The magic ball

Season 8 of my Master League career in PES2010 has come to an end. My Coventry City team finished in 9th place in the table. I avoided relegation, which was the main thing. But after being in the top 6 in mid-season I confess to a tiny twinge of disappointment at not clinching a European place. On the bright side, I won’t have fixture pile-up at the start of next season.

Switching up the difficulty from Professional to Top Player had a lot to do with me finishing in mid-table. The game really is very well-balanced on Professional; on Top Player, it’s balanced in the AI’s favour, as is only to be expected. How else is extra difficulty going to manifest itself?


I did notice one very negative thing after the change up to Top Player. It was an extraordinary increase in the amount of dodgy collision-detection that the game permits itself at times. PES has always had appalling collision detection; PES2010 may well be the worst PES ever in that respect.

There are four particularly ripe examples at the beginning of today’s mini-movie (below). As an example of what I mean, see the picture on the right: in the very next instant, that ball warps squarely through my player’s chest and into the possession of the jostling AI player behind him. It left me absolutely fuming. The other instances of atrocious collision detection also left me fuming, or faintly disgruntled (even the ones that went ‘for’ me), but that one is the granddaddy. A magic ball, passing straight through his chest and out the other side! Think I’m exaggerating? Look:

Link: ML2010 - season 8, Division 1

My goals in that movie brought relief and pleasure, and did much to alleviate the sourness of the collision detection issues, but it still rankles with me. Why do we put up with that kind of thing? (Those of us who are still playing PES, I mean.) Is there any coherent explanation as to why we put up with it? Some of us don’t put up with it, of course; some of us have abandoned PES for various reasons. With a more compelling career mode in next-gen FIFA, I’d have long jumped ship too. Seabass & co. can’t keep dodging that particular bullet year after year. Sooner or later EA will really nail FIFA’s career mode, and that’ll be the definitive end of PES for a lot of people.

Ooooh, was that my first nextgen-PES-bashing tirade of 2010? I think it was, you know.

I didn’t see much transfer activity in the mid-season window. I got an offer I couldn’t refuse for Al Ghani, one of my early-career Youth Team recruits who is now a grizzled veteran of 24. He’s in the ‘good but not great’ category, and so an offer of £4m felt too good to turn down. I could have sold a few other players for a total of £8m or so, but I learned in Division 2 that I need to hold onto my better players, and sell very sparingly, if at all. I’m holding steady in upper-mid-table and occasionally grazing the top 6 with what amounts to my Division 2 squad. Something is going right, and I’d be an idiot to jeopardise it.

I’ve covered this first season in Division 1 very quickly on the blog, because I played through it very quickly. It took me just four long sessions over the space of two days. There were many highlights, not least my good performances against the top teams. I avenged Arsenal’s early-season thrashing of me with a fine 2-1 victory in the return match (the late, late winner from my created player, ‘not-Greg’, is in the mini-movie above).

The usual suspects, Liverpool and Manchester United and Chelsea, are very good too. But, as ever in Master League, it’s the teams you don’t expect to be great who cause you the real problems. FC Porto are monsters in this Division. Seriously, they play at 1000mph and I’m lucky to keep the ball for longer than a few seconds. They beat me 3-0 in one of our fixtures, and in the other I managed to maul my way to a draw like an exhausted boxer hanging onto his opponent for the bell. Are Porto a bogey team in the making? Possibly.

Season 8’s final table:


That’s not bad at all for my first season in Division 1, after everything that’d gone before. 9th place is much better than I expected. I was only 2 points off Europe in the end.

The very end of the season brought a nice surprise. I was starting to wonder which player(s) I’d have to sell to cover my debts—a depressingly familiar scenario from the lower division. But there was no need. The prize money for a 9th place finish was £3.5m! That cancelled my remaining player and staff debts at a stroke, and left me with pocket money. Now I can afford to hold onto all my players.

Roll on season 9, in space year 2017-2018. Another few seasons and this will officially be my longest ML career since PES2008(PSP/PS2). That career’s stalled in 2023 or thereabouts. I still play a few matches on the PSP, very occasionally. I believe this PES2010(PS3) career will eventually overtake it.


  1. Wow… February is approaching, and it looks like FIFA10 -the admittedly much better game on the pitch- has strangely lost the race…

    I don’t get it, is Manager Mode THAT bad? How about playing in normal Premier League mode, or BAP mode?

    I mean that video showed serious game-altering bad physics.

  2. not-Greg,

    Regarding the poor physics and collision-detection, I scored a (rare) one-on-one when the ball went straight through the body of the diving keeper – it actually disappeared (I would post the video, but I’d have to sift through too many replays).

