I’ve started Master League on PES2010 and I love it. I’ve done my time messing around with the other game modes, settling into the game. That’s it now. It’s time for the real show to get going. I’ll let any lingering concerns about PES2010’s gameplay resolve themselves, or not, whilst playing Master League—still the greatest game mode ever created, I’m happy to report. There’s so much to talk about. I’ll just cover the basics today.
There’s a certain period of adjustment required. It’s very different from Master Leagues that have gone before. Some of the fundamental building blocks of Master League have either changed or gone completely. It’s a big shock not to be in instant control of Negotiations, for one thing. But there’s method to the apparent madness, as I’ll discuss.
I always start out with the Default Master League players. It’s very easy to sail right past them. The game no longer makes a point of asking if you want to choose them. It’s up to you to notice a tiny prompt at the bottom of the team selection screen. Pressing Triangle (or Y on the 360) swaps between a normal squad of players and the Default no-hopers. I had to back all the way out to the main menu and start again after missing it the first time through. The option is just visible at the very bottom of this photo:
My team is called COVENTRY CITY, but it’s just an edited WE United. Every year I just use either them or PES United, rename them, change the kits, and I’m away. I’m not much of an Editor in PES. Never have been. To this day I have never used an Option File in any PES game. That is the truth. My annual Editing routine consists of changing all the English teams’ names, and no more. It’s the work of five or ten minutes.
The new Master League menu system is very swish. I disliked it at first, but ended up liking it after an hour or two. I spent a good while just clicking around and seeing where everything was.
Weirdly, I couldn’t find anywhere to change the team’s kits. I had to go all the way back to the main menu (after saving) and change the kits via the main Edit option. It’s a minor annoyance, but not a big one—and it does mean I can change my kits at any time, not just at the end of a season. I’ll soon be putting a dirty great peschronicles.co.uk sponsor’s logo on the shirts. It’ll be ironically self-regarding and solipsistic, honest.
I had a club budget of £3.6m after various calculations were made at the start. (Other, ‘proper’ teams start with higher budgets. Some get massive budgets. A Chelsea would get something like £160m.) Not having any real idea of how finances work in the all-new Master League, I was cautious about spending any of it on new signings. But would I even need to? Why not find talent within the club?
One of the most significant changes to Master League—arguably the biggest change—is the introduction of a Youth team. If you start with a regular crop of players, many of the Defaults will be found in the Youth team. Because I actually started with the Defaults, I’ve got a Youth team made up of… gulp… could it be…? It is, you know: Schwarz, Shimizu, Palmieri, Oscar…
Some great old Konami players in there. All Youths, of course, and all requiring a few seasons of work to get even near to being the players they’re going to be. It’s a great new feature of ML this year and one that I whole-heartedly endorse. The first season or two with the Defaults was always a slog for me. I only persisted with it because it was my tradition to do so. I’m off the hook now and it’s a huge relief. (Ah, but does it really change things? For me anyway? Not really, as we shall see.)
I signed up Schwarz, Oscar, and a decent CB called Kim Jong Yeol. None of them are very good yet. Schwarz in particular is weak and slow—on a par with Hamsun for now. Oscar is the pick of the three. He plays in every midfield position. Somehow, this is my first time with Oscar in Master League. Our paths have just never crossed. I’m looking forward to seeing how he turns out.
Each Youth cost a few hundred thousand pounds to sign up. Their salaries went immediately onto my wages bill, I was told. I was also told that all my bills had to be paid at the end of this negotiations period, overlapping with the start of the season. Hmmm. Alarm bells were ringing. I could have signed up a few more players from that tempting Youth team, but some instinct stopped me… It’d be embarrassing to get a Game Over before a ball was kicked. I decided to hold off for now.
There’s a new concept in Negotiations: Scouting. During the setup the game asks you if you want to handle Negotiations yourself or leave them to the scout. I selected ‘do them myself’, of course. But then when I tried to negotiate, nothing happened. Eh? After a few weeks the Scout returned, saying whether he’s completed the deal or not. If he has, I have the option to accept it as-is, or step in and conduct detailed negotiations personally. It’s confusing to get to this point after you’ve specifically said you want to handle negotiations yourself. The game could make things clearer, I feel. I believe upgrading your scout by a few levels gradually shortens the time he spends negotiating, with the end-result that—at the highest level—negotiations happen instantly, just as before. So I think, anyway. I don’t know. I’m just surmising. I’m a long way from being able to upgrade my scout.
