Robin can Firsty

An enforced 3-day hiatus in my Master League progress saw me pick things up again on Monday with renewed appetite and zest.

I played a 9-match session. 5 matches in the morning, then (the console having been on standby) 4 in the evening.

I won them all. Conceding just 1 (ONE) goal in the process.

A 9-match winning streak is, I think, a first for me on any PES. I don’t believe I’ve ever been ‘allowed’ to win 9 matches in a row in any Master League before. We all know what should have happened around match 6 or so – a mysteriously inevitable draw or defeat – but it didn’t.

I powered off the PS4 late last night knowing that when I next switch it on, I’ll do well to win 2 matches in a row, never mind 9.

I’m still on Top Player – of course Superstar is not far away (and after it, Legend).

Which will almost certainly be in the Premier League, because this was the table towards the end of my winning run:This screenshot was taken before my last few matches. I’m top of the league by 5 points now. My eyes are on the title. The lottery of another Playoff round is something I will be very glad to skip this season.

I’m also in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, having seen off Wolves after Arsenal. Liverpool will be the semi-final opponents, with one of the Manchester teams waiting in the final should I make it that far.

Could I be in the Europa League in my maiden Premier season?

This is a slight concern. For me, the balance of PES2020 is slightly toward the generous side. I see signs of the hyper-obnoxious gameplay that others have seen in PES2020, but my pass and move play-style has pluses and minuses.

One big minus is that I commonly have matches in which there are few fouls and free kicks, or none at all.

But one big plus is that the AI rarely gets the chance to bring overbearing pressure on me, as I rarely hang onto the ball for long.I miss being automatically shown this screen at the end of every month. It is not quite the same with it tucked away out of sight. You have to make a conscious effort to go to its sub-sub-menu to look at it now. This is the first Team of the Month screen I’ve looked at all season and I might not look at another one. Master League lacks texture due to misguided decluttering decisions like this.

Here is the squad I have put together after the January transfer window – 16-year-old Robin van Persie is the headline new arrival, and there are a few journeyman Free Agents sprinkled in there too:

In the middle of midfield are two new signings that are great to play with. The essence of PES. Peter Drury calls RIQUI PUIG ‘Ricky Poochy’ and I love it every time he says the name. I’ve quietly got high hopes for this digital version of a real-life Barcelona B-team player.

My new DMF, Damonte, is a 24-year-old who was born to fill the Mathieu role in this ML. Which should include some great goals of course. Nothing from Damonte yet, although I keep trying.

That’s what I miss most in this PES – goals by a pouncing DMF from that famous ‘DMF hole’ around 30 yards out.

Every PES has had those goals, even PES2014 (example). PES2020, so far, has not had any. With nearly 3 full seasons played, I’m getting worried.

And so today’s 1m45s compilation is a compilation of notable ‘moments’ from recent sessions, rather than any great goals. Interesting rather than spectacular. PES2020 still awaits its ‘wow!’ goal.

You can see van Persie’s debut match goal – with his second touch, and his weaker foot, and his grey hair; plus a few interesting Jarvis moments; and check the moment I conceded a surefire penalty that turned out to be a free kick! Somewhere in a parallel reality there’s a disgruntled AI moaning on its blog ‘how is this not a penalty?!’

Updated: 15th October 2019 — 11:21


  1. The nerfing of the player turn and shoot is infuriating. I find it almost impossible to gain a few cm 9 times out of 10 regardless of the close control, attacking and dribbling stats I have over the clunky 60s defender. Added to redundant crosses, nixed long rangers etc it makes for the least varied goals collection in years.

  2. Darryl – In response to your post from the other day, I understand exactly what you’re saying. When you’re enjoying something, it can rankle to have another person appear throw shade in its direction. I’ve had many instances in my life (and so many more in the internet age) where I’m having all the fun appreciating the fine weave of the emperor’s gown with a TV show, film, game or album, and then somebody pops up and announces loudly that said gentleman dresses to the left, and has lesions on his left testicle that correspond to a rare form of syphilis – but what’s more, I’m a moron for not noticing these substantial, salient factors. I try never to be that guy, but know that I might come across that way on occasion.

