So many times, it happens too fast

To have any hope of advancing in the Champions League, I needed to win my last match in the Group Stage. It was against Lille, away, a tough match at the moment, with my league form right down around the Leicester zone.

I won the Lille match, 2-1. After racing into a 2-0 lead, I barely had a kick. The AI flicked straight into God Mode, playing in overdrive, harrying and hassling all my players. The AI got its 1 goal by doing to me what I so often do to the AI: sprinting at a defender who’s just received the ball from the goalkeeper, and snaffling the ball for a one-on-one chance.

I held on for the win, but had no idea what was happening in the other match. I waited to see how my players would react come the final whistle. They all sank to their knees in despair. The final table:

If Sevilla had beaten Myxomatosis, as they damn well should have done, I’d have qualified. But they didn’t so I haven’t. I suppose elimination is fair enough, having only won one match and played pretty poorly throughout.

There is a consolation – remember me saying last season that my then-shot at the Europa League was probably my one and only chance of this ML?

Well. Having finished 3rd in the CL group, I now head of course into the knockout stages of this season’s Europa League.

The draw for the Round of 32 has already taken place. I’ve drawn another made-up Konami team with one of those impossible names.

I’m quite content with this. I’m not going to get anywhere near winning the league title this season, so the Treble was never going to happen anyway. And it’s possible this really will be my last shot at the Europa League in this ML. I now have a new primary goal for the current season.

Here’s the league table showing how bad my form is, and just how far away I am from getting anywhere near the title:

Look at the state of that. We’re the reigning champions.

Here’s a short compilation of 4 goals, all of them from around the 20-yard mark, which are still rare enough in PES2017 for me to get excited about them:

A major highlight of recent league matches was a 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa. The latter 3 goals are the goals I scored in that match.

Two came from R JARVIS, you’ll note. I picked him in a fit of temper with Torres, who is nowhere near matching last season’s POTY exploits at the moment.

Jarvis scored two great goals, as can be seen in the vid (his second is indeed a 25-yard finesse shot).

But here’s the thing that irritates me about PES2017, and PES in general since 2014.

After Jarvis put in that barnstorming performance, of course I picked him for several matches in a row thereafter. And he might just as well have not been on the pitch for any of them.

Jarvis got those two wonderful, crucial goals in a big match. And then completely disappeared off the face of the ML earth,

He has continued being completely anonymous since. This is a definite pattern with PES2017, I have found. So many players feel like they have arrived. And then they go away again, become just another bundle of pixels like so many others. Individuality in PES always depended upon getting on a roll with your players – relishing their heroic performances from match to match

PES2017 – and PES2016, and PES2015 before it (Crouch excepted) – will not allow individuals to shine in a run of matches. The nerf hammer is always waiting to come down on any player who stands out, and once again, I believe the necessity to make sure the game is a viable online game (‘balancing’), is to blame.

Updated: 24th January 2017 — 11:04


  1. Just got walloped 3-0 by Swansea. At home. Whatever’s happening with this game and me now, weeks or possibly months are being added to its lifespan.

  2. nG – Do we get to vote for the next song?

  3. Song? What song? There’s a song?

  4. Oh yeah, my forward star Dzalto is in this non-ending cycle of shining and disappearing for third consecutive season. Still, he’s in my team thanks to important goals and some back-heel masterpieces.

    The other thing I wanted to say, I find lack of fouls in your ML amusing! Just yesterday I played against Genoa in a cup game and opponents looked like they trying to cripple my players (three yellow cards and pretty much 10-12 fouls in an 8 minute match!). And that’s not something strange, CPU plays like this against me in about 1/3 of games.

  5. Couple of Barnstormers in there mate, nice goals!!!

    I’m suffering ‘defending champions dread’ too …. I have already lost 2 league games this season, I’ve played 7, last season I only lost 3 in 38.
    Most recently I played Shakthar Donetsk in a champions league group game, I beat them 5-0, should have been 10. Then I lost 1-0 to a dogged Newcastle side in the league the very next match, contrary to what you are finding NG, I find CL matches very one dimensional, and very easy.

    The slower more considered pace makes it easy for me to dictate the game, either passing slowly and moving or just all out direct attacking football, the COM AI isn’t intelligent enough to counter what I do, or know to employ tactics to unsettle me, it just does one thing and that’s it.

