War of the Rosenthals

At about 2:45am Thursday night/Friday morning, I reached the Division 2 Playoffs in my Season 2 of Master League.

I then stayed up until well after 3am to play the most extraordinary single match of PES2020 so far, and one of the most memorable single matches of PES ever.

A 4m30s highlights package is below.

First, some context for the match. I coasted through the latter third of the season, racking up the wins, drawing a few, losing the odd one. The final table:Results picked up massively when I switched formations. Since around PES2012 I have played with a version of a 4-2-2-2. Back four, two DMF/CMF anchors, two wide AMF/SMF types, and two central CF/SS sorts. Nice and simple and effective, year in, year out.

Looking at my players in PES2020, and sensing that this is a different type of PES and I needed to try something new, I have gone back to a version of the 4-3-3 that I used to play with in PES2-PES2011.

In PS2 PES and the first few editions on PS3, I always played with a back 4, a lone DMF, two AMFs (sometimes wide, sometimes central) and 3 CFs. (They were always CFs until all the SS tomfoolery started. The series hasn’t been the same since, if you ask me.)

I’ve now played about 15 matches with the 4-3-3 you see here.

It’s a standard back four, with just the 1 DMF; a close-to-hand CMF who pitches in at both ends; a lone AMF (huge burden on him); and the front three consists of an LWF in this instance (Pjaca’s strongest role) with two CFs.

I really like it and believe I will stick with it all the way. It generates chances and goals, but it does seem to leave me open to counter-attacks, as will be seen…

Full-backs are incredibly important in a setup like this of course. They need stamina and speed. Neither of the ones on show here are entirely satisfactory for different reasons. Both too young and too unfinished. I know what I’ll be shopping for post-season… but which division will I playing in?

I saw off Sheffield United in the Playoff semi-final.

Nottingham Forest were up in the final.

I’d played Forest in my run-in and easily beaten them. I anticipated this final being one of those matches in a Master League where the journey proves more exciting than the destination. This match was a formality, right? Right?

Updated: 4th October 2019 — 11:05


  1. Rice was on fire tonight and scored two nice little goals in this evenings session:-

  2. Darryl — nice nutmeg for the first clip too. And the first Rice goal… nearly a long-ranger. I’m still hunting and Rice is one of the strongest shooters I have.

  3. Ooh, I think I’ve settled on a camera. Stadium cam, 5,5,6.

  4. Turf – I’m cruising Super Star at moment, not sure what changed but assume the game is giving me an easier time because my players are better. Team ratings are 82 for forwards, 76 for midfield and 72 for defence, this is top 6 or 7 in the Premier League rating. I bought a CF from Real Madrid, 85 OVR, one of the best players in the game, that’s with hard transfers and low budget. I’m sure the game will bite back but after 11 games in season 3 I’ve won 8, drawn 2 and lost 1. Weird, because I haven’t experienced such a tough first 2 seasons but the game has flipped completely. I’ll be back on later complaining how tricky it is again.

  5. Darryl – Are you still playing on professional ?
    James – You mention using L2 for zippier more accurate person, but this is the manual modifier button? unless you have remapped your controls?

  6. Tommy – Stadium (or Broadcast) takes about as long to adjust to in its own way as manual, I’ve found. Just over the last week or two I’ve found I’m not misplacing passes or shots because of the ‘weird’ angle. I say ‘weird’ in inverted commas because for all of PES’s life before the PS3, Wide cam with the camera fixed at the halfway line (angle 1-10, and I always went for 1) was the only way to play. All that sideline-panning is johnny-come-lately stuff.

    Cook – and you’re still in D2? But the game let you buy a top Real forward?? I don’t think there can be any doubt now that the new settings don’t really work. I’ve encountered some tough negotiations with my own team’s contract renewals but that’s been it.

  7. nG – Still Div 2. He popped up in the scouting list and I had enough funds for a player plus cash deal, lowered his wages down to half then upped the bonuses… voila, one of the best young strikers in the world signed for a mid-table division 2 side. Not the finest ML that’s for sure.

  8. At least its not the Broken mess FIFA 20 CM mode is:

    FIFA 20 | Known Issues and Bugs from FifaCareers

  9. Cook — that’s what I’ve found too with me ‘Hard’ negotiations — the literal lowest possible wage, and much of the time bonuses are not even required. If it turns out that the difficulty setting only relates to your own team’s contract renewals (literally just that one narrow branch of the negotiations tree) then it’s a classic lost in translation moment.

