The Heat of the Blight

Season 1 of my new adventure with Saint Etienne has concluded. This is Season 12 of my PES2017 Master League overall. I transferred to Saint Etienne from Coventry City at the start of the current season.

It’s been a tough season. I’ve observing some rather stringent House Rules, to prevent the game running away with itself and becoming too easy. Here they are:

  • No player in the squad rated above 80 OPR.
  • Any player whose OPR hits 81 or above can still be picked but must be sold or released on Day 1 of the next transfer window.
  • New signings must be either Youths, Regens (sub-79 OPR), or Veterans in decline.

These rules have produced a very competitive, edgy Season 1.

Team Spirit spent most of the season in the doldrums – probably a good thing, on the whole.

Towards the end of the season Team Spirit picked up, and the quality of the matches dropped considerably.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. The fast-and-furious ‘thrash metal’ gameplay that is such a blight on Pro Evolution Soccer in its current phase – constant possession turnovers; ceaseless end-to-end flow; insta-responsive players who all feel the same; kung-fu slide-tackles galore, with not a referee’s whistle to be heard – seemed to increase, and I can only blame Team Spirit.

Such frantic, thrash metal gameplay takes everything that’s ever been great about PES, and all but destroys it. But it’s what the marketplace wants. Even the so-called hardcore fanbase wants this kind of thing, if the forums are any guide. So it’s what we’ve got.

But enough matches stayed good to make the overall experience still a solid 8/10, bordering on an 8.5.

Here was the table with 1 match remaining in the season:

I was facing relegation to Ligue 2. It was my own stupid fault, having squandered leads in successive matches immediately prior to this table screenshot being taken.

I needed to win my last match to stay in Ligue 1. I really wanted to win it as well. Relegation to Ligue 2 would have been interesting, but it’s a long, long slog to get through a second-tier season nowadays, with no guarantee of promotion at the end of it, as I discovered the first time around with Coventry City.

I won the final match 2-0, and waited to see how my players would react at the final whistle. I got a standard last-day sequence of cutscenes, and surmised that I’d survived. I’d have liked to see my on-field avatar David Pleating onto the pitch, but never mind.

Survived I had:

On to the next season now, with great enthusiasm and curiosity. I’m due to clear out a few players who are nudging the 80-81 OPR mark. I have already arranged to sell Regen Griezemann. But I might hang onto Regen Ronaldo for another season. He’s still only 76OPR, and pretty average.

I’ll be looking at the strikers. The Crouch and Friday partnership had a golden few matches in the middle of Season 1, but fell away badly toward the end. It might be time for Jarvis to take Friday’s place as first-choice. Or I might swoop into the Youth team for a no-name player and see what I can make of him. This kind of thing is what these Saint Etienne seasons are all about.

Updated: 20th June 2017 — 10:04


  1. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Team Spirt/Heart has done more to take away from the Master League experience than anything else in my opinion – including no fouls.

    PES 2017 would probably play without the need of house rules were it not for the effect of Team Spirit, the way it makes ordinary players superstars and the fact it takes away any need to tinker with formations/tactics match-to-match.

    Anyway, congrats on staying up n-G and I like how giant Peter Crouch (who is hilarious on social media according to today’s “news”) looks next to that other fella in the pre-match screen there.

  2. Shed — I really couldn’t be arsed with a Ligue 2 season, so I was glad to stay up too. Some ML table scripting helped of course.

    I think Heart worked well in PES2014, eventually, where the game as a whole was configured in such a way that it never got out of control. It definitely is out of control in PES2017. Far too many matches pass in a blur after TS hits 80. Prior to that point, nearly every match is a puzzle, and all the better for it.

  3. Team Spirit = On line balancing

    Yet another example of on-line gaming impacting on and destroying the ML experience. Simple as that really. The concept was stolen from Fifa who introduced the idea. Can’t recall off hand what it was called in Fifa but was very similar to Team Spirit.

