A wild unicorn appears

A great session yesterday morning has gone a long way to restoring some of the polish to my view of PES2020.

I’ve been up-front about my disappointment at the lack of great goals in PES2020 for me so far. I don’t believe that will change much, if at all, anytime soon. This era of PES is firmly under the jackboot of online multiplayer. Long-range goals are Not Allowed, generally.

But… but, yesterday I scored a goal from about 28 yards! Not a true long-ranger in my book, for reasons that will be clear upon viewing… But technically, it is one, and I’ll take it.

It’s the very first goal in today’s mini-compilation, which also includes two other unicorns of PES2020: headed goals from crosses. All 5 of these goals came in that great session yesterday:

King Castledine and Prince Jarvis dominating proceedings there.

And yes, I have gone back to my traditional Wide camera.

The dearth of spectacular goals – goals that look and feel great in their own right, rather than being ‘only’ contextually great – is a PES2020 trait. I foresee me marking down PES2020 next August because of it.

But the rest of the play… setting aside the grouches… it’s pretty bloody good.Over in the League and Cup in general…

I’m into the FA Cup final for the second season running after a wonderful comeback against Liverpool in the semi final where I was 0-2 down before half-time. I stormed back to make it 2-2 at 90 minutes. The goal that started the comeback was a fine opportunist header from Jarvis, who quietly has a bit of the David Speedie in him. A little guy with a knack for headed goals. That was a great match.

Also great was the match versus Chelsea, away, where I dug in grimly from an early setback and came back to win 2-1. That match was remarkable for the amount of AI fouls in it. There were 7 (SEVEN), a complete anomaly for me in PES2020. If only every match was like that.

I’m still holding on mid-table. 10th after 32 matches of Season 5, with 32 goals scored and 31 conceded. My 1 goal per game average is an improvement on my 0.65 goals per game or whatever it was on Superstar.

I wonder if I will ever go back to Superstar now, but I think I will when I have the players to cope.

And I wonder if I will ever upgrade this squad much past the point where it currently is.

I fancy more or less shutting up shop now, letting player development take its course, and sticking with what I’ve got to the end. It feels too familiar and predictable to follow the route of bringing in new players until I’ve got a team of galacticos. My excellent PES2019 campaign, where I pretty much did exactly that, is still fresh in my mind.

I don’t know what or where the end-game scenario is for this ML career. I used to always regard the first Treble as the natural culmination of things. This year it’s probably a time-limited ML, as come January/February-ish, I believe I will want to give the PC platform a proper go.

So there’s about 10-12 weeks left in which I will see what I can do with a halfway-house squad of journeymen, Defaults, and one or two big name Youths. Should be interesting.

Updated: 19th November 2019 — 11:24


  1. Some great goals NG, and always nice to bag a goal straight from kick off after conceding, its happened enough to us all by the COM over the years.

    I get a fair share of headed goals from open play crosses, they’ve never really been an issue for me, but others say they are rare.

    my Pre-season 7 has just gone and I only signed one proper player, I’ve made it a point to promote youths and develop those now, much more rewarding, as you say, its all too easy to just buy great players.

  2. #1 – surprised to hear that mod works in Master League, the blurb on EvoWeb gives no indication, happy to hear it of course and will install later. Another brick laid in the wall!

    Paul – my squad is already pretty star-studded and I really dont think I need another player. I’ve got 4 or 5 great Youths out on loan as well who will return and either be sold on or integrated. I’m shutting up shop and ‘declaring’ as they say in rounders.

  3. A proper long ranger, at last! Solid goals all around.

    The trick for the mod is that sider has to recognize a league in the ini file so for instance Bundesliga won’t work I presume. Serie A and championship worked right off the bat though!

  4. #1/Paul — I should be on the PC this afternoon (probably my only chance all week — such is dreary adult life) and will post a few menu screenshots if all goes well. I’ve got a gameplay mod to try out too.

  5. Good stuff NG, been reading the edit forums on EvoWeb trying to familiarise myself,
    seems alot of fiddling with ini and lua files.

    are you using sider & evoweb patch?
    do you also use stadium server and adboards?

  6. Paul — that’s the main reason I don’t add everything all at once. A couple of additions and I’ve had enough fiddling for one day. When the time comes you’ll have the option to grab somebody’s complete Sider folder (from me, #1, or the couple of great ones on EvoWeb) and bypass all the fiddling. But I predict you’ll be like a kid in a playground with all the modding options and you will want to learn it yourself so you can make your own content (why hasn’t anybody made the original — and best — Wembley?!). It is very easy, really, barely any harder than the setup we have to do to get OFs into the PS4. Just fiddly!

    EvoWeb patch came along just after I’d created my OG Defaults and I didn’t want to tinker with that side of things. I use Sider exclusively right now. I use Stadium server, but no adboards as yet. It and other things are all on the to-do list. I enjoy setting up a new thing and then testing it out. I was just thinking today — and I hope I’m not tempting fate — that I’ve yet to have a single crash or game freeze with all the modding activity. I’ve had plenty of dodgy stadia where they haven’t been converted properly from 2019, or I haven’t updated the .ini properly, but no crashes.