    Still fooling around with the PC version and spanking-new graphics card. Here’s a one-minute clip that will make AI free kick sufferers smile after my weeks of smug AI free kick defending:

    I think a combination of the distance there, and my OG Defaults in the wall, and bloody Ivarov in goal, brought that one about.

  10. Paul — the FIFA20 CM fiasco is 1) surprising given EA’s total professionalism (or reputation of), and 2) deeply disturbing for that very reason, because of what it indicates is the future of single-player gaming. The time is coming when we will think back to recent years and consider how lucky we were even to be second thoughts.

  11. Paul – looks like SupaHotSackBoy has plenty of material there! Even FIFA19 CM is full of glitches. I just lost two of my best Exeter players Christy Pym and Troy Brown on pre-contracts despite signing one year contract extensions with both

  12. NG – EA have confirmed career mode will be fixed but not as a priority, that gives you a clear enough indication of Dev’s loyalty and focus.

    RE the free kick, the jump wall method works 2 out of every 4 for me, the other times that is the result.

  13. Cook – I started off well but it’s finishing that’s costing me – even with Diego Costa, robben and falcao up front I rarely seem to find the sweet spot. It’s a lot more varied missing than 2015-19 but still the same ‘how did that not…’?

    I’ve obviously not scored a single free kick

  14. Turf – Once again I’m finding FK’s easy.
    Scored 2 in one match with my DMG Fernando, one was about 30 yards, whipped curler, will upload later.

  15. Paul — I may have jumped a tad late on that one above, the distance made me complacent I think. Still 100% for stopping all FKs on the PS4.

    Uncle Turf — wide shooting, and ‘hitting a player between the shooter and the goal’ shooting — 2 very pronounced methods of scoreline management in PES2020. It took me a while to adjust to Stadium-type view so I was always dragging shots wide myself to begin with, but now I’ve got my eye in I think I can tell what’s me and what’s the game deciding ‘nope, not this time son’.

  16. NG – That’s probably why 2 out of 4 go in against me, mistimed jumps, but it seems such a narrow band that you have to press the jump button in, a fraction too early or too late and its a guaranteed goal.
    My Gripe is that 100% of all COM free kicks are on target and top corner, its only whether you time the jump right that stops it, not whether your keeper saves it, or if the COM misses the target, which is highly unrealistic.

    They need more error applied to them, currently the error % is 0%.

  17. Paul – Yes still on Pro level. This is generally how I do a Pro Evo game as I have never been that good at them. I usually spend a couple of seasons on Pro until I get promoted, before moving up to Top Player. Once I finish around Champions League spots it is time for SS. I go through the gears and leave the Bertie Big Bollocks stuff to the likes of Turf and Abbeyhill. For now though I am learning and enjoying the game as I hadn’t played a Pro Evo game for about a year.

  18. The prodigal son returns

  19. Darryl – That’s a good way to do it and a good way to get re-acclimatised with the series after a year or so away.
    I was on Pro too but it just got too easy, scoring 3 or 4 every match, I’d say enjoying 80% of matched on Top Player now, the other 20% when it strangles you are messy, but definitely gives more of a challenge.

  20. Still an absolute shit-show in my ML. Just got to January and got in a few reinforcements, including my man there. But at 72ovr it remains to be seen how much he can contribute this season. New additions mixed with a few departures means a dip in the old TS, which doesn’t help matters. Bottom 3 and drifting away.

  21. Sounds like a classic ML experience Tommy, the most memorable ML campaigns have been ones that have been a struggle, instant success is boring, there’s no story to it.

    Will make the trophies all that more rewarding once you get there.

  22. Tommy – you had to do it, and I’m keeping an eye out for RVP in my game too. It’ll be a few seasons before he’s a real contributor though. As with my Regen Forlan in ’19 – I almost sold him after a few seasons, he was that anonymous, but around age 20-21 he suddenly burst into life and became one of the great Master League strikers of all time for me, the only player in all my Master League history to have two editions in which he starred – PES2012 of course being the other one. (Defaults and Youths like Castledine and Schwarz etc. don’t really count as we’re given an instance of them every year.)

    darryl – ever since I discovered PA0 and Manual shooting this summer just gone, Uncle Turf’s and Abbeyhill’s Iron Man machismo has been seen in a whole new light… To be fair it’s a different game on PA0 – not necessarily a better game (although it can be), just different. At some point this year it’ll come again for me.

