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. Took the Millwall job. Won first game 1-0 with a scrambled 91st min winner. Boom!!

  2. On challenge Lloyd? I’ve started the second half of the season with two nil nils. As the chairman expects European qualification I’d be toast in challenge. Happy with the defence now, brought in two solid centre halfs on player trades and sold all but the essential defaults to have a go at any frees come the summer.

    Paul – cheers, yes, I was simply over doing the power. Been a while since I had shooting free kicks and I was still thinking it was 3/4.

  3. nG – The “low-cross” thing is more like the cpu plays a low cross, but a lot of the time it’s a short, cheap, square ball into the 6 yard box. You just know it’s going to come in when the cpu out wide gets into the last 6 yards of the pitch.

  4. Turf – yep.

  5. In game injury alert!! Bruno, after scoring twice against my old club had the sore leg message. No subs left and 30 seconds later he goes down and I’m down to ten men. Also after the game the physio said I should manage his fatigue levels better in the future.

  6. Loyd – glad someone else got it. Was starting to think I had imagined it.
    Maybe defaults don’t have that programmed in as mine was a bought player.

  7. Werd – Ajax of course, with the addition of the Johan Cruijff Arena this year being quite nice. currently in league mode and jumping in as soon as an option file (which are for wussies of course ;)) with all bells and whistles is available. I think I’ve never even completed a full League mode season, ever. Now is as good a time as any.

    By the way – is challenge mode now working “properly”? As in, transfers are actually harder and money is harder to come by? Or is it just the added risk of being sacked?

  8. NG – No. That was a normal bit of wing play and a poor cross.

    You only need to go back and look at my video showing the 5 instances of wing-cross spamming to see the difference. Where the AI gets the ball on the wing, shuffles around then when the most logical, highest probability pass would be a floated cross into the box, or a run in and shot, they always low cross it into a pack of defenders.

    Agree with your other points though, Visual fatigue is cumulative, and definitely has an effect in a players performance.

    Not that it needs a debate as we are all in agreement about fouls, but yes, they make so much difference and add extra elements to the game play/strategy.

    The other night I could not create a chance against Derby for love nor money, the 1-2 give and go has been nerfed on TP level and above, or only works when you have the players with high stats in pace, runs etc, but then I got a FK on the half way line, a nothing FK, no threat, I just lumped it into the penalty box, it glanced off a defenders head, bounced and hit the post, rebounded out to the edge of the 6 yd box where my CF tapped it in, 1-1 draw.

    Id have NEVER scored from open play even if I’d played all night, yet that one foul gave me a point. That’s why they are so important.

  9. #1 – I’d say negotiations are a little harder, yes. But the difference is negligible. Might cost you a touch more for that player, etc. As for money being harder to come by… When I did my trial ML on classic I was offered €6.5m for my 38yo GK. This time round, on challenge, I was offered €10m. Make of that what you will.

  10. Jay – I always use homebrew defaults, usually from Leigerblitz(spelling)from the PEU League. Vander and Van de Berg have become the new Castollo etc.
    The swiss league has many low stat players may be worth a look to, also the PEA league. Its supposed to be an Asian league but its full of Euro players(konami again rushing things)

    Paul – You know me, also I listened to the 2 disc soundtrack of John Carpenters The Fog whilst editing…heaven 🙂

  11. I realised last night that the game in the starting menu now forces you to tab across the ONLINE section to get to your Master League option. In the past few years the game booted up with your Master League all lined up and ready to go immediately. You only had to press X. Now Konami makes you think about it, makes you look at the myClub splash photos and dynamically changing Special Offers, to get to your Offline mode. A tiny touch but a clever and a telling one.

    Paul – in that case then, I am still not seeing wingplay/low-cross from the AI. One AI team did score two goals from PES6-style cutbacks – were they the low cross? I’m guessing so, in which case, they’re perfectly in proportion to the rest of the AI attacks I see. There’s nothing disproportionate in how often the AI attacks from the corner quadrants and I definitely would never even be looking for it if I hadn’t read so much about it.

