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. Not seen that WERD, will take a look.
    Turf/Scrooge – no badge swapping in PES15? on PS4? really ?

  2. Turf – I try to ignore the named badges and find teams that look closest to the real thing. PEU or Rest of world or good bets. I used Leigerbletz as I liked the badge. i was miffed when i found out 2018 got rid of most of the rest of world made up team. What I would like to see is a generic d2 like last sen in 2014, You could attach it to any league and everyone would be happy.

    Paul – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2slJtF9JNgQ&list=PLH1FRH5gACjnShnCKOMawNjG9Xmfp6c5Y

  3. Cheers WERD.

    PES definitely needs to expand the leagues. They could include 6 additional blank leagues, which you can assign to any other league in the game, or create a new one, so you could have an English setup of Premier League, Championship, League One, League two
    and then a Scottish Div 1 and Scottish Prem.

    Would make ML so much better having to progress through the divisions.

    On a sidenote, my AMF Emmanuel-Thomas was out of form last night, so played promoted youth Iouga there, that boy can dribble, and also let off a snapshot form 25 yards that just whistled past the post.
    Subbed him late on for Huylens …… Nostalgic moment!

  4. Uncle Turf – I scored one of my top 5 All-Time Most Favourite Ever goals in PES History with Peter Crouch in PES2015. He will serve you well. A good touch for a big man.

    Paul – I’m treading water waiting to get sacked in my ML at the moment (mostly so I can say I’ve done it – it’s never happened before), so I have not delved too deep into anything tactical yet. Might have a tinker later to get set up for the next ML.

  5. Paul – as far as my clunky editing skills have discovered, I don’t think you can, I’d be happy to be corrected but I think this was the year when we were stuck with default crap.

    I’ve partnered Crouch with Dembele – not that one, another. I should be destroying Indonesian, Chinese and Indian sides. I’m not…I’d take a 1-0 win at the moment.

  6. You are right Turf, I just checked my PES 15 videos on youtube and my Mk team back then just had the generic PES Utd badge, that was the year we couldn’t import image files on the PS4.

  7. Never miss a chance to post this and enjoy it all over again.

  8. Crouchy. You wouldn’t like him when he’s Angriff.

  9. I want an invite to one of these ‘Allfs Oder’ Nights !!!

  10. Well it has stopped being easy. 2-1 reverse against Hull and 3-2 heartbreaker to league leaders Wolves.

    Still think my team plays far too attractive football for first 5 games in Master League with Defaults.

  11. Paul/darryl6464: for me fluid formation is key in PES, at least in 2015. I use a 4-4-2 diamond formation. They are closer together in defense but more open in attack. If I find out how to upload pictures here I will upload how I do it, if I can take a couple good pictures of the TV.

    NG: that’s a wonderful goal, really well executed.

    By the way, I won Copa del Rey!!! 0-1 to Barcelona! Isco was the one that scored! My first ever title in ML (never played that long). I finished the league in 3rd position (with enough points to win the Premier League or Serie A). I already changed the difficulty to top player and length to 10 minutes. I have to play the Spanish Supercup (double match) versus Real Madrid and I am terrified…

  12. This might be cheeky, but is anyone here good at making kits? A mate asked me if I knew anyone who could create a Scunthorpe Utd kit and badge for him, but so far I’ve drawn a blank on the PES forums.

    Can anyone help/point me in the right direction?

  13. Dan – Paul is your man over at PESFX. There’s a link at the top of the page.

  14. Hi Dan yeah i run a PES kit design website mate http://www.pesfx.co.uk
    theres a ‘request a kit’ form, fill that in and i’ll sort it.

  15. Shed – Thanks.

    Paul – You’re a legend, mate. I don’t know much about making kits, but I do know that it takes a significant amount of time.

    Thank you.

  16. Dan – got the 3 requests you sent through, I’ll do them no worries just may take a few days as im away all weekend from tomorrow.

    Heres a current day scunthorpe one I designed.

    View post on imgur.com

  17. Another session just before work today, and I’m calling it now: PES2018 is another PES2012. I mean this in the best possible sense. I.e., a PES with an horrific problem, unforgivable on the face of it, redeemed by top gameplay. PES2018: almost no fouls. PES2012: that central shooting.