    As to why we keep playing regardless, well I play because the PC Fifa is appalling and also because I am used to the way the game works – I mean, just take all the times the ball goes over the sideline, but only for the AI to continue bombing down the flank, with the ball clearly over. I know I shouldn’t be happy with performance like that, but, I think, the joy that I get from scoring a great goal more than overpowers any negative feeling.
    Also, you mentioned that you are scoring more close-range goals now – has it helped? Or did you have to change the way you play quite radically? I take (from your replays) that you seem to be scoring goals with players from all over the park – is this the case? I only ever managed to score regularly with a couple of players in any given side (of course, other players would score, but not often, and not from long-range).

    That Nemeth goal was every nice. By the way, is your away kit all white, or just very light blue?

    Also, I do like the DOF on the replays. On the low settings, there’s none, and there’s not even any splashing of the ball when it’s wet. Sigh.

    Re: the classic players – that is odd, considering you’ve been playing for so long. By now, even Bergkamp should have been reborn as an 18yr old…

  3. TareX—I pose the question in the post: why do I/we keep on playing, when appalling moments like the ones at the start of the clip just keep happening?

    They’re not that rare either. Okay, so the really bad ones are mercifully rare, but there are minor instances of shocking collision detection in just about every match.

    I think Darshan’s comment after yours gets close to the answer. Those of us still playing PES2010 are simply used to PES (or Master League) and happy enough with it to toddle along. Personally I just love the overall rhythms of PES—the patterns of gameplay, the things that are possible. The shooting still gives me a buzz. I love many passages of play when I’m just knocking it around. That stuff never makes it to the blog in video form.

    I don’t accept that PES necessarily must exist and be judged within a PES vs FIFA framework. I don’t really believe in the famous battle—or better to say, I don’t believe it’s a very important aspect of these two football games’ existences. Before the games were released I said that if both games were good I would still only play one of them at a time before playing the other one—and that if PES2010 was any good I’d naturally favour Master League as my first-in-line game, and that’s what’s happened.

    FIFA10’s Manager Mdoe isn’t really so bad, it’s just that Master League has proven so good, and so compelling. I think I’m an atypical PES player in many ways. There are plenty of diehard PES fans out there who have successfully transcended their PES larval stages and ascended to full-time FIFA.

    Come the springtime, I may be joining them. It will indeed be February soon (and wasn’t it just Christmas, like, this morning?!), but this football game year isn’t even half over yet.

  4. Darshan—I would tend to agree about PES providing us with what we’re most used to, in the first place. Secondly, I think the overall ‘handling’ of the game still trumps FIFA (even the good, next-gen, console FIFA) in many areas.

    Of course, it could be counter-argued that by suspending daily play in FIFA10 when I did I prevented myself discovering all the joys that I’ll probably go on to discover (and gush about) whenever I get back to FIFA10… But as I say in my reply above to TareX, pre-release I always said that I would never try to play FIFA10 and PES2010 at the same time. I’ve stuck to that. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regard to the overall quality (good or bad) of either game. I’ll know more by September, of course.

    Re. my scoring patterns, without giving too much away for next week’s posts, there’s good news and bad news 😉 In the season after the one that ended in today’s post, I’ve been working the ball a lot more. There are some interesting results. I’m toying with the idea of recording every goal I score for the season—every goal, no matter how dull—and splicing them all together in one long monster video. With 95% of the goals being utterly pedestrian, it’d have some niche appeal…

    I find I get a nice spread of goals around my team. (You saw the defender’s goal in today’s clip—I enjoyed that one.) Again this may be due to going for lots of long shots. A lot of different players will find themselves in a long-shooting position over the course of a season.

    My away kit is indeed all-white. It doesn’t show up very well at all on the clips. I’ve changed strips again at the start of the next season, so it won’t be a problem from now on.

    Re. Bergkamp & co., I’ve got an awful feeling I need to win an International tournament with Holland to unlock him among the classic players. I actually started doing that a long time ago, saved it at the QF stage, and haven’t got back to it since. I’ll need to finish that off. But would Bergkamp (and the rest of the classic Dutch squad) then appear in my ML transfer market?

  5. not-Greg,

    Re: scoring patterns, I once saved every goal I scored for a season (maybe two) – that’s why I have over 500 replays saved now. I actually started going through them and rated them, and I’d done about 200 of them but for some reason it felt wrong to delete them. Your video would be fun, I’m sure. Also, sorry to go on about it, but any news on that whole-match video?

    As far as I know, he wouldn’t – but, when I started my first ML straight after unlocking him he was 31. When I started my second ML, he was 18. I don’t know if the ages of classic players are random. It’s probable worth a try, though it may be worth saving until you’ve got a higher Team Ranking (that seemed to be a big factor in transfer success rates), and then unlocking them. EDIT: I’ve just been trying it out (I won the Asia cup and loaded up an old ML). I don’t think “new” unlocked players appear, sadly. I may be wrong.