  23. Just catching up after a few days away. Unlucky with that play off final n-G. I was sure that was all leading to promotion.

    I managed a few games back on PES 2020 last night and it’s not quite clicking with me on Top Player. How the hell are you supposed to stop the AI cutting through your defence like they do and I so rarely do the other end?

    I also played some PES5 yesterday so that might have contributed to my struggle.

  24. Shed – On TP, the COM Loves a ball in to the CF on the edge of your box, then a turn and shoot.
    I like to give my defender a yard or 2 off the forward, let him turn, and then R2 shield then tackle to take the ball, otherwise, due to the handicapped physicality, if you try to muscle him off the ball, he will just hold you off, turn and shoot. Same applies all over the pitch.

    And passing lanes….. and cutting them out, using RS to select a player nearest the most likely runner/pass receiver, manually tracking his runs and using Square button to AI press the ball carrier, is another good tactic to stop the COM cutting through you.

    Its the other end that frustrates me, the COM players incessantly dispossessing my CF when they receive the ball, a nanosecond after they receive it, sticking out a leg and tackling me, every time.

  25. nG – I was quite cheeky with the offer after he popped up in free agents. I offered his the 2nd lowest wage possible and a few small bonuses, plus I ramped up his release free. Luckily he accepted, as is the case or most free agents. I find it’s trying to sign players from other teams that is were ‘hard negotiations’ comes into play.

    Forgot to mention above, but the cherry on top of my shit pie was I lost my new goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, to his release fee. I’ve only had him 6 bloody months! I had the cut-scene, the warning, then went and offered him a new contract which he gladly accepted. Despite the higher release fee, it was still a little low and Nottingham Forest came back to the table again and paid the full amount. Obviously I can’t be mad and I wish them all the best. But now I’m madly scrambling for a stopper.

  26. That’s a bit crap Tommy, if your keeper agreed a new contract that should have been the end of it, but the fact that the game then still sold him because a club agreed his release fee, is ridiculous.
    PES is missing the whole player interaction part of transfers, ie, we know Forest have come in, but we will offer you this, this and this, and guaranteed you x or Y, if we dont achieve A,B or C by xx then we’ll agree to let you go.

  27. Paul – Thanks for the defending tips. I think keep trying to pressure with X too much, leaving me open to through-balls and the turn-and-shoot as you describe.

    Generally, I find myself having to really stick with this PES as it feels rather ragged and unfinished both on and off the pitch… again.

  28. Shed – Clamping X will undo you 90% of the time, only use that when you are certain to get the ball or you have sufficient numbers back.
    Keeping shape, tracking runners, cutting lanes out, all makes the AI have to think differently and they will often misplace an ambitious pass, or you can tackle them.

    As ragged as PES20 is, ML certainly doesn’t have much to it, and transfers seem a bit broken on anything other than normal, it’s still got enough quality on the pitch for me, there are times it frustrates due to the player handicapping, but as I didn’t have any expectations for this game, I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would.

    Need to learn the RS dribbling as Darryl mentioned as thats something else thats frustrating me too, seems extremely difficult to go past anyone, feints dont seem to work, and couple that with the unbalanced physicality, PES20 forces a very pass-centric style of play, which can sometimes get a little tedious.

    Currently a 7.8/10 for me.

  29. Shed – pace, pace, pace – I brought on a pacy CB in a match where the Ai strikers were walking through me and it helped. I’ve still not seen much of this overbearing AI that plenty of others have.