    PES2012, of course, still had the individuality sauce in bucketloads, and whether PES2018 ever delivers that remains to be seen. My Gheorghe Hagi of PES2012 might be the greatest individual I’ve played with in any PES game.

    I remember walking away from PES2012 in disgust, but then returning almost immediately and having one of my best-ever MLs. I remember plenty of commenters here did much the same – Shed for sure, and possibly Dan too.

    Any excuse to post this:

  18. NG – 2012 was the year of Super Sibon

  19. Lloyd – and led into your legendary year of FIFA13 too. Do I remember you not taking to PES2013 after PES2012? We were all affected by that to some extent. When PES2013 collapsed in on itself, it was in stark contrast to the endlessness of PES2012.

  20. I well remember the glorious reveal of that moment back in the day.

    It might have been your year of Sibon Lloyd but for me it was ribeiro. Never before or since have I taken to a big lumbering youth teamer like that. He single handedly squashed the central shooting worry for me. Was it not NG’s year of the Twigg?

    There’s something that video captures that I’ll never be able to actually name, that feeling for me that FIFA just never quite clicks. FIFA 14 was a long rollercoaster of a campaign for me but I was always looking to tinker with sliders, settings and tactics, I never found a settled side or place. Pes has been sorely testing that in recent years and by every imaginable indicator FIFA is better and yet the other one will always be the magnificent bastard. 2015 is starting to feel like it could be rejuvenated in my mind, possibly even great, if only the difficulty holds out without house rules or the energy sapping full manual option.

  21. Paul – Thank you!

    Please take your time. Chuck (my mate) is still setting up the leagues and editing. He doesn’t usually start a ML ’til closer to October.

  22. Ahhhh Fond memories, I remember your year of Hagi, Forlan etc.
    and those custom stadiums and banners…… *sigh*

    What was the ‘fix’ to 12’s central shooting again? i cant remember?

  23. Turf – 2015 will hold out for you in terms of difficulty as it has some mean difficulty spikes along the way. My ML that year will always stay with me with so many emotions that I went through.

    NG – With regards to 2018 I just don’t know as one issue maybe but lack of individuality as well, gives it some problems. Can it stand the test of say a 10 season plus ML. The game is modelling itself more and more on the Fifa blueprint. But how long will it be before the games all feel flat and merge into each other. Then also add in that stats don’t matter. This is why none of us get much further than around season 5 on Fifa. PES is following suit.

  24. Paul – Why can’t the game have something like the creation centre (Last seen in Fifa 13) that used to be in the Fifa games.

  25. I’ve just been sacked, 22 games into the first season.
    ML restart, classic Mode, coming up

  26. The individuality or lack thereof is best illustrated by the 90 speed striker being shoulder to shoulder with the 70 speed centre half.

    Paul – I think we solved central shooting by simply having more shots. I recall updates but weren’t they always of the placebo/forums convinced of change variety?

  27. Who else is playing on Superstar? I enjoy the tension and difficulty of matches, but the ways in which these laudable attributes have been accomplished is nothing short of fucking abominable. I have never, ever known a PES to tilt the playing field so far in its own favour, or cheat so blatantly.

    The patch released on PC earlier this week apparently improves player responsiveness, dials back passing accuracy for everyone, and reduces the accuracy/effectiveness of lofted through-balls.

    If it doesn’t arrive soon, I fear for the safety of my controller.

  28. NG – I played Pro Evo 2013 and missed 2014. 13 was the year of Shelvey. Then Fifa 13.

  29. Paul – Central shooting was never solved as far as I can remember, it just didn’t happen with better than average players. And you needed better than average players to compete in that year’s ML.

  30. james – are you referring to an official patch or fan-made?

  31. #1 – It’s an official one. Launched on Steam on Tuesday, I think, and TBA for consoles due to the usual certification delay. I’ve heard people say that it greatly reduces the frustration of playing on Superstar and Legend modes.

  32. Lloyd – Was FIFA 13 the year of your Cod adventures if I remember rightly. I seem to recall you having a young Liverpool forward that you signed but can’t remember his name.