    I’m still 3rd in the league only 4pts off top, with only a handful of games played, have guaranteed CL qualification to the KO round and still in the FA Cup, with the world super club championship to play. I still expect to win everything again this season.

    Arcas and Embolo have been standout performers for me for numerous seasons, each has off games now and then, Embolo even had a run of 3 goalless games, but then bagged a hat trick in a 4-1 rout of Bournemouth, SO I am seeing the game let players standout and then remain fairly consistent. Maxi Rodriguez, brought through as a youth is another, Correa on the opposite wing … I do see it.

  6. Brucevsky – re. the fouls, just last night I had a run of 5 matches that were typical, with the foul scores per side (me the ‘home’ side here) being something like 0-1, 1-1, 0-3, 1-2, 0-1. My average fouls-won per match is something like 0.6. And that’s the norm. A complete disgrace that has nothing to do with playing style, nothing to do with Konami ‘getting to grips with the engine’ (a view that’s still peddled, faintly, on the forums), and everything to do with online-biased considerations in the coding.

    Paul – way back when you first mentioned Embolo, I forgot to remind you/tell you I had him in my PES2016 ML team, where he was anonymous. Thinking back over the past 3 editions of the game, I struggle to name more than two or three players who will stay in my memory in the years to come. Crouch in PES2015 (one of the most memorable players of any PES, he was). Castledine in PES2016. There isn’t really one in PES2017 yet – maybe Rice/Jarvis, but only because they’re little people punching above their weight at times, not because they’re up there with the Crouches and the Mathieus etc.

    And I think the first goal in my little compilation above might qualify as a non-first-touch long-ranger – if it had flown into the top, not the bottom corner.

  7. not-Greg – I believe you, but I wonder what’s making the difference between mine and yours Master League in terms of fouls per game. It’s strange that in the exact same title our experience is so different.

  8. NG – Arcas and Embolo have both been massive standout memorable players for me in PES17.
    Arcas because he was a default, who has become the Gerrard of my side, everything goes through him, first name on the team sheet. And Embolo because he was an expensive buy that not only has come good, but has exceeded expectations, picking up 2 league titles, a charity shield, a champions league, and 2 European and world player of the year awards in the 2 seasons he’s been here.

    Remember my Villalba from PES 11 ? That was the last standout player I had that actually changed the team.

  9. Kerzhakov – PES2016 what a player.

  10. NG – interesting about individuality as I think the game in it entirety actually needs that “getting on a roll” to really shine. I was just now going to type how – if the game behaves – there is real gold to be found in PES 2017 – and then God mode switched on. As you know I can’t stand that aspect of the game and now find myself in the middle of the hugest shit match of all time.

    Brief summary: i’m in the semi-final of the Dutch Cup against lowly (of course lowly. fucking of course) Roda JC. Dominating them from pillar to post and scoring once to bag the win. Then God Mode, hypercuntification, whatever kicks in. I’m not talking about Momentum (TM) swings – those are fine and explainable within the PES universe and laws. I’m talking about the kind where control is blatantly taken away from you and the technical side of the game works against you – simply not switching players, overriding or ignoring controller input, that sort of shit. It’s vile and horrid and does not belong in a football game.

  11. nG – You must just be a fan of one of Bournemouth’s main curry houses then

  12. Paul –

    Thanks for this 🙂 think I’ve finally worked out how to change the colours of the thermals/”under armour” (a ridiculous term), as before my players wanted to wear sky blue with it!

    I’ve taken the England job (7 seasons in) and the only game I’ve played instead of simming, as I cannot be bothered to play friendlies, was against Brazil. WOW. I can only wish the club AIs played like them and had players of their quality. Their lowest rated player was my very own Talisca at 82. They beat me 3-0 and I had one shot all game. England were completely underwhelming and by that I mean perfectly met my expectations of being disappointing. Given to the regen nature and our general lack of CMs/DMs in real life the only players of real quality in the middle of the park are the Barry and Carrick regens. G. Horsefield isn’t a name I expected to be in the squad either!

