Master League 2019

And so it begins. A frustrating weekend of work and life is now firmly behind me. Finally I have started Master League in PES2019. For the coming week, real life is the fantasy realm that will exist at the margins of Pro Evo.

Thanks again to commenter Paul, of PESFX, for the custom Coventry City kits.

The Sky Blue on my TV is a lot more sky-bluey than you see here. Vids and screenshots will be slightly compromised on the blog for the foreseeable future.

I am playing on a 4K TV, which is marvellous, but it turns out that the PS4 Pro can’t capture the images in true fidelity. Pics and vids will sometimes make PES2019 look more like PES2015’s distinctive chalky pallor. Sony need to provide a software update.

Anyway, the game’s the thing, and I was all set up and running in the usual 20 minutes.

Paging through all the menus, getting everything set up – bliss. Arguably the best part of a nuPES Master League is the first session, and the first few sessions after that. Certainly that’s been how it’s been for several years now, as the series has declined in single-player terms.

PES2019 seems to be slightly different from its immediate predecessors, at this stage. We will see how things pan out long-term, but for now, in these balmy days of early September, there is genuine ground for optimism.

That’s me, taking over at the helm. I never sport facial hair in real life. The current vogue for wild post-apocalyptic beards can go and do one as far as I’m concerned. But when designing my avatar, the beard just seemed the way to go. (I’d love to get a real version of that ball.)

I went for the Stade de Sagittaire as my home ground. Renamed of course to New Highfield Road, in memory of the place that the real-life Coventry City should never have left.

Time for my very first Squad Screen tinker. I was happy to find my preferred nuPES formation of 4-2-2-2 already waiting for me.

I have only moved a few personnel around, and left their positions unchanged. I will see how things go with this formation. 4-2-2-2 always strikes me as the ideal nuPES formation.

I note the addition of a few new names, and will see how they do. Will the likes of Mihailov and Karlsen emerge as heroes in the classic ML sense, or be quietly moved on after half a season? It’s always one of the most interesting aspects of ML, finding that out.

Early signs are that A REDMOND – who has been an anonymous ML player for a few years – has been beefed up. He got me two good goals in the ICC Tournament that kicks off every Master League now.

I was, of course, mostly battered in that tournament.

I was lucky to get nil against PSG (lost 0-3), then lost more narrowly to Boca Juniors (0-1), and then managed a draw against Celtic (2-2, both goals from REDMOND). I am still only on Professional difficulty.

At the time of writing I am still only a few matches into the Championship season proper – a win and a defeat.

I’ve not brought in any outside players in yet. The transfer window is still open.

I have promoted one Youth, who looks very, very interesting so far.

W HARRINGTON. He is a 20-year-old AMF who reminds me of a young F FRIDAY, my big-boned star striker of PES2017.

I don’t know if everyone has the same Youths again this year, but it is likely. If so, and if you don’t mind sampling players others have mentioned, he’s there for the taking. He’s big and powerful, and showing signs of being a force.

Again this is another Master League storyline that joins all the others. How will this ‘Promising Youth’ subplot play out? Will you be hearing about Harrington again, or will he also be quietly moved on after a time? Master League in a nutshell.

Finally, two goals from my opening-day fixture vs Swansea, and a rising shot from Rice that hit the bar. The first goal is an AI moment that caused me some concern. Bony gets clean through on goal, but he decides to check back and lay the ball off to a teammate coming from behind him. I hadn’t yet seen this well-documented tendency of the AI, but to see it once is too often. Completely immersion-destroying, and if it’s not top of the patch priority list at Konami, we single-players really have been sold down the river.

I got the winner with a headed goal after toying with the Swansea defence for a bit. Remember this is all ‘only’ on Professional.

And that’s me up and running. Master League 2019.

I wish I could do it all again – the week 1 anticipation, then the arrival, then the getting-to-know-you sessions, then the start of ML proper. Now the real business starts.

Updated: 4th September 2018 — 11:03


  1. By the way I’ve never owned any console headphones but I found a pair we had for a digital piano so curiously plugged them in. I hate the sensation of being shut off from doorbells, phones and axe murderers breaking in but oh the sound, I never knew it was this good! Genuinely transformative gaming experience

  2. Paul – yes, of install, all went well, live update was on so I didn’t alter, classic players off. Just checked and none of the transfers this season are done – Gayle still at Newcastle, Ronaldo at Madrid etc. I’m not fussed as they’ll all swap anyway but that’s a bit odd isn’t it?