    Tommy – the lowest wage possible, no bonuses at all, and the maximum possible release fee works in most cases for Free Agents. The ML is definitely a shoddy affair. PES2019’s was better. In terms of integrity of environment – I.e. everything balancing and complementing everything else and working as intended – it might be the worst ML ever. We should barely be able to do anything on Hard negotiations, never mind conduct the easiest negotiations ever! Not since PES2016 has the revolving door revolved as fast as this. As I’ve remarked before, it’s almost as if PES Productions doesn’t want anybody to play ML, or at least not for long…

  30. Small crack appearing for me with three games won in a row. Key for me is timing – timing of the pass from the advanced amf/ss whose presence seems to baffle the AI as they let him run through their midfield. If I try and find my strikers too early they simply block it off but there is a split second where one becomes free, and in that moment I have about a one in five chance of a goal. Even scored four in one game. The star player isn’t all my loanees but some guy they are now calling ‘the dragon’ ffs… my first named player, junior moraes. He’s doing so well I’ve listed regen van persie.

    Otherwise NG is right – it’s a massively pace driven game and there is at least a bit of individuality. Nerfed mind you but still evident.

  31. Uncle Turf – you must remember PES2012’s ‘turn and shoot’ method that I think you and I pioneered – the AI in 2020 uses it a lot, notoriously, but somehow we’re not allowed to. I also am winning muchly on Top Player and planning to go up to SS perhaps as soon as mid-season. I was convinced at the start of the year that they’ve rezoned the difficulties to make Legend a playable level and an integral part of the difficulty levels, rather than an animal-heads-type add-on, and this is why so many of us are seeing weirdness in the familiar levels this year.

  32. NG – I won my first derby against Liverpool on Superstar earlier, but took almost no pleasure from it. The match was so bad, so utterly ridiculous in terms of how many times my players were hacked to the ground by sliding tackles, that my late winner was met with a sliver of grim satisfaction – and nothing more.

    I’ve had some really good matches on Superstar, but the AI’s abuse of super-strength – on top of *everything else*, and it’s a big fucking list – means that the majority of matches leave me feeling irritable and dissatisfied. I’m actually top of the table after ten matches, mostly because my defence is rock-solid and impervious to all but shitty rebound/reactions tap-ins, but also because I’ve become pretty adept at capitalising when the AI goes into its last-ten meltdown in tight matches.

    As I mentioned before, Legend seems to adhere to a different philosophy: the AI does not have super-strength, but it’s much smarter with the ball, and absolutely clinical with its chances. I felt like it was built for manual defending. If you rely on second player pressing, or habitually clamp A (Xbox)/cross (PS), it will tear you a new one. The only issues that I had is that it seemed to give certain players a pace boost that I didn’t feel comfortable with, and my strikers seemed cursed with weak shots. Mind you, that was forty-odd matches back, with an inferior first eleven.

    I think I’m done with Superstar, at least until it’s potentially patched – Legend or bust for me.

  33. James – the only solution is for there to be consequences to the AI or a human player for argy-bargying everywhere. One of the reasons I’ve jumped into the PC side of things is that it’s the only chance PES2020 has to get fouls. It seems to me it’s this year or never. Look at the absolute state of Master League and consider whether there’s anyone in the office really caring for that. (Tonight I’ve realised even the on-screen text is un-user-friendly: grey text on a black background?!)

    There is no way the devs will ever patch fouls in now as the game will have been out for almost 2 months by the time the October patch lands, and people will have been playing it (online of course). I think PES2020 with fouls would stand a chance of being the PES5-like sword in the stone, but only the PC platform has a chance of delivering that.

    If the devs did decide to introduce fouls then the way the majority of players like to play would instantly make the game a literal PES5-like, which would be amusing for the two seconds it would take people at PES Productions to get fired. A football game with a rate of fouls proportional to the aggression of players (human and AI) would seem like War and Peace to the Twitter generation.

  34. Matchday 24: A cut scene is triggered as dejected Freebridge players lay strew across the pitch following a draw with Wolves as mathematically they cannot now win the league.

    I’m third from bottom.

  35. Tommy — but just think how it’ll be for the Watford players in our ‘real world’ in November or so, when it happens to them.

  36. NG – I just want a fouling system in my football games that, at the very least:

    A: is the same for both sides, AI and human alike.

    B: does not constantly or arbitrarily stop the game for low-speed tussles. Within reason, it should always be fine to physically contest the ball – especially when shoulder-to-shoulder, but less so from behind.

    C: punishes high-speed collisions as dangerous play, rather than regarding them as good challenges (something that I find far more of an issue in FIFA than PES). If you run into somebody at full-pelt in real life, it’s *not a fucking tackle*.

    D: gives yellows (and a clear warning) for persistent fouling by individuals.

