Month: September 2019

Season One Gone

Season 1 has come to an end for me. I raced to the finish line in a few extraordinary days’ play.

Here’s the final table. A symmetrical goals-for and goals-against. I did well to finish 15th in the end. I played about 65% of the season on Professional, the other 35% on Top Player.

Overall experience score for PES2020 so far: 9/10.

Easy 9 there. No premature and highly melodramatic 10 at this stage. There are a couple of worries that may magnify in time, but for now, nearly everything is roses.

Gameplay held up throughout the season, even toward the end when my Team Spirit hit the low 80s, which traditionally marks the point when a nuPES sometimes feels a bit too slick and samey.

So far that has not happened here.

There are still no fouls to speak of, and it’s clear there won’t be any. The time has long since come for Referee Strictness to be put in user control. The fact that EA have not done this with FIFA probably indicates that nobody will ever do it.

Master League has been good, but I’m not sure one of the new settings is working as it should be. I set Negotiations to Fairly Hard before starting. My expectation of that setting is that it would mean Negotiations would be, well, fairly hard. Harder than last year for sure.

So far I am finding the opposite. It proved straightforward mid-season to bring in two top professionals (Shaqiri and Llorente) on loan.

As an experiment, in the first few days post-season I have made a couple of Free Agent signings, despite turning their wage demands ALL THE WAY DOWN to the minimum, with NO bonuses. Just to see what would happen.

They accepted. One was a player who asked for £1.2m to start with, accepting an offer of £500k! This is a bug, surely?

Conducting Contract negotiations with a couple of my own star players, they all accepted lower-than-they-wanted offers straightaway, without a murmur. I wasn’t quite brave enough to lower all their offers to the minimum.

Here’s Begovic – a great veteran GK – signing for half the wage he was asking for:I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened last year. Even if he’d agreed to drop from the Premier League, he’d have at least wanted the wage he was asking for. Yes, Master League is fantasy football, but I expect the boundaries that are meant to be in place to remain strong.

Fortunately all of this is in the background while I get on with playing the wonderful game. Shaqiri was a great player to have on loan, as he showcased so much about PES2020 that is good. Individuality for one, and the nature ofthe stories that can develop in this mode. Here he is taking a tepid match by the scruff of the neck by pouncing on a lovely loose ball, scurrying away into space and leathering in an equaliser.

Shaqiri’s last goal for me while on loan secured a decent draw in a run of poor results on Top Player. The AI has its usual bag of tricks up its sleeve as ever to stop you playing and winning. It’s the kind of grind, at times, that Master League is rightly famous for, so I’m not complaining.At the end of the season, Shaqiri had to be in the League Team of the Season, and he was. Nice to see Castledine there too.

I’m debating whether I really need another year of Castledine’s rise to power. The plan is not to have just another identikit Master League campaign this year. Somehow another inevitable journey to a squad of galácticos doesn’t appeal.

I fancy assembling a squad of journeymen, developed Defaults, promoted Youths, and the odd star name. I’ll pick up Regen Shaqiri when the time comes.

And so to Season 2.

Albanian Rhapsody

Master League is a journey. A long one. This year it might just be longer than ever.

What a week or so it has been. I’ve been active in comments since Thursday with other commenters on the site, comparing notes about progress. Lots of similar stories out there.

The consensus seems to be: this game is the most surprising PES since PES2011 in terms of altered mechanics. Passing and shooting are strange in various ways. And the game is HARD.

I made a huge fuss last week about how ‘easy’ Professional is now. ‘Top Player is the new Professional!’ I declared. But I was forced back onto Professional over the weekend after a truly atrocious time on Top Player. I’ve only just now, at the time of writing (Tuesday morning) started to get to grips with Professional.

The gritty grind of a Season 1 in master League with the Default players has always been, ah, grindy — but is PES2020 the most grind-y it’s ever been?

I cannot remember any other PES since the PS2 days being this much of a battle to achieve the basics.

‘Potentially the greatest PES game ever’ is what I’ve been thinking for most of the past week. A few niggles – AI goalkeepers, and fouls, which both must be buffed – cannot take away from the deep and meaningful gameplay on offer here.

I have almost completed my entire Season 1 at the time of writing. By Friday’s post I will have completed it.

I passed through mid-season and was so desperate for new players to alleviate the grind, that I went crazy and brought in a combination of Loanees – too easy to do again in PES2020, even on my ‘Fairly Hard’ transfer settings – and journeymen Frees.

