Master League 2017

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919111328

PES2017 acquired: check.

Exhibition/Tournament ‘getting-to-know-you’ matches played: check.

Sumptuous Option File installed: check.

Master League: commence.

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First, I put the finishing touches to my hybrid Option File installation. No matter how fiddly and frustrating this might be, figuring it out and then finishing it is always a strangely satisfying task.

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Then I edited PES United into Coventry City. I’m not impressed with either of the 2016-17 kits. There’s a grand tradition in particular of terrible Coventry City away kits. 2016-17’s away kit is one of the worst.

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There were other odds and ends I could have added, but didn’t. The Portuguese League. Celtic and Rangers.

Without wasting any more time, I got going. You can spend so much time setting up that it creates a peculiar sort of anxiety about whether you’re truly ready to begin. Down the years I’ve always leapt into Master League with the paint still drying on the figurative walls. The experience is usually all the better for it.

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How considerate of the PES2017 makers to make the Default formation exactly the same 4-2-2-2 formation that I use. The only difference being that instead of two DMFs I like one CMF and one DMF.

I offloaded a load of players whose names I don’t remember now. I bought two players – a goalkeeper, STRAKOSHA (68OVR), very solid so far; and a LB/AMF, BABANCO (72OVR), both on free transfers. I’m eyeing the wages/salary budgets with caution, remembering financial brushes with disaster in many a Master League of years past.

I poked around in all the new parts of Master League. I don’t think the various innovations that surfaced last year realised their full potential. Perhaps they were hitched to a football game in PES2016 that didn’t really do them justice. There wasn’t much incentive to toil through the menus to expand the margins of performance when just about every single player was a high performer.

It’s too early for me to say anything more about PES2017’s Training except to welcome it back and acknowledge that I know it’s there. We shall see what it actually does in practice. I like the look of the position retraining, needless to say.

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Since when has Castledine been white? I’m calling this Casteldinegate.

This is quietly one of the biggest scandals ever to engulf a computer game, and precisely no one will care about it but me.

Castledine in PES2017 is the latter-day avatar of the Castello-Castolo-Cinalton-Castledine entity.

Whatever you think about The Myth Of Castolo, there’s no denying that he has – and deserves – the status of ‘iconic’. One thing each instance of this Eternal Champion has had in common is that they’ve all been black. I’m not going to be laying down in the middle of an airport runway in protest, but the whitening of Castledine seems a strange, pointless, self-defeating move. Castolo is as famous and celebrated as Master League itself. He’s locked deep into the lore. Why is he suddenly not black anymore? Could it be an oversight type of mistake?

Coutinho(CF) and Arcas(SS) are good enough for my front two. Will they match up to last year’s stellar pairing that bore those names? Do I want them to be as good as last year’s?

NO, is the short answer to that question. I do not want any echo of PES2016 in this game at all. PES2017 will stand or fall according to how unlike PES2016 it is. (I’ll say again that I don’t think PES2016 was a bad football game. It was a good game of computer football. But it was definitely a bad Pro Evolution Soccer game. There’s a difference, and it’s a telling one.)

Straight into the action, and I opened with a creditable 0-0 draw against Reading. Chances were very few and far between. I still find myself automatically trying to use last year’s routes to goal, which are happily blocked off.

Classic Players ON

The only real blot on PES2017’s landscape right now is that I don’t find there are as many fouls and free kicks in Master League as there were in Exhibition and Tournament games. Which is a staggeringly stupid thing to happen, if you ask me. I believe that as my team improves, and as the seasons roll by and stakes increase, fouls and free kicks will naturally occur, as they occurred in other modes.

But still… I will remain worried until I start to see the fouls in Master League. Konami is perfectly capable of pushing out a PES game with what it thinks is a crowd-pleasing absence of fouls in the most popular mode(s).

It’s significant that we’ve yet to hear much by way of moaning from the online players. If they were having fouls in the quantity that they should be having them, we’d have heard the wailing from within a soundproof room at the bottom of the ocean. But there’s a strange silence. Which indicates to me that there are still few fouls online.

There’s a lot at stake here. Fouls and free kicks enhance a football game’s gameplay, rather than diminishing it. They enforce a kind of seriousness that used to set PES apart from the herd. They need to start happening, in numbers, and soon, or the fabric of the gameplay that looked and felt so good in Exhibition and Tournament, will be fatally undermined.

PES2017 feels very much as if it’s the series’ last chance to hang onto itself, if that makes sense. i don’t want Pro Evo to disappear down the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that it’s been circling for a year or two. It might already be too late to stop that happening. On the PES forums lately, I hate how PES is occasionally referred to, in passing, as the game that ‘was always fun’.

No, it definitely wasn’t. And I can prove it too.