    E: isn’t afraid to send players straight off for dangerous “out of control” sliding tackles, or wave a second yellow at someone who has bent the rules one too many times.

    But I also think that the tackling mechanics in both PES and FIFA need to be redeveloped. I’d like to see a system with four distinct tackle buttons/functions:

    1: A basic “close pressure” button, suitable for levering a weaker or less agile opponent from the ball, especially after a heavy touch.

    2: A “foot-in” button, to be used purely at close range, and in conjunction with the first button for expert players. This is the classic stab at the ball that you see defenders pull off all the time in real football, but far less so in PES and FIFA – it’s usually provided as a context-sensitive event.

    3: The slide tackle could stay as-is, but I’d argue a case for a single press to give an attempted “sandbag” block, not aimed at the player, and a double-tap to perform the traditional slide.

    4: Last, but not least, a dedicated foul button. We see players take down an opponent in a potentially dangerous situation and take their card with a nod of the head all the time in real football, and it should be a part of PES and FIFA, too.

    But I’d combine these features with an overhaul of cutscenes featuring the ref. With a few dozen stock phrases to cover most likely eventualities, you could educate players on what is and isn’t acceptable, or why they’re being stopped. A simple “Any more of that, and you’re off”, or “Don’t act surprised – you made no attempt to play the ball”, or – well, you probably get where I’m going here.

    I don’t really want to have the players talking back, or anything like that – just very brief messages from the ref that have a genuine purpose. And this, for me, is how you get fouls back into football games: by making it clear why they’re given, and thereby give players reason to avoid them.

    On a related note: one match on Legend just now, a 0-0 against Wolves, and it was excellent. They fouled four times to my two, picked up a couple of yellows, and didn’t just smash my players to the ground with impunity. In fact, the physical battles felt absolutely fair, and entirely influenced by player stats. I couldn’t say that of a single fixture I’ve played on Superstar.

  37. Had a session of about 8 matches last night, it was truly a mixed bag, This game is the biggest Jekyll & Hyde ever, with half the games being decent enjoyable games, and the other half just absolute shit shows of matches with the handicapping and strangling of player stats as blatant and brazen as it could ever be.

    The Physicality model is just so so broken, or rather, so impeded on Top Player, that it makes a mockery of it.
    How is it ever possible that my 80 rated DMF with physicality stats of 85 can be shoved off the ball by the merest of contacts from the COM, or my Pacey 88 rated speedster winger is caught up with by a lumbering CB easily and pushed to the floor, rinse and repeat all over the pitch, yet I can pressure the little COM winger with 3 players aggressively and the invisible force shield that he possesses allows him to shrug off all 3 of my players whilst running down the wing? It’s absurd.

    This came on the back of 4 wins and 2 draws in 6 matches, COM obviously decided I needed ‘reigning in’ so employed its cheat mode, and on the rare occasions I do manage to withstand the handicapping fuckery and cheating all over the pitch, and defend solidly, the COM will then revert to out and out blatant cheating by disabling my control inputs at critical moments.

    See Below, you can see the COM play a raking through ball down the middle of my defence, I switch to control Hilton, my CB, you can clearly see I have him selected and under active control by the filled blue cursor above his head, I move towards the ball for an easy interception and low and behold, mid-run, just before I intercept the ball, the COM just stops my player dead in his tracks, freezes him for 2 seconds, which allows the Villa forward to take possession and score an easy goal.

    I understand the game has to do certain things to ‘up the difficulty’ for the higher levels, and as crude as handicapping stats is, I could live with it, but blatant disabling of inputs to ensure a defeat is just disgusting and not why I play the game.

  38. Given the game’s obvious issues on higher difficulties, I’m surprised no one has resorted to playing manual settings on Professional yet.

  39. Toyed with the idea Shed but the passing is wayward enough even on PA2, when the game decides its going to do you over, even 5 yard simple passes in the attacking 3rd are routinely handicapped and go astray, I don’t have time to master a new control scheme in order to subsidise the games shortcomings.

    Gaming time is limited, I need to be able to pick up and play, and get on with it, and that’s the single biggest reason i don’t do manual, or PC gaming.

  40. Paul – Right, and that’s why I wont bother with manual either. It’s also why I’m not playing PES 2020 much generally. I’m finding it a frustrating grind of a game and not in the usual defaults ML way.

