The A.I. That We Fleed

A few days off work meant a lot of rapid progress in my Master League on PES2019. The above is the exact moment I got Castledine straight-red-carded in a calamitous defeat.

I’ve had a couple of proper ‘9/10 enjoyment’ sessions on the game. As I type up this post on this fine Friday morning, I’m aware that it’s FIFA19’s official release day. For many diehard PES fans of long-standing, the PES2019 AI experience is unacceptable, and they are quite rightly seizing on the appearance of what sounds like the most promising FIFA for years.

I’m enjoying PES2019, on the whole. I get no AI fouls, and I’m still sure that long-rangers have generally been nerfed in a way I profoundly disapprove of. But overall? It’s good for me.

Season 2 is 15 matches old at the time of writing. That means I’m almost exactly one-third of the way through it.

This is the current table:

Much better than this stage in season 1. My goal is to finish in the top half of the table at the very least.

Those 3 wins were welcome, but there should have been more.

And 6 draws is frustrating. I’m constantly fiddling about with formations trying to turn all the draws into wins and the defeats into draws. Here is the latest 4-1-3-2 (promptly abandoned):

After seeming so great initially, Rice has declined more or less to averageness. That Rising Shot of his continues to be an enigma. Such an intoxicating new skill, in a series that used to be justly famous for its satisfying long-range shooting. But no Riceing Shot has yet to lead to an actual goal.

SPEAKING OF LONG-RANGE SHOOTING – as detailed in comments on the previous post, I did finally get my long-sought-after PES2019 long-ranger.

Here it is again for those who have not seen it:

Some say these types of goals from that sort of distance are fairly common in PES2019. They’re rare enough for me. This was my first after a hundred attempts. And I haven’t had one since, despite many more attempts.

I did, though, score this R2 curler from about 30 yards with Lincoln – yes the keeper flubs it in, but I’ll take it:

Not quite another long-ranger – a few things count against it, not least the R2-use. A classic PES long-ranger should be a laces-driven cannonball. And then there’s that keeper flap.

It’s the first thing of note that Lincoln has actually done. He’s still ripe for transfer come January, though.

In general, though, I now play a touch more conservatively in attack. Instead of always blazing away from distance, I try to work more optimum opportunities. Goals have picked up slightly, and I am proportionally higher up the table because of it.

Defending can still be a nightmare. The PES2019 AI, for all its many faults, can find fiendish ways to grab a goal when it puts its virtual mind to it. At least 4 of my 6 draws could and should have been wins for me, but I have this habit of succumbing to 90th minute equalisers.

Better players will help. I’m looking forward to the mid-season transfer window with a hunger for new players that I haven’t ever really experienced in nuPES Master League.

I need another top striker to play up front with Necid. After a promising opening few matches, Dentinho has wilted into anonymity, for the most part.

My semi-House Rule is ‘show me individuality or I will show you the door’. Dentinho has done enough, though, to earn a stay of execution until at least the end of the season.

And so have most of my other players. Even the weirdly forgettable starting Default Karlsen has sprung from the bench a couple of times to perform supersub heroics. I find Karlsen plays best as an SS directly behind Necid.

I’m a big fan of Visual Fatigue. We’re so accustomed to playing with our fingers curled lovingly around the R1 button, we don’t realise we’re doing it.

Visual Fatigue punishes R1-use in the late-game. Making the right substitute at the right time is now deeply meaningful, rather than something worth doing just for the sake of it. Fingers crossed that this isn’t patched out.

Updated: 28th September 2018 — 12:01


  1. nG – shame you’re not experiencing fouls because they are undoubtedly and unquestionably there. I feel paired with visual fatigue it would be hugely satisfying for you because, as you say, the AI mercilessly exploits your tired players and subs well-used are essential. I already know I need stamina high second choice LBs and RBs in the next two windows.

    So I’ve played my first two games of the season. The first was against Forest and the second against Dirty Leeds. You can imagine my delight at beating Forest 1-0 on opening day. It was a header from my fast-becoming-favourite striker, who scored twice in preseason. Forest really went at me in the second half and final 15 minutes but I held out for a deserved win.

    My second game finished in a 2-1 win, with Leeds levelling either side of my goals. My first was a cross, first touch chesting it down for a shot and the second another header from a corner. And that’s August done.

