We. Are. Going Up. I said we are going up.

Once again the Master League news ticker manages to sum up the situation:

Season 3 finale Quincy sums it all upI don’t think anyone can begrudge us that. Season 3 has wound to a close. Promotion has been achieved via the playoff finals.

I went up! To the Premier League! Whatever the final verdict on PES2016, this is a Moment indeed.

PES2016 promotion achieved

On Tuesday I was confident that I’d do it, and now I’ve done it. Just shows you what ‘unbelievable belief’ can do.

In the 11 matches to the end of the season, I was only in trouble a couple of times.

One was a rivals match against Aston Villa. After I kicked off to start the match, I experienced a clairvoyant flash, and KNEW the following without any doubt:  ‘As soon as I lose the ball here, Villa will sweep the ball forward and score, and then for the rest of the match I’ll barely get a sniff of a chance and it’ll end in a 0-1 defeat.’ And that’s exactly what happened.

I finished 5th, met Norwich in the semi-final, and Burnley in the final.

PES2016 playoffs results

That final was a bit of a walkover, and so was the second leg of the semi-final. I did well to get anything going in that second leg, considering the scheduling pile-up that the game foisted on me for no reason at all.

PES2016 playoff scheduling madness

The two matches were just two days apart. Half my squad were blue- or purple-arrowed, and nearly all of them were missing at least a quarter bar of stamina.

But I romped to the 3-0 win. PES2016, contrariwise as ever, played as if none of the stamina and form business really mattered. Which is part of what worries me about PES2016 — and all football games of recent years, in truth. None of the big three performance factors — stamina, form, player stats/skills — really seem to matter much.

I often wonder if the meagre amount of player individuality that undoubtedly does remain — the wonderful Castledine, for example — is all in my imagination. Something that I’m doing, not the game. What if the individuality of Castledine is just an emergent property of how I play, rather than something that’s baked-in? What if there’s really no more secret sauce? Say it ain’t so!

PES2016 Castledine kills emCastledine has really emerged as the most important player in my Master League side by a long way. Today’s goals video (further below) shows him at or near the centre of everything of significance.

Vietto is also quietly emerging as a very useful goal-scorer. Somewhat in the Gary Lineker mode. Nothing spectacular, mostly. Just bread-and-butter goals that seem to come when I need them.

Here’s the final table:

PES2016 season 3 final table

Unless the fabled Oct 29th update brings massive changes, Top Player is done with me as a viable difficulty level. Even if the Premier League punishes me badly on Superstar, I’m not coming back down. ‘Never say never’, they say, and it’s a wise saying too — but in this case, I’m happy to say ‘never again’ to Top Player.

Here’s a short goals digest of my run-in, culminating with a couple of goals from the playoff semi-final against Norwich and then the final against Burnley (that somewhat anti-climactic 6-1 walkover):

And so I go on to the Premier League. I’d have to look back to be sure, but I think this is my quickest promotion since PES2009, possibly since PES2013.

I really wanted this promotion, which is why I didn’t raise the difficulty to Superstar once I saw the way things were going.

PES2016 is still a wobbly game for me. The whole gameplay package screams ‘designed for the online player’. You can spend the entire match with your forefinger wrapped around R1 and there’s no consequence. There are no fouls and no free kicks — or so few fouls and free kicks as to be practically the same as none. And that fucking slide-tackle mechanic. I despise it, and despise myself for using it.

I mention these familiar bugbears in nearly every post because they’re all part of the problem. I started this blog way back in order to record my experience with PES, rather than as a vehicle of blind PES fan-worship and cheerleading. I am a fan, and I have worshipped and cheer-led many editions, but this edition, so far, doesn’t feel wholly like a PES game. It does feel like a pretty good football game. So far, though, I haven’t caught the thermal updraft of true PES greatness.

And so I end my promotion post on a thoughtful note. Three whole seasons into PES2016, I still have grave doubts about the game. It remains to be seen what the Premier League on Superstar difficulty will have to say about that.