    Re. fouls, watching the current crucial stages of the Major League Baseball season, the fundamental role that foul balls and wonky pitching play in the sport just could not ever be left out of a serious game about the sport without attracting scorn and ridicule. Yet we still get people – hardcore PES fans among them – arguing against fouls in football games. I would bet even the few fouls that Konami have finally granted us in PES2019 are in danger of being patched out.

    Lloyd – good news, and I’ve now heard of enough similar in-play injury stories to be confident of seeing it myself, eventually.

    This is what 5 years of nuPES have reduced us to: anxiously monitoring the frequency of fouls and injuries in a football game, and celebrating when they occur.

  12. NG – I’ve had something even worse whereby the ‘home’ tab loads up with a ML shortcut 3 out of 4 times but the other time it’s MyClub. They hoodwinked me with it almost immediately and I had to sit through the frustrating spinning circle. Luckily they’ve botched the PC servers so it didn’t go too far.

  13. NG – I’ve noticed that on TP level, COM teams do try more styles of attack, but still use the go-to wing-low cross tactic way too frequently, whether that changes with better teams, ie promotion to the Prem I don’t know, but way off getting there for some time.

    A good tip for increases chances of signing players is to manipulate the budget settings.
    I’d suggest leaving it as is for the first season, offload a few players if you can to at least get a few million in the bank as a transfer kitty, but after season one, change the budget settings so that gate receipts and merchandise money goes into your salary kitty, rather than the transfer kitty.

    Then, when negotiating with players, if he wants say for example, 3 mil a year wages, bump this down to as low as it will go, say 1.2 mil, his chances of signing will decrease too, maybe as low as 0-10%, but then bump up his extras, such as appearance fee, clean sheet bonus, goal fee etc, and his chances of signing will exponentially rise in line with what you offer. All this comes out of the salary budget, which you now have being fed by gate receipts and merchandise sales.

    The benefits of this are that players like add-ons, so offering them increases the chances of signing him, the higher the chance of signing are at the beginning, the easier negotiations. will be, if he has a high chance of signing, so full 5 bars to start with, you can knock him down a lot further.

    A player wanting 3 mil in wages a year, you manage to knock him down to 1.2, but then counter that by offering him a 30k a week appearance fee, 30,000 x 12 = 360k.
    1.2 mil + 360k = 1.56 mil in total wages for the player who originally wanted 3 mil.

  14. nG – I noticed in one of your youtube vids last night you’ve signed Lincoln from the free agents. I currently have him lined up to arrive in January. He looks the business, the kind of player you can build a team around. I will have to change formation to accommodate him, though.

  15. Werd – when you say home brew do you mean you’ve created a team of players yourself from scratch or you pick one of the fake teams and start with their fake players?

  16. Knowing Werd he would have created them all from scratch, stats and all, probably researched their family history, even visited some of their homes to interview the players about their life.

  17. Jay – a bit of both mate. I keep the general stats but change motion/goal celebration/faces etc

    Paul – I even lived with them for 3 years and got a job in their fictional town 🙂

  18. Cooking pasta Werd?

  19. I’ve been brought right down to earth after my shock win vs PSG wth the defaults. The pre-season cup ended with my Brighton defaults rock bottom of the group after successive 2-0 defeats to FC Copenhagen and River Plate.

    An opening day defeat away to Derby (1-0) also highlighted that this is going to be as tough a ML as expected.

    I’ve managed to ship out some of the usual defaults but the players coming in are only a touch better. No injuries yet but, I hate to say it, I am seeing a lot of low crossing/square passes from AI forwards.

  20. There you go Shed.
    Are you playing on TP or SS?

  21. Well, the January signings I have made have destroyed me. 1 win in 6 despite having on paper better players.
    They now look at each other and don’t make the supporting runs they used to. From an outside chance of third place, I’m now hoping to achieve the 9th place objective.

    Top Player is a tough cookie but so much fairer than last year.