  7. No long rangers yet, but a belter from Lobato. Boom!!

  8. NG – yeah I want to learn how to do it all myself but once that knowledge is there, grabbing an all-in-one patch is definitely preferred due to time constraints.

    Will definitely want adboards in, and balls, and stadia, and camera angles, and………
    endless options, more time tinkering than playing, all good fun.

    I plan to create a backups folder where i always backup whatever file im modding on a rolling basis, so can easily revert if it crashes the game, even then I guess just wiping PES off the HDD and clean installing and re-adding the mods wouldn’t take more than 10 mins, so you can’t really ‘break’ much.

  9. Paul — no need ever to wipe and reinstall with Steam. First, one of the great things about Sider is that it’s totally separate from the installation folder. You can keep all mods 100% away from the game files. I have my Sider folder on a completely different hard drive to the game. The way it works is you start Sider before you start PES2020, then Sider recognises that PES2020 is running and and inserts your chosen modded content. At no stage is the game installation folder added to at all — it works very well. All modding work you do is done away from the game files. Sometimes I forget to start Sider before PES2020, and of course all that happens is I’m starting the current official version that we have on PS4.

    There are a few kinds of gameplay mods that do involve replacing files in the installation folder, but even if you get into a tangle there, Steam has your back. ‘Verify Files’ is an option in Steam and it just restores all modded files in the install folder to their originals. So you’re never more than two clicks away from resetting a Steam game to the current Konami version.

  10. Lloyd — that is a beauty from Lobato. I have him too and for once I think I’ll keep him as his pace is invaluable in PES2020. I had trouble with his stamina at first (gone by half-time) until I implemented a tip from Tommy: set Lobato as your Counter Target in the formation screen strategy options. Then he’ll stay up front — if you really need him to drop back for some defending, just flick the strategy off on the d-pad. Now he usually finishes matches with half a green bar, amazingly.

  11. NG – Just watched an hour and half’s worth of PC editing videos on YT, have a much better understanding of how it all works now.

    Sider is definitely preferable over DPFileList method.

    Did you use an option file for adding the logos and kits to your PC ver or is it all built in to the evoweb all in one patch?

    Lloyd – Nice goals, Lobato’s dipping volley was obviously the pick.

  12. Paul — the modularity of modding means you can pick and choose from all over. The logos and kits aspect of my setup is some random effort for the PC that I found on release day, can’t even remember where. Now that I’ve got a test environment set up with my OG Defaults in ML, I don’t want to touch it. I’ll be switching to EvoWeb and Klashman tactics etc when the time comes.

    Installed the Menu Server and it does look superb (random test League I have going):

    View post on imgur.com

    and works in ML I’m happy to confirm:

    View post on imgur.com

  13. And I also tested a gameplay mod (the Holland H5 .exe) mixed with the Our Demo dt18 that was very interesting. Two major effects were an increase of passing error (it felt at times like PA0.5) and the shooting weight a lot heavier, making the players have to seem to dig it out of their feet more. Shots that my fingers ‘knew’ were high were low, etc. The gameplay mod to rule them all is yet to come I think, but these are all interesting early efforts.

    I also got round to finally updating the text file that makes allt he scoreboards appear automatically without manual preselection. It wasn’t hard, I just didn’t feel like doing it until today. And that’s enough fiddling for today.

    All due apoloigies to readers who are not PC-oriented and have no interest in this, but these phases come alogn once in a while for me. Once I’m up and running with a stable PC PES setup, it’ll be just like a regular ML, except with cosmetic add-ons and hopefully a gameplay mod worth giving lots of time to.

  14. If I was keen on playing the game on a pc I think I’d simply pay someone to do all of this modding – it sounds ball achingly fiddly and time consuming.

    On the subject of players who look like they’ll be world beaters I’d argue that Championship/football manager had an absolutely dismal record. For every Kompany they had makofo, paim, samba, le tallec, van den borre etc etc – my best ever goalscoring midfielder was Neil Lennon! I’m not sure I can recall a pes youthie who did indeed come through, Kompany maybe but he wasn’t a Kmou, or ribeiro.

  15. Uncle Turf – PC modding of PES is all about incrementally adding to a single folder. You can start from scratch and do all the addings yourself (as I’m doing), or grab one of several fully pre-made ones currently doing the rounds. It’s a bit fiddly either way though as you then have to maintain it through all the Konami updates. I have a high tolerance for computer fiddliness, but one or two new mods added per day is about my limit.

    Re. Football Manager I happen to be making another attempt at it right now. I have never, ever had any success in the series apart from a few second-tier promotions with Coventry in a few editions. It always ends in puzzlement and disaster and sacking. I’m on FM2019, started unemployed, and it’s great fun. I applied for a job at Aberystwyth in Wales and Avarta in Denmark, got offered both, and took the latter. I don’t expect to see any of my basement teenage players showing up on the world stage in 5 years’ time – the series doesn’t do future stars well at all. Van den Borre was one of my stars in FM2005!