    My end of the month info screen informed me my goals came from: 2 crosses and 4 set pieces – 4 headers. I conceded 7: 2 from dribbling and 5 through balls. 7 in TotM.

  2. NG – I’m struggling with fouls too, probably about 1-1.5 per match average which is still twice the average from PES 2018. Still only 1 penalty received in the first season.

    I’m guilty of the formation and tactics fiddling. I’ve had a settled formation all season but the recent turn in results has had me changing the tactics again. It doesn’t seem to help.

    Jay – Very good results. Forest are tricky trees on mine and I’m usually OK with a point. What formation and advanced tactics are you using if you don’t mind?

    I bought myself an Nvidia Shield this week and just starting trying out some cloud gaming. Has anyone else tried this out? So far so good but couldn’t get PES working very well because it’s not an optimised game. FIFA should be a goer though.

  3. I still think visual fatigue needs tweaking, my players are all tired and around 20% stamina approaching half time, that’s not right. They come out for second half half-replenished but still.

    You got a nice bit of whip & power on that R2 finish.

    Talking of defaults resurging, Pallister has become a first teamer in my ML, playing RMF, he has great pace and ball control, and has chipped in with a few goals recently.

    Results are pretty unanimous. I will be looking to start Career mode Sunday evening, first post being monday, and then Monday/Thursdays regularly.

    Cook – strange cause PES is listed on the Nvidia Shield site as supported whereas FIFA is not.

  4. Thanks Paul, back to the drawing board with that then. It’s still a Beta which may be the problem. Anyway, cloud gaming is a good idea in theory and probably the future of gaming for me should it work as promised.

    Good luck with Forest. Always had a soft spot for them since the late 80s. Not their best kit this year though.

  5. Cook – playing a 442 diamond (DM CM CM AM) with two CFs with the right one slightly higher then the other.

    Advanced Tactics I have both strikers as counter targets, the DM on Defensive and Attacking Full Backs.

    Attacking: counter attack (though my personal style is possession based, this just gets the players up the pitch quickly) central and maintain formation.

    Defensive: frontline pressure, conservative and middle.

    I have the support range with all but one bar on, the defensive line all but two, and for compactness I have three bars on.

  6. Paul – Looking forward to Forest. Can I suggest that you don’t use any online player databases, and rely solely on in-game scouting for transfers? I always enjoy the randomness that brings, and prevents all teams morphing into the same one.

  7. NG – Good post – I’d say the succumbing to 90th min goals kicks in the better you get.
    The two games I had yesterday were both 3-2 one for one against and I was 0-2 down in both by 30 mins.

    I have to admit I’m seeing more shenanigans from the AI the higher my TS gets. One goal conceded came from a really slow moving low cross but the forward backed by centre-back basically the whole way back from one corner of 6-yard to penalty spot and nothing I could do

    I may get FIFA – If I don’t I’ll never get to play with the Ronaldos and Messis of the world. By the time you can afford them in ML they are too old.

  8. Cook, will you be using the shield to stream PC games to your big Tv?

    Chris99 – I was looking on earlier just to get an idea of the FIFA-centric stats, but like you, I never pick players off an online Db and target them, prefer to unearth my own findings within the game, most, if not all of the players that I have signed either in PES or FIFA over the last few years, that I have built an affinity with, and enjoyed using most, have come this way.

    I am going to try to keep to the schedule of posting Mondays, and Thursdays, as that fits my evening play schedules of Sunday, Monday & Weds nights, and doesn’t conflict with NG’s posts either then, plus it means we can all have some content to consume and comment on on a Monday,Tuesday,Thursday & Friday

    With that being said, what style of posts would most people prefer? Short concise detailings as per NG’s style?
    Screenshots and Goal highlight clips or something different?

    Obviously I won’t detail every match but more of an over-arching Career mode update, every few games or standout matches or events.

    And I don’t mean to hijack your post here NG, I just don’t want to spend time creating content that people aren’t enjoying.

  9. Paul – highlight reels and backstory where there is one 🙂 will draw both regardless. I’ve read a lot of “stories” on PES and ChampMan over the years and nG’s is fairly standalone in its quirks and uniqueness. Blends the journey with opinion.