  22. Paul – Top Player. I’m still very impressed with the game but there is a certain pattern to the attacking AI at times. It reminds me a little of PES 2013 and the AI’s love of a through ball on the counter. I also doubt it will be patched out.

  23. Penalty….penalty!! For a sliding tackle on the edge of the box, which was just falling into the right side of the whitewash. Converted by castledine.

  24. That TS takes a big hit with new signings PRS.
    Did you check their tactical tendencies before signing, ie do they favour frontline pressure or conservative defending, counter attack or possession football, etc ?
    If they match the tactics you are using, ie, they are a ‘good fit’ for your team, then
    TS doesn’t take as big a hit and it builds up much quicker.

    If you have signed players that are used to playing the complete opposite to how you play, then of course the TS will be affected.

    Shed – I doubt it is patchable, the way the AI plays and how it reacts to how you play is a very complex piece of coding, relying on numerous factors and variables, I don’t see how it could be efficiently patched without fear of having a negative knock -on effect.

    Turf – They do exist!!!!

  25. Shed – and the big question is: if you hadn’t been attuned to the AI wingplay/cross thing by all the talk about the AI wingplay/cross thing… would you have noticed it enough to mention it?

  26. Forgot to mention that Norwich had a player sent off last night. Straight Red as well.

  27. Paul – Much like Steve Bruce at Aston Villa I seemed to go mad with no cohesive plan. just went for weak areas.
    I’m glad in a way because I was trucking on too well for the first season.
    I know the style of players I want to fit my system but I think I’ve removed one too many of the old guard.

    I’ve found the Swedish Ozil in Erdal Rakip – As lazy a player I’ve never seen in PES

  28. n-G – The answer to your question is no. No I wouldn’t of noticed but I’m also not too bothered about it.

  29. Maybe not this early on Shed, but will you also not be bothered about it, 2,3,4 seasons in, 40 matches per season, if every com team plays this way 80% of the time?

  30. I’ve not experienced it at all, not remotely like Paul and others clearly have from their videos.

    Win number 2 thanks to that penalty. They’ll be dancing on the streets of Motherwell tonight.

  31. Uncle Turf – 3 more wins and you can go up to Legend(ary)…

  32. I’m firmly in the Low Crosses are a Thing Camp, because they are for me, though I played a Random Selection match to sample some of the best players in the game that I’ll probably never sign in ML, and it was noticeably less of a thing.

    I’m also in the Fouls are More Plentiful Camp and therefore Shooting Range Freekicks Camp.

    I’m now in the Desperate to Start ML Camp, but permanent resident of the Need a (more) Complete Option File Camp, thanks to Paul’s simply outstanding and faithful recreation of Madureira’s 50th Anniversary tops…..

    Absolute beauties <3

  33. I keep expecting Low Cross to become a thing for me, but with every session that passes I have to look ever harder to see what the kerfuffle is all about. Most matches still feature a variety of attacks. In the one or two instances per match where the AI does work the ball out wide and does put in the Low Cross, I get very wound up internally, asking myself ‘Is that it? Is that one of them? Is that a… Low Cross???’ Then I remember it really is just a few times per match (if at all) and ask myself if I would regard this as a Thing, if I’d never heard about it. And I really wouldn’t.

    Way back in PES2011 I recall most people not knowing at all what I was on about with my obsession over the stumble animation. The football boot is firmly on the other foot now.

  34. In fairness not-Greg that video you posted showed very few instances of The Low Cross so for some reason it is not happening in your ML, not simply a difference in perception

  35. I really like the way the game handles. It keeps getting better and better. So far my suspicion that it’s a grower rings true for me. So far. I keep having to remind myself to not “pes18” it and that there are far more options to attacking and defending. I have scored and conceded some lovely goals as well.