  3. You sure you’re not just playing PES2018 not-Greg? Have you physically checked the disc?

    Turf – it was that axe murderer risk that left both us to conclude, correctly, that VR would be a flop

  4. Turf. Definitely sounds like a dodgy install. If you went into edit mode then applied live update that would have downloaded all the correct squads. Did you do that ? Before or after installing the OF ?

  5. A tense 0-0 against Sheffield United for my first point in nine games. Haven’t scored yet.

  6. Paul – I suspect I didn’t apply it till after I’d started ml as when I go into the game in exhibition it has the players in their right places. I have no problem with the current rosters as they have already been shifted around and will continue to do so. If by missing out on better free agents I’ve made the game even harder then all the better – 17 games, 3 goals, I’m not on challenge but the chairman thinks he made a mistake.

  7. A few examples of the wing- low cross happening in every match. The main issue isn’t the wing play itself, but the fact that the AI is programmed to always use a low cross, even when it makes no sense to do so.

    Last 2 goals are a nice FK and a NG style banger from Rice.

  8. Paul – J.Rice (he’s Jan Rice to me, as in the Norwegian Jan) can certainly hit them can’t he? Lovely goal. I’m seeing these low crosses, mainly due to being on alert for them. I’m seeing enough of a difference between AI attacks for it not to be a problem though.

    Finally started ML last night using my laptop for some remote play for the ML set up and team tactics while Mrs Shed watched that weepy reunion show on ITV. Then it was onto the main telly for the opening match, Paris Saint Germain in the pre-season cup thingy.

    Playing on Top Player and remembering n-G’s experience of this fixture, I set up my new 3-5-2 Brighton team to be ultra-defensive and counter attacking. Imagine my surprise then when a nice little build up between Castledene and Arcas found Jarvis in the box who slotted in at the near post. This, my very first attack in my very first game of this ML.

    PSG went on the attack. I resolve to frustrate them and maybe even hold onto for an unlikely 1-0. Another break, a corner and that big Swede Erikson only stoops to head in a second.

    The second half is all PSG. I’m on all-out-defence now. PSG get a goal back through Mbappe but a combination of the post, last ditch defending and some glorious moments of drawing a free kick with an isolated CF was just enough to claim victory.

    I went to bed a little concerned at how a default team with rock-bottom Team Spirit could beat a team like PSG but mostly thoroughly satisfied by one of the best matches I’ve ever played on any PES ever.

  9. I picked up Abel Hernandez out of the free transfers and while he has completely upset the balance of my team his dribbling style and movement of the ball is nice and unique. He attracts at least two fouls a match though and has gone down holding his knee.
    Pity the game still lets you avoid an injury by keeping the ball in play if the ref plays advantage.

  10. Shed – Rice had been pretty Anonymous for me up until that point, playing him at DMF position, but he’s earned a stay of execution with that goal.

    Your match vs PSG sounds epic. It’s not unrealistic for a smaller weaker team to defend for their life, then grab their chances when they come up and come out with a win against a bigger team, as you well know, so just chalk it down to that.

    I’m firmly on Top Player now, played league matches 6,7,8 & 9 last night on TP, have only scored one goal, that Rice banger. TP is so much harder than professional, COM teams close down the space much better, you can’t use the trusty 1-2 give and go technique with anywhere near as much success to get in behind the defence, and they are quite lethal in attack, the only turd in the punch bowl in an otherwise very realistic and thoroughly enjoyable game is the over-use of wing-low cross play, its like the COM is pre-programmed to just do that, if you don’t allow them to, they spaz out and just play a senseless ball.

    On pro I was concerned that with a weak default team and low team spirit, I was able to score 3 or 4 goals every match, if I’d stayed on pro I would have won the Championship, first season.
    Top player is frustrating, in a good way, I’m losing or drawing most matches, and could end up near bottom now, but that’s how it should be for season one with the defaults, hoping better signings will start to close the gap.