  10. I have to say that the combination of confirmed nerfed long range goals, an AI that even Konami admits needs looking at and my ongoing return to PES 5 has rather knocked the wind out of my sails when it comes to PES 2019.

    Given the early yet hugely positive feedback on FIFA 19 (on a PES forum no less), I’m tempted to trade PES 2019 to once again attempt to play PES-like footy on a FIFA game. I’ll hold off though as PES 2019 was celebrated widely on its first few days of release too.

    Paul – I think you should do whatever you feel is most achievable for you by way of FIFA Chronicles posts. I’m sure n-G will tell you that coming up with content twice a week is quite a commitment. Personally, I’d be tempted to slap together a basic little highlights reel on Share Factory with a few words of wisdom. I’ll certainly be reading and commenting.

  11. I will just do what is most convenient, see how it goes and take it from there Shed.

    See a few people over at EvoWeb have stated that FIFA 19 with weaker teams, on slow game speed, feels like Classic PES with the defaults, that’s quite some praise!

    Jay – meant to say, if you’ve already had an injury and 2 headers in your first 2 ML games, then you’ve climaxed, all you need is a penalty and you’ve completed ML, no more to see, only goes downhill from there.

  12. Paul – I want to stream to the Shield TV from my PC but when I tried yesterday via WiFi it was all sorts of terrible so I’ll probably need to plug my laptop into the router or upgrade from the ISP provided router. I have lots of fiddling around to do this weekend. I only bought the Shield so I could get the IPTV (and other streaming media) working in 4k, all the gaming stuff is a bonus.

  13. Paul – I love it when you talk dirty.

  14. Paul – I wouldn’t say my posts are short. I think they average out at around 600 words apiece. I’d like to get them down to 300-400 (the ideal blog article length, science has shown) with plenty of video content. You’ll find your own style. Mine has emerged over a long period remember so see how things go. At the start I was detailing every single thing – right down to posting running tallies of yellow and red cards. I could never do that now. Too busy. Essentially, FIFAFX will fit itself in around your life.

  15. Jay – the Ai fouls thing is very disappointing for me because the occasional matches where I’ll get 3 (never yet had a match with more than 3) are the best-feeling matches of them all. My overall average is 1.25 per match. In a typical session of 6 matches at least 1 match will have 0. Most will have 1. A couple will have 2. I get plenty of instances where the controller vibrates and my player does the ‘ref! ref!’ thing, a la PES2018 and its predecessors, but no foul give and no advantage rule either. I look at screenshots from people with 4 or 5 or 6 or more AI fouls and think it’s a different game.

  16. NG – I didn’t mean your posts are short per se, I just meant that they are quite concise, to the point, rather than a running commentary on every detail such as tactics, player traits, all that kinda stuff, easily digestible i guess.

    I did think of you the other night (not that that way) when I had a match with 8 fouls against me.

  17. That is the most curious thing in my book. You not getting low crosses I can sort of understand with the potential for playing keep ball etc etc but not being fouled is unavoidable you’d imagine. As I posted before I’d had more in one half than you see in 5 or more matches. That was slightly above average but I’ve also seen 7 on numerous occasions and while I have had zero that would be a real outlier.

    Pleased that confirmation appeared although what the fix is remains to be seen. Is it worth people restarting then, a la 2014? I guess if you’re enjoying it no, but for me I’ll be maintaining a holding pattern and will refrain from selling. An ml starting November is no problem. Might even risk the odd game when I’m feeling cal, but only knowing that they’ve accepted there are issues.

  18. I have to admit that I only watch clips of more than two minutes about 50% of the time. I’d much rather read the backstory, player development, team direction, opinion on the game and it’s quirks.

    By the way, I’ve seen several career mode you tubers who have preferred to play on slower speeds this year.

  19. Darryl – you should get FIFA19. Instant destruction guaranteed.

    Uncle Turf – my playstyle is almost entirely pass and move. If an AI player is getting close, I’ll look to move the ball on. Imagine that you are in proximity to the AI close enough to draw a foul, say, 60% of a typical match. For me that figure would be more like 30%. I get proportionally fewer fouls. FIFA17 and FIFA18 were always held up as having plenty of fouls, but both of those games were almost literally zero-fouls games for me. I’d get the odd 1 every couple of matches.

