I like a Challenge

I got underway, feeling as grand as a ship captain setting sail for lands unknown. That’s a decent avatar of me. I can’t quite achieve that whole Lex Luthor-style, billiard-ball-bald look, though. There’s always a shadow of hair, Lombardo-style. So this totally smooth-headed avatar represents an impossible ideal that I will never attain.

Challenge mode. I have to finish in the top 9. Okay. Will do.

Another cunning Konami stunt, moving the menus from the horizontal to the vertical and hoping we’ll passively accept it as being a revamp. Is there another example anywhere in gaming of a developer so comprehensively shafting a beloved game-mode, year on year, than PES Productions does with Master League? I mean, if there were no Glory Years to remember, this would seem fine, probably, but there are so it’s not. It’s almost as if they don’t want us to play it! I know, crazy talk…

The new Team Status screen. This, plus a slider to negotiate contracts with, are the new additions to Master League.

I decided to go full-throttle old-school with the formation. I need to win games. Goals win games. A 4-3-3, then, similar to my Glory Years’ 4-3-3 (the same formation I was still playing with in PES5, this summer just gone).

Game on!

This is the stuff, right here. Nothing feels better in gaming, in life, than the feeling of the nights drawing in, a sudden chill in the air, the central heating pipes clanking under the floorboards, and the warm hearth of PES flickering on the screen…

I lost that match. And quite a few others too.

Top Player, PA1, before anyone asks. I’m not a great player, and probably should have stuck to Professional for at least half a season as I normally do, but I fancy making Challenge Mode challenging. I will stick with Top Player. If/when I restart, though, following the sacking, it’ll probably be on Professional.

I’ve won one match so far.

Here is the table from a few matches ago – I’ve played more since this was taken, but am still bottom of the table:

9th is a long way away from here.

I’ve toyed with the formation, switching to a version of the 4-3-3 with two DMFs and a sole AMF. Trying to beef up the defence.

It hasn’t really worked out. I still concede, on average, about 2 or 3 goals to the AI per game. I have to go on record as saying I love this aspect of PES2018.

Whatever else happens from here – and the fouls/free kicks situation, year on year, has dragged the series into quicksand – I’ve been waiting since PES2012 for an AI to feel consistently deadly again. Here it is. Brilliant.

I don’t even care that most teams mostly play the same way. There’s never been great individuality at the team level in any football game.

Random thing: I always press L1+dpad-UP to make my kickoffs feature the traditional two players. The game remembers this setting for the rest of the match. Wish it could be permanent.

All hail a momentarily confusing usage of ‘marching orders’ in the American English sense:

These menacing board messages do keep popping up. I saw this one after an atrocious run of results:

Which made me fear for my future after losing the next one. But all I got was a sarky message about potentially clearing out my desk soon. I hear that there is no wiggle-room in Challenge Mode. I will be sacked, probably in mid-season.

I’m tempted to jump before I’m pushed, and restart with a renewed sense of purpose and focus. Every match matters. But this is the first time such a feature has been included in Master League, in this way, and I want to pay tribute to the old girl (meaning, Master League) by letting it sack me at least once.

On the pitch, PES2018 plays a very good game of football. But there is a dark, dark cloud on the horizon. The end-times are at hand. Never in my worst nightmare did I think that the low-fouls of PES2016 and PES2017 would lead to the situation we have today in PES2018. Almost literally no fouls at all.

Roughly 1/3rd (maybe even half) of my matches feature zero free kicks for either side. The remainder feature a pathetic 1 or 2 at most.

15 or so matches in, there has not been one single match with more than 2 AI fouls on me, and that was itself a rarity. Appalling and unforgivable.

So the time has come. I solemnly pledge now that there will be no PES2019 in my life or on this blog if this keeps up. And PES2018 is on borrowed time.

The no-fouls issue, unless it is resolved properly, and SOON, has effectively destroyed Pro Evolution Soccer.