  11. Paul – I’m in the Shed zone right now – the only reason I’m noticing ‘AI wing-cross’ moments is because I’m on the alert for them. Another half-dozen matches last night and there was nothing unusual IMO about the AI’s attack patterns. The heatmap of the AI’s attacks would be a pretty uniform light orange from one side of the pitch to the other. Still none of that corner-area showboating.

    But I’m still only seeing about 0.5 fouls per match, which I am very concerned about. By mid-season I think I’ll know if this is how things are for me for the rest of PES2019. I won’t be happy if so.

    I keep nearly scoring that goal with Rice! I’ve got him playing in the DMF hole deliberately. Your FK was farther out and beautiful to behold. One thing PES has got right the last 2 years: free kicks (when we get them).

    Shed – I wouldn’t worry too much about the PSG result and just enjoy it. It has to be possible to win that fixture with the right set-up and approach. If it was impossible, things wouldn’t be right.

    Lloyd – Rice again! Something is afoot with this little guy this year…

  12. prsgame – did you mean ‘avoid a yellow card’ by keeping the ball live after a foul? I’ve noticed that howler in PES for years and it’s awful.

    Paul – a definite re-zoning of the difficulty levels. I went up to Top Player last night and it’s suddenly a whole new AI. Still not winging it though…

  13. NG – How are you faring against the AI on TP ?

    Also weird on the fouls front, I’m getting so many more free kicks and fouls in general vs last year, one match last night, I had 6 fouls, 2 shooting range free kicks.
    SO many in-range FK’s in fact that I’ve become very adept at taking them, some would say they are too easy.

    On a side note, Harrington has tailed off for me, when starting him, usually in AMF, he’s blowing out of his backside by the 50th minute.
    Performances definitely suffer as a result of fatigue, the injuries may not be there, but passes, control, shots, runs, general strength, all suffer noticeably.

    Also come to the firm conclusion that turning HDR Off makes no difference to the picture quality at all in PES.
    colours are even more vibrant, detail is still there, only difference is captured vids look fine.

  14. Paul – the AI is battering me on Top Player.

    I want Harrington to be a CF long-term. Look at the barrel-chested physique on him. He’s a Troy Deeney, not a Jesse Lingard. As soon as I know the season is a wash-out (no promotion prospects) I’ll start playing Harrington up front and see.

  15. NG – No I meant if the player is fouled and goes down injured but the referee plays advantage then the ball is kept alive until the player basically gets up then there’s no injury recorded.

    I’ll admit I did it on purpose with Hernandez because I’d only bought him. But he gets an absolute kicking from the AI defenders.

    On TOP Player I was starting to think it had clicked until a run of 2-0 defeats.

  16. Glad its not just me.
    Getting battered first season is part and parcel of classic Ml though, we wouldn’t want it any other way, Shed’s tactic vs PSG might have to come into play more often.

    I play same formation as you, 4-2-2 but more like a 4-1-3-2, with a holding DM, 2 wide MF’s, an AMF and 2 up top, but did adopt a 5 across midfield and 1 up top for a game against Sheffield Utd, who were top and also had a 5 man midfield, it worked for 80+ mins, then queue a ball to the wing, low cross inside, first time shot and goal.

    Do you use any advanced tactics?

    PRS – in one match last night, I put in 2 heavy tackles on one of the COM’s players, Williams, he wont down and writhed around and both times ‘left the field for treatment’ but in both instances he carried on playing, never went off injured, I didn’t even get a ‘has returned to the field’ message.

    If a player gets battered early, goes down injured, then runs his stamina into the ground and gets battered again later in the match, surely that’s the perfect storm for going off injured? Konami just don’t like injuries.

  17. Paul – my PES routine is to open up each and every menu and every sub-menu (and sub-sub-menu etc) to tinker with them and see what they do. I’ve got a semi-deep defensive line (about 1/4 filled), central containment, 3/4 compactness, and a few other things I’ve forgotten now. I tend to the sceptical side when it comes to these settings. I’d agree they have some effect – but how much?

  18. That’s the tactical setup NG, I meant advanced tactics that you assign to the D-Pad, and can trigger on and off during a game, such as attacking full backs, Gegenpress, False 9 etc.