    Unlike you I love to watch the highlights of matches – best goal from my first pre-season friendly:

  16. Just had one of the greatest nights of videogame football I’ve ever experienced – and I do not say that lightly.

    PES had started to turn on me after a really interesting, varied ML with Bristol City got off to a good start. Mindful of how shite Superstar can be, I had vowed to play a House Rules career on Top Player. Two-thirds of the way through the Championship season, twenty points ahead with a team that had no players above a 72 rating, I gave up on that idea. I simmed the rest of my league matches, but continued my FA Cup run – which I won.

    I switched up to Superstar at the start of the Premier League season. There were great matches; there were bullshit matches. In general, though, I was appreciating PES more than I have so far.

    Eighth in the table (but far off CL pace), and having just sneaked through into the Europa knockout rounds, I went into late December feeling pretty good, and enjoying my football. PES then conspired to make my games up until the end of January some of the nastiest, most unfair fixtures that it could deliver: doped-up opponents, plus a barely one in ten whistle rate for fouls, and it *fouled all the time*. I was ready to step away again.

    This evening, kind of out of desperation, I thought I’d give the “Tiki-Taka” instruction a go. I haven’t tried it this year, having disliked the implementation in previous PES releases. I felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of something, anything, that would pull Superstar’s fangs.

    Fucking hell: it worked!

    It’s nothing like the Prime Pep-style Barca fare in the way that it works, or not with my system. For a reason that I cannot fathom, the Tiki-Taka advanced instruction just seems to make players more receptive to passes. Instead of having a dozen or two instances where players run straight past the ball every game, my players were actively moving to take passes more often than not. Added bonus: I experienced a handful of offside calls per match, instead of the customary fifty fucking billion.

    Superstar was still brutal. Superstar almost always is. But my league and Europa League fixtures were absolutely epic. I must have played ten or eleven fixtures in sequence tonight – and they were all top-tier games. I just beat Lazio in the EL quarter-finals in the 86th minute, with a rogue full-back run into the box, an instinctive double-tap drop shoulder trick, and a square ball across the box for a tap-in by an onrushing CAM. I actually punched the air and roared!

    It’s a single session, and not a meaningfully representative sample in PES terms. But I’ll say it anyway: give the Tiki-Taka instruction a go. In (I’ve just checked) thirteen matches, Superstar gave me a run for my money in every game, but I didn’t feel like I was being fucked over because there were far fewer instances where perfectly reasonable passes were instant fail-states. And I’m playing on PA1, too.

    If PES played this way every time, I’d never need another game.

  17. James – Thanks, I’ll give that a bash. I’m trying every trick in the book now, so it probably won’t have been long before I gave it a go anyway. All tips and tricks welcome, although I find it’s a question of horses for courses. Good job I hadn’t completely zoned out with all the modding chat. Haha!

  18. James – I usually use TikiTaka every year in PES, but haven’t this year, instead opting for a high octane Counter attack style, but good to hear it working properly.

    In FIFA you can press L1 to send players on a run, or R1 to make them drop off a few yards and come closer for a pass, I assume this is what TikiTaka in PES is doing for you? Giving you more short range passing options?

    Haven’t played for a few days, so raring to get back on tonight, will stick with Superstar for now, and maybe assign TikiTaka as one of my adv. attacking instructions and just turn it on when I need to gain some foothold in matches and slow the game down a little, see how it goes.


    NG – I knew it would happen, don’t even have the PC yet, and I’ve already put a RAM upgrade in my cart over on Overclockers.co.uk – 32GB of super fast DDR4 RAM, to upgrade from the 16GB.

    Looking forward to adding bits and pieces and trying things out, will have to find the threads on evoweb with all the key modules in, for trophies, balls, faces, chants etc.

    That FM2019 goal was a corker, the match engine is almost on a par with actual proper footy games, a long way from the old top down counter view found on the likes of the Speccy and c64.



  19. James – interesting, I implemented Tommy’s Counter Target tip with great results for a player, so will try yours on Superstar when I get back up there. The game is nice on Top Player for me right now. I’m not having my own way by any means, but it’s still nice.

    Paul – you’re welcome to any files and folders you want from me, and I just last night realised that you can have multiple Sider folders to work with. So you could have a vanilla one that you tinker with yourself and run when you want to test things, alongside another one that you get from EvoWeb or PES-Patch or me or #1, and run them when you want to, etc.

  20. All sounds good NG, I’m sure i’ll be tapping you up when the time comes 🙂

  21. His info says he’s on Superstar, he’s either a) lying b) using a PC Gameplay Mod or c) somehow managed to master long shots

  22. Paul – I’ve seen that player’s compilations before and have my doubts about the level he’s on – but he definitely only uses top players, and very few of them are the kind of long-rangers that I’ve been pining for in any case. Most are in the 20-yard sort of area. A lot of the rest are R2 strikes. They all look good though. The PES LEGEND certainly knows how to put a video together.

  23. Well I’ve done about 5 games using tiki taka now and I haven’t noticed anything different.

    We might just have to accept the fact that whenever the game decides it wants to win, it will. Whether you’re playing Liverpool or Fulham, the team that turns up on match day will either be a kitten or a tiger, no matter what team they are, and there’s very little one can do about it.