  6. Hi, good to see you finally made it. You don’t seem to score with many headers though, or have they just not made your movie selections? A good tip for grinding out results on top player is to toggle through the three types of free kick, if you’re ever lucky enough to get one just outside the box, this can confuse the AI on ps3 which on occasions leaves one of your players unmarked in the box for a 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper. Scoring first can make a big difference on top player.

  7. The reason I still toil on despite its flaws are those moments when, for example, I dribble a bit near the halfway line with Pique, lay it off to Xavi and take off, Xavi plays a simple ball to Ibrahimovic, who then slices a beautiful through ball back to Pique, who slots past the keeper. These are the moments that PES delivers, and the reason collision detection is not such a big deal after all. Or, if you wish, those times when you’re on a counter attack, play it wide, then cross into the box only for the ball to be headed home by your central midfielder! My CMF!?!? That was a nice surprise…I didn’t even know he was running with us!

  8. Darshan—for various reasons season 9 is proving to be a long old season, so I might record every goal from its second half.

    As for the full match, there are two reasons stopping me, both fairly trivial. First, I have to get batteries for my camera (the full match would have to be recorded on a tripod-mounted digital camera). Second, it’d be a massive file that’d take ages to upload. Neither reason is anything serious, really. So I’ll do the full match recording thing next week or the week after, in a season 9 match!

  9. madrab—thank you, and it was about time I got promoted wasn’t it?!

    I get some headers, probably not as many as I could or should due to my style of play, which favours long-range shooting as you’ve seen. (There was a header in the mini-compilation in the previous post.)

    I know what you mean about scoring first on Top Player. Sometimes when I concede first all the fight just goes out of me, because I think ‘that’s it, I’ve lost’. Of course, I need to work on the attitude there.

  10. Ken—yes I endorse that message, the magic moments do still vastly outweigh the non-magic moments. As I said in a previous comment, there are passages of play where I’m simply knocking the ball around, building an attack or just killing a game off, that never make it into one of the embedded clips on the blog. I will be filming a full match one day soon and posting it. I’ll probably film a few and post the ‘best’ one that shows me playing and enjoying PES2010, as I do 95% of the time.

  11. Not-Greg -Good to see PES is still playing well for you, like myself, you seem to be taking a ‘warts and all’ attitude towards it 😉 Or maybe not…

  12. patrick222—‘warts and all’ would actually be a fair summary. I’ll always rant and rave at times in the blog, because it’s a continuous record of all my playing of the game. The atrocious collision detection incidents in today’s clip are bad, and there’s more examples next week, arguably worse ones. And yet I’m still playing. I do love it.

  13. Well, only two points off a European spot? I have to believe that with a couple of pieces of good business this summer, you’ll be UEFA Cup bound at the minimum — throw your energies into that and win some silverware! Looking forward to that update. You certainly deserve it after so many years in the hinterland.

    Come on you City!

    Sooner or later EA will really nail FIFA’s career mode, and that’ll be the definitive end of PES for a lot of people.

    That would be me. I need FIFA to give me a bit of player individuality and a better range of goals. Right now, the range of goals is poor enough that I start playing for the goals I know will go in, and it really compresses the game and does a disservice to the gorgeous build-up that is possible with FIFA. Without a wide range (i.e. realistic range) of goals, tactics become meaningless.

    But it’s a short step from where FIFA is and where it needs to be, and you have to belive that sometime before the world ends, EA will pull their heads from out of their fourth point of contact and open the scoring up a bit. It’s not that the game won’t give you goals, it’s that certain kinds of efforts are useless — efforts that produce goals every week at all levels of football!

  14. ck—if the past two versions of PES are any guide, if everybody else’s experience on PES2010 is any guide, at some point soon I have to pass the next tipping point and start finding ML ridiculously easy—right?

    Or has that really got to happen? Could this be shaping up for my first genuine year-long Master League since 2005? PES2010, giant warts and all, is doing the business for the moment. We’ll see.

    Re. next-gen FIFA and FIFA10, I’m conspicuously not playing it—whilst merrily recommending it to everyone who passes by… I do stand by that recommendation, as it plays a marvellous game of football when it fires on all cylinders. But I know that it’s lacking. I had a good few sessions on 10 the other day during a day off from PES2010, and the game annoyed me with what it doesn’t do, rather than impressed me with what it does do.

    This all ties into my old thesis that PES fans tend to be a lot more forgiving of PES’s faults than FIFA’s. I’d forgive next-gen FIFA all of its ills if it had a career mode at least as good as Master League. I’m forgiving of PES2010’s outrageous faults (there’s plenty more clips to come later his week, I’m afraid). I’d love to be the same for FIFA10, and work within its limitations in the context of a decent career mode. No, Manager Mode is not that bad, but ‘not that bad’ isn’t good enough to drag me away from PES2010 at the moment.

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