Formation aggravation

February? I’ve said it before, but—what is happening to time lately? Weren’t we greeting the arrival of PES2010 and FIFA10 just last week or something?

Now it won’t be too long—two months? three months?—before the buildup to the 2011 games begins. The World Cup this year may alter the publicity calculus a little. Will Konami and EA start the hype earlier or later than usual? They could go either way, I suppose. A lot depends on whether they’ve got a World Cup game to promote as well. We know that EA definitely will have a WC game.

When the PES2011 and FIFA11 hype machine does get going, certain things are guaranteed. We’ll see underwhelming screenshots. Then there’ll be the now-traditional, utterly pointless FMV video of Messi or somebody doing a trick or—if we’re lucky—tricks. Plural! Why do football game makers insists on trailing everything about a football game EXCEPT what we most want to see—i.e., ordinary gameplay? Why must we sit through several months of flicks and tricks and nutmegs and lollipops and crap like that, instead of seeing (for example) just a few seconds of ordinary gameplay, say a passing move through midfield leading to a standard shot on goal? Does any other game genre gloss over its core experience so thoroughly for so long during its pre-release cycle?

Anyway. Season 10 in my Master League. PES2010. Here and now.

Last time, I was lightheaded at being top of the table and looking fairly good after 12 matches. Here we go with the next stage of the season. I’ve played another 10 matches, and I’ve passed through the mid-season transfer window.

I experimented with a new formation. 4-3-3 has been my favoured formation in PES for 10 years now (where does that time go?). But this year I’ve found goals harder to come by than before, and it is with regret that I finally acknowledged the 4-3-3—with wide AMFs, and widely-spaced CFs—has run its course. I needed an alternative.

I played 5 of the next 10 matches using a 4-5-1 (pictured left) and then with a version of 4-4-2. The experiment did not go well.

I lost 3 and drew 2—my worst run for a few seasons. I scored just 1 goal in those 5 matches. My rise up the table has been built on pass and move, patience, and being willing to defend 1-0 leads for long periods. With the new formation, I couldn’t pass, could barely move, and I seemed to be defending all the time anyway, whatever the circumstances. Everything that had hoisted me up to the top of the table felt missing. There was no flow.

I had to take remedial action before my fledgling title challenge was seriously compromised. (As it was, I’d do well to recover.) I soon went back to a version of 4-3-3, albeit one tempered by my experiences. The new formation can be seen below at the top of the new squad picture. It handles very much like a 4-5-1 at times, with lots of bodies in midfield. Although it looks narrow, in practice it doesn’t play that way. I adjusted my sliders to favour width. My players seem to go wide when I want them wide, and go narrow when I want them narrow. I had instant success with the new 4-3-3, to counterbalance the poor results. I’m still a bit short on goals, though. The 4-5-1 experiment is by no means over. Long-term, I believe I’ll settle for a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. For now I’ve got the above 4-5-1 mapped to a strategy button, and I still activate it for long periods when I feel I need to calm a game down.

My possession stats lately have been extraordinary. In one match against River Plate I had 75% possession at half-time, but ended the match with ‘only’ 69%—and I conceded a typical late goal. But that’s PES for you.

In mid-season I indulged in quite a bit of activity. I bought yet another WF/SS hybrid player, SCOKLANT, for a few hundred thousand. I got rid of my calamity goalkeeper, Jan Kun Mu, who brought in £1.5m. I replaced him with a lanky Free Agent keeper called ZUBERBUHLER, who I negotiated with back in the first weeks of the season. He’s been great since his arrival.

Also in the Free Agents list I found a CF, 85 OVR, named ZAKI… I’ve had nothing but great players from the Free Agents list recently. Why do I even need to look at the proper transfer market? Is this a slight flaw in the new Master League? Only more time will tell. As I (hopefully) get more successful and accumulate more money over the next few seasons, I’ll be able to buy top players on the regular transfer market—if I want to.

The failed experiment with 4-5-1 cost me a few league places, but look here: after 22 matches, almost 2/3rds of the season, I’m still in 4th place, and just 2 points behind the leaders. After everything that’s happened in this long old career, I’ve got to be happy with that. And I am happy.