  24. Tommy – every year I pick one dodgy match to replay a few times, just to test the theory, and I always conclude that, yes, there are some matches where the game rolls a very small % chance of you winning it. As I always say in this context, if this wasn’t true, it would be utterly commonplace for some players (on Superstar or above) to go unbeaten for multiple seasons in ML, or even to win every match. I’m not aware of a single case where this is the case.

  25. I’d call most of them ‘great strikes’ rather than a long ranger in the old school sense of the term. That Spurs full back irl goal I posted a while back was the kind of goal we used to see in game. One where the ball defied the laws of speed, gravity, Etc by hanging too long on the trajectory.

    Btw I got to look round Spurs stadium on Monday, timing or what…it’s unbelievable from a pitch nerds perspective and a ridiculous monolith in a still (to sedate NE raised me) horrendous neighbourhood otherwise. I can’t believe anyone visiting for Spurs or the NFL would linger along the seven sisters road.

  26. Tommy – it could be that Tiki-Taka is the cherry on the cake of my current playing style and system, or that PES just served up a golden session. I’m sure I’ll find out later.

    I don’t believe that any one tweak or tactic is enough to have Superstar roll over and show its belly, so I’ll offer up other tricks and techniques that I’m using.

    First things first: instead of trying to bend PES 2020 to my will, to force it to be the football game I *think* it should be in accordance with habits acquired in years of play, I’m trying to understand what the match engine designers are actually trying to accomplish.

    When I returned to PES last week, I went back to basics and stripped everything from my playing style – modifiers, tricks, old habits – and started playing a very simplistic game where I didn’t press anything on the pad, including the left stick, unless I absolutely needed to. After removing superfluous inputs, I started to focus very carefully on first touches – and from there, over the course of a dozen matches, started to hone a new approach to playing PES 2020 that makes it much more enjoyable to play.

    If you want to try this yourself – and I urge you to do so – there are three golden rules to playing when you have the ball:

    1: If you don’t need to hold LS in a direction or press/hold a button, then you absolutely shouldn’t.

    The PES 2020 AI employs input reading to inform its defensive approach. Every time you clamp a direction on LS, you show your hand. I’m now even releasing LS back to neutral while sprinting, then tapping the stick in the required direction as and when required.

    2: When you dribble, move in bursts – avoid uninterrupted motion in any one direction unless you have acres of green space to run into.

    Throw in feints and false directions to keep the AI players guessing. There’s a “sweet spot” for tapping LS just before you get tackled/clattered by the AI where you can escape the challenge, or draw a foul, though it’s hard to hit consistently. But when you start to notice how the AI reacts in accordance with your directional inputs, it’s like reading the raw code of the Matrix. I’m now getting pretty adept at setting up “taxi for X” situations where I send an AI player sailing by to nowhere.

    3: First touches are the most important mechanic in the game

    I can’t understate how important this is. It can vary in accordance with whether the receiving player needs to move towards the ball, or can wait for it to arrive, but the trick seems to be to release everything just beforehand and *then* press LS + your preferred modifier.

    * A tap of LS + R1 (sprint button) will see a player push the ball in the chosen direction; the duration of the R1 tap determines how far the player will knock it ahead.

    * LS + R2 (special controls) for tighter control, but don’t press R2 too early – it still functions as a “mini-cancel” where it can cause your player to ignore the ball.

    * I’m still using LS + L1 for some first touches, and I’d still say there’s an undocumented effect there. Or perhaps not – maybe it just improves your focus on the LS direction.


    I’m using the 4-4-2 (4-3-1-2), because I’ve actually never used it in PES before. I’m really enjoying it, because the AI struggles to mark/physically assault all three members of that front attacking triangle at once. I switch the SS to a CF – no changes other than that.

    Ideally, at least one of the two forwards needs to have a bit of physical presence. The DMF should be a capable destroyer with solid defensive stats (technique and passing prowess a bonus). The full-backs need high stamina.

    You might think that this system might need the Attacking Full-Backs instruction. That absolutely isn’t the case – it just knackers them out, and often puts them in useless positions. Their default behaviour is actually better.

    Attacking instructions: Counter Attack, Short Pass, Centre, Flexible, Support Range: 5

    Defensive instructions: Frontline Pressure, Middle, Aggressive, Defensive Line: 6, Compactness: 4

    Advanced Instructions: Tiki-Taka, Counter Target on the AMF (to give him licence to roam, and to preserve his stamina). Tight Marking on one opposing player.


    Against single-striker systems:

    Tight Marking on the CF, DMF man-marking the CF (lots of benefits to this, not least that it makes your DMF stay deep and form a back three when your full-backs push up), full backs set to man-mark their equivalent wide man (winger, side midfielder, or full-back if they have five at the back) – and that’s it.

    Adjustment for systems with two strikers:

    DMF man-marking the most dangerous (usually fastest) of the two, Tight Marking on the other one (the CBs will pick him up).

    Note: Against the 4-2-3-1, when the AI is using a top-level CAM in an advanced position as an attacking pivot, I’ll sometimes assign my DMF to man-mark them instead.

    I’m in the early stages of experimenting with man-marking instructions given to my two strikers to make them sit on opposition centre-backs to prevent bouts of AI keep-ball. I’ll report back if it seems to work.