    I tend only to express subjective critical opinions at any length in public when I’m actually really enamoured with the subject matter. I have more ire to direct at this PES than any other in recent memory, as it’s so close to being extraordinary. But because of what I’ve done for a living for almost 28 years, I try to frame that in the context of *why and how* the game is being frustrating. Even when I’m rattling out a quick forum post, I can’t escape the instincts and habits of my day job.

    I can remember reviewing ISS Pro Evolution for a magazine at Future Publishing *way* back when, and feeling awkward after the fact because I’d made a point of praising it for serving up sterile 0-0 draws. My argument was that almost every football game that had ever existed had felt obliged to offer end-to-end action; this was one of the first to offer real wars of attrition in midfield where genuine chances could be few and far between if the match went that way. In short, I thought that the boring fixtures heightened your appreciation of the great games, and therefore made it the most honest and absorbing simulation of the sport I’d played.

    I worried after handing in the copy if my “angle” for the review would be misunderstood.

    You know what? Perhaps some of those 0-0s against the AI in the inaugural Master League were due to adaptive difficulty balancing, and I just couldn’t see it back then.

    But then, equally: if ISS Pro Evolution had been designed to emulate or rival a FIFA ’99 Ultimate Team, where EA made countless millions via squad doping codes delivered by mail order or premium phone lines, I might have worried that something was up. I probably couldn’t have told you anything about related topics such as operant conditioning chambers or behavioural economics, because the Wikipedia articles wouldn’t be up for another decade, but I’d almost certainly have tested matches over and over to see if Pro Evo was tuned for good football or Vegas-style grifting if I’d had a sense that I was being fooled for profit over function – or, more pertinently, being forced to endure such things in an unrelated mode.

    The vibe I got from ISS/PES in the early days is that they were working things out as they went along, just as we were as players. And then online multiplayer came along, and the juggernaut of Ultimate Team thereafter. You probably do have to look back to PES5 for a game where the Konami devs truly focused on the single-player experience. Because that’s so important to me, I’ve been over-analysing this shit ever since. PES 2020’s ML appears to be employing elements of online tuning and MyClub-style “gating” or progression-braking in a way that doesn’t correspond with the balance I’d expect of – for example – a routine fixture against a depleted, relegation-threatened Crystal Palace when I’m top of the table. I think this is an issue worth looking at.

    Just because I’m conditioned to see shadows, snares and shite in too many matches, it doesn’t mean that you need to. I really envy you for the PES you’re experiencing.


    >>” The moment you start doing multiple re-starts and testing is the time it is over as this path leads to nowhere.”

    Try telling that to the PC modders currently attempting to rework PES 2020 in ways that might, if they hit certain sweet spots, actually influence future development of the game in a way that my moaning never will. The biggest moneyspinner in gaming at the moment – short of Minecraft, perhaps – owes everything to a giant amateur development community with a flat hierarchy that mostly doesn’t give a *damn* about monetisation.

    Fortnite without its appropriation of the Battle Royale concept, which arose because people picked and hacked and prodded at established PC FPS games because they wanted *more*, would probably have been forgotten completely by now. It could be the best hope we have of the PES devs realising the potential of their single-player AI is if the modding community show them the way.

    And as the core mechanics and pertinent variables are both hard to fathom and find, these people will do that by restarting and testing, restarting and testing – over and fucking over.

    There’s a reason why we don’t pour water on our cornflakes.

  3. Turf – if you work on the timing, the fake shot turn is really good for getting half a yard to ping in a shot on any difficulty level.

    I’m also getting more success with crosses since I started using the L1 modifier. They’re even better if your player is slightly turned in towards your opponent’s goal – but they take a little while to wind up, so you need to make the space first.

    More than anything else, I’m starting to appreciate just how much the AI relies on input reading to orchestrate its pressing system. In a lot of matches where the AI is in your face, try trapping the ball and just releasing the stick. You can add in little turns and touches, but it’s amazing to watch passing lane traffic clear up because you’re giving little indication of where you’re going next.

    Regarding long-rangers: has anyone tried them with the L2 manual shoot function? Perhaps that’s the way to go.

  4. James – Glad you didn’t take it the wrong way. I also totally agree with what you say. The worrying thing is that I have only played two games in the last 3 days as the lack of variety of goals is an issue for me. Instead I have spent my gaming time building a pub in Minecraft. Funny then that you should mention the game in your post.