  33. Samed yesil?

    2015 is treating me like it bought my sorry arse. One goal so far, all defeats and three long rangers against me, I’m talking 30 yarders. That doesn’t happen from the AI, they dink it corner to corner, or they lob or they get lucky ricochets. These were old fashioned howitzers. Crouch has been awful, he can’t even win headers!

  34. So restarted ML. Identified key signings with the paltry budget, signed a new DMF, AMF, and CB and got rid of a few lumps, fresh with the knowledge from my previous ML.
    Started off with default formation just to see how it plays before I start fiddling with fluid formations etc, and duly lost the first 2 games 3-2 and 6-0. Fuck sake.

  35. Uncle turf: I just played my first game in top player in PES 2015: 1-1 and I feel your pain. I scored because the AI did something stupid and I got the ball from their defender (Sergio Ramos) and scored. I only got two shots and Real Madrid got like 10. I hope it gets better or I see myself being relegated. I should have lost 5-0 at least…

  36. Not too happy with what I hear about a forthcoming patch bringing added responsiveness and the toning-down of the AI at Superstar and Legend levels. I alluded to PES2012 earlier for a reason. This is the most savage AI we’ve seen since then. The AI scored two outrageous floated headers against me today in the same match. This is the kind of thing that makes a PES memorable. PES2018 is responsive enough as it is, and I’m looking forward to moving up through the difficulty levels as my ML team scales up to meet the challenge. PES2018 is already severely lacking. Why take away the attributes that make it distinctive?

    We learned to cope with central shooting in PES2012 by sort-of ignoring it for the most part, and to be fair the problem did recede as player stats mounted up.

  37. Darryl – there was a huge problem with the Creation Centre in FIFA. I remember looking forward to it and playing around with it quite a bit. Alas, no matter how intricate and granular you got with FK and corner routines, the AI was designed to nullify them. I don’t recall anybody making an ace routine that led to success, and the feature was soon quietly dropped.

  38. JS – how did you start against Real Madrid? Is this some sort of Werd customised league? I assumed it dumped you in the second division whenever there was one. I’m not struggling to get shots off but they are nearly all finding the centre of the goal or easily saved. I’ve even resorted to the double tap and the finesse, so bad is the normal power shot. I finally won a match thanks to a header. Not Peter crouch. He is proving to be the ultimate donkey.

  39. Uncle turf: I started as Betis in divison 2 playing in professional difficulty at 7 minutes. First season I finished in 8th position. Second season I won division 2 and got promoted. 3rd season I finished 3rd and won the Spanish cup. Now I am starting my 4th season, top player, 10 minutes.

    I just finished the second game vs Real Madrid and won 5-1. I cannot believe it. I even checked the settings after the game was done. But even with that, I can feel the games much harder than before. I was lucky and my SS scored some beautiful goals, and when Madrid was pressing me really hard I scored a couple counter attacks.

    Also, I use pass assistance level 2, that helps a lot I think. But I am not getting any good regens (all at OVR 61) so I think that compensates.

  40. Uncle Turf – I know you’re nostalgic for Ribeiro today, but Crouch is not an aerial player. He’s a ball-player, as shown by my PES2015 Goals Goals Goals vid:

    There are about 10 Crouch goals in this. How many with the head? None. You could say that’s my play-style, of course, and there’s something to that.

    And looking back at that vid now, I scored some beauties in PES2015!

  41. Played 4. Lost 4. Conceded 16. This game is pissing me of.
    It’s lile a bunch of unsuccessful applicants for the mr muscle commercial with potato sacks strapped to their back, vs bodybuilding sprint champions.

    Every single shot the cpu takes on TP is a goal. Every one.

  42. Paul – remember PES2012. This pain is the key to future satisfaction. An AI like this was always necessary after the last few years.

    Oh, and maybe try Professional for a bit. I have gone back down and my record since is P5 W1 D1 L3 GF 1 GA 8-ish. I’m an average player but I’ not that average. The difficulty levels have been rezoned this year. I worry that the outcry against the AI will lead to a cowardly early patch.