    Some general tips that spring to mind:

    * Lofted “dinked” passes are *really* effective when you get the knack of when and where to use them. In my system, my AMF will often move into clear space behind a five-man AI midfield press, and I can bypass them with a simple dink in his direction when the opportunity arises. Also: when you’re building a move in the middle of the park, lofting a 20-yard ball for a striker to nod down to his partner or the AMF works surprisingly well. Opposition centre-backs don’t seem to go into “murder mode” until the strikers enter the penalty area, and the AI is just generally slower to react to lofted passes.

    * For attack/defence settings: use attacking sparingly (there’s a tendency for it to throw your players too far forward, making it harder to build and completely opening you up for really basic counters), and don’t hesitate to switch to defensive if the AI is in full-on blitzkrieg mode – especially if you’re defending a lead late in the game. Going defensive can also work against teams who aren’t committing many players forward, sometimes having the effect of drawing their team up the pitch.

    * In defence, ALWAYS GO WITH THE RUNNER.

    * On PA1, “feathered” presses of the pass button can enable you to put some pretty impressive strings of passes together when you attempt to tip-toe through a massed opposition defence. My instincts tell me that they’re underpowered – but they’re not, and the weight is so perfect over 5-10 yards that you can sometimes string half a dozen together in quick succession before the PES Passing Gods fix a random player with a Paddington Stare and ruin his concentration, or send him to fetch a marmalade sandwich, or whatever voodoo it is that they do.

    * Right trigger/bumper (special controls) confers additional tackle resistance to players when you hold it while they’re moving. It also increases ground pass speed and accuracy, at the expense of slightly more wind-up time. Don’t just tap it for passes – you’ve got to be holding it beforehand.

  27. I’m utterly dumbfounded and annoyed by how this game handles difficulty when it chooses to. Chances are crafted very carefully and meticulously only for it all to be taken away in one fell swoop because things are meant to happen a certain way. There is no rhyme or reason to it and nothing is tied into stats, teams or player skill. I have no patience anymore for this so I will – for the second time this edition – be putting this game on hold for a few days. I’m not interested in waiting if the game “grants” me a good session anymore and am getting increasingly angered playing it. When I return I think it’s gameplay patch time for me…somewhere around the weekend I guess.

  28. #1 – I have a theory that PES 2020 employs a clever but ill-conceived adaptive difficulty system where it might actually be cataloguing player behaviour over the course of every half a dozen or so matches, then applying buffs, nerfs and other “fixes” to force you to adapt.

    So, in short: if you draw from one well too often, the AI will befoul it in one way or another.

    We’re all creatures of habit: when an approach begins to work, we have a tendency to recreate efficient patterns over and over. I don’t have a problem with PES employing adaptive difficulty – it’s something that could make the game more realistic and varied, if implemented well over a framework of individual team styles. I do, however, take umbrage with it being sneaky and underhanded. If the devs made it absolutely clear that repetitive play patterns will be less successful, and even outright punished by AI teams, then I think we’d all be approaching each PES match in a different way. But we’re not: most of us still like to think that we’re playing individual sides, rather than the same AI “mastermind” every time, and we’re usually playing PES to chill out and have fun – not to ponder the inscrutable intentions of behind-the-scenes code that seems designed to stop *us* from playing, rather than surprise us with its own clever play.

    Another issue is that the AI’s solution to cracking your playstyle often seems to entail super-strength, and/or speed and reaction boosts, and having the AI play a very compact formation in defence to facilitate its penchant for outright thuggery, then going super-wide in attack – with 99 passing as standard. I don’t need thunder and lightning and the heavens to boil to know when I’ve angered the PES gods. I can see it in the particular way that its players will make runs down the wing, or the speed with which centre-backs step in to clatter a forward, and any number of other things. The tells are not subtle once you learn to see them.

    (And the unpunished fouls are just preposterous. This whole situation is ridiculous to me. They’re infantilizing one section of their player base by making the referees so passive, and frustrating/enraging/estranging the other half of the divide by allowing the game to be so patently unfair and unrealistic.)

    I think the reason that I’m having quite a bit of success on Superstar at the moment is because, in addition to everything I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started to play PES as if it’s a turn-based game played in real-time. With every pass, every move to cut a likely passing lane or close down an opponent, I’m thinking: what do I want to accomplish next, and what is the AI doing to stop me this time?

    This also means that I can’t enjoy playing Superstar if I’m tired, or I’ve had a few drinks, or I’m a bit stressed. When I’m in the right mood and use all the tools available to me in moderation, I get a really good session. But if I go in half-arsed, the AI goes out of its way to rub my face in the dirt. As it seems to be doing with *all* of us.

    I’m starting to think that the best step that the Konami devs (and their counterparts over at EA) could take in the future would to offer customisable AI – to allow us to enable, disable or scale components to hit a difficulty sweet-spot that suits us. And a fucking foul slider! How hard could it really be?

  29. James – good points there and I’ve also suspected your first one for quite a while now. I’ll try to rejig my tactics and see what happens. The real tell here is that if such a phase of turdery hits you, it doesn’t seem to matter if you move up or down in difficulty; the CPU will still punish you all the same. Like you say the idea of adaptive difficulty is commendable but the execution is multiple levels of shit.