  20. Paul – I also like (Northern Ireland international) Pallister on the right, even though his stats are rubbish. Really looking forward to the new blog, fond memories of your USB days

    Will give ML one final chance this weekend, back on superstar, but will happily park the game for a few months if it’s still annoying

  21. Paul – as Shed says, it is a surprisingly large time commitment to produce even 600 words twice a week. I’d estimate both posts take a couple of hours apiece when factoring in the YouTube uploading and the screenshot-sizing and whatnot. I don’t do them all at once, the time-cost is spread out over a couple of days. It’s pretty tough sometimes to fit it in around work, and everything else that I want and need to do, and playing the game as well of course. This morning I saw an interview with some starving children in Africa who expressed a lot of sympathy for me, and quite right too. You’ve got experience already from USB so you know the score. See how you go, if you have to go down to once-weekly or longer, so be it.

  22. prsgame – the advantage of playing very long ML careers is that you get to get the Ronaldos and Messis as Regen teenagers and shape them from a young age. Although by that stage the parent PES game is usually creaking to a halt in spring/summertime of the following year.

    Back on the greatest football game ever made, PES5, I played around 43 (FORTY-THREE) seasons and had Dennis Bergkamp 3 times in all. First as an ageing free agent, then as a Regen and some 20 game-years later, as a Regen again.

  23. NG – Thanks, I don’t underestimate the amount of time and work that goes into quality posts at all. I will suck it and see.

    I have the luxury of knowing how to bypass the work proxy and therefore can do bits here at work or whip out the MBP at lunchtime and get things posted etc.

    Abbeyhill – Pallister kinda came from nowhere, I never played him, then due to form arrows, he got a game and was magnificent, seemed to play beyond his lowly stats, and has been quite consistent since.
    You remembered USB, that was a good few years ago, incidentally I think I’m still paying for the domain for that.

  24. NG – despite the game falling apart for most it seems your ML is picking up steam if anything. I, like you, find that having better players makes a marked difference which is a welcome departure from PES18 were absolute nothing mattered in the most broad sense of the word. I’ve restarted – with the ML fix in place which I can confirm is working as advertised – with ARSENAL (PES-caps for the win) just to do something different from my first save with LIVERPOOL. The Emirates isn’t recreated as nicely as Anfield (at least I think so – never been to either stadium in real life) but it looks nice enough. I’ve picked up DIJKS, KAWAMATA, NATHAN, an English keeper and an African fella who’s name I can’t pronounce or remember. They’re already making their mark.

    Paul – I’d say a detailed running commentary would be nice as a counterweight to this blog. But no matter your posting style I’ll be following your Fifa CM with some interest. I know we had mostly similar views of FIFA17 and 18 so I am very curious how you get on with it. Forums are buzzing but I wonder how much of that comes from being disappointed in PES rather than just admiration for FIFA. We’ll see soon enough!

  25. #1 – several 3am PES2019 sessions this past week are testament to how my ML is, indeed, picking up steam. One of the factors here will be my no-restarting policy, I think. I have one ML and one ML alone. I’m also helped by the near-total absence of LCS. Only no-fouls and ‘AI strikers turning away from goal’ remain a thing for me.

  26. Ooh, that’s a low blow by Abbeyhill, I clearly couldn’t continue on top player and retain my sense of self worth.

  27. #1 / NG – If the late October Gameplay patch fixes the LCS (which you don’t see much of anyway) AND the turn-away-from-goal crap, then you’re both in for some good times ahead in the Prem against the bigger teams.

    Will be interested to see if the AI fix literally just does the basics and reduces the number of low crosses the AI puts in or whether it will go a bit deeper and actually make the AI play differently team by team, as the last few years in PES has always been the same, every team, regardless of skill, players, tactics, plays the same as any other team, meaning playing a Champions League match, is no more of a spectacle than playing Rotherham.

  28. I’ve got to say…..I think I’m already done with PES 2019.

    My main gripes are as follows:

    1) For me, the difficulty gradient is too harsh. Professional is too easy, Top player is too hard.

    2) Every team playing the same way, which is the Barcelona (or Arsenal that one time) one touch, clever passing, “tiki taka” or whatever it is.

    3) Not really seen many mentions of this, but the ball hardly ever goes out of play. NG you’ve mentioned countless times how it’s all geared towards the online mob and their fast paced arcadey whims, but it’s just a joke! Gravity defying nonsense.