  13. I put together a quick showreel of goals from recent seasons. As my current system doesn’t have a sitting midfielder, there are far fewer presentable opportunities for long-range thunderbolts. That’s not to say I haven’t scored some interesting efforts, though…

  14. Chris – I found myself downloading that menu and some of the fish dishes look really nice. I doubt they will deliver to Fleetwood.

  15. They used to have a newspaper cutting on the wall of them flying out dishes to some celebrity or other. They might draw the line at Fleetwood though.

  16. James – some banging goals there! That one from distance with a player beginning with L was a strike and a half!

    I’m still holding off buying regens 7 seasons in, but seeing Kaka made me wonder….

  17. Jay – just get him. I have a deeply jaundiced view of player individuality in this game, and the AMF/SS types of players are the worst for feeling all pretty much the same regardless of stats and skills. In my view you’re not going to notice much, if any, difference between Regen Kaka and any of 100s of other AMF/SS players that you’d end up getting one of instead. At least if you get Kaka it’ll fire your imagination to see that name on your pitch.

    James – very nice vid. I didn’t recognise the music at all.

  18. Jay – glad you enjoyed them! As I’m spending no more than a season or two with each side, working to rebuild fallen giants, I’ve been having fun with the regens. Even though I leave before they really hit their peak, it’s interesting to see how they shape up. Highlights so far: Brighi, Tevez, Lallana, Guardado, Mica Richards, Di Rossi. And, after signing him from the youth team for Wolves, I’ve taken Jay Rodriguez to Man United, Villa and now Arsenal. There’s nothing especially remarkable about him, but he’s a moderately-paced forward with a knack of scoring and setting up goals. That’s enough in PES 2017 to make him feel like a real individual.

    Kaka is definitely worth a punt, especially as he’s a regen that isn’t automatically destined for godhood in a few short seasons of accelerated development. After three seasons, he’s up to an 80. And he’s more interesting than most AMFs in the way that he handles.

    NG – thanks! And you *damn well know* what that song is. I added this Soulwax mash-up in an attempt to purge myself of the original’s chorus, which has been an intermittent and frustrating earworm in recent weeks. I wonder why that might be the case? ^^

  19. Set myself a new target now to win the league on the top level on both PES and Fifa this year. Currently 3rd after 19 games with Fleetwood on Fifa. Clip below of a nice backheel to set up a goal in tonights session:-

  20. Also like the managers reaction at the end of the clip as it helps with immersion into the game.

  21. Some great goals there James, some sweet strikes from distance.
    Every time I try a long range shot its blocked, or goes wide or the keeper saves.

    Kit looking Good Jay 😉

    Darryl – nice to see some FIFA clips on here, that manager celebration is a great touch!
    Is that the dynamic camera you mentioned? looks more zoomed in and a bit more isometric?

    Qualified for the KO round of the Champs League last night, and have moved top of the Premier League, Operation Cleanup is still in progress.

  22. Castledine just did this to me :O

  23. left foot like a traction engine, Jay!

    Darryl – you’re seriously going to beat FIFA on Legendary? Even World Class is usually too gruelling for me

    not-Greg, my love of MGS5 went up a further notch when animal platforms at mother base opened last night. I knew there was going to be some form of animal conservation area but wasn’t expecting a fully-fledged zoo!

  24. Jay – your keeper Bravo’d it a bit, but I’ve conceded a few of those kinds of spectacular AI strikes, one of the things PES2017 does get right.

    abbeyhill – I barely scratched the surface on Mother Base in my playthrough, but did see the zoo platform. I meant to say the other day: no need for a PS3 to play the old MGS games. MGS1 is a legitimate PC release, and there’s even a fan-made HD version. The slight choral music in the background on this clip makes me think it’s the summer of 2005 and I’m unemployed and just playing muh Pro Evo and catching up on Metal Gear. Great days. MGS2 and MGS3 would both be playable via PS2 emulation, which is smooth as butter on PC nowadays. The only stumbling block would be MGS4, which was and is PS3-only. PS3 emulation is still finding its feet.

  25. Abbeyhill – Will give it a go. Professional is usually my limit on Fifa but this year I won my first Pro Evo title on Superstar, so anything is possible.

  26. Paul – it is the Dynamic camera I mentioned and is much better than previous years as in the past it was still to close up, even with 0 zoom selected. Certainly worth a look at.