  1. Some brilliant signings, and an intresting formation, Certainly didn’t expect a 4-5-1 albeit a short experiment. Zub…whatever his name…is currently Fulham’s reserve keeper and a former swiss international, your version is a regen I think, and Zaki has premier league experience with Wigan last year, scoring 11 goals I think he gone to hull on loan from his parent club, al-somethingorother….

  2. Thats not too far away from my formation too, except the wingers are further wide. Zaki looks like a great buy to play as the lone striker, you should find goals with plenty of early crosses into the box. Your squad is beginning to look Champions League to me. Interesting to see Manchester City up there, they are awful in my ML.

    I cant believe what happened to my first season in this league. At one point we were top and looked a great bet for top 4, and we have collapsed in the final run in. Five straight losses and 1 win in 7. Despite that we were 1 point behind Arsenal who were in the last Europa League spot on the final day of the season. Arsenal did their part and lost to Bolton, but Aston Villa hammered us 0-4, they were 2 up inside 5 minutes. What a horrible ending.

    Also you only get 4 million pounds for an 8th place finish in the Premier League. I did expect more.

  3. patrick222—I knew of Zaki, but had never heard of Zub until I read your comment. The great thing about Zub, I’m finding, is his height. He’s 6’7″ or so and he seems to get down and across to shots much better than his predecessor did. The keeper position is one I’ve struggled with since I sold Jacobs (I wish I’d kept him). Hopefully I can have a bit of stability with my team now that I’m firmly established in D1 and—hopefully—money won’t be too much of a problem.

  4. Not Given—I’ve started fiddling with the formation after signs that the AI has ‘cracked’ it. (I think that might be a definite thing, by the way. I think the AI really does ‘learn’ your formation/tactics after a while, and even a slight fiddle-around with them can yield better results. It’s still too early for me to be definite about this, one way or the other, but at the moment it seems true to me.)

    Man City are one of the beast teams in my ML. Man City, Man Utd, Porto, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool. I fear them all, really fear them. Chelsea are good too but they’ve never been unplayable, as all the others have at times, sometimes for whole matches. God knows what’s waiting for me in the future in the Champs League, if/when I get there.

    Interesting to hear about the progress of your career, and I can imagine all too well the feeling of your final game. I’ve had that bewilderment at going not just behind, but a long way behind (and quickly), too many times. Well done for not reloading though. It’s a hard road to follow sometimes, but the only way to fully enjoy ML imo.

    My two 9th-place finishes only brought in 3.5m, which I was well pleased with at the time. I’m looking forward to seeing what I get for finishing in the top 4 at least, which I’ll kick myself if I fail to do now.

  5. Man City are the only team I fear in my ML. They’re nearly unstoppable.

    In a totally unrelated sidenote, I have/had this RB called Salzan, brought up from my Youth Team, who’s a reular honduras international, and I refused a $20mi bid for him last season. So now Juventus have come for him with a $46 MILLION bid!! Needless to say I sold him right away, even though I didn’t really need the money.

    I already have a substitute for him: Virota.

  6. Have you tried out the Spain formation i suggested?

    Give it a go in some friendlies i don’t think u’ll be dissapointed…

  7. hey what difuculty level do you play on is it just me or is proffesional way harder than what top player is weird i play 5 minute games do you think this is to short 0-0 draws getting boring now.
    it looks like pes2010 is the football game for you this year i cant remember the last time you mentioned fifa good on you man im also in love with pes2010 especially master league its so addictive

  8. Adriano—I can mostly cope with my ML’s Man City nowadays, but occasionally they kick into a higher gear and I feel helpless to stop them. Tottenham are the unbeatable team in my ML at the moment—they’re like it just about all the time. Porto have slipped down a few notches. It all tends to change from one season to the next.

    Very nice 46 million there – talk about an offer you can’t refuse!

  9. max—give it time and I think I’ll end up trying every imaginable formation. PES2010’s ML doesn’t seem to be one where I can get away with using the same formation season after season. The one in the current post is already out of date.