The First Matches
After all that, the most important thing, the reason for being here—the football itself—had better be good. And I think it is good. Opinions still differ hugely about PES2010’s gameplay. My own opinions can swing from one extreme to the other in the space of a short time, as seen in some of my recent posts. But somehow, for me, and I suspect for many, playing PES2010 with average-to-good players makes for a brilliant game. I’ve had my best games on PES2010 in the first few matches of my Master League career.
I lost two and drew two of my opening four league matches. Scored a few goals. Won the first round of the Cup. One not-so-good thing: if you choose ‘single fixtures only’ as the cup option, the game has you playing that single match at a neutral venue—at Wembley Stadium in my case, in the English League. Groan. That’s just not how one-off Cup matches work. Somebody at Konami got very confused when they implemented this. If I had my time again I’d choose to have two-legged cup matches, as is traditional in ML, but it’s not worth a restart. I’ll live with it.
So at the end of my first bunch of games I find myself in familiar territory in Division 2:
It’s meant to be Division 2 of the English League, but I find myself in among entirely made-up teams. Look at those names! No Rapid Viennas any more. It’s all Twizlethop FC, or whatever. I actually like it. Of all the whimsical strokes ever pulled by the Master League designers (they’re like the Ringworld Engineers in my eyes), this is one of the most curious. Why not go with the Spartak Moscows and the Veronas in Division 2? But I’m happy in this bizarro PESverse, and always have been.
After a few weeks, I had to pay all my wages and staff bills out of that £3.6m budget… Phew. It was fortunate that I’d restrained myself on the transfer market. After everything had been paid I had just £90,000 left. To put that in perspective, it’s like avoiding a Game Over in the old days by about 500 points. So I lucked out there. I had no idea what I was doing. Only my old ML thrift instinct saved me from a Game Over straightaway.
Coloured nets are another piece of ML whimsy—every team has nets that are the predominant colour of their home kits. Just another oddball feature in the wonderful world of Master League. God help us if Konami ever gets enough official licenses to turn this world ‘legit’. I’d probably boycott it on principle. “Give us back our quirky alternate-world footballing universe,” would be my rather unwieldy battle-cry.
Speaking of nets, I scored my best goal so far into a black net. Yes, a BLACK net. They look, how you say, cool. I scored with Gutierrez, and it was rather a good goal I think. I love it because I deliberately aimed for that top corner, and I love the effect this had on the resulting shot. It seems to be half a clip-style shot and half a full-on drive. See the glorious flight of the ball:
I watched the replay of that one over and over for a minute or two, cackling. Cackling and salivating. I know people who think I spend all this time in my room watching ‘European cinema’ on the Internet. I’m happy for them to think that. Because if they knew the actual truth…
At nearly 1800 words this has been my longest-ever post on the blog in over two years. It could have been twice as long—three times as long—and I’d still have stuff to say. I haven’t even started on my formation, First XI, and the tactical side of things yet. (It’s deep.) I will do my best to keep Friday’s post down to 500 words. 1000 at most.
So, let me recap. I’ve started Master League, I’m ecstatic about it, I’m playing with the Defaults, I’m at or very near the bottom of Division 2, and I’ve got no money to spend.
It’s great to be back home.
I’ll get the ‘daily scores’ thing out of the way, even though I now regard it as superfluous. Master League makes PES2010 a 10/10 game in my eyes. This daily scoring lark is just a bit of fun, I suppose.
Monday: 8.5/10 – an indifferent morning session, but the day was crowned with a sensational night session in Master League. That goal from Gutierrez had me on my feet.
Tuesday: 9.5/10 – I haven’t actually dealt with Tuesday’s action on the blog yet. The above post is all about Monday, really. About Tuesday let me just say: hubba-hubba.
Running daily average (6 days): 8.25/10