  1. Pete, I cashed in on Giorza straight away. I signed a young English RB called Fredericks as a replacement, dirt cheap and has speed/acceleration in the 90’s. Reminds me of past PES hero Arthur Boka.

  2. Darryl – i got instant flashbacks of the first pes 2011 trailer! Short snippet of Holland vs Italy if im not mistaken. Was blown away!

  3. This trailer? How slow and heavy the game looks!

    Now that’s what I call a game trailer.

    Darryl and other PES2016 wobblers might not want to watch this. It might have them running out for a PS3.

    At least it shows that there’s no cause for despair if you don’t get on with the current game(s). By this stage of footy game history there’s a deep and rich backlog to draw on. There’s no law that says your footy game has to end in the current (or next) year.

  4. Pete – I’ll use a Football Manager analogy to illustrate. There’s a team instruction in Football Manager to attack down both wings, down one side or the other, straight through the middle, or a mixture of all. From time to time in FM I’ve bought out-and-out wingers with great crossing and dribbling and all the rest of it, and thought, OK, let’s have some wingplay. And so I set the instructions to attack down both wings, or left/right wing (depending), and sit back to watch the outcome… and nothing. In many years of FM (and before it CM) I’ve never seen the ‘attack down wings’ instruction have any actual effect on the pitch. One or two instances of apparent success, yes, but as a consistent style that produces a recognisable and repeated pattern that makes a team style? Nope.

    And much the same with PES and FIFA tactical sliders and toggles. Never seen an effect, so I don’t bother. I do try it out every year, but don’t see any impact. I still see defenders wandering up to the halfway line no matter what. I still see full backs pulled toward the middle when I set the tactics to wide, or hugging the touchline when I want them compact. It just doesn’t work. Feel free to produce a devastating video that will blow my scepticism out of the water. I’d actually love to be proved wrong. I think the tactical sliders and toggles are placebo sliders and buttons, more or less.

  5. Back to it after a week away from PES. Had a bit of a mammoth ML session last night taking me up to third with seven games to go of season 2 in Div 2 (Superstar). Fingers crossed for promotion.

  6. NG – yes! That’s the one. I actually remembered the holland vs italy part…dubious. (I get outside, really I do!) That hyped me up so much and the actual game actually lived up to it pretty much. (minus the stumble…I don’t have to tell YOU N-G)

    Also re. tactics and stuff – agree at least partially. What really does have a signficant impact this year is man marking – no placebo there.

  7. NG – I agree re PES to the point that at the end of the day you, the player, chooses a long or short pass and usually have both options but the key thing I think makes a difference is the number of players i.e. ‘few’ or ‘many’ to join the attack or defence… as for proof(!!) hmmm… I’ll see what I can do.

    Though at its base ‘all out attack’ and ‘all out defence’ do make an impact and essentially the above are the same but to a more contextual (i.e. in possession or not) basis

  8. So am I right in saying that the game is as fluffy as I thought it would be based on my short time with the demo? Still loving pes 2015 over in the 360 corner – I’m about to switch teams for the first time in a master league and take on a new challenge, this is now officially the most time I’ve spent with any pes/iss!

  9. 360…hmm…I played my nephew at pes 2014 on the 360 the other day. He had never played any pes, ever. And he’s seven. We fought out a scoreless draw, aet. I gave his Real Madrid a chance by being qpr but even so. Everything about it was odd – not because it was 2014, although we know it’s a different beastie – but the way it looked (initially I thought it was fifa) the clunky feeling of the pad, the lack of response to off the ball running….I hated it. It was a machine set up at an exhibition so no idea if it was patched, etc but the fact I couldn’t score against a junior novice was a reminder of both why I sold my Microsoft consoles and a curious prod towards digging out that 2014 game once I’m done here. Perhaps the PS3 version is virtually the same but it felt so odd.

