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.

Updated: 17th September 2019 — 11:08


  1. Paul – I too conceded a free kick goal like that, but since then the jump has sniffed them all out. i suspect it’s simply like why I couldn’t score free kicks last year – you just need to hit the sweet spot once and then you’re conditioned to hit it every time.

    Werd – absolutely, that’s why that nonsense orangey red kit threw me. I know double check each strip.

    Made it to January, zero useful frees or youths as I’m not chucking away my budget on a tevez type. Karlsen reminds me of 2013 era players but I think he’s a one season wonder. Only defaults I can see a future for are as usual rice, castledine and arcas. And I’d accept a big bid for arcas. Down to a bare bones squad with a few loanees and invited to make 21st. I suspect 16th and 21st are the new 8th.

  2. Played the FIFA demo, just 2 games. Played on legendary as I’d heard it’s actually playable and world class may be easy. It was playable and despite my low expectations really enjoyable actually and I detested 2019. Too fast for sure and very one two centric as it always has been but had fun which I haven’t with Fifa in a long time. Scored a couple of lovely goals including a little chip with Abraham which was Messi esq. very satisfying shooting. Still an issue with the CPU crowding out the box but it seemed manageable and less robotic in that regard. Positive.

  3. Tried Serie b for about 8 games, way too easy. Won everything and TS shot up to 67 in no time. Stats really are a thing again. Championship it is.

    I’ve gone absolutely bonkers and edited in klashmans tactics (just released) for the premier league. Apparently tactics are back in a big way again. If anyone wants the edit file and is on PC ( I’m guessing it’ll muck things up if you’re on PS4) I’d be happy to send it over.

    Now off I go , finally, properly.

  4. #1 — I’ve been following that ‘new gameplay with dt18’ thread you linked to, and I see they’ve concluded the fouls are locked into the .exe and cannot be modded. Which only supports my theory that Konami (and EA) absolutely do not want fouls in their football games, ever. As I remarked earlier, one of them (most likely EA) would have handed the decision over whether or not to have fouls in their football game over to the player by now.

    I still might stump up for the PC version this year though, so hang onto that Edit file for me.

    METZ – I tried the FIFA20 demo a week ago, didn’t say anything as it seemed a step back from FIFA19 to me. But FIFA has a weirdly opposite tradition from PES of having poor demos but great full games.

    Shed – what I love doing is just blasting a circle pass up to the front sometimes. Enough of the time it bounces in open space (rather than auto-finds a defender’s head) to make it worth doing, and it’s led to some situations. Full manual is where you usually have to go for this facility, so it’s great to have it on PA1.

    And no matter how good PES2020 might turn out to be long-term, it can only ever be the 2nd Greatest. 1st is taken for all time.

  5. I was coming in here to recommend Karlson and you’ve all beaten me to it! I’m playing him in the RWF position as an SS, he’s bagged 3 goals and 2 assists in 8 games so he’s keeping his replacement out the team currently.

    My observations

    Not had any issues with kits loading on pre-match screen

    I always have someone to short pass to on goal kicks, sometimes need to use L1 and right stick to bring someone in.

    Fouls ramp up if you are a goal up, the ai seems to switch up the aggression when a come-back is on the cards.

    Still not suffered a ‘bullshit’ goal, only played on pro so far but overdue moving up to Top Player and will do on the next session (P8 W8)

  6. I have had to re-start. The reason being that I was bottom of the league come February and was even impossible to meet my revised target of 21st. This is a feature I am not keen on as I am loving the game so much that I would have been happy to be rooted at the bottom for a few seasons if needed as I want to play with the defaults. Anyway started again with Birmingham (Defaults) and seem to have got more to grips with the game and won 2/lost 2. Also took the opportunity to make the Deep Defensive line tweaks.

  7. NG – i Will hold onto that file. Also, no worries that the fouling logic is contained in the exe. From what I understand from last year, there are two ways to mod the game. Certain values are contained in the “dt” files of the game and certain values are contained in the exe. Both have been modded extensively last year. Haven’t read up on the thread but there were several modded exes floating around last year. I have no doubt this will be the case again this year .

  8. Darryl – Was it mathematically impossible? No chance of just dropping down to Regular and winning all your remaining games?

    I know how you feel. I would happily have finished bottom and kept the game on a harder setting, but I’ve had to “cheat” to keep my job, as I’m not managing another team, and I’m not restarting.

    I’m safe now, so with 8 games to go I’ve jumped back up to Top Player. Progress. W4 D1 L1 so far, with two games left. So I’ll be starting season 2 on TP, and hopefully won’t need to drop down at any point to keep my job. if I’m going to get promoted, I want it to be after at least a full season on TP.

    I’d still like to know if anyone has been sacked and what happened, and if the chairman will make good on his threats. I’ve not been on the forums lately to find out.

  9. Didn’t get to play last night, but had one cheeky game before work this morning.
    Swansea, Top Player, absolutely destroyed me 3-0.
    I had more possession, more shots on goal but in true Top Player form, they outpowered me on everything, they just shove you off the ball, yet you cant touch the COM players, and every shot they had was a goal.
    Then there’s the insane pressure.

    First game I’ve not enjoyed.

    I mean, how are you supposed to deal with this kind of pressure, when you cant even shield the ball as the COM shoves you off it every time?

    Watch from kick off when the ball is passed in to Arcas.