  4. I’m not sure I ever consciously noticed heart, team spirit or anything other than rank scripting bollockery. Perhaps the reason it felt like the game started cracking much sooner is down to the overpowered boosts. Certainly there feels little need to go after certain players or set formations like Shed says as they can all play alike now. I think Andy Carroll has been the only real stand out different player for me.

  5. The one thing Team Spirit does that is unforgivable IMO is make all the players feel much the same. It probably does this by progressively cancelling-out stats-based error as the TS stat increases – that;d be the simplest and most effective way of representing ‘team spirit’, so that’s how it’ll have been implemented.

    I’ve been forums-watching quite closely over the past week or two, and it’s obvious that the agenda drifted away a long time ago from the kind of deep single-player experience that most people reading this want to have. It still gets mentioned occasionally, with somebody saying that ML is the most important thing to them, but it’s the absolute minority among all the faces and boots and pitches and nets. I’m happy and proud to say that I have never played a second of a full PES game with this ‘Barca’ of which they speak, and never will.

  6. Funnily enough I was offered the ‘Barca’ job at the end of my ML season last night. I won’t be taking it.

    Finished season 7 with two cup finals against lowly teams who played way above their stats in the typical ML way. Enjoyable matches all the same.

    FA Cup final vs Watford was particularly dramatic with Watford taking a 2-0 lead early on. Clawed it back to 2-2 only to concede again. A last minute equaliser had me thinking the game was about to ‘let’ me win in extra time but no. Lost on penalties.

    I did, however, win the Europa League final against a team I thought was a Konami made up monstrosity but was in fact an Italian side I had never heard of, Sassuolo Calcio. Their rather nice kit gave it away. Another tough match but I played this one a little more cagey and hit them on the break to secure a 3-0 win and what might be my first ever Europa League cup.

    I also played the end of season veterans friendly in which my own stalwart CB Yaya Gomez was centre of attention. He’s now just 69 rated and hardly used but he felt no different in the game than my usual 80 rated CBs.

    A break now but I’ll be playing on for at least another season. House rules mean I need at least five new players. I might also take an international job.

  7. Interesting bit of news while speaking to a colleague at work is that we might be working in some way with Konami on PES2018. We’ve been providing FIFA with player images for headshots for years and now Konami are taking a leaf out of EA’s book.

  8. All change!!!

    After 17 seasons at Liverpool its time to move on. I am now the proud manager of Deportes Temuco. They are shit and in the Chilean League. Should be fun. BOOOOOOOOOM!!

  9. Shed – I cannot remember ever winning the Europa League in any PES since it came along. I think I must have done, but I don’t recall. Taking part in the tournament usually occupies very few seasons, between your team/yourself being not good enough to finish in the Champions League spots, but good enough to nearly get there. So it’s a rare prize indeed.

    Tommy – I watched one of the E3 talking heads PES2018 vids all the way through the other day and they mentioned (in amongst all the multiplayer enthusing) that there would be real player pics on the squad select screen for the first time in the series’ history. I watched that whole vid partly to see if the two talking heads would acknowledge in any way that they hadn’t actually played PES2018 in the way the majority of us here will play it come September, and no, they didn’t.

    Lloyd – I was offered them before I picked Saint Etienne! Turned it down as my knowledge of South American footy is not good.

  10. NG – I’ve only got one house rule. Only South American player allowed.

  11. nG – I still suspect that despite all the effort with these headshots, there will still be a large amount with default grey silhouettes. One video I saw also pointed out that the intro cut scenes before matches in the E3 vids are exactly the same as PES2017. So for all the new bits and bobs they’re touting, much of it will feel exactly the same.

    But we know not to get our hopes up.

  12. Surprise news from around halfway in 2015 season one – minandinho, a player who has been in decline for me ever since the golden season of 2013 (I think I’ve sold him in the first year every game since) is second in the scoring charts. Not only is this unusual for a player in season one, to have scored that many goals as a team in season one is not normal. And I put it entirely down to the extra control of the through ball. Unfortunately I have a near exact 1-2 goal difference and have only won two games. I do also recall now 2015s major flaw, it’s stumble animation, it’s catch up bug – its the waltz straight up the middle from centre half to shooting range. But what shooting, some screamers even for an arsenalite like me.