  10. Ps3 pes 2014 felt odd in my memory as well. Framerate issues (which are inexcusable in a sports game) were the least of its worries (i played unpatched if I remember correctly)

  11. Estoy fuera. Well Turf was right as I am trading in today as the game and me are never going to be happy bed partners. It wasn’t actually the on-line play that did it but it became so obvious towards season 3 that there is no way on earth you would get far on Myclub without having to resort to mini transactions as when you first load up it appears that you get loads of coins or whatever but they quickly dry up and the offerings for winning games are to meagre. I also expected team spirit to rise more like ML but no this is not the case. Hence why all the top players are most adaptable with tactic set up, which in turn raises TS. So basically it would be impossible to compete with the Ronaldo brigade with a TS rating of 99. Pure exploitation. No idea what I am going to buy. Witcher 3 is on the radar or Farm Simulator?

  12. Blew it. Finished seventh after just two wins and a draw in the last seven matches so a third season in Div 2. I think I may have been rushing things in my eagerness to end season 2 because I was sure I had a good chance of promotion.

  13. Darryl – a Shame but at least you gave it a good try right? I can without any shadow of a doubt recommend Witcher 3. Helps if youve played the previous games but by no means necessary.

  14. Chris – it depends if you mean fluffy in a good way or a bad way?

    Shed – unlucky, and speaking as one who spent three seasons in D2, it’s worth slogging through another to get to the Prem. It’s a different class of game up above. The problem with D2 is that you end up expecting the game to roll over all the time, but it’ll always chuck a scripty spanner at you eventually.

    Uncle Turf – abbeyhill would speak with more authority on PES2014 at this moment in time, but it was the last great unresponsive football game IMO. ‘Responsive’ is not an automatic pro-word in my personal footy gaming lexicon.

    Darryl – ah, the inevitable end of the road is a blank wall. PES2015? FIFA15/16? A PS3 and PES2011? PES2014? Rory McIlroy golf? I don’t know. Life without a football game is unthinkable to me.

  15. Darryl – Don’t do it! You’ll only buy it back again.

  16. Both werdletts were with their Aunty on Saturday so after a nice meal at a restaurant with Mrs Werd I sat down after midnight to 3.9 games.
    3 good wins in the prem shoot me up to 2nd.
    The other game was in the cup against Man U. I played them in the cup last season in round two and won on pens after 3-3 extra time. After a back and forth match this time I went 3-2 up 2 mins from the end in extra time.
    Guess what? they scored an equaliser the same time and same shot as last time. I switched off before the final whistle disgusted. I never do this but I was angry as the other games were great. I never switch off. I may have won on penalties again but it seemed like a major script kick in the pills. The games on hiatus until I calm down.

  17. My post patch restart is in full swing, using Sheffield Wednesday since I like the kits. Signed Shola Ameobi and Libor Kozak from free agents and stupidly (after a firesale) Coquelin from Arsenal. Lost my first 3 games (pre Coquelin) but am levelling out now. Lost to Arsenal in the cup and of course their old boy got sent off (I went a bit chop happy and got 4 yellows) My Ts has jumped up ridiculously quickly from 59 to 75 after 10 games but otherwise I’m very happy with the way things are going.

  18. Mike – That TS spike is about right really, in fact I’d say it’s a little low if anything. It can jump up quite high very quickly to begin with, but then it starts to level out.

    I played Porto in the Champions League who had a couple of classics (Baggio and my old boy, Shearer) but strangely they had a low TS rating of just 68. Needless to say I smashed 5 past them in the first half and sent the kids out for the second, they were never at the races. That made me group winners, and in the game to spare I put an entire second string out which dropped my TS to 74 vs FC Cerchizmajiu’s 97, who are no mugs. Expecting a loss, and not caring, the youth came away with a 1-1 draw. Well done to them. This is very handy as I’ve just begun the two months of fixture congestion (Nov and Dec) and it’s given the first team a well-needed rest.

  19. NG – yes, I appreciate that, I perhaps should have said ‘unresponsive in relation to the PS3 version’ ie. I felt I was pressing buttons and nothing was happening – the off the ball run in particular seemed not to want to work, but as mentioned it was exhibition ‘setupped’ so I may have been pressing the wrong thing.