  19. Just to let you know I feel vastly superior to you top players and your heavy defeats. Im being absolutely slaughtered but by God one day I’ll thank myself for it. I darent even think what my favoured three at the back would be like, current formation is exactly as Paul described.

    I imagine Abbeyhill is looking down on me as I have brought in players above level 65.

  20. Legendary level Turf?

  21. I unlocked Legend yesterday and have heard a couple of forumites saying it playable this year so looking forward to trying it out once I have a stronger team. My team strength is on par with the league average but have relegation form so no need for it to be more difficult. I’m interested to see how Team Spirit plays out, last year it worked but on PES 2017 it was overpowered.

  22. Cook, judging by your exploits explained on here, it seems you are an above average player so Legendary may be more playable for you anyway.

    I’m still unsure just what TS actually means, in essence it should be your teams cohesion, so if TS is 100 does that mean that player runs are as frequent/intelligent as possible, how does this tie in with their stats?

    If TS is 100 and a LMF has stats that determine he is a ‘Prolific Winger’ does that then mean he cuts inside, hangs back outside, drops into the middle etc?
    Similarly if TS was only 50 does that then mean this players runs and general intelligence are reduced by half?
    Does a high TS mean that players are quicker to respond to loose balls, have more shots on target, higher pass completion rate?

    On the surface it seems quite obvious what TS should mean, but digging deeper its a bit murky, as to just what exactly it affects and how.

  23. Paul – Have you had the warning to take one of your players off yet? I had to take one off to avoid potential injury
    I also had Castledine miss three games as he was injured due to overplaying.

    I think in all the years I’ve been playing I’ve mellowed. I hardly ever dive in on the opposition now.

    After you pointed it out I’ve noticed that the AI do like the low cross but not to the extent you have been getting. I’ve only had one shimmy as well when the AI shimmied it out of play instead of putting a cross in. That was a bit jarring.

  24. I’ve not played any matches outside the ml Paul, so legendary isn’t unlocked for me. At this rate it will be season three before it is…

  25. Paul – Agreed, I haven’t a clue how it works but it has made life easier in past versions. I imagine the chances of success with passes, crosses, dribbles etc increase with higher TS.

    I’m not sure whether I’m a better player or just good at exploiting the weaknesses of the game. I’ve seen video of the passing moves you and NG string together and I don’t do that, I play ugly percentage football like a PES Big Sam or Mourinho.

    I’m definitely in the annoyed by low cross group BTW although I’m better at coping with it now the repetitive nature of AI attacks is annoying.

  26. PRS – Nope, never. not had any indication of any player ever getting injured, never had to take anyone off, and never had a player out for any number of games, I’m still only 9 matches or so in to season one though, I wonder if accumulated fatigue is a thing in ML?

    Turf – SS then, played a few friendlies against Superstar on the demo, it wasn’t too bad but I’m guessing its ramped up within a ML.

    Cook – Currently its not a game breaker, as there’s so much good in the game play that the AI low crossing is more of a nuisance, it’s just a shame that you get matches that are so realistic, the pace, the ebb and flow, then the CPU puts together a superb attack, and you expect them to either beat the man on the wing, or put a cross in for a header, and no, they just constantly do a weird shimmy, then a low cross into a packed penalty area where they know it will be cut out 9/10 times.
    It just ruins the immersion.

  27. Paul – yes I play with D-pad strategies on, although would quibble that there’s anything advanced about most of them. E.g. I like the Attacking Fullbacks option and had it on for most of the frosted-glass video I posted last night, but as you may have seen, was easily able to fend off the AI’s wingwalking. My other Attacking one is Centering Targets, where the forwards are meant to gravitate towards the penalty spot in expectation of a cross and header, although headers have been nerfed this year for sure (and about time too) so I will change that one. On the Defending side I favour Deep Defensive Line and Box Overload (I think it’s called), and sometimes do have them on together.

    The most effective defensive on-the-fly strategy I’ve ever seen is FIFA’s Park The Bus. Which visibly resulted (in FIFA15 and FIFA16 anyway) in two compact banks of 4 in the penalty area. I loved being able to do that. I don’t see that on any settings on PES.

