Master League is the main thing I play every year, and has been since the year 2002. I don’t play any other PES mode—or even any other game of any kind—nearly as much. Even in the fated year of PES2008, I still managed to play ML for more than 100 hours. Last year, in PES2010, I notched up 250 hours or so. It’s time to get on with PES2011’s version of the mode, and see where it takes me.
Yesterday’s special post showed my newfound desire to Edit the game up to something like a realistic level. I finished editing my Coventry City kits and they turned out… okay, I suppose. They won’t win any awards, but they’re decent.
The home strip is a bit too Man City-like, but that can’t be avoided. (They copied us!) The away kit’s black stripes and shorts should be a very, very dark red, not black, but I couldn’t find the required shade of very, very dark red. I’ll probably stick to my usual routine of changing the kits every season anyway.
Before heading off to set up my Master League, I had to edit Division 2. I didn’t want to play with the made-up Konami teams. I replaced them with a raft of top teams from around Europe. It acts as a secondary difficulty setting. Last year in PES2010 this contributed to me taking 7 long seasons to win promotion from Division 2.
Onto team and squad selection. This year they’ve made the choice of whether to go for a team’s Original or Default squads impossible to overlook. I chose the Default squad as always. And again as always, it was great to see the familiar names filling my screen once again. The Myth of Castolo is now 35 and surely due for retirement soon. Will we see him in PES2012?
The new design for Master League’s menus and navigation, as seen in the picture at the top of this post, was a surprise. I thought they’d stick with last year’s interlocking circles design, or some slight variant. This is all-new. And it’s a sign of much else that is new.
Onto the formation screens, and the first order of business was to choose a starting formation and lineup. I would soon acquire a few new players, but before I did I picked a starting XI and formation using the Default squad alone.
I moved quickly onto Game 1 of the season before I paid any proper attention to transfers and training and staffing levels and whatnot. After all the Editing and all the setting-up, I just wanted to play.
Game 1 was against Rangers, wearing their disturbingly Atletico-like away kit. I won 1-0, scoring my first (and so far only) goal of Master League 2011. Here it is in slow-motion from a low-down angle. Castolo to Ordaz to Gutierrez and bang, goal.
Also on show in the background of that clip is my custom-designed, lower-division home stadium. Its name, until I think of a better one, is ‘The Football Stadium’. It’s all right for a few minutes’ work. I’ll lovingly upgrade it as the seasons pass, adding custom boards and all kinds of good stuff.
After the opening day win I drew the next match at home against Zenit St Petersburg, 0-0. Then, away to Dinamo Kiev, I lost 1-0.
Which left me postiioned like this in the table after 3 games:
Yes, they’re some top clubs I’ve included in this Division 2. Bayern Munich for one. I might be glad of their company in the long run. One key aspect of Master League seems to have been made a lot easier.
I’d already heard quite a bit about it. I mean, of course, the new, ‘easier’ transfer system. My club budget was £33,000,000. Staff wages were low and I could afford to splurge some cash on players before the transfer window closed.
The game itself got the ball rolling, suggesting I look at an AMF named Kharta. I did take a look. Kharta was rated 76 OVR with decent stats across the board. Normally I wouldn’t even think of looking at a player like that the midway point of season 1, and I would not usually get him.
I put in a bid for him, and it was accepted. I got him for £300,000. A 76-rated AMF, at this stage of my ML career? Hmmm.
But ‘worse’ was to come. (I’m saying ‘worse’ because it’s too early to know if all of this has any real long-term effect on my adventures in ML.)
I couldn’t find an ‘Openness to negotiation’ list, but I located something that seemed pretty similar: a ‘Target List’. Michael Owen was on that list.
I put in a cheeky bid to loan him for a season. Again this was something that I wouldn’t have even considered doing at this stage in past MLs.
It worked. I got him. I had to pay £1 million to loan him for the season, but I had him. I had Michael Owen in my Master League squad after two games. Er….?
In the Youth squad there were a few gems waiting to be picked up. I signed Palmieri, an 84-rated(!) 20-year-old; and Fatecha, a 74-rated 18-year-old goalkeeper who is an instant replacement for Ivarov.
And I had a look at Schwarz. Then I had another look at Schwarz. That’s Schwarz down below in the picture. That’s Schwarz!
Of all the changes, Schwarz has got to be one of the most striking, and the most controversial.
So that’s the state of play after 3 matches. Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1. And I’ve now got four outstanding players in my squad when I ‘should’ have NO good players at all, going by Master Leagues of the past.
Has Master League been dumbed down—or ‘streamlined’ in the current jargon of games developers? This is my worry.
I checked my team ranking, which should be around the 165 mark at this stage. I’m using an edited PES United. I should be at the very bottom.
Lo and behold—my ranking is currently 57. I’m the highest-ranked team in Division 2. What?
As I was putting this post together, I heard that the rank-boost, and excessive amount of starting cash, is caused simply by Editing my team. I.e., if I’d started as plain old PES United, I’d have no money and be ranked rock-bottom of the world, the way things should be—and then I could edit the team into Coventry City mode. Is this true? Am I going to have to restart?
Whatever’s gone on, I do not want to cut through this career like the proverbial hot knife through butter. If that happens—for whatever reason—I’ll be more unhappy about it than I was about PES2008. Considering that I still haven’t shut up about PES2008, the blog could take a turn for the worse…
But I’m only 3 matches in. It remains to be seen how the transfer system changes and/or the puzzling boost in team ranking will impact my experience in the long term.
Whatever happens in the future, right now it does feel great to play Master League again.