  13. Not as shocking as Lloyd leaving Liverpool though. Shankly-like in its drama.

  14. Uncle Turf – that’s very encouraging the way you’re sticking with unassisted settings. Is that your new permanent choice for PES from now on? With the PES2018 demo, for example?

    You mention features of PES2015 – this stumble and the catch-up [it’s not a] bug – as if they’re staple features of discussion about the game, on a par with boots for PES2013, stumble for PES2011 etc, but I have no recollection of them in PES2015 at all.

  15. NG – yes, life is now unassisted passing. Note not ‘manual’ as that way madness lies.

    What I meant was that every pes seems to have a foot of clay, whether it be the 2008 dribble you mentioned or the stumble, catch up, central shooting etc of other years. I couldn’t recall 2015s ‘problem’ other than the face repetition but now I remember it’s the ability to come out of defence like Franco baresi on a scooter. You are hardly even approached till deep in the other half.

  16. Uncle Turf – What’s the difference between unassisted and manual? Also, how are you coping with the crossing on unassisted?

  17. Uncle Turf – I assume you mean you’re not playing with manual shooting. How are you coping with the crossing on unassisted passing? That’s the one aspect of playing in that way that always puts me off.

    I might make a start on a new ML season tonight but before I do I thought I would post a goal vid. I haven’t done one for quite some time and while this goal isn’t incredible it stood out to me as a great example of something I love about PES and always miss on other footy games.

    This goal was in the FA Cup final vs Watford and sparked what in the end was fruitless comeback. What made me record it was that lovely weighty feel about the move and the half-volley – the PES equivalent of when you strike a ball just right in real footy. I have experienced few as satisfying moments in video games than goals like that.

  18. Uncle Turf – I really don’t remember that issue about PES2015. It might flood back to me if I ever play the game again, but at a remove of 2 years now the only PES2015 issue that springs to mind is no-fouls and the obnoxious shadows on some pitches. And that it was a much better and more solid game than its much-salivated-over successor, PES2016.

  19. n-G – Are comments working properly? I posted yesterday but no sign of them on here.

  20. Shed – just checked Spam and they were in there. I think that’s the first time a genuine comment has been caught up in the spam filter. A bit worrying as there’s nothing in there that should have done that. I’ll have to keep an eye on the Spam filter from now on…

  21. And just watched that goal Shed. The essence of why we play PES. Contact, weight, context (the comeback!).

  22. Shed – you know I’m not sure. Manual to me has always been with the right stick and that highly sensitive 360 direction of travel whereas I’ve just clicked off the assistance settings. They do say though that this means the direction and strength are wherever you put it so it sounds the same thing. I’m not playing manual shooting as it’s as bad for me as the advanced shooting and I’d never get anything on target without altering the camera. Crossing is pretty awful which is why I now have a new formation 3-1-2-1-3 ish. Basically I have minandinho through the middle and two guys in the ss position which helps cut down the really annoying AI goalie roll to the full back. I think that has also contributed to a real change in the ebb and flow of the games as they can’t simply pass it across the back four.

    I think the best thing about unassisted is that I have to be on my game all the time (obviously I’m not with only two wins). You can’t get lazy and simply kick it somewhere near the player as it will lead to a break away for them. I’d imagine I’d be taken to the cleaners against better teams.

  23. I’ve been thinking: if one could just combine Fifa and Pes, oh, what a delight! Fifa gets a few things right: sense of occasion, and also some cool things in their career mode. Pes’s game play is completely superior (and I love regen players…)

    But alas.

    Anyways, something clicked this season. Some of my youths have exploded (Mastour, for instance), and I am scoring at will. My defense is still leaky, though. Fixed that (sorta) by signing Romagnoli (83) after I signed and sold a few youths. Sneaky? I suppose. But hey!

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