This summertime’s torrid affair with myClub continues. It’s one of those ‘If you had told me 1 month ago that…’ situations.
And the penny has finally dropped.
I believe that I now ‘get’ myClub.
Like many long-term single-player players and also many older players (a Venn diagram that could be almost a circle), I never have ‘got’ the Ultimate Team and myClub modes.
I mean, just take this screenshot:
What does it mean? What does it represent? What gaming value does it have? What kind of footballing and PES philosophy does it embody? What am I going to do with that team, and those players, that has any meaning or purpose?
It turns out that there’s quite a bit of meaning and purpose in myClub.
Look at the name of the manager. Top left. KELSEN.
That’s the Kelsen, the GK of Defaults fame.
What’s he doing here? Well, last week the game offered a series of Old Default stars as special managers.
Okay. What does that mean?
The manager role in myClub is very important. It defines a squad’s formation and tactics. In this case, Kelsen offers a 5-2-1-2 formation (you can switch to a detailed formation view that shows the fine-grained positioning).
After suffering a few proper thumpings online (not many, but still too many), I wanted to adopt that seemingly ultra-defensive formation for my squad, so I duly snapped up Kelsen in the Default manager sale. 22,000 GP. Not cheap.
You can only play with the formation your manager offers. It’s a seemingly arbitrary restriction that has a gameplay value. In order to play with different formations, you have to make multiple separate squads – there seems to be no upper limit to how many – each with a separate manager.
I presently have 3 managers assigned to 4 squads within my Club. I currently have about 35 players shared between the four, all in differing permutations.
I am aware that this still isn’t clear. The uninitiated are still puzzled.
Okay. Stick with me. Here’s my main squad, the straightforwardly named Squad 1:
Torres up front next to Bacca is as frustrating and enigmatic as in real life, but is decent enough to keep his place until Veldwijk is trained up enough to take over.
This is the first time I’ve been able to put together a First XI without a Default in it, but note the subs’ bench still has them.
Castledine is on the bench, but I want to develop him and all my other young players. Player development in the form of ‘Levelling Up’ after a match, as in Classic ML, is a huge element of myClub in PES2018. It’s new this year. For me, I’d go as far as to say it’s what makes the mode worth playing. It’s the clincher.
Yesterday I spent an entire session on the game creating a squad of low-rated players and playing a few matches with them (offline).
This is all happening within the same club – Coventry City. The multiple squad system within one club is a baked-in feature of the mode. You’re meant to play it, and enjoy it, like this.
The Irregulars, I call my new no-hoper squad.
I assembled them by using all my spare Scouts, one after the other.
And I used Dominguez, my so-far favourite manager, for this squad too.
Look at that rabble.
Note the keeper on the bench. The shrewd choice in myClub is to include a reserve keeper in every squad. I never used to in Master League. But very often in myClub you get to pre-game and find that your first choice GK is red-arrowed, at which point it’s too late to swap in a reserve keeper if you haven’t got one on the bench. No dipping into the rest of your player pool is allowed. The squad is the squad.
Now we’re getting to the meat of My Case For myClub. (I know. Unbelievable. This is almost Ian Paisley-Martin McGuinness/Trump-Kim territory.)
I spent a session putting the above lot through their paces in an offline Cup competition. I haven’t got the figurative balls to take them online yet, but I could.
I have started to bond with The Irregulars in an unbelievable way. Zigoni up front next to Veldwijk is similar to the latter, and so far slightly better. Each of the other players stands out in a weirdly unexpected way. The online database of all these players indicates Zigoni might develop to be top striker.
I am aware that I still have not really answered the key question.
What is this all for? What is it all about? What does all this messing about do? What is the point? What do I get from it all?
I think I get it now.
It’s all about the players – the in-game players, not the human players, although they’re significant too.
It’s all about your own identification with your players and squads and managers, and the surprising story that automatically develops when you take them – and yourself – off on an adventure into an unknown land.
Players in myClub definitely feel more individualistic than in Master League. Every slight edge counts. Torres has been the blandest, most nothingy striker in nuPES ML over the last few years, but in this myClub adventure, so far, he’s been distinctive in positive and negative ways. Flashes of his old brilliance, with spells of frustrating anonymity.
This, right here, is the appeal of myClub for a Master League aficionado.
In a curious way, myClub is a more self-contained, self-centred, and all-about-your-own-personal-gratification mode, than Master League ever has been.
It’s about the connection between the human player and the virtual player(s).
The same thing as Master League, except in a much more focused, streamlined fashion.