Here is my current second-half-of-Season-1 squad:

Look at that front two. Shaqiri and Llorente. Both of them Loanees. Neither would ever come to my club in any real-life scenario. But at the time, I didn’t care – and I still don’t! PES is all about this sort of wacky thing.Nice to see that Rami Malek is following up his Oscar-winning turn as Freddie Mercury with a spot of virtual footballing.

Shaqiri is great to play with in PES2020. Individuality is strong in this game, and he handles just as expected. And after a sedate first few matches, Llorente is not bad either.

I only have both of them until the end of the season. I paid a hefty chunk of my transfer budget – millions – for the privilege, but already it seems that this will be yet another year where I’ll never have to worry so much about the transfer budget. Salary is where I will struggle again.Popescu at CB is fully mine, as is Mattheus at CMF. I’m running without a DMF in that screenshot. Mattheus has been absolutely solid as a deep-lying CMF though.Here is the bottom portion of the League table as taken yesterday morning. I played a session very late last night in which I won all but 1 match, so I am almost up to mid-table now – and about to make the move back to Top Player.

One of the things that last night’s session brought about was a formation rethink. My standard 4-2-2-2 as seen above has stood the test of time for many a PES, but it has to change. Ive gone for 4-1-3-2: one deep midfielder; two central/wide midfielders (can be CMF or SMF based on the player); and one central AMF just behind the front two.

I did this to test Castledine in the middle. He has been a true enigma for me so far. Anonymous and frustrating out on the wide left position that he made his in PES2019. I was beginning to think this was a year in which he had been nerfed.

But last night, from the very first match where he moved inside onward, he was electric.

Here is a miniature goals compilation featuring the great man.

Watch for 3 Casteldine goals, including a lovely long-ranger curler, and also a Shaqiri special from the same sort of range (what curl!) – then finally an almost-goal from Llorente that would have been Goal of the Month, at least. As the ball came over I knew my timing and aim had to be spot-on or the ball would simply skew off the side of his boot and go well wide. That’s shooting in PES2020.

I did my part, but the AI keeper unfortunately did his too. Still, it shows the kinds of goals that I will hopefully end up scoring in this game.

Master League 2020

Here we go, here we go, here we go. The real game starts here.

Coventry City. Master League. Defaults.

My general Master League settings:Professional was absurdly lightweight and lasted for 1 game before I went up to Top Player.

They’ve re-zoned the difficulties this year. Instead of progression being Professional/Top Player/Superstar, it’s going to be Top Player/Superstar/Legend.

This will be home until the club realistically gets big enough to move to another stadium:My starting Formation and First XI has a wonderfully familiar look. It’s funny, when this lot of Defaults made their debut in PES2016 – I didn’t like them. Then I grew to quite like them… Now I love them. As beloved as Dodo & co.? Not quite, but not too far off.Not all Defaults are created equal of course. For every Castledine and Rice there’s a Driessen and a Hervey – and even they probably have their fans.

Personally I’m not sure about Goios, and I’ve never seen the point of Pallister, but I’m giving them a go.

If you go through the Defaults one by one and look at their stats and skills, the ones who stand out tend to be the ones you already love – but there are others who need a chance to shine. I am interested in the likes of Redmond and Karlsen and plan to keep them around for a few seasons at least.

I forgot to mention, I picked this manager avatar:My 3 kits, as supplied by regular commenter Paul, whose PESFX site is a repository for many bespoke kits.

Above from left to right: my traditional brown 3rd kit (an unofficial homage to the infamous 1979-80 CCFC brown kit; forget Lady Godiva and The Specials, the ‘excrement kit’ is one of the few things that non-Coventrians know about Coventry).

The other two kits are the current official CCFC kits, Away and Home respectively.

The game has picked Arcas to model the kits on the pre-match screen of every match so far – including a match where he wasn’t even on the bench. Weird.And so to business. The presentation of information in Career Mode is pretty much replicated in PES2020.In a hypothetical court case between EA and Konami, who would sue whom and for what? Did ISS invent the through-ball? Did PES invent the career mode-style mode as we have come to know it? Was Career Mode a rip-off of Master League, and if it was, does that let Master League off the hook for ripping off Career Mode nowadays? What a court case it’d be!