Updated: 19th September 2017 — 11:50


  1. Darryl – yep, Cod Army

    Turf – it was indeed Yesil. What a player.

    Haven’t got Pro Evo 2018 yet, double shifts and family life not allowing any time fit gaming at the moment.

    Got the first two weeks of October off work though……

  2. Got to the end of my first season on classic mode, with the bog-standard players in the original lineup, and managed to finish 12th (which actually pissed me off, because I could’ve finished 9th had I not lost my final two games).

    Coutinho and Jarvis lead the line for most of the season, with Arcas just behind them and Castledine just behind him. My only significant signing came in the January transfer window, where, having negotiated the release of most of the dross from my original lineup, I scrounged enough funds together to convince Sanabria of Real Betis to join Preston on 6-month loan. This signing proved to be the catalyst for the rest of the season, as Sanabria slotted into my forward line alongside Coutinho with shocking ease. He scored braces in his first three matches, on team spirit of 62, and I thought to myself “I’m glad I worked in a option-to-buy in his salary, because he’s amazing”.

    But as is so often the case with PES these days, that kind of thing is smacked down with Zeus’s hammer before it can get going. Sanabria didn’t score for his next five games, but we managed to pick up results nonetheless. Then, the incredible starting happening, as we pushed our team spirit to 76: Sanabria bagged a hat-trick away from home, and then smashed five past Brentford’s keeper in a 6-1 annihilation. I figured it was just a burst of form, but even when Sanabria found himself nerfed the match after his five-goal heroics (and don’t tell me this whole bad form after a brilliant performance isn’t inserted by Konami/PES Productions), he still managed to produce time after time. He almost single-handedly fired us into 9th, and had he done so I’d’ve been furious about not opting for Challenge mode.

    But at £11,500,000, the option-to-buy clause was looking less probable as the season petered out to a forgettable end. I wanted this kid and would have sold Arcas, Coutinho, and anyone else to make it happen. I transfer-listed Arcas, open to reasonable offers, but no one came in. Then, a few days out from the last day of the season, I got the screen everyone and their mother waits in eager anticipation for: the “how much money am I going to get?” screen. “Please let it be enough to sign Sanabria”, I pleaded.

    The screen popped up some seconds later and I was so shocked I didn’t think to grab a screenshot. The bean-counters are very happy, it said, with a 10% rise in profits. You have been given a boost to your budget, it said. And then, at the bottom, I was awarded with a £25,000,000 boost to the budget and a £6,500,000 boost to the salary. I couldn’t believe my eyes! 25 million! I won the Championship on PES 2017 and barely got 2.5 million! You’re giving me 25 million for finishing 12th?!

    Last year, I had the biggest miser in history as an owner. Not once did I get 25 million added in one fell swoop. Even when I won the league multiple times, I didn’t get anything near it. I got my club ranking in the top ten and the most I ever saw added to the transfer budget was 15 million.

    I know there’s a lot of money in the game these days, but not in the Championship. For 25 million, I could meet the buyout clause of many top-quality players. This can’t be good, I thought, for longevity. But then, as the darkened clouds threatened to envelop PES 2018 and suffocate the life out of it, my attempt to secure the buyout clause of Renato Sanches ended with the player refusing to move to a team as crap as my Preston North End.

    There’s that, at least, I thought. 25 million!

    Fucking hell.

  3. Dan – £25m?! I spy House Rules being necessary to prevent runaway success – unless the ML transfer market is adjusted across-the-board to reflect post-Neymar inflation, and this is an early sign of that.

    Oh, and the post-performance nerfing of players has been a thing in PES since PES2015. A definite thing that fills me with as much gloom and despair, in its own way, as no-fouls. My star man of PES2017, Palacio, never had two back-to-back standout performances. Not even once. In thinking why they inserted this, I point the finger once again at online balancing. I.e. your Ronaldo or Messi or whomever can ‘tear it up’ in one match and get 5 goals, but will be oddly anonymous for the next, to give everyone a chance and stop you running away with the Online Orange Trophy or whatever they all ‘play’ for.