  27. NO PES last night, was too pissed off after the disgraceful Liverpool performance to play anything.

    Watched a bit of ‘Curse of Oak Island’ then bed.

    Might start ‘The Journey’ on FIFA as a sideline to my PES ML.

  28. Paul – I had a £5 accumulator on that only needed Liverpool to win that match over the 90 minutes to win £35. Doh.

    No PES for me yesterday either, but I’m getting back to it right now in the January window. Time for some epic decisions…

  29. I, on the other hand, was back to some PES last night. A very enjoyable 1-0 win at home to champions Man Utd topped off a a decent session.

    Currently top after 12 games of season five. New signing C Hunnam (I can’t help but call him Charlie after that bloke off Sons of Anarchy even though I never watch it) is proving to be a decent striker with seven goals so far.

    Waiting and fully expecting another nasty spell of AI revenge any time now.

  30. See NG, they let us both down!!!
    Southamptons 2nd half bank of 10 defenders proved inpenetratable.

    Shed – Sons of Anarch is an amazing programme,
    4 seasons in (out of 7) after starting from the beginning before xmas.

    Charlie Hunnam who plays Jax Teller is actually a Geordie, and was in Byker Grove.

    PES transfer windows are now nothing but a nuisance for me as they are null and void.
    The reason being theres no on worth signing that’s as good, or better than the players I already have, my team is all young, average age of 24 so don’t need replacing just yet, the ‘refuse all bids’ transfer policy makes it too easy to keep hold of key players, and any players worth buying, ie rated 90 or above, all cost upwards of 80 million with stupidly high yearly wages.

  31. Paul – I’ve managed to keep the transfer window an event but ignoring the ridiculously good players on offer in the youth team and once again restricting myself to only signing listed or up for loan players.

  32. I’ve spent the past six transfer windows signing all notable regens (both frees and youth team) and then gradually distributing them to the EPL teams that most need/deserve them via exchange deals that also help to prune squads of dead wood (which I then discard immediately). For a relatively small investment in time, it’s helping to make the division much more interesting.

    If anyone would like some tips on how to do this, let me know. I’ve got it down to a fine art.

  33. James I’ve also noticed in my French league the opposition teams are stagnant or getting weaker owing to a lack of transfers, even though I have Classics turned on. It is a bit ridiculous that you are having to make signings for other teams in your league but at least it has helped maintain your interest in what is a fundamentally very good football game

    Season 7 starts with my defaults (plus 3 youths) off to a splendid start, 7-2-0 with only 1 goal conceded. A crappy sequence of scripted games could kick in at any moment but I get the feeling PES wants me to succeed this season…

  34. James – I’d be interested in a quick guide James. I may start a new ML with my team, Southampton, once I’ve won the CL and Club World Cup with PES United. I’ll only be looking to sign the academy players we’ve sold in recent years so will have plenty of time to bolster the rest of the league.

    Was expecting this season to perhaps be a little harder having read some posts on here, after going last season unbeaten (W54 D4) but after an initial difficult first three games I find myself in March top by 20 points having D1 L3 and won the rest.

    I ended up selling Walace as he isn’t what I want from a DM and Oulare and Talisca are both capable of smashing them in from distance!

    Ruskin recently got the status of “HERO” which I was well chuffed with. Giersen has become the first of my 5 ML Defaults to reach 80. Ordaz is on 79, Ruskin 77, Jaric 74, but barely plays, and Minanda regened (an exception as a default) at 73.

    A few recent highlights:

  35. Abbeyhill – I think you might have hit the nail on the head with the “fundamentally a very good football game” line. With some adjustments (especially referees being equipped with whistles in *all* matches, not just a few here and there, and high-level AI that has more than unpunished brutality and hyper-pressing in its locker at the top level), plus a little more texture and substance in the front-end ML features that filter into the match experience, and lots of liberal polishing, this could be a *classic*. I actually expected a lot more from patches this year (along the lines of PES 2014’s ugly duckling to swan conversation), but that’s probably not going to happen now.

