Master League 2011

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 kindnearly 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.

Link: Master League 2011 goal 1

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.


  1. Paul—ah, it’s only natural that football fans enjoy the misfortunes of other clubs. I’m sure nothing malicious was meant by it. No talking about football in the War Room!*

    If/when I get to the point of playing ML as a real-life team, my choice will be Anderlecht to begin with, probably playing in the French league. Anderlecht were a famous old European name when I was watching football as a kid. Just the name evokes memories of the crackly phone line that radio commentators (and even some TV ones) used to commentate through in the late 70s/early 80s.

    [* a joke that only works if you’ve seen Dr Strangelove. “No fighting in the War Room!” is a key gag at a certain point. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a good film.]

  2. #1—games devs are always looking for ways to streamline their product. I’d bet Konami’s focus testing showed them that relatively few players paused at that post-match screen to actually look at it. Most just click straight through, I think. If we want to look at the stats and growth, we visit the special screen… Talking of which… I know I saw it yesterday morning, but I forget where. And it was different from the one we’re used to. I’ll track it down now.

    The beloved old development graph is at the end of the individual player records in My Team>Squad List. You can’t see the future development though—quite right IMO. How many young real life players are known in advance to have high future dev curves? Very, very few. Maybe just highly skilled players like Ryan Giggs and Maradona, and even then it’s just a strong possibility, discounting injury, personal traumas, etc.

    As for the points growth… I can’t see an equivalent, actually. The one I thought it was turns out to be the Manual Training progress bar. Which I’m currently not using (got it on Auto for now). There’s got to be traditional player growth info somewhere, surely…?

    I’ve got my own custom stadium too, not noticed any bonus yet, but with the ranking bug and one thing and another, I’ve yet to really get into a season. Off to fix that now…

  3. Hi Not-Greg so the season begins but some worrying news hey 4 new good players so early in your season lets hope its just a slice of luck and you will struggle and get frustrated soon and still enjoy it

  4. Ryan—I’ve started over, as detailed in today’s (Friday’s) post. I’m back struggling and frustrated and I do love it. I think it’ll be another long season ahead…

  5. Great game as always, but is anyone else finding it hard to buy players? most times I get a message saying its been rejected as he is a regular 1st team player at the club hes at

  6. David—I’m not very far advanced in this year’s negotiating stakes, but based on last year I think it depends on a lot of factors. If your team ranking is too low the message is usually that the player doesn’t want to drop down, so I suspect you’re pretty close to getting the players. Try offering a bit more money for the fee and wages. If you’re being stopped at the Scouting stage, I think your only recourse is to go for lesser players.

  7. Hi Not-Greg,

    First of all let me say I love PES chronicles, it’s a great read. I enjoy reading about your adventures- I wish I could get such a challenge from PES master league. I wouldn’t say i’m a great player( I almost always draw my games online) but your career always seem to be really challenging and has got me thinking what to do to make it as hard as possible. You see, I enjoy playing with the defaults- I think a lot of people do- must be the appeal of the game, but literally the first game on top player of my master league career was at home to Real Madrid which I won 3-0, the computer had tons of chances but was terrible in the final third. I remember reading about your how editing may be affecting the game- can you explain that more? Do you have any other tips for a challenging game??

    PS. I’m curious do you ever play online?


  8. Ger—thanks for your comment, and no, I never play online……..

    I suppose some players really do pick up the controller and quickly find themselves streaking away from the CPU. If you’re one of those players then your best bet is to start again, I think, as it sounds like you’ve run into the Edit Bug. See this post (and all the comments) for a full run-down.

    The best thing to do is to start ML with the Defaults as the lowest-ranked team in Division 2. That’s the hardest basic start you can get—optional extras are to edit your Division 2 to include better teams. Or you could try the Default Challenge, where you never sign any new players, relying totally on the Defaults and the Youth team, and never any other players, ever.

    Other than that, I don’t know what to suggest. I think I’m fortunate to always get a consistent level of challenge from the single-player game. I think this is because I’m genuinely a below-average player, or even an actual poor player—it’s not just a joke that I trot out every so often. If you’re one of the good players, you might just be stuck with having to artificially handicap yourself in various ways. I’d say go for the Default challenge.

  9. Hi, is it okay to ask question here? Since you seems like an expert to me. I decided to promote Palmieri to my squad. And instantly, he’s star. At least by his overall rating. But something is bugging me. He’s not aggressive. For example, my other defender Pique. He’s everywhere. Chasing, tackling, blocking, anything defender does. But Palmieri just sits behind him. Is there any way i can make him like Pique? What kind of training i should give him? Maybe it has something to do with aggression, but i don’t see any improvement even though i tweaked his training here and there. Also, how does one improve agility? Is it included under speed category? Because Palmieri’s is so bad. It’s about 60. So he’s kinda like robot. Thank you for your response.

  10. Faris—I’m definitely no expert on the nuts-and-bolts level of Master League. The things that you’ve already tried to adjust Palmieri’s stats are the only things I would have thought of to suggest. All I will say in addition is that you’re looking at changes taking effect only after several long seasons.

    I’ve noticed his relative lack of mobility too, but that’s not unusual in PES CBs. Just keep focus training in the relative areas – but I’d bet he’ll always have that passive kind of character. It’s the nature of PES, really. Individuality shines through (mostly).

  11. hey everyone, nearly finished my first season with liverpool, original team and have already managed to buy ozil, benzema, micha richards, kompany, palmeri,santon(inter millan 19 year old defender) i find master league a bit easy, only lost 1 game and drawn 3 with 5 games left. i have found that wen i try and buy another player e.g. bale he rejects my offer and it says coz he is firts team but later see my sout has found he is on the move to another team. also why is benzema rated overall 85 and cannot score 1-1 chances, only had 4 goals and joined half way through first season.
    i think to sort out palmerie standing around you have to give him those skill cards. not shore if this will work as i am still trying to do this with my palmeri.
    quik question i wanted to no if you make your own stadium does this affect your gate reciepts you recieve at the end of home matches, will it be less as i heard the stadium announcer say attendence was roughly 25,000 and when i chnged back to default stadium it went up to roughly 45,000. does this mean ive been getting less money from gate reciepts if i have a custom stadium.
    (sorry if this reply seems abit all over the place)

  12. i just read all the post and fink i need to start again :|, my club ranking is 6th but not sure if that was because i was liverpool and i got about 70 million to spend, is that because i was liverpool again :S. i hope i dont have to start. i also selected normal development instead of dynamic and i want to try dynamic but ive nearly finished the season and have won the europa league and FA cup (renamed english cup)and im first by 13 points with chelsea in second, have i made it to easy for me, i only got these players because they were not in first team for their club, should i start again????

  13. ali—you should only start again if you want to! I don’t believe there’s a right and wrong kind of start to ML – just the one you like and enjoy. I enjoy starting from the basement and fighting my way up. As you may have seen on the latest posts, I’m looking forward to playing a few other ML campaigns this year with a few different starting conditions.

    That’s a good question about the default/custom stadium, and I don’t know the answer. I’d hope there’s no effect from a custom stadium, but with Konami and PES you just never know…

  14. not-Greg, thanks for the answer. i sorted it out already. it turned out just about position. i switched him to the right (to the one close to right defender), and he’s in action. a little heads up, his speed and agility is awful, so i don’t think he’s the right person to be there. unless you give him training that improve those skills. i gave him max point on shoot and speed. his agility and speed starting to show some improvement. so he’s now awesome.

  15. Faris—I’ve left my training on Auto for now while I struggle to get to grips with the new PES. But I had to sell my Palmieri anyway… 🙁

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