    The all-out attacking options that PES gives us are very effective though. Something thrilling about leaving one defender on the halfway line while your other 9 outfield players all lay siege to a goal. The AI was very effective in punishing that last year.

  28. Uncle Turf – win 5 matches on Superstar and you will have the option to go up to Legend (no -ary to the name in PES, and I also hear it is playable this year). Will you go up?

  29. Another few matches just now and still no AI wingwalking. The favoured distribution of attacks is still more down the middle if anything. About 55% down the middle, 22.5% (x2) to either wing. A 55-45 split. And still no effing fouls for me! Very peculiar.

  30. All out attacking options NG? Do you mean setting the Att/Def levels to max attack (Red) ? or is there some form of other tactic?

    What is your transfer budget/wage budget looking like?
    I currently have 17mil in transfer budget and 890k in wage budget (after 2 x 250k signings) at only 10 games in to season one, I fear ridiculous levels of cash can be amassed again like last year.

  31. Paul – I do mean mainly the ATT/DEF levels bumped up to max, coupled with Attacking Fullbacks – really gets my team up the pitch. That’s the setting I had it on for the Bony chance – clean through the middle, but checked back and passed – that the AI had the other day.

    Currently £3m in transfers and about £100k left over in salary. I did a bit of deadline day wheeler-dealering that I’ll talk about on Friday.

  32. Ok just checking. I take it you didn’t cash in on Arcas then? he brought me in 11mil alone.

  33. Unfuckingbelieveable.

    1-0 up against Norwich in the 88min. Set for my first win in 16 games and there’s a bloody power cut.

  34. Lloyd – thats just pure bad bad luck.
    Autosave turned on ? At least you’ll get to replay the match, you might win 2-0 😉

  35. My commiserations Lloyd.

    Halfway point in ml and I’m testing whether it’s possible to be sacked outside of challenge. 19 played, 1 win, 3 draws, gf4 ga47.

    One solitary free agent has been added to whatever Tokyo fc was and the youth teamers have been refreshed with very low level dross. Basically the second half will be more of the same, chairman confidence 15%.

    I’m not seeing the low cross spam but nor am I seeing much variety in the goals, similar to 2015(?)s shot across the box. Absolutely no long rangers, no high crosses/headers and no penalties.

    I would never alter difficulty mid campaign so no legend for me as Motherwell but if I’m sacked I might restart rather than tout myself around as a failure.

  36. Turf – you will be left to wallow in your own, and your fans, misery, as no sackings outside of challenge mode.
    I am on Challenge mode, and now on TP not winning, or scoring, so have to decide whether to face the sack and a restart, or turn challenge mode off.

    Wonder if not having challenge mode on correlates to not seeing many fouls, but not suffering the low cross issue much either, seems you and NG have the same kind of setup there.

  37. Paul – no autosave, but I’d popped out to walk the dog just beforehand and saved the game. Phew!!

  38. Uncle Turf – there’s none of that taint of failure in PES I am sure. When I was sacked in December of Season 1 in that FM2015 Coventry attempt, I actually stuck around in the world for a few virtual months, applying for jobs whenever they came up. Nobody would even give me an interview, not even the non-league sides. My disaster had been so bad, the virtual footballing world saw me as untouchable in the negative sense. In ML I’d bet you’d get a team at the same level almost immediately. Only your own sense of Purity can stop it. (I don’t think you can be sacked on Classic ML mode anyway.)

  39. I have certainly had a contract not renewed in previous mls but not an outright sacking (although it was wrongly called that). I’ve been offered jobs throughout the first half of the season so no doubt there is a liferaft but I’d not want to take one as it would feel completely unlikely. In FM you can be sitting for hours on end watching results scroll by as there are so many out of work candidates better than you. Konami would likely offer me Milan. I’ve recruited modestly with a view to building next year.

  40. Example of an almost unstoppable low cross/pass. Watch my CPU controlled CB (number 7) just let the forward go to the neat post making it almost impossible to defend.

    Once again frame rate is low but after NGs potato video I don’t feel too bad

  41. The low-cross spamming from the cpu is all too frequent in my ML too. I’m starting to get a little bored of it, although I can block/cut it out quite comfortably now with good positioning. I just hope the cpu mixes it up a bit when I get promoted and play the bigger teams.

  42. Bizarre re. the low cross / instant goal thing. I believe all who are experiencing it but taking Tommy’s example I have never seen that in a few dozen games. At first I thought it was league-related as I’m currently not playing in the English leagues but since NG is not seeing it (or hardly) it has me puzzled. You would think Konami would patch it out but we all saw how that turned out for the infuriating chip over the top CPU tactic last year…

  43. hold on, scratch that. I’ve played bottom-of-the-league Excelsior and Fortuna Sittard and have seen it (low cross and shot) three times now across two games. I suspect it has to with team strength and tactics which hopefully means it is easily editable / patchable. Wasn’t game breaking but it is annoying. Games were otherwise glorious…5 CPU fouls each, great changes in tempo during the game, stamina coming into effect, you name it. I find myself watching replays a lot of times just because it looks so good in motion. I think it still doesn’t have the raw graphical polish of FIFA but in motion it looks better by a country mile. still well pleased so far.

  44. I’m getting loads of on goal free kicks, I just can’t make them count, too high usually. Nobody bid for my arcas, I rejected bids for castledine but maybe playing the arc man in an SS position has impacted his scores. I can do very little wheeler dealering as no one wants to come. It will be free agents and trades only. The likes of rice, giorza, et al will be staying.

    Just debating whether I want to try making legendary a thing. Like we did with Nathan drake’s unchartered collection. I suspect NG won’t bite.

  45. #1-Roosendaal or ajax? 🙂 Just finished a 6hour edit sesh. Bundesliga 1+2 and pimped the Swiss league to 16 teams. I love Luganos kit. Ml commences 22:30!

  46. Good ol’ Weird, I mean Werd.

    Turf – there’s a back to FK’s. Position the flight of the ball, charge power so that anything 20-25 yards it’s halfway, 25yards plus you want a speck of orange on the power bar. After you have charged up then press the LS in the direction to add curl/ spin.

    I practised in the training section for about an hour. Made so much difference.

  47. Switched off HDR after experiencing a few visual glitches whilst playing, and had a great session.

    Best PES since PES2015, at least, right now.

    I think Visual Fatigue has been misnamed. Or mis-anticipated by us. It seems to take cumulative effect in general gameplay when your players are knackered, rather than being a dramatic injury/being substitution thing. Players with red stamina, or no stamina, are almost a liability. Lots of passes going astray, overhit, etc – on PA1 – very good to see. Fantastic, in fact. Is this Visual Fatigue? I think it must be. I was expecting something other than what it appears to be, but I’ll take what it appears to be, as it’s so much better.

    Had a really good session just now. Captured loads of special little moments that I’ll talk more about on Friday’s post. I’m off work, so I’ll have time to really detail what I think and participate in discussion.

    I also got a few fouls! I realised just what it is that makes fouls essential in a good football game. Fouls and free kicks generate different kinds of situation – they extend the scope of what can happen in a match. Think of one of the keynote feelings of nuPES since the advent of no-fouls football: monotony. The hollow feeling that the ebb and flow of the match is always the same. Fouls and free kicks introduce essential variance. I’m still getting matches with few fouls or none, but getting frequent matches with 3 or 4 or more is so good.

    So all in all, massively positive about PES2019 right now.

    I never realised how much I have come to rely on the quick give-and-go to get through defences until it was nerfed this year.

    Visual Fatigue is real and it is excellent! Introduces so much strategy and thought to the game. Red-stamina players really need either to be subbed or to be carefully nursed through. I also notice how it carries across matches. My Castledine was still on green stamina but started misplacing passes and moving sluggishly, after playing several in a row.

    I like the way the AI plays in general. I am still NOT seeing the wingwalking-cross thing. I did capture this bit below – is this the low cross thing on show here?

  48. 14 defeats and 3 draws. Sacked at Xmas. Restart or a choice of Bolton, Rotherham and Millwall. Oh the agony of choice.

  49. Rotherham are the only team in the Championship as bad as/worse than the default’s team OVR, if that helps!

    I was looking into knocking up my own set of “defaults,” maybe by selecting 23 players from across the lower leagues with the same (or worse) OVRs as the actual defaults. There are teams in the game worse than the defaults including at least one in the SPL.

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