    I’ve been playing some multiplayer FIFA 2017 with a friend recently, after a two-month break, and it’s actually pretty good after recent updates. The passing is, for the most part, much more fluid, and there’s a definite emphasis on carpet football. I’d even go as far as to say that there are distinct half-glances and words left unspoken in the revised balance that scream, to me, “It’s fucking Remains of the Day over here, and Anthony ‘FIFA’ Hopkins is totally in love with Emma ‘PES’ Thompson, but cannot break protocol and say it out loud!”

    The time I’ve spent with the revised FIFA has made me appreciate what PES 2017 does well even more, though. Despite the Superstar AI’s occasional propensity for unpicking back lines with “magic” through-balls, the programming for defensive behaviour in this year’s PES is more sophisticated (borderline authentic!) than anything we’ve seen before. And PES just has a feeling of solidity and consistency that I don’t think FIFA has *ever* matched.

  36. Jay – A quick ‘n’ dirty “stream of consciousness” guide for building up opposing sides in your league. If anything’s unclear, just holler.

    1: This only becomes easy when you’ve won a few trophies and have switched teams at least once. At that point, you tend to have a ridiculously large wage budget (I’ve been on £150m for the past two seasons) and around £90m per season to spend on transfers. It’s not impossible if you start with a small team: it’s just going to take a little more time and effort.

    2: To make it effective, you need to have no more than 26 or so playing staff – you need six or seven empty slots for your House of Cards-style transfer shenanigans.

    3: On the first day of every transfer window, go to the Database -> Team Info entry, and then study each side in your league. Make a note of weak links in every team. After a few ML seasons, you’ll soon start to notice things like 64-rated LMFs and 69-rated RBs in many squads, even top sides. If you want a diverse, long-lasting Master League, these are the shortcomings that you’ll be aspiring to address.

    4: Take a look at your new Youth Team intake, and make a mental note of the ones that you’d like for yourself, and those that could make an impact in other teams. But don’t rush to sign them just yet.

    5: Go to the “Advanced Search” menu on the “Negotiations” screen and select the “Age” filter. Set this to 15-16, then search. You generally get at least four or five top-level regens that begin as free agents. Add these to your shortlist.

    6: In the immortal words of Ms Aniston, “Here comes the science bit”. Anyone you sign from your Youth Team is eligible for trade deals from the very day that they join your squad. However, free transfers signings are given the “Joined the club recently” flag, which categorically disqualifies them from swap negotiations for two or three months. The same is true of anyone that signs a new contract.

    7: The smart way to start, if you *really* want to make a difference to your league, is to sign the top three or four free agent regens immediately. If you don’t, it’s odds-on that Wankalotz FC (or any other fictitious/irrelevant team) will poach them within a week or two.

    8: With at least two or three spare squad slots left, sign a few youth team players that you’d like to move to deserving clubs.

    9: If you made a list of worthy recipients, you can now put in transfer bids for their weakest players. You need to target low-rated individuals who are, to be frank, just plain shite. Every team has them. Avoid any individuals who have the “Retiring this season” status, and old pros that have lots of Player Skills. The latter hold their value well into their career, even after their OPR has plummeted, which will fuck with your transfer success probabilities, and almost certainly cost you time and money.

    10: After signing a youth team player, and having a bid for a worthless 63-rated squad player from another team accepted, negotiate the deal and set up the trade. If you’re gifting regen Iniesta, you can expect a 100% success rate. Should you attempt to return a 70-rated, fresh-faced Fernando back to Man City or a club of similar stature, you might meet with resistance – even if they actually, on paper, really need him. If your initial offer is refused, you can renegotiate immediately to have them come back with an offer whereby you pay anything between £300k and £3m to make the deal go through. I do this all the time now: one marquee signing per season aside, I spend very little on transfers.

    11: When you get your “dead wood” signing, release him on a free to restore squad slots. Continue this until you’re out of youth team players that would actually improve opposing sides. Setting up trades for five or six academy graduates with a few available squad places usually takes the best part of a month – so the majority of the January transfer window.

    12: Once you’ve shipped out all eligible youth team players, go back and see if any of the additional free transfer youngsters that you shortlisted earlier are still available. If so, sign them: this is part two of the “long game”.

    13: Late October or February (as applicable), go to the Negotiations screen and check to see when the “Joined the club recently” message disappears on your remaining trade fodder. When it does, you’re free to set up exchanges. You can obviously arrange five of these between windows.