Hop into the nearest DeLorean. Go back to 2004 or so. Ask the average FIFA fan of the year 2004 if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. FIFA players back then hated PES – because it wasn’t fun. PES was hard work to them. Then double-check this finding by asking the average PES fan, in 2004, if he thinks PES is fun. A scornful laugh will be your answer. We loved PES because it was a lot more than ‘just’ fun. A whole lot more. This paragraph contains the most truth about PES that I know how to express. I’m scared about how easily it’s starting to be forgotten.

This post has turned out to be a lot more hand-wringy and ‘State of PES’ than intended. This is because there is potential in PES2017. Big potential. If this game flowers as it might, PES might just have saved itself from the fast-flowing-arcade-fun-bullshit drain that I mentioned.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017_20160919184053Table. A nice spread of results.

I knocked Brighton and Hove Albion out of the Cup with this fine goal, which I’m thinking of as my first long-ranger of 2017:

Hettich with the strike. Hettich has always been the poor man’s Irjescu.

I’ve scored a pleasant range of other goals as well, all bread and butter types. No worries there.

You get a feel for how sturdy a football game is pretty quickly, and my feeling is that this AI, defensively at least, is a decent one. Up front, things are also encouraging.

So Master League 2017 is up and running. As Peter Drury remarks in his opening day spiel, a rollercoaster is getting underway.

164 Comments

  1. My plan re kit changes is to use the 15/16 kits in the future, still got last year’s kits sat on my desktop so Forests new kits will actually be their old ones, added a third kit by opening their away kit in MS Paint and fill the black sections with white… Did the trick quite nicely.

    Just uploading a video of some goals should be up soon, through away a 2-0 lead against Wigan to draw 2-2, bossing the game and ballsed it up at the death. Now 9 points off the playoffs and into December, up to 13th.

  2. Here we are, the final two goals against Wigan is the game I mentioned above…

  3. Looks like I am the only one holding out.

  4. Out of stubbornness Darryl ?

  5. nG – If I was doing a Coventry kit it would have to be the 1975 to 78 one at http://www.historicalkits.co.uk/Coventry_City/Coventry_City.htm

    It would take a bit of tweaking in GIMP but I reckon it would be worth it. I loved it when I did my Cardiff one in 2012.

  6. Another six games without a goal last night. Signed some better player, Team Spirit is above 50, tried different tactics and laid off the sprint button but nothing more than a couple of 0-0s.

    I think a drop to Top Player is on the cards.

  7. Nice goals Pete. I used to be a dab hand at free-kicks last year but I just can’t find the sweet spot this time round. Much training needed.

  8. Shed, I’m back into the grind after a patch of easy wins. I’m now winning 1-0 quite often (with the odd cpu domination 3 or 4-0 thrown into the mix) rather than the 0-0 I had last season but team spirit is 86, it may not be overpowered after all. What’s everyone’s team OVR up to?

    Pete, the free kick was great, I seem to put most of mine into the stand although Casteldine has whacked the bar a couple of times with Mahrez type efforts but I can’t get it up and over the wall. I’ll have a practice this evening. Do you know if I can import my ML team to free training?

    Chriss99 – I downloaded GIMP, thank you for the pointer. I just need to have some time getting used to the interface etc, then I’m going to have some old kits on the go hopefully. I’ve wanted to recreate the STFC 1991-1993 third kit for some time. Maybe all on the link below will have a turn.

    https://thewashbag.com/2012/02/21/hall-of-shame-vote-which-is-the-worst-stfc-kit/

  9. NG – I’ve been homebrewing since 2002 🙂

    My poor form seemed to change last night. a 2-2 draw with top of the table Saarbrucken, a 1-0 winover Leipzig and…drumroll a 4-0 trouncing of Dresden who are two places above me. My team just clicked and my new 16 year old CF has the best crossing in my team so 2 of my 4 were headers and 1 scored by yours truly. Onwards

  10. Pete – Great goals there. I would kill for a one-on-one opportunity like that second goal.

    I’m starting to wonder if my wholesale selling of the defaults has made my Superstar ML all the harder what with the TS element. I must have brought in nine or ten players and tinkered tactically a fair bit.

    I feel like I’m playing quite well on Superstar and I’m enjoying the gameplay. It would just be nice to have the thrill of scoring the odd goal now and again while being cast well adrift at the bottom. If this was PES 2012, I would have been sacked by now.

  11. Pete — I’ve got close with Castledine free kicks too, but no cigars yet. I’ve twice nearly scored a carbon copy of that free kick from an acute angle at the side that you posted a week or so ago. The game wants VASILJ to be my FK taker but I always swap it for Castledine.

  12. January window and Arcas has gone for £8 million. In come two 75ovr strikers and a young goalie at 71ovr. I got Holden from Bolton in the summer at CB.

    P27 W4 D10 L13 GF14 GA14

  13. Darryl – you’re not alone. But I’m not sure why I’m holding out anymore, seeing as everyone is crazy positive about the game. I do want to complete my final skyrim playthrough before starting ML… But on the other hand I’ve the day off today. Hmmm, what to do.. Must be strong..

  14. GA is actually 27.

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