  4. Dan – That is a ridiculous amount of money. I’m already playing with a few house rules and will not be triggering any of these release clauses. Good to see players turning down a move to Div 2 though.

    I also fail to see any of this extra layer of difficulty in signing/keeping players that is described as part of Challenge Mode.

    n-G – Keeping team shape seems all important this year. I’m sure second-press last year had your midfielders press more whereas this year it’s often one of your CBs who steps up, leaving a gap for the AI to exploit. Like you, I really hope they don’t mess this up with a patch.

  5. Shed – I don’t mind the AI’s through-ball, or the aerial through-ball. The AI passes it around, passes it backward, constructs varied attacks, makes mistakes, gives itself superpowers every so often – it’s the best AI we’ve had maybe since PES2012. I keep trying direct Hollywood-style passing moves to get in on goal, and keep failing. (As a clip in today’s post will show.) Once again a supposedly poor AI plays ‘proper’ football better than almost any online human player.

  6. I;ve been playing exhibitions here and there while waiting for a good patch and I have a feeling it’s a grower. the pitch still hurts my eyes by looking at it but that’s about the only negative currently for me…
    I like that the AI is now anything but toothless, really aggressive and deadly in attack as others have mentioned. Commentary actually seems a bit improved if I dare say so. Got one free kick just now, implemented brilliantly this time around. I like how the camera stays locked when you take the shot.
    If we can just get a PES2013-type PC Patch…could be a very good one.

  7. #1 – but did you recognise the ear-hurting music in my PES2015 vid?!

  8. Yeah I think I need to move down ti Pro, to settle in with the game, defeat after heavy defeat has seen my TS stall and morale drop so its a vicious cycle.
    Top Player COM does have unworldly powers though, 99% strike conversion rate.

    This is gonna be one long hard slog, still trying to tweak fluid forms and tactics to something I’m really happy with

  9. NG – sorry, missed that. No I did not actually.. Is it pre PES 5? That was my first pes, not counting international superstar soccer games…

  10. #1 – in PES2 that was the music that accompanied every goal replay. Not something that the series has done in any other edition. It’s justifiably held up as the most PES-ish piece of music ever and I’ve used it to accompany vids to show strong PES-ish approval. I used to have a version of it as my mobile phone ringtone. Once my phone rang when I was at work and the girls in the office were thrilled at the notion that I, Mr middle-aged bespectacled bald man, liked ‘trance’, whatever that is. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the truth.

  11. nG/Shed – I tried the buyout clause as a test to see what they’re all about. I’m relieved it didn’t work. I got Sanches on loan from Bayern in the first season of PES 2017, but he went back the next year and I never re-signed him. This would have been a joke. One of the brightest young talents in world football going to Swansea in the real world stretched the suspension of disbelief to the max; going to Preston North End in the PES world would tear the very fabric of reality.

    But I did manage to secure the arrival of Sanabria (and felt really dirty when I hit the “terms accepted” button). 11.5m at this stage is a push, but I can just about tolerate/allow it.


  12. NG – never knew! I skipped football gaming and gaming in general during that period…I remember a mate from college banging on about this “PES this / PES that” business constantly…I brushed it off back then. If only I knew!

  13. I’m currently having mixed success on my challenge mode first season on Superstar. It’s feeling like a real rolling back into the old days of elation when you finally grab a goal..Then absolute personal harm inducing agony when the AI get a last minute equaliser from a rebound of somebody’s back.

    My Season has picked up a bit since the team spirit broke the 70 mark and i have a few new players in on loan but i am currently sitting about 9 points off 9th with only 5 games to go! Still not sacked despite my owner’s confidence in me being at 4%. I guess it needs to get to zero for the sacking.

    It’s a strange position to be in on ML, because usually I’d be excited to get this season over and done with and consigned to the record books. I’d be pretty confident about a decent 2nd season but i can foresee a P45 in my next pay packet…

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