    A few additional notes:

    Once you’ve made a list of weak links in opposing sides, use the “Club Teams” filter to limit transfer searches to a single team, then change the sort order to Overall Rating on the search results. It speeds things up.

    If a player is an LMF or RMF, don’t transfer him to a team set up to use players in the LWF and RWF positions. He won’t get much game time at all, which defeats the purpose of this exercise. See also: CMFs when a side uses a two-DMF, one-AMF midfield, and full-backs if a manager prefers three at the back.

    This bears repeating: Liverpool may still be playing a 37-year-old, 72-rated Henderson at CMF, but his Player Skills and Team Role will make them disinclined to accept any trade for him. The AI places great value on these attributes. Always target no-hopers.

  37. The Cod Army are currently 1st after 24 games of my first season of Fifa 17. The game is a slow grower this year as opposed to previous years where things sizzle out after a bright start. A bit like Liverpool’s season. As James mentioned the passing is sublime. The CPU intelligence and variety of the play is much better than PES in my opinion, which leads to a wider variety of goals scored against you. Just needs work in the defensive side of the game. To counter this I always play on Legacy Defending now.

  38. Darryl — just to confirm, are you already playing FIFA17 on Legendary, or are you moving up gradually?

    James — a fundamentally good football game indeed, but the two big problems are too big to ignore: no-fouls means the game too often has a propensity to go all 1000mph and button-mashy; and the sameyness of too many players. Both are the deliberately planned outcomes of conscious strategic decisions at a design level (‘we need to make a PES for the online era’), so they were never going to be patched out the way PES2014’s issues were. These take enough of an edge off PES2017 for me to make it ‘only’ an 8/10.

    Jay — Walace never worked out for me either. Had him for 6 months of a season, so he had a good chance. This is slightly encouraging on an individuality front, different players etc.

    Shed — the fact that Ibrahimovic — particularly him, with his razzmatazz star quality — turns up in every Youth Squad tells us something about how the ML makers see ML now.

  39. Not Greg – I would’ve been tempted by Zlatan I. The same way Kaka tempted me, but he regenned at United, so much so I didn’t even realise he’d retired!

    James – thanks a lot for that! I did consider instead of starting a new ML, just moving clubs and signing up all the Saints players back to Saints when they regen but I’m probably better off starting again. I genuinely think I can play this PES thru to 2018s release so I’m in no rush – and I’ve not felt that way since I diligently played every League in the game in PEA 2008 when I was 14 and had all the time in the world.

    I presume I am the baby of this community? 23 next month…..

  40. Jay – damn, I can’t imagine how many seasons I would get through if I was 23 again. At least 50+.

  41. If I was 23 again I’d be playing on a homemade 386 SX with a hooky graphics board. I was between Amigas, so it would have had to have been the Doom series, Civ and Sim City.

  42. James – I’ve done exactly the same as you did, but in the Eredivisie. Shipped 29 players in total, does not take much time or effort at all and makes things more interesting as you say. Also, a few seasons in after this method and it seems the players stay at their new clubs, at least for a few years. (I expected them to be snapped up in no time by the bigger clubs – but no) I’ve got Miroslav Klose up at Roda JC and Llorente at Excelsior to name a few – crazy. It works though.

  43. Encouraging from both James and #1. Now for it to transpire in PES2018……..!

  44. Btw, 23 would have me in 2006, playing PES 5 and having a low paying but totally stress free job. No responsibilities to speak of… Good times.

  45. If you go to the Database -> Transfer Market News entry, you can see all transfer activity in the entire ML simulation from the last window to the current day. It’s really quite eye-opening: the vast majority are just free transfers. I’ve just checked, and only 27 deals from January to late March involved an actual fee – and I had a hand in seven of those.

    One interesting thing that I noted was that Man City, who have had a woeful centre-back partnership for the past two or three years, picked up an 84-rated CB and a 86-rated CB in the last window. That’s pretty damn unusual to see, and seems like it might be evidence of an actual transfer strategy… but nah, it’s almost certainly a coincidence.

    Bearing out my assertion that there is no true in-game economy, top transfer fees are in the £14.5m range for all AI-to-AI deals.

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