  29. Mike – I didn’t notice much difference at all between top player and superstar. Maybe one or two errors, keepers being a little less perfect, but attack wise the three stage top corner in the box shot trumps everything, regardless of level.

  30. Mike – I can’t agree with point number 3. I’ve seen the ball go out of play plenty, mostly down to the cpu mis-controlling it at the touchline/byline. Over-hitting high through-balls down the line, or even just running it out of play. It’s a regular occurrence for me.

    nG – 154 comments on the last post. Is that a PC record?

  31. I don’t agree with any of them. On point 2, many teams do play similarly but there are different styles that teams adopt. There’s only so many different ways to play the same game, and one glaring symptom of playing a game so much, especially a game such as football, is that it will be by nature repetitive the more you play it.

  32. Jay. You are in very early days of PES fandom. Give it. A few weeks. The game is abysmal in its current state. All the negatives that people have mentioned are true and evidenced by fact and video evidence.

    The wife cane home from shopping tonight with wine. Lambs spiced rum for me and this. She’s a keeper.

    She actually gave it to me (and she hates football and knows about about it) and said ‘hope This helps you stop moaning about low crosses’ ……

  33. Paul – that’s a thrilling view of chéz Paul behind the thumbshot there. The magnifying tools will be out. Is that a brown velvet pouffé? And is that electrical outlet overloaded?!

    I’m actually currently not far behind Jay in my liking of PES2019.

    Tommy – not far off a record amount of comments. The year of PES2013 almost finished me off – back then the blog was 3 times a week and I had a comments policy of 1) replying specifically to every single comment and 2) doing so as soon as possible. Around PES2013 release time it damn near killed me. I was so stressed out by it. It’s no coincidence that I did a Reggie Perrin on the blog for a year after PES2013. When I came back I did so on a different basis re. comments.

  34. NG – welcome to my crib !!
    That is a very comfy brown suede pouffé indeed and the electrical socket is only crowded because I’ve got he MacBook Pro plugged in charging as well as the missus phone.

    Just played 4 matches. All in the championship ( none with forest) on world class. Slow gameplay. Broadcast camera. Semi assisted settings, and OMG it’s beautiful.

    I conparisons to PES at all, it’s its own game in its own right but it feels superb. The AI does all kinds of stuff I only wish PES would do.

    Just uploading a whole half of footage. QPR vs Hull.
    Only drawback so far is 2 fouls across 4 matches. Makes PES 18 look like PES 5 could wise.

  35. Paul – I’ll accept I’m in early Master League fandom as I’m only two games into it but I’m most definitely not in esrly PES Fandom. I bought the game on release day and since then I’ve played: a World Cup to the final; a Euros to the semis, a Copa America to the semis, a Europa League out in group (all professional); a season of La Liga on Top Player; a season of the SPL, a season of Bundesliga and a season of a custom 20-team league of the best clubs in Europe on Superstar. Plus around 20 miscellaneous games. So at least 230 12 minute games before starting ML.

    It’s part of the reason LCS (and the few other annoyances) don’t impact me as much: I have seen plenty of variation but I’m also going to see plenty of repetition cos I’ve played it a lot!

    Look forward to the start of FIFAChronicles.

  36. I’m trying to work out which of the red panels in chez Paul is the secret passageway to the chrome and mink dungeon.

  37. The question is: do you believe it?

  38. Paul – lovely camera angle on that FIFA Clip. Any advice on how to recreate that on PES2019? Really nice goal at 1m30. Stadium looks good as does general presentation. One thing that immediately stands out is player movement is a lot more rigid and less fluid and realistic than PES.

  39. Paul – that does look good overall. There are things that feel “off” such as how the ball behaves on low passes but I love the pace – looks even slower than pes? – and what I’ve seen from the attacking AI.

  40. Paul – be interesting to hear if the fouls pick up. That’s what bothered me in the demo. It and actually registered tackles. Both we really low.

  41. Paul – you haven’t started the blog yet, no? These are just warmups?

    You still have the training graphics on that show player-facing – or don’t tell me that they’re now fixed and permanent.

    Looks good, albeit with that perceptible slight jerkiness that always makes FIFA look peculiar to PES-conditioned eyes.