  10. Mike Mike—I’m on Top Player now after spending almost the whole of my time in Division 2 on Professional. The word on the forums seems to be that Professional is indeed trickier than Top Player. I agree up to a point. On Top Player you have so much artificial difficulty, i.e. shenanigans going on, that it’s technically more difficult, but Professional is a more ‘honest’ difficulty if that makes sense.

    I play 10 minute matches—5 minute ones are over before they’ve properly started. There’s no sense of individuality about them.

    As for FIFA10, I think about it a lot, with some twinges of regret. It’s a great game IMO, but Master League in PES2010 is greater for me now, and it looks like being so for some time to come, possibly all year – who knows? It should be remembered that we’re only 4 months into the 12-month football game year. There’s still two-thirds of the year left. But I hope to be playing and enjoying ML all year long, that’s for sure.

  11. Not greg

    I definitely would not reload, I already feel guilty when I play on beginner to get a win that was stolen from me with a freeze. Speaking of that, the music off has not fixed the problem unfortunately. It’s so tedious when it happens I am simming the frozen match from now on, win loss or draw. Although this will lead to some losses when I had won the match, ultimately later on in the career I may lose a match, freeze and end up simming a win. I hope that it all evens out in the end.

    I know it’s not a particularly fair solution, but reloading the ps3 every time is tedious enough, never mind replaying a match I have just done!

    Apparently we have qualified for the Europa League, despite finishing 1 point outside 7th place. It can’t be fairplay because we had quite a few red cards this season, 3 in one match. Is it a glitch? I’m almost disappointed, we do not have the squad for this.

  12. Re. formation changes, I’ve actually been using the same 4-4-2 or 4-1-2-1-2 or whatever it’s called in the formations menu since my first season, only changing the sliders and player cards as the occasion called for or changing to a 4-2-3-1 when my team was much weaker than the bigger teams.

    However, for the last 2-3 seasons, I haven’t even touched the sliders. I suppose that once your team gets good enough, you’re able to crush the opposition with whatever formation you choose, even if there’s truth to the assertion that the CPU adapts to your style/tactics. Time to make my house rules more effective, I guess.

  13. Can a player have any team name for their club in master league? Think I might give it a go as “Dingleberry Olympic” 🙂

  14. Not Given—any luck seeing the same problem on the forums? If not, it’s got to be your PS3. As a fellow 60GB owner, I know how unthinkable it is that there could be a problem with it (possibly).

    You’re more determined to carry on with the freezes happening than I would be. Do you have any peripherals plugged into your PS3? As the problem occurs when the game is trying to write to the hard drive, could it be a hard drive problem? (I’m only guessing. Don’t go getting a new hard drive on the strength of that guess.) Have you tried a lens cleaner? Does your console stand up or sit down flat—have you tried it the other way round? Does the problem occur with other games? Try one just to see. If it does, it’s the PS3. If it doesn’t, it’s the game. Have you installed PES2010 onto the hard drive?

    Re. Europa League, I was slightly disappointed to qualify for no apparent reason too. I’d love to know about the reason, if there was one.

  15. Adriano—that’s why I’m cautious about believing in a ‘cracked tactics’ effect in PES2010. It could all be the placebo effect, where any slight difference in the game is take as evidence, when it could all be due to any number of other factors, chief among them being the natural way PES gameplay tends to vary from session to session. As you know I believe the placebo effect lay behind many PES fans’ belief that the DLC pre-Xmas contained a gameplay tweak.

  16. bigballs—you’d have to edit one of the existing teams in the main Edit menu before starting your Master League, as I did to make my Coventry City (formerly WE United), but yes, you can name them anything you want. i recommend you simply edit either PES United or WE United so as not to take a ‘proper’ team out of the game.

  17. where do you go to on master league to look through previous season trophys goals etc.its windeing me up chronicley beacuse i cant find it!

  18. kevin—you won’t find it anywhere, as it’s not included in PES2010. I know, it’s totally crazy. I think—hope—it was an oversight. Not even Konami with its inscrutable Japanese ‘logic’ would deliberately remove the feature, surely?

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