  36. In-game injury… Sort of. Player went down after a foul towards the end of the game. Went to the touchline for treatment, was there a long time and game ended before any message. Continued and got message saying he had sprain (annoying sentence starting lower case, for the grammar nazis out there) out for a few days (not sure total time, in Nov, game said back Nov)

  37. Imagine my horror. In the first leg of the Copa Del Rey vs Atleti, Griezmann scores 2 goals just become half time to level after my early 2-Goal lead. Second leg they’re at home so only need to draw 0-0 or 1-1 to go through. I’m one up with 20 left having just scored. Their next attack Diego Costa goes to ground in the box. Bollox. Inevitable. But no. Hang on. It’s a dive and he’s booked for simulation!

    Hallelujah the Bilbao fans sing melodically.

  38. abbeyhill – the thing is, all my matches feature that kind of AI behaviour, so I can’t really claim to be on-board with the whole Low Crosses Are A Thing thing. Interesting that on the forums there’s no consistent view on it either – although the ones who do have it really have it. Vehemently have it.

    Tommy – again though, it’s more or less the same scenario as the injury layoffs we’ve had in previous years. The match itself was not interrupted. This is what we suspect Konami removed injuries for – to stop the tweenage online players ‘losing their shit’, as the tweenagers themselves might say.

    I’m saying it now: first posted actual footage of an in-game PES2019 injury (shown in the clip) that goes to the squad screen (must also be shown in the clip) and a forced substitution, who comes on in the match afterwards (also must be shown in the clip) wins a prize (actual prize TBD).

    I’m not saying that in-match injuries are the ‘scary killer clowns’ of nuPES – i.e. everyone knows of one, but has never seen one themselves – but at this stage let’s just see some hard evidence.

    Jay – thought you were going to volley or at least half-volley that dropping ball there. Still a good rifled finish.

  39. I’m not sure if I’m bothered by low crosses because of the frequency or the relative success the ai has.

    I had a good session this evening. 4 narrow defeats and then bounced back by beating Derby 4-0. Extremely satisfying if a little scripted. Definitely the most difficult PES for a while.

  40. If I am honest I have been actively following the comments in hope of gushing praise of the game, which would see me then racing off to the shops on a Friday lunchtime to make a purchase. With all the discussion about low crosses and AI behaviour there is little evidence of anyone actually enjoying thier Master League adventures. That is a sign of the times I suppose as the forums just make us look out for what is wrong with the game rather than just playing it for what it is. I am not saddened by the recent demise of the PES forums as they have changed so much since I first went on them. So I do agree with NG when he talks about perception as when you read all the comments about low crosses you do look out for them. It is fundamental basic human behaviour. A few years ago my wife bought a mini and the little one became obsessed about them. So he used to have us playing a game of walking round the block and seeing how many of them we could spot each day. The record was 12 going round our circular route. Subconsciously I found myself looking for them during my day. It seemed that everyone owned a mini. Years later he is obsessed with Star Wars and I just don’t notice them any more. So to truly enjoy a new PES would it may be better to have an Internet ban from demo launch onwards. But is this possible now we have all become addicts.

  41. Agreed Darryl, which is why I don’t use any of the forums and have in the past two seasons stopped scrolling through the comments here once it becomes too negative as I do find that if it becomes too much it infringes on my enjoyment of the game.

    I recommend you buy it though. Really enjoying it a lot. If the game’s only draw back are low crosses then it’s a good game. It is a good game. Try it, you’ll see!

    I predict low crosses are the only longstanding quip that arises and if nG bans its use (go on!) it’ll be fine!

    Also, derbies are bloody bonkers. Feels like they secretly raise the difficulty for them

  42. Darryl – not playing master league yet but am very much enjoying the game and I think most if not all of us here are. The forums though – that’s a very different story. I’ve stopped reading them for now for exactly the reasons you mentioned and am just happily playing the game, discovering things myself as I go along.

  43. Its definitely heavily influenced by the perception thing.
    I played around 80 matches on the demo, never noticed AI low cross spamming once.
    Someone mentioned it on Twitter, now in the full game, my matches seem plentiful with them, but probably actually aren’t as bad sa I make out, it just seems they are because I subconciously look for it, when it happens, and it does happen a few times per match, it sticks in my head more.