  30. #1 – The AI is *always* employing at least a handful of dirty tricks on Superstar. The issue lies in when you get a “perfect storm” combination that turns a routine match into a trial, or when it categorically destroys you by throwing too many at you at once.

    I’ve thought about documenting all of the ones that I’ve found, but I don’t have a week to spare.

    One of my favourites: it will apply a global nerf to off-the-ball movement speed for all of your players, for an entire match. This leads to weird situations where your fastest player can be bleached for pace by a 50 speed central defender if they are both running to reach a pass – but if your player should get there first, he’s actually much faster once he starts dribbling! Also: you know when you get those games where your players constantly seem to struggle to catch up with the ball? This is why.

    There’s also the AI reactions boost, which can be one of the most obnoxious because it clashes with a longstanding PES feature on higher difficulty levels: if your player kicks the ball and it deflects off any other player on the pitch, or if the AI kicks the ball and it bounces off one of your players or the post, you get a control lock-out for a fraction of a second – effectively enabling the AI to regain possession uncontested.

    I think this might have originally been a fudge-fix for an AI shortcoming in an older PES, but it keeps coming back every year. But when you combine it with maxed-out AI reactions, you get instances where you block a shot, and the supercharged AI gets to follow up with a tap-in because you *literally cannot move your players*. And when you’re attacking, the AI defenders will constantly stretch out legs to get something to your passes and shots (even when facing in the wrong direction), which leads to more controller lock-outs and possession loss unless you’re lucky enough to have the ball bounce directly to one of your players.

    Which leads me to one of the worst things of all: when you’re having a bad match and really cannot be arsed to try and play properly, count the number of times when the ball will deflect perfectly for the AI. It’s utterly corrupt.

    I cannot for a second understand why PES Productions take such an adversarial approach to manufacturing difficulty. Why, it’s almost as if they want to make Master League practically unplayable in the long term, or at least unpalatable, so we might go try some other team-building mode instead.

  31. Straightforward 2-1 win for me in my first superstar match in the premier league (they scored late on to make it look tighter than it was). I resigned salah on loan as the AI of transfers is completely shite. Sancho has been on the transfer list for the entire game – six seasons. Yet has remained at Dortmund, all offers of loans and bids being knocked back. Liverpool will loan me Mo for the second season but insist on paying his 15m wages themselves. I can’t buy regen joe hart from Dunfermline as he thinks he has better prospects where he is. And ‘Eric henderson’ of Celtic (a 77 over journeyman midfielder) is apparently the best player in Europe. Hopeless.

  32. Started season 7, 6 matches in and have already moved back to Top Player from Superstar, Superstar is a complete clusterf*ck of a mess.

    Superstar completely nerfs your players stats whilst boosting its own, every one of your players regardless of stats will outrun you, smash you to the ground physically, insanely pressure every single ball receiver, make unbelievable tackles from out of nowhere and intercept 95% of your passes.
    On top of that by default most teams have a ‘Swarm Defence’ tactic when defending so when you do get the ball in the COM’s half, its defence and midfield just form an 8 man brick wall Mourinho style on the edge of their own box, meaning all you can do is try to pass through it.

    You can’t dribble as you are just hunted down and smashed to the floor, you can’t pass and move because every pass is intercepted and there’s too many bodies in front of you, so you are forced to result to a first touch blind pass, pinball style game which is abysmally boring and unproductive.

    My team is set up to counter attack, as a result I have less possession in matches as it is, sometimes as low as 30%, on SS, with all the crap it employs, this is reduced even further, and the time I do have the ball I cannot do a thing with it.

    On the flip side, when the COM gets the ball in your half, a Sherman tank and a SCUD missile don’t knock them off the ball so your players definitely can’t, and they all inherit the passing and shooting qualities of a 70’s Brazil and 90’s Barcelona hybrid, even Huddersfield.

    By making Superstar the way they have Konami have completely strangled the life out of the game and ruined everything its meant to stand for, individuality, realistic football etc.

    So I’m back on Top Player where I thought I’d coast it, but suffering a Superstar hangover, I lost 1-0 in the 88th minute to Southampton in my first match, but then won an FA Cup tie at Preston 6-2.

    My fear is that Top Player won’t last long because I’m regularly able to hit 4,5 and 6 goals in matches and no matter what the quality of my team, Superstar is just unplayable and not enjoyable, so the future and longevity of PES20 is now up in arms.

    After the last 2 seasons being a pretty much 9 out of 10 experience for me, with quality match after quality match, my excursion into Superstar has ruined that and left me with a bad taste in my mouth, as last night’s session was woeful.

    And Just to comment on James long post:

    1. Shot feints and skills do NOT work 99.99% of the time on TP or SS, the COM just reads your input every time.
    2. Tika Taka has absolutely no effect in the way James stated it did (must be golden session/down to play styles)
    3. L1 when trapping the ball and dribbling absolutely 100% does work for tighter control, I use it all the time.
    4. Super Cancel is your best friend.

  33. James – customisable AI and/or a fouls slider would be a significant gesture towards single-player and I don’t believe we’re going to ever get that. I think they do indeed want to funnel traffic away from ML toward MC.