It’s a Pokemon mode for PES, in a way. I mean that wholly positively.
Would all this have convinced me, just two weeks ago?
No. It might have intrigued me – hearing from me, the arch-sceptic of all things online and all things myClub, that there is unexpected value in it, and even something almost Master League-like.
But on its own it would not have convinced me of anything. It is something that the player has to experience for themselves.
I got promoted from Division 12:
Did this feel like an achievement? Hell, yes. It very much did. Look at that sequence of results. I TOILED for this.
I won my first – and so far only – victory of myClub in game 9 of the 10-match season. It was a crazy game that I wish I’d recorded. The other player was a Bournemouth club with a similar-rated set of players to mine. (I have been fortunate with the matchmaking so far. Only about 3 players out of 15 or so have been obnoxious sprinting pressure-whores.)
Things were tight with chances at a premium. He seemed to be a player much like myself. I.e., interested in playing rather than button-mashing. I fluked the winner midway through the second half. A goalmouth scramble presented the ball at Castledine’s feet 5 yards out, for him to joyously side-foot it into a mostly unguarded net.
I held on for the win. My opponent’s quirk was that he loved to run with the ball, which was a refreshing change from all the tika-taka merchants who had preceded him. He was unfortunate not to at least draw this match.
Here is my updated global rating after the battle (yes, Sancho_Smith is my PSN username; no, you won’t be able to ‘Add’ me):I am the 109,443rd best player in the myClubverse.
I took a look at the top guys out of interest. The current #1 ranked player has about 4000 matches under his belt.
And so to my second season in myClub – in Division 11. I will have more to say about this on Friday – which will be half about myClub, and half about Master League on PES2011.
I have a new PS3 and it is fully restored to the condition of the old. It took most of a day, but it is done. This is why you make full backups of everything.
I will be honest. This myClub thing has been totally unexpected. Totally.
Will it draw focus from Master League? Inevitably, at least for now, yes it will.
And the future? What does this mean for PES2019. Is there a chance after all that I will be there on release day, ‘spamming’ the servers, or whatever the yoof lingo is?
God help me, yes, there is a chance of that.
Here are a few snippets that I couldn’t fit into the above ‘Apologia for myClub’, as it turned out to be.
First, a Special Agent opening. Yes – I have been merrily spinning balls.
Most readers will have seen this kind of thing on YouTube or Twitch over the past few years, and many, like me, will have shaken their heads. How can this be happening? Where is the glory of PES in this?
But you do get to a place where it is interesting, and dare I say it, fun, to press a button and watch a virtual roulette wheel in action.
The only way to sign new players in myCub is via the Agent system. I was awarded a Special Agent for winning an offline Cup competition.
Casemiro. I was initially pleased, but he just doesn’t seem to fit into any of my squads, and he doesn’t gel with any of my Managers. That affects Team Spirit, and this is a massively important factor in myClub. So much so that Casemiro rarely plays. A bit of a waste.
How about if you want to sign a particular, individual player?
The only way to sign a named player in myClub is to use combinations of Agents. The game awards Agents, of varying quality, quite liberally. To get a particular player you either combine the ones you already have, or bid for the ones you need in the Scout Auction House.
E.g. I really, really wanted to sign Lars Veldwijk, one of the stars of my Master League campaign. Some myClub players want to fill their ranks with Ronaldo and Messi, asap. Many, though, don’t. I am one of the latter group. I won’t turn down the ‘slag’ players, as they’re picturesquely called by some, if they ever come my way. (I can always fill one ‘slag’ squad with them and happily play with others.) But my vision thing for myClub is of a range of quirky squads put together for my own private needs.
The only way to get Veldwijk was to combine two Scouts: one for FC Groningen, his real-life club, and one for South Africa, his place of birth.
I possessed neither Scout. I got the Groningen Scout relatively easily. 3000 GP in a quick auction.
The South Africa one was a bit tougher. I ended up bidding a maximum of 8000 GP, and having to wait 13 real-life hours to see if I won.
Here is a minute-long video showing how the signing happened from the moment I won the Auction bid:
Note that the spin was a formality. I had effectively zeroed in on Veldwijk by use of the appropriate Scouts. The game itself gives you a thumbnail tutorial on this, but not a very impactful one.
This Scout system in myClub might be the quirkiest PES feature since PES2009’s ‘giant pointing transfer arrow’.
Word has it that PES2019 will feature an orthodox transfer market, no doubt complete with Ultimate Team-style player-controlled auctions.