Something else that PES is mimicking from FIFA: no AI fouls. All the fancy shielding and dribbling mechanics are irrelevant when the opponent can just barge into you without consequence.

We all knew it was going to happen, and it has happened.

I’m aware that some people are getting AI fouls, enough to satisfy them. That doesn’t alleviate my suffering when the AI fouls count per match in my maiden Master League session was like this: 0, 0, 1, 1, 0. Which puts PES2020 alongside the worst for fouls that I have ever known in PES.

There are signs that this might pick up as my familiarity with the game picks up. I’m not in total despair just yet. But I am watching the PC scene keenly and waiting for news of a ‘fouls mod’. Most of the time those mods are just moonshine of course, but you never know.

Overall, PES2020 plays a great game. I love the ‘miss-kicks’, whether or not that’s a miss-spelling. Individuality is good. Shooting is fantastic – so many times I pull the trigger with my player poorly positioned, in a way that would have produced a shot on target (or a goal) in previous years. In PES2020, I very often see such shots going out for a throw-in. On BASIC shooting…

Here is a little 1m 50s digest of my opening few matches, with a few goals scored – none of them special. But Jarvis gets off the mark, and my three kits are all showcased.

Master League is the gift that keeps on giving. Nothing can stop it.

2nd Impressions Are Best Impressions

Happy official Release Day to all PES fans past and present. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

I think it will be a good one. It won’t be plain sailing. It’s been a long time since it was plain sailing… But I think it’ll be a good year.

You get a feeling about things and my feeling, after a couple of days, is that PES2020 will be one of the good ones.

For me. We’re all our own separate independent republics when it comes to PES. This blog isn’t a Chronicle of PES, as such. It’s a Chronicle of PES as experienced via the refracting/distorting lens of one individual.

Like most who pre-ordered with online retailers I got hold of PES2020 on Saturday the 7th. I was pleased to have it, but I was not cackling with diabolical glee. I work long, tiring hours at weekends. I found myself trying to play at midnight on Saturday and then on Sunday. Both times propping my eyes open with matchsticks (almost literally).

I enjoyed what I found, for the most part, but there’s nothing like the liberty of a proper session on a proper day off.So I didn’t get to play PES2020 properly until yesterday (Monday).

Much better. I fired up a few Custom Cups – International ones. Back in the ISS days this was the only way I ever played. I used to have great matches with Turkey at that time – so I went with them again. Then I played with Ireland. Then I played with England. I went from Professional to Top Player to Superstar and back again as I pleased.

Some random highlights and goals. The very first clip is included because I enjoyed the way I R2-dummied the ball (just before the thumbnailed moment).

Concerns? Plenty!

Fouls – where did you go to, my lovelies? Oh, they’re still there, but not in any kind of number. Fewer than PES2019, based on my first clutch of matches. And zero-fouls matches are still distressingly common. Why do we still have to put up with this? Why isn’t there a fouls switch or slider in every football game now? Don’t Konami (and EA) know that they would win the football game wars with a single blow?

(EA and Konami surely do know that, but they are not daft. They know that if football games included user-customisable AI fouls for single-player, few single-players would ever be seen online again. The strategy for years has been all about accentuating online play whilst subtly undermining the solidity of offline play. And you’ve got to say, the strategy is working for them.)

Stamina – where are the consequences for sprint-clamping the whole game through? It’s glaringly noticeable that players simply do not get tired – not easily, anyway. ‘eFootball’ showing its butt-ugly face here, no doubt. It’s only from 80+ minutes that a token one or two players seem to be in the red-zone, but by then it really doesn’t matter so much. Visual fatigue was a much-diluted element of PES2019, but at least it was something.

They’re the two biggies, for me, right now. I do have faint worries that the AI might not be as sturdy (and cheaty and unfair, yes) as in recent years, but more matches are needed there, including lots of Master League matches of course.

There is so much in this game that is unquestionably good for me – the passing and shooting on default settings are arguably the best we’ve seen since (patched) PES2014. A major highlight for me. No more predictable shots. Every shot feels different depending on the player and the context. And ‘miss-kicks’ are a definite hit.

I’m going mostly HUDless this year – and at some point, manual passing and possibly manual shooting will have to put in an appearance. Maybe even Advanced Through-ball… I will try not to be all Manual Settings Master Race about it, if/when it happens.

For now, though, I’m still settling in. At the time of writing I’ve decided to wait until Thursday’s roster update before starting a Master League.