    #1 – The ‘Holland Hard’ .exe combined with ‘Our Demo’ dt18 is a very nice mix I’ve found.

    Paul – ironically I’m having the best sessions on the game right now that I’ve had in a few weeks. On Top Player. I knew there’d be comedy value in you sampling Superstar properly for the first time. There is scope for adapting to the level – James and Cook and others seem to have done, with varying degrees of comfort – but not me right now. Gameplay mods on PC will interest you very much when the time comes. For now I’m giving it another season of development before trying SS again in my main ML.

    Uncle Turf – I don’t think I mentioned it here but in my very first season Jermain Defoe (original, not Regen) was awarded the Best Player in Europe award.

  34. NG – My team is full of very well developed players, lowest starting player OVR is 76, highest is 86, and Team Spirit is 97, so a very good team, but on SS its irrelevant, my Winger with 92 Speed, 88 acceleration, 85 dribbling, is always caught up with and shoved off the ball by any COM player that’s near him, its farsical, as whats the point in developing a team if on SS that is quashed and your stats are all nullified?

  35. James – Thanks for all of that. I will chew on it and give it all a go. A lot of it I already do, but I’m always open to try new tactics, I just never really know where to start myself, that and I’m lazy.

    I almost commented last night that despite my earlier comment, I was starting to see a change in fortunes using tiki taka. I had a good session including a good win against 1st placed Chelsea, myself rising from 3rd to 2nd in the league. However this was all put to bed this morning when I faced Chelsea again in the FA Cup, and despite everything being more-or-less identical, they trounced me 5-0 in a game where nothing I did really mattered. I might has well have played 11 outfielders, as my goalkeeper was redundant.

    So tiki taka offers no noticeable difference, other than I’m on a god run at the moment, so it could be doing something. Despite my 8 draws this season, I’ve only lost 3 games and I’ve just risen to top spot in the league after another win. RVP has just gone top of the scoring charts. Madness really, all things considered.

  36. Tiki-Taka was, it seems, a one-session wonder – but it was unusual to go 13 matches without a single bullshit match. I’m now thinking that the best approach to dealing with PES 2020’s adaptive approach might be to have a few systems working in rotation, just to keep the AI guessing.

    I managed three games before I turned PES off in disgust last night.

    There’s an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip where they’re playing cowboy, or something along those lines, and Hobbes refuses to acknowledge that any of Calvin’s pistol shots are hitting him. In the final frame, Calvin points his “finger gun” right into the tiger’s midriff, and shouts “BANG!” – while Hobbes looks off into the distance as if watching the bullet fly away, and remarks: “My, what a lousy shot you are”.

    PES did that to me for 270-odd minutes of football last night, and can fuck right off. Tap-in? Wide. Turn and shoot? Wide. Half-volley into an empty net? Wide.

    At the other end, it scored the worst kind of goals. In the first leg of the Europa League semi against Milan, I got the ridiculously evil Superstar dirty trick of my wall falling over instead of jumping, and the AI banged it in from just over 30 yards. With the second, my defender and their striker jumped for the same ball, knocking it directly up into the air. My centre-back crumpled into a heap on landing, and the striker calmly volleyed the ball into the roof of the net as it dropped back down. With his left foot.

    Those were the only two efforts that Milan had. It almost makes it worse that I scored in that game because my AMF passed to the wrong player, I stabbed the shoot button almost in surprise, and it went straight in.

    Second leg up next. I wonder which PES I’ll get tonight?

  37. Bloody hell: Bristol City 2, Milan 0 (4-3) in the second leg of the Europa semi-final. Nearby got hammered early in the first half, but took control of the match after thirty minutes and could have scored four or five.

    I mention this not to crow – well, maybe a little bit – but to introduce another interesting tactical adjustment for people to try if they’re interested. I like having two up front at the moment, but get sick and tired of them being offside, or constantly staying in the pocket of defenders. For this match, I went False Nine x2, along with the usual Counter Target for my AMF. The movement was excellent: one striker dropping deep every time, giving me another option in midfield and – most importantly – a striker who could start runs from deep.

    Another thing: I keep on forgetting just how accurate and well-weighted passes can be when you hold R2/right trigger. I’m still on PA1, and this is the magic “PA2” modifier.

  38. James – I played a 4-match session in Superstar today – my first SS matches for about 10 days – after your entertaining rant yesterday, and for me the problem is scoring goals. My composure is poor and given half a sight of goal I blaze away, which is fine up to Top Player, but on SS I get nothing as enough of a % of half-chance shots on SS are Not Allowed to give me a goal famine.

    I’m just working on tomorrow’s post with some thoughts about Superstar so won’t say much else here, but there IS good stuff in Superstar. I’m at the stage where Top Player is just too easy – not too easy by much, but just enough that I need to look at options. Too soon for PA0 for me, so it pretty much has to be Superstar.

    Tommy – my RVP is starting to show real signs of life. This is very much a box finisher’s PES so I’ve bene playing Jarvis and RVP together in many matches, and they often grab a goal each.

  39. NG – Very occasional fixture where the AI gets everything wrong aside, the lack of goals on Superstar is a real concern. I encounter world-class goalkeeping almost every match – but only at the cheating asshat end of the pitch – and regularly squander three or four gilt-edged chances per game.