    I really do dislike the Xbox in all its forms.

  20. NG – you must be psychic as I swapped for Rory M at lunch.

  21. played my first two games as England coach, no wonder the last manager got the sack, presumably Woy! he had Welbeck as the lone CF!!!!! barndoor/banjo come to mind.

    I set up with Kane up top, rooney just behind, and walcott and lallana on the wings, a nice 4-1 vs Serbia followed. They were all fluff and bluster, only Markovic looked slightly dangerous.

    Then came Belgium a totally different proposition. They played a middle 3 of nainngolan, de bruyne and witsel and CB’s of Vertonghen and Kompany, and it was hard work, when i did have the ball i couldnt break the midfield or the defence, Kane was totally out of touch, Rooney played like he currently is, i.e. anonymous and Kyle Walker (testing in the place of Clyne) was terribly exploited by Mertens. They finally scored through Lukaku (who was awful all game) towards then end and i slide to a 0-1 defeat.

    I left the international break feeling bemused and realising a little more how difficult managing England is, there is some quality but no real flair to the team, no cutting edge, just lots of hard workers. Wilshere looked very decent though which was a surprise. (i guess because he doesnt get injured in PESWORLD)

    back now to Villa away, how romantic.

  22. Three big games just played and after a 5-1 thrashing by Chelsea I beat Arsenal and Man Utd 2-0. I’m 4th with 5 games to play. CL is on!!!

  23. Lloyd – thats what i thought and then bastard everton won the CL and i was demoted to Europa shite. good luck though hopefully you wont fall to the same fate.

  24. Gonna be checking the CL semi draw next time I fire it up.

  25. To say it was a nasty surprise was an understatement!!!

  26. Fluffy as in bouncy

  27. Werd – should imagine you’re on Fallout 4 countdown now anyway, lucky bugger.

  28. Anyone read the official statement on the botched transfer Update? You should – it’s a right laugh. Fix is estimated to arrive around end of year. Prepostorous! You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried!
    Could you imagine the players waiting for the Update, unable or unwilling to start ML without it?

  29. I’ve just had a few games. I had a wonderful tie in the last 32 of the Europa against Fiorentina. Just scrapped through thanks to a Castledine thunderbolt. I love that guy.

    In the league I’m sitting 7th in season 3 but struggling a little. I’ve been thrashed by Chelsea and Everton but I’m still in touch of the Champions Legaue spots. Annoyingly I’ve drawn West Ham in the Europa so I’m playing them 3 times in 5 games thanks to the league fixture too. West Ham are good, currently in 4th so it’s a tough few games. The Euroa takes it toll on players fitness making the league games seem much tougher.

    Overall, I’m enjoying the game. It’s providing a decent challenge and I definitely need better players if I’m going to mount a treble challenge. The scout has come in handy a couple of times otherwise I’m struggling to sign the prolific goalscorer I need. I had Drogba for the first half of season 2 but cashed in for 19 million. I kind of regret that now, he was unstoppable.

  30. NG – I saved that video for when I got home so I could see it in its full glory on the I Pad. A couple of years ago I was walking past a window of Cash Convertor and they had a TV on display in the window. On the screen they had that trailer and I thought it was an advert for the new PES (2014 I think) which was just round the corner and I thought “Wow that looks good” and was even more surprised when I realised it was the 2011 game. Great game.

  31. Darryl – I got Rory McIlroy on release day, but it was a PES2014-style fiasco on release. It’s since been patched but I’ve yet to revisit. And re. PES2011 and other old great footy games, why not play ’em? I love the security of knowing for certain that if PES2016/FIFA16 falter and fall, I can straightforwardly go back to PES5, PES2014, PES2011, PES2010, FIFA15, PES2012, PES2013… I could play any of them for months (and later this football game year, I will). It really baffles me, this need for football games to be the current one.

  32. #1 – I saw it but I wasn’t bothered about the squad update 5 weeks ago and I’d only be pretending if I said I was bothered now. It’s just not something I can get greatly exercised about.