  43. Paul: that’s why I started in professional. Even with that, first season I only reached 8th position. You need to get used to the game and what works in the game. Now that it was kind of easy for me, I went up to top player. My goal is to win the Champions League in top player and then try legendary, so I know I have a long road ahead, but I like it so far.

  44. JS – ah right I see, I thought you meant your first game in the ml, not first on the new level.

    NG – still not doing the business though, you know me and my arsenalling and he gets knocked around, loses it and central shoots nearly all the time. It is ‘real’ crouch if that differs, rather than a regen i.e. He’s on the decline. The central shooting is the biggest surprise from these last few weeks, im really not finding corners at all. I know it can be deep in the game before you have the stats to unleash but I’d have expected a bit more than I have. Then again I’ve never been that great at the booming shot.

  45. Final restart this morning before work as I too am going to go back down to Pro now I have settled on all my sEttington. Used the last ML to get used to advaced shooting, which is so much better than recent years due to changes in the target area, giving more variaton and prone to error,depending on your players shooting stars.

    Big shout out to Paul and some of the fantastic information he has been providing on the tactics as these are slowly changing my opinion on the game. He has clearly invested into the tactical side of the game and it shows.

    I really hope they don’t alter the difficulty as I am looking forward to doing the groundwork with the tactics etc on Professional and then tankle those killer higher levels when my TS is up and I am more prepared. Time to stop pissing about now.

  46. James – thanks. I did not get any patch on PC but should be getting it soon then. Peculiar that they apparently are able to solve these “problems” (which are not problems at all but whining ShiteClub players) – after what I assume is “fan” feedback – but fouls takes months (yes I know they are taking the piss with the fouls patch news – no patch will ever be coming to correct that)

    NG – some nice goals indeed but the music on that vid is making my ears bleed.

  47. the settled to sEttington line Darryl, sounds like a gentle steam train ride over the Pennines.

  48. I usually play regular being a below average player, then up it end of season 1. My 2 and a half star Essen were romping the league so I changed to Prof in game 8. A couple of days ago I beat a 4 and a half star Dortmund at the Westfalen 1-0 with a last minute header from my AMF Platze. I leapt up nearly twisted my ankle running round the room anyone below in the street probably thought i’d gone a bit mental 🙂
    Its a nice challenge at the mo. Just enough bite in each game, you cant linger on the ball and my 4-3-3 scores more than I concede…just

    joint top of 2.Bundesliga with Dusseldorf and Kaiserslautern hot on my heels, also into the quarters of the DFB Pokal. Back on it tonight.

  49. I’m on another decent unbeaten run on Top Player. Six games since I last lost but four of those have been draws. I’m 18th after 26 games now but having survived the mid-season boot I now notice my owner’s confidence in me has dropped from 33% to 22%. Seems odd given I’ve been on a steady rise up the table.

    I suspect I’ll end up turning off Challenge Mode or restarting as it seems a little wonky. Unlike the gameplay which I’m loving. I played four games last night and every one was excellent.

    Paul – Stick with it. Are you pressing in defence too much. I find that pressing or second-press leaves too many gaps so I use it very sparingly. Simply holding R2 and staying goal side of an attacker has been very effective for me.

  50. Shed/Paul – re. defending, I’ve got a clip coming up in today’s post where I run my DMF – Hettich – out of position, which the AI exploits with a long ball into the space he would have been, and scores. The difficulties have been rezoned, and I’m worried that an imminent patch will dilute the AI, because it’s easy for Konami to appease a perceived outcry about general AI, and hope we forget about the phantom fouls patch.

    #1 – don’t you recognise the music?! As significant and timeless and evocative in the PESverse as the Dr Who theme is to Dr Who.

    Uncle Turf – that’s why you don’t see Crouch until halfway through my PES2015 goals vid – he is the Regen version.

    Darryl – well, I’m settled on Darrylcam now, with a single tweak of my own (Long, 5, 0, 10). Makes the game feel so brilliant, not least because it forces a slowing-down. On Wide I tend to get to the ‘angry wasps’ melee very easily. On this cam, not so much. My last few sessions have reminded me of PES2012 and the superb first seasons with FIFA15. Good point about why we never continue with FIFA though. A meaningless-stats PES would be no real PES at all, but we will see.

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