    Or do I?

    No matter exactly *why* it might be the case (I can think of hundreds – don’t let me get started), Superstar is poorly tuned and reeks of poor playtesting. The vast chasm between Top Player and Superstar alone is ample cause for complaint.

    The principal reasons for everybody’s lack of SS goals, however, are that AI defenders simply run THROUGH your players in goalscoring situations (with a one-in-ten rate for fouls called if it’s just outside the box), short-range passing in tight quarters around the opposition area is nerfed to near-oblivion, and – above all else – it’s practically impossible to compete with inflated AI reactions unless a defender has one of those pathfinding wobbles that assail *your* players all the time.

    A lot of my goals come from setting up runs from deep positions. The AI isn’t very good at picking those up.

    I finished fifth (and won the Europa- whoop!) in my debut Premier League season with Bristol City an hour ago. I scored 41 goals in the league campaign. That’s a total more suited to a lower-midtable position – and actually inflated by two instances where I put four or five past an opposing team. 1-0 was the norm for my victories.

    I don’t think it’s you. I just think that the people responsible for Superstar have just ballsed-up the expected shots-to-goals ratio, and the Basic shooting setting is just playing to a template (you miss because the numbers say so). Off the top of my head from my experience so far, it plays as if you get a one-in-five average strike rate – which would be fine if it were possible to get more than six or seven creditable chances in most matches.

    Oh, and prox debuffs are off the charts this year, too – the AI is just too damn quick to get close, if it ever actually withdraws from your anus at all. It boils my piss that one of the best concepts that Seabass and his team introduced to PES (and football games in general) back in the day is now an irritation that seems to apply to the player only. AI strikers can have four of your defenders swinging from their every limb, and still smack the ball top bins from outside the box.

    You know what? I’d actually pay Konami a tenner (and implore everyone else who plays ML to follow suit) to:

    A: Fix Master League to a reasonable level of competency.
    B: You’ve got some extra money now. Finish making the game you sold me, and shut the fuck up about MyClub. I don’t fucking care.

    Looking forward to your post tomorrow. People calling the Superstar AI on its shit is very much pertinent to my filter bubble right now.

  40. SS is a complete unbalanced ballbag.
    I was watching some TrueBrits ML videos yesterday, he plays on Legendary, and it looked a lot looser and more free than SS, in terms of not as much insane AI pressure, more space to play in etc.

    Haven’t won 5 games on SS so haven’t unlocked Legendary yet, so cant test it but Top Player is definitely nearing the end of its lifespan.

  41. I feel a PES break coming on. I’m about 2/3 the way through season 6, so I’ll probably get to the end of that first. I booted up RDR2 for the first time since Dec ’18 and it was wonderful. There’s so many games I want to play and have missed, with gaming time more limited these days an I spend it all on PES. Picked up MGSV the other day for £5.

  42. I’m the opposite currently Tommy, I am halfway through season 7 and look forward to playing every night that I can.
    Just fear for the longevity, now that TP is getting too easy (sometimes) but SS is just a complete unplayable mess.

    I gave up on RDR2 because I saved my game then when I went back it spawned me in the middle of some huge field, with nothing around me at all, no horse nothing, i spent 30 mins wandering around to find some civilization or a way to progress the game and nothing, so gave up.

  43. Paul – I watch True Brits’ vids too and he does seem much happier on Legend. It would only take a couple of sessions for you to notch up 5 wins on Superstar (1-0 grinds). I had a go but I’m not good enough currently, either in my own right or in terms of squad strength.

    Tommy – I tend to play ‘game games’ on days off, most often the likes of XCOM2, lately Death Stranding, which is the most weird and wonderful experience. Few days off next week when I plan to play nothing but Death Stranding.

    James – the False 9 strategy with a give and go to the chosen striker often sees him running unnoticed straight through the most catennacio’d Superstar defence. Well, I say ‘often’, but mean ‘once in a while’ really…

  44. NG – My short foray into SS territory only lasted 6 games, the first i drew 2-2 with Liverpool, the best team in the league, in the charity shield, in a game that I suspect was being kind to me, then all the following games saw Huddersfield, Preston (FA Cup), Norwich etc play like I mentioned previously, with me having minimal possession, superstar does like to pass it around at the back needlessly, and the possession I did have was spent one touch passing, having those passes intercepted, and the remainder was spent being smashed to the floor by the hulk like beasts of Preston North End, so goal scoring chances were very minimal to say the least, I think my results in those 6 SS games were 2-2,1-0,2-0,1-0,2-1,1-0.

    So I didn’t concede many but literally didn’t score any or even look like scoring, so those 5 wins needed to unlock legendary were probably a lot farther off than you give me credit for.

  45. it’s pretty safe to say I despise the game currently. It has completely morphed into PES 19 for me, what a shitshow. Like in my previous save the second half of season 2 is absolutely dire. I wonder if there is a per-season script that says: “this will be shit no matter what”. I have dropped down to Professional since my last “hiatus” but it doesn’t matter. I get ALL of Konami’s shit tricks shoveled at me. Changing tactics, dt files