  5. NG – gabe Paul Logan released a new version of his mod. 2.2 plays really nice with at least slightly improved fouls . Played 2 games, 2 and 3 Fouls respectively. Especially noticeable on shoulder barges and if the foul is not given, at least your players get up as quickly as the CPU player .

    I’m not committing to any gameplay mod yet, at least not after Thursday when the konami patch comes out. But it’s a good one.

  6. Darryl – Minecraft is absolutely glorious. One of the best and most influential games ever created, driven by a strong core team always open to suggestions, demands and even direct contributions by players, and they’re still building it even now – with no indication of tapping out and working on a more lucrative sequel instead. In terms of value for money in gaming, nothing else comes close.

    I fall down the Minecraft rabbit hole at least once every four months – usually after a new update – and stay there for weeks.

  7. NG – Might be worth holding fire on SS and trying a few premier league fixtures first, assuming you get promoted, the fuckery really does ramp up there on TP.

    A few games last night, just more of the constant unbalanced shit, being smashed to the ground, being overpowered by any and every player, 5 yard passes going anywhere but where you intend, players unable to control a ball, just a grind right now, enjoy maybe half a match in every 5.

    Long rangers are definitely non existent, any shot on target from 25 yards plus calls up one of those flailing salmon diving palm saves from the GK.

    Extremely disappointing how Konami can take what we was shown in the demo and turn it into the dross that was released and then patched.

    It’s like test driving an Aston Martin DB9, placing an order on the back of that test drive then being delivered a Volvo estate.

  8. Started a side ML (again). My main ML is still going, but I’m starting to wane now I’ve got endless money and can sign any one I want. Plus my free-for-all regen signing has killed any real immersion, as it usually does. I’ll still keep going with it, probably.

    With the Serie B kits incoming next week, and my desire to ramp up the transfer difficulty, I plumped for Trapani in Serie B, the worst team in the league, real players. I’m an avid fan of the PES Story Mode youtube channel, and really like what he does with his house rules, so I’ve gone for something vaguely similar.
    -Can only sign Italians + one foreign player per season
    -Can only sign players with a max ovr of best rated player in my squad
    -1 loan max
    -No regens, although this may get relaxed as time goes on

  9. James – I probably read your old review of ISS Pro in that magazine – I was an avid magazine-reader around the turn of the century and particularly enjoyed the ISS/PES reviews as they lavished so much praise on what was a clearly superior product at the time. That automatic veneration continued until PES2008 with the reviewers and the ghost of it still persists today. If you remember Ultimate Play The Game’s games from the 80s (Atic Atac, JetPac etc), the press at the time were similarly adoring of those games, again rightly so, because of the sheer step up in quality that they brought.

    Paul – I’ll tell you in comments on today’s post whether or not I’ve played a Superstar match in the PL yet, and how it went. You might be amused…

    And yes, the demo/retail thing this year is the largest bait-and-switch they’ve ever pulled. The thing is they know full well what us single-players want from a football game, but they just ignore it. Next Thursday really will be a signal to us.

    #1 – I tried the new Gabe Logan mod yesterday and enjoyed it, strangely not as much as his first version despite the bug-squishing. This is all in a state of flux to say the least. I’m enjoying all the fiddling and tinkering that goes on!

    Tommy – I’m informally observing a House Rule in which I consider myself a Leicester/Southampton-type club, i.e. got to make the best of solid professionals with a few star players and youngsters, who can be poached occasionally. I’m not laying any specific rules down, just determined not to operate the damned revolving door in the transfer windows, which is more revolvey than ever this year. If Master League has been looked at at all, it’s been under the heading of ‘how can we make this mode less compelling?’

  10. nG – One thing is for sure I’ll not make this mistake come eTravesty PES 2021. Things won’t change, it’ll be the same if not worse for years to come. House rules can lessen the damage a little bit at least, so I’ll be using them from the get-go next year. I don’t like starting multiple MLs, but when things start to become hallow then feel I have no other choice. Usually this happens later on, during the summer silly season when there’s a fully fleshed-out OF out there with loads of extra players.

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