    At least this is improved, long range FK strike, hard and powerful, on target, in PES19 this would be a goal every single time, regardless of what anyone says:

  10. I know we get the revised target of 21st but has anyone actually been sacked for not making it? I’m thinking back to the abbeyhill years where every week he was threatened with being fired (was it 2012, 13?) but never was and finally climbed the league. That era was particularly harsh on a superstar season 1-3 grind but until Challenge mode came in no-one was ever booted. I’m just ignoring it.

  11. I’m also thinking getting the sack may not really be a thing and that my shocking form over the last ten games will be forgiven once TS and better players come into play.

    I’m sticking with Top Player despite it being a grind. I am however ditching the 3-5-2 formation I’ve been using in the hope of stemming the steady flow of goals I’ve been conceding with a more defensive 4-5-1. I was 3-0 down in just 25mins to Cardiff in my last match.

    Scoring is also a problem although I have hit the woodwork and crucial times and had what looked like a clear penalty given as a free kick right on the very edge of the box. Still, at least I got a free kick on goal – missed it of course.

  12. I’ve not heard of anyone actually being fired yet.

    Something of interest that I’m enjoying – there’s an unoffocial ‘PES20Hub’ app (free, for Android, don’t know about iPhone). Among other things it’s got a full player searchable database. I’ve already used it on the bus to unearth a few lesser-known potential transfer targets.

  13. Turf – Its my biggest fear too, I would like the option like previous years.

    4-2 cup win over Stuttgart(edited over Leicester) in extra time, 1-0 defeat to lowly Uerdingen(Chapuisat on fire) finished sesh with a 1-1 with Leipzig and a 2-0 win over Wuppertal. Laughs and gaffs, Last night my winger swung his foot at the ball and completely missed it due to being off balance, average of 5 fouls per game too !

  14. Paul – They are over you like a swarm. I’m getting them backing off and holding position so I can keep the ball around 30 yards from their goal but not really get anywhere in their box on top player.

    I haven’t got to properly experiment with my own tactics but like my Goal kick nonsense, I think the AI this year might like Rock Scissors Paper and do the thing that frustrates your play the most.

  15. I’ve just inadvertently ruined my game a little bit. I got £1.3m bonus for finishing 11th and it went straight into my salary budget, as I had all options set to receive as salary budget, which has now jumped form 13k a week to 152k a week. Worth noting.

  16. NG – Great find, mind pinging me over the android link ? Cheers

    PRS – The pressure on Top Player is just insane most of the time, not sure if its a tactics thing, or team variation thing, but I literally could not breathe for a second against Swansea, played the first half of the next match against M’boro after before I had to leave for work, and it seemed not quite so bad, paused it with the score 1-1 at half time, so hoping its a team variance thing taking tactics/league position etc into consideration.

  17. Turf – that was 2012 and I was fired 10-15 times! Not as many times as last year’s 20+ but still. Would fully hope and expect PES2020 to bin you for not making 21st

  18. Tommy – Glad to hear that, I have the same setup.

    PES finances are misaligned, because the salary budget is disproportionate to transfer budget which means you can never afford anyones wages.

    In real life, playing even in the championship would net you x amount of money from tv rights, league money, attendances etc, which is used to pay wages, this isn’t reflected in PES, so the ‘bump’ is welcomed.

    1.13 million into wages sounds a lot, but I was scanning the free agents section and even a modestly rated 74 OVR player was demanding anywhere from 650-950k per year in wages, so its nothing really. 1 decent player, thats all.

  19. Paul – Now I’ve had a few mins to digest what’s happened, it’s actually not that bad. I can adjust the budgets to pay options out of salary budget for a while, and I didn’t receive any transfer budget at all, so it all evens out.

    I can now sign a load of old boys for peanuts but good wages, including the old loanees I already had. José Sand has signed already at 40yo, and I’m working on 42yo Hilton. It’s great having some veterans in the squad, something I’ve never really had in any ML.

  20. Paul and all – the PESHub 20 app, seems to be Android-only –

    Tommy – also seen a very strange leap up in salary budget. I don’t think ML has had that much attention at all. Fairly Hard negotiations are piss-easy, for one thing.

  21. 42yrs old? Blimey, he should have declined to well below hs OVR by that age.
    You’ll be sponsored by Musty Pines Residential home next season 😉

  22. Abbeyhill – ah right, I didn’t realise you had actually been sacked, thought it was only ever a threat. I’ve had my contract expire but I don’t class that as a firing, more a mutual split.

    NG – sorry, I consider outside databases etc as not in the spirit of…

    I’m confident of 21st as I’ve brought in three ageing top players. I’ve noticed their loan fees plummet as they hit their 30s. I’d never buy them but for 6 months they’re worth 100k.

  23. Uncle Turf – it’s just like having the Advanced Search from the game with you at all times. Quite often in-game I’ll rush through that bit when searching for a new player. The app addresses that feeling of needing to rush and take the first likely result or two. A leisurely deep dive into stats and skills.

  24. NG – Really good app, although its based on the MyClub database, so gives players OVR and potentials for MyClub levels.
    Also doesn’t give any indication of the players market value or wages, so a bit of a stab in the dark really.

  25. Paul – yes, it’s a player finder for further looks rather than a proper companion to Master League. Having seen and heard what’s happening online in myClub this year with all the relentless unpunished barging and shoving, I doubt I’ll go near it again.

  26. Still a good find though NG, useful to draw up a potential shortlist whilst on the bus or at work, then check those players out in game when home, see which ones fit your budget.

    Shall be using it to find a suitable LMF.

  27. Paul – We’re already sponsored by Freebridge Community Housing – “Putting the FUN into Community Housing Funds for the over 85s and physically impaired”.

  28. Bet the end of season awards party is an absolute Mess fest Tommy!! Literally 😉

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