    Chris99 – I bet it’s some Enid Blyton-style ‘press two panels at the same time to make the wall slide away’ deal.

    And what a well-vacuumed carpet! The maid really earning her or his keep.

  42. Paul – what’s it like on player individuality and fouls front?

  43. NG – no immediate plans to buy Fifa 19. It maybe on the Christmas list but we shall see. For now though I am slowly understanding what Myclub is all about and can see a future here. My plans are to have 3 squads with a main squad of gold players as they build up, a reserve team and a developing team with the players that are showing the best development. Currently swapping between ranked matches and going up the levels on CPU matches. Still early days as I am on Regular Strong and a few on-line games under my belt.

    Mike – totally agree with the jump between Professional and Top Player. This was always the case with Fifa as well and more evidence of the two games morphing into each other.

  44. Darryl – I think you have seen why I gave myClub such a good go in the summer. For some reason nobody can grasp the simple-but-genius idea of having multiple squads until they’ve seen it and done it for themselves. My squad of Irregulars on PES2018 were a wonderful thing. I only ever really played them offline vs the CPU. Requiring consecutive wins, home and away, to go up a notch on the difficulty ladder is a simple mechanic but it really pulled me in. I managed to get them to Top Player Stronger, but just couldn’t get the two wins needed to go up the next level to Superstar.

    I also had three squads – the lowly Irregulars at one end, and my All-stars at the other end, and a squad in-between made up of a mix of both. I enjoyed playing online with all three. Hardly ever won, but won just enough to make those wins satisfying, and of course sometimes you come up against a proper PES player rather than a button-masher. The best proper PES player I met was some geezer who was all PA0 for everything. I thought it’d be a stroll for me, but naturally he whupped me 3-1, an enjoyable defeat.

    Eventually I will see what’s what in myClub on PES2019 too. Developing those minor squads and players is really addictive, and the one-off CPU matches ascending the difficulty levels are really compelling. They remind me of the way I used to amuse myself in the few modes in ISS before ML came along.

  45. Jay – closest you’ll get in PES is broadcast camera but it’s too zoomed in and has those disorientating cut scenes, but try a custom cam with 2 zoom, 2 height and 10 angle.

    Completely disagree about the runs in Fifa. If anything they’re more intelligent than PES. You see players check, arch runs to avoid offside. Side shimmy along the line before making the run in behind. It’s so much better.

    The ball does need to bobble a bit more as it does in PES but it is more bobblier when the pitch degrades later in the game.
    These are all just friendlies. Haven’t started any careers yet, just getting a feel for the game and so far loving it. The pace on slow is superb. Ebbs between steady realistic pace and bursts of high tempo during counter attacks, and the new dynamic tactics are a game changer.

    I had the movement indicator on as I’m playing with the times shooting feature, and to hve that gauge on you have to have the movement arrows on. Don’t even notice them after a few mins though. Once I get the feel for the times shooting I’ll turn that trainer off.

  46. Mr sifter – so far very few fouls but it’s consistent. When it’s a foul, it’s given, no ABH and nothing given as in PES.
    You can increase the cpu aggression slider which makes them tackle and foul more but I’m just playing vanilla for now.

    Player individuality is very good. Had been playing Lower league matches but I did play as Liverpool vs Chelsea on world class level and players really stood out.

    Hazard was a nitemare to defend against, Van Dijk felt powerful, Mané had pace to burn and dribblingbwith Salah felt like the ball stuck to his feet, whereas with Henderson it was much looser but he could get legs in to tackles and protect the ball well.

  47. 4 games left in season 3 and I’m one of 3 teams tied on 81 points. Going to be gutted if I’m in the play-offs. Here’s the table.

    I’ve spent about 6 million on loan players this season so any failure will be expensive. I’m building a better team as the wage budget very slowly increases month by month but still only competing at the top because of loanees.

    I also had an in game injury from a tackle with forced substitution. Unbelievable scenes.

  48. I know this is probably a dumb question but I’m not at home to check myself: can you play MyClub offline without paying for PSN subscription?

    Cook – good luck mate!

  49. Jay – you certainly can play myClub offline vs the COM teams – each of which is the ‘Cloud’ version of somebody else’s team – without a PSN subscription. At least you could in PES2018 as I didn’t have one to begin with. Only way to find out for sure in PES2019 is to have a look.

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