contrive to chuck a curveball my way.

Every long-term player of PES who’s on a Master League winning run understands that sooner or later, you just won’t be allowed to win. As I’ve remarked before, if this wasn’t true, then it’d be quite common to have unbeaten seasons in Master League, or even seasons where the player wins every match – but the former is rare and the latter simply doesn’t happen.

I whizzed through the transfer window, simplifying my squad and picking up am eye-catching young Regen, the Brazilian AMF Diego.As a 16-year-old he already handles superbly. Here’s his page at the PES2020 database. Looks like he retired quite early in my Master League world. I’m looking forward to seeing him in a few seasons.

This lad is going to be a Master League megastar. Whilst finalising Diego’s contract I wanted to try something. It’s always a worry that other teams will poach your best players by triggering the release fee. I raised his release fee to the maximum possible. From £17m to £30m.

The very first press of the right-arrow button triggered the ‘you might have rubbed him the wrong way’ message. I’ve always been scared off by that message in Negotiations so far. But I wanted to test what would happen if I ignored it and raised the release fee to the Max. On my Hard Negotiations settings, it shouldn’t have been a happy outcome for me.

After a few days I received the notification that Diego was happy with everything, including the £30m release clause.

I’m now ready to call it. Hard Negotiations are broken. Or if they’re not broken, then the setting does not mean what a lifelong computer gamer reasonably expects it to mean. I expect Hard Negotiations to mean that Negotiations should be Hard. Not the easiest ever.

Here’s my full squad for the second half of Season 2. It’s trivially easy to get new players even with all the supposedly hardest settings.You can pretty much have an entire new team every transfer window if you want. No, this is not a great Master League so far. Remember when it was a major event to get just 1 slightly better player than you already had in the first few seasons of Master League? And then how you’d spend an entire session worrying over his form and fitness, and how he was settling in? Only your own custom House Rules can bring those days back now. Welcome to the future, people.

In my entire run of matches yesterday, this nice goal was the best. I spotted the striker’s run, and Diego delivered the ball:

Being able to watch that goal going in that from that angle enhanced my enjoyment of it. This might be my final camera angle. I think most people are still tinkering, and I’m no exception.

I also played for a while with -2 speed yesterday but finished the day on -1. A -1.5 speed would probably be ideal for me.

As a final fun instalment today I recorded 3 AI free kicks against me in my last session. All the chatter is about how it’s a near-certain goal for the AI. Which is not my experience.

This is how every single AI free kick in shooting range has gone in PES2020 so far:

Just press Circle well before the kick is kicked. If it’s not working, you’re not doing it right. If you’re pressing as the kicker is kicking, it’s too late. Once you learn when to press the circle button (too early is as bad as too late), you will never concede another free kick goal again. I think I conceded 1 (ONE) in all of PES2019. So far 0 (ZERO) in PES2020, and the AI usually has at least one attempt per match.