  41. Paul – that’s spot on, the physicality is broken – they should either be called as fouls(which they won’t) or it should be reduced to stat based levels. The delay thing is similar, it’s clearly a deliberate nerf – last night I watched as Vincent kompany (not regen) – you know that multi trophy winning captain and international defender par excellence – controlled a dribbling ball on the penalty spot then remained rooted as it bounced towards my own goal, past the keeper and in. I had no way of controlling either until the ball hit the net.

    That said I think I may have opened up a small hole in the wall of pain – I’m 7th at the end of December, 4 points off top spot. I’ve managed to gather 1.7m in wages and a huge transfer budget so it’s hopefully time to go regen shopping. I’ve signed free agent diaby from psg to stand in for old man robben – he was simply the best available but I don’t know if he’s anywhere near up to the job?

  42. Turf – It is broken, no 2 ways about it.
    COM players have force shields and your own players turn into starved weaklings with muscular dystrophy, and collapse under the merest sniff.
    Renders any stats completely useless, null and void.

    James’ advice to use L1 when controlling a pass though does work very well, much tighter control when using it.

  43. Paul – when the game does decide that your good run has gone on long enough and the game comes along where you’re not allowed to do anything – it’s the biggest bullshit of all! Your clip there is the classic PES moment of the outcome being hard-coded no matter the player position or your input and the animation being adjusted to match the coding. I’ve mooted it before, but if we knew how little control we truly had…

    Shed – PA0 is effectively a whole new game, a whole new version of PES and football gaming. I played in effect about 2/3rds of a bonus season on Professional and PA0 on PES2019 in the summer (the Cercle Brugge weeks), and even after 15 seasons on PA1 with CCFC (most on Superstar) it was like a deer learning to walk. I’ll be on PA0 again eventually this year. Just zipping the ball about on PA1 is a pleasure still.

    I have the PC version of the game and am treating it as a laboratory for trying different gameplays right now. There’s a busy section of EvoWeb where they put out 2 or 3 new ‘versions’ of the game every day, and I have tried most of them. TL;DR: they don’t really work. And I’m being driven mad when it comes to fouls by people using the term ‘average’ in a figurative way rather than a rigorously mathematically one. I.e. they’ll say they get an average of 5 fouls per match, which would be plenty for me too as it means there are 5 ON AVERAGE, i.e. there would have to about 35% of matches with many more than 5 for 5 to be AVERAGE, right, right? No… the new meaning of the word ‘average’ in our benighted age is apparently ‘quite a few of my matches have about 5 fouls in them’. Meaning the true average would be around 2 or 3. (Even that would be a lot for me.) Grrrr. Mind you it’s still early doors in PC modding land.

  44. NG – It’s there for all to see, you cant argue the fact certain outcomes are pre-coded, I wish they’d put a little icon in the top corner of the screen to signify when a match was going to have a pre-determined outcome, as I’d just sim it, pointless playing when you focus, use tactics, and work hard only to have your inputs disabled in the 90th min to gift the COM a goal.

    Completely regressive AI, #AIthatwedontneed

    Such a shame as these matches are the only turd in the punchbowl right now (ignoring the flimsy ML world and lack of attention to basic details) I’m even Ok with fouls in general, I get on average (proper average) 3 fouls per game, sometimes 4 or 5, sometimes 1 or 2, so a proper avg of about 3.

    The physicality, if it wasn’t broken would easily up this average to 8-10, the mechanics are there, like everything else its just dumbed down.

  45. Paul – if I had your average fouls count I’d disregard everything else and be happy as Larry. I’ve never seen more than 3 fouls in any match, and I think I’ve seen 3 once or twice in around 150 matches now across all modes. My actual full-on mathematical average fouls count per match is literally 0.5 (nought-point-five). About a third of all matches end with 0 fouls. In my final match of last night’s session I had 2 and that was the most I’d had all session. I see that the mechanic for fouls is in place, it’s just that I am a pass and mover, rarely looking to dribble past anyone, so I know it’s as much me as the game. I always come back to PES5, though, where my play style was irrelevant, didn’t matter, the AI was aggressive and the way it played made sense. So far 2020’s AI, although impressive in patches, isn’t glorious.

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