    Cook – Castledine is on track to be one of the greatest ML players I’ve ever played with. He’s inevitably flattened out a touch this season with my step up to Premier/Superstar level, but I’m still seeing some great messages about his growth and stature in the ML world that I won’t spoil here.

    Chris – if by ‘bouncy’ you mean a quality of being in ceaseless motion, always lurching from end-to-end, unfortunately, yes, the game often is like that. You can go 5-6 matches at a time without a free kick. Continuous play and ‘flow’ is what it’s all about nowadays. Superstar level against top opposition improves matters but the bounciness is still there.

  33. NG – rightly so. I do think it is hilarious from a PR / managerial viewpoint though.
    Speaking of old football games, just for the sake of experiment I hooked up the old PS3 (thank Jesus I didn’t chuck that out) and kicked around a bit on PES 2011. It actually holds up pretty well despite its blazing speed and even looks quite decent 5 years on. Have to say that the actual gameplay has come a long way though with PES 2016 being much more refined. But that’s to be expected. Still – still a classic in my mind and – there’s fouls! Now that takes some getting used to.

  34. Lloyd – Some great goals there. Love the in-off-the-bar at 1:02.

    Nothing quite as spectacular but here’s some brief Season 2 ML highlights starting with a nice goal from loanee Carlos Pueta (I’ve now signed him permently on a fee ahead of Season 3) and ending with a rare bit of finesse by rampaging Rambe who finished the season on 19 goals, just behind Coutinho on 23.

  35. Lloyd – yes indeed, loving the Recoba in off the bar job.

    Shed – the Castledine cross and deft Rambe header at 1:18… If I had Rambe there’d be no end of pun-fun in post titles. You’ll start being offered big money for Castledine soon. My advice is don’t take it.

  36. Lloyd – that Recoba hit!

    Still ticking along nicely in season 6. Not managed too many games the past few days, but we’re nearly the end of the year now and thanks to a recent win over chasers United, I’m 6 points clear.

    Updated all my classics names now and have sorted appearances for just about half.

  37. Chris – too right!. I havnt looked at any of the leaks I don’t want to spoil anything. Even seeing the Vault Boy thumbs up poster at the bus stop today made me smile. I snapped out of it put on my usual grumpy French face and turned up John Foxx on my Ipod 🙂

    No PES as I’m still in a strop over that cup game.

  38. 5 clean sheets since losing 5-1 to Chelsea and I’m 6 clear of 5th with 3 to play. Boom.

  39. Hi guys, I need someone to play RMF does Castledine fit that remit? any other ideas, i tried Willian and he was pretty ineffectual. Felipe Anderson on the left is perfect, just need the same kind of player on the right. all ideas welcome.

  40. stewdog – Candreva, Herrmann, Eriksen, Redmond.

  41. Hmmm I toyed with a bid for Redmond, Herrmann was another i was looking at, I think Eriksen and Candreva might be a bit pricey, I have about £10m for the venture, so its tricky, there was a lad at Ajax, Ghazi or something, i’ve tried lots out just can’t find someone who suits, I’d love Thauvin but hes £28m in my ML 🙁

  42. stewdog – Felipe Anderson is naturally right footed. Why not have him on the right and Castledine left?

    I can’t talk highly enough about regen Joaquin. He’s fantastic, but may not be good enough for you. Needs nurturing for a couple of years.

  43. Interesting point Tommy, I should have been more specific, basically i have followed the current fad to have a left footer on the right and vice versa, so Felipe cuts in on his stronger foot to shoot across goal. I play on the deck so there’s never any need to cross it. so in short i’m after a left footed right winger 🙂

  44. Joaquin although right footed does look interesting he has a lot of player cards, i wonder if he’s regened for me yet?

    I’ve just pesdb’d and seen Castledine is a leftie 🙂 that should work out nicely if hes not too expensive.

  45. Stewdog – el ghazi is pretty good. Urby emanuelson as well… Currently have Rafael van der vaart Who is a lefty as well. Not cheap though.

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