    They do need patching, as when it happens its happens in unlogical, unrealistic situations such as pummeling a low cross into a penalty box full of defenders when you have better positioned players waiting to receive high crosses at the far post for example.

    But in comparison to PES 18’s issues, to only bemoan the way the AI attacks some of the time, I’d take that any day.
    PES 2019 is the best game play PES for years no doubt, its difficult, forces you to play ‘proper’ football, there are no exploits that I have found so far, such as overpowered 1-2’s, and teams do carry different threats.
    Was spanked 5-0 by Swansea last night, Bony hat-trick, he was too strong, just shrugged off my default defenders.

    And the graphics and pitch detail, and the LOD evident when using the custom cam, is beautiful. This feels like a proper old school PES that grows and evolves on you over time and you slowly master its ways.

    Just a shame the mystery PES ML dice roll has landed on ‘no low crosses’ but ‘no fouls either’ for you NG, as I do see plenty now, and have scored numerous free kicks as a result and it really does elevate the game play knowing if you play the right way, you can be fouled, and therefore a tactical chance to create something, on the flip side, bully your way about defending and you will pay the price.

    You know you want to Darryl.

  44. Daryll – Join us Frater 🙂 It does play a really good game, However I cant edit my avatar just right, the old asian/alien face doesnt cut it anymore and the face I made up resulted in Mrs Werd sniggering 🙂

    #1 – me too, dithering on team choice, either Borussia Dortmund or a made up Fortuna Koblenz(still love the German commentary city choice options) My home brew and youth team are edited but need a team to start my ML.

  45. Darryl – talk of perception is always good, the only truly interesting topic in the world… my perception here is that everyone is enjoying their MLs! I am hugely enjoying mine. Best PES of the current console generation so far.

    It’s when TS gets high and players get good that the real character of a nuPES edition emerges, though. I will reserve judgement until I’m at least 3 seasons in.

    Paul – I checked my stats last night and the game is trying to tell me I have an average of 2.1 fouls per match, which isn’t right – that figure includes offsides, of course. I’d put it around 1 per match on average. This is my ‘thing’ for PES2019, I think. I don’t think the Low Crosses are going to be a thing for me.

    Jay – I refuse to play derbies in nuPES. Never liked them, just relentless 1000mph end-to-end anti-PES fare.

  46. I edited MK Dons over Preston North End, started ML, then went back in and changed the rival teams, to the likes of Villa, Derby, Watford, local-ish teams, but the game still recognises PNE’s rivals as mine, so my derbies are against the likes of Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield, Master League really does become an enclosed, walled off environment once you start it.

    May use this as a test drive ML, wait for the PESUni v2 OF with Bundesliga etc in, then start afresh, make sure everything is edited and set right before starting, and start on TP and ride the wave of difficulty but armed with the knowledge I have picked up from playing this current test ML.

    And for the record, yes, I am very much enjoying my ML, of course the mode itself is bare bones compared to the likes of PES 2010, but the game play is so superb that you want to be spending most of the time on the pitch anyway.

  47. Paul – we all have our own individual approaches to ML. I always think my early noob errors in every Master League (such as letting the first transfer window go by too fast because I’m more interested in the matches at that stage) are part and parcel of my experience with the mode.

  48. NG – I will post my in game injury later. No sub as I had used them all, but only had ten men on the pitch after it occurred.

  49. Paul – I too am feeling a restart, albeit reluctantly. I’m really enjoying my current ML, but there is Liga MX available now, MLS coming this weekend, and J-League to follow soon. After the early competitiveness Top Player has stopped being difficult very quickly with the cpu being pretty one dimensional. The gulf between TP and SS is quite ridiculous. I’ll probably restart, but if I can’t sign the same players as before I’ll be gutted!

  50. Lloyd – I hope you don’t suffer some mysterious Final Destination-style mishap before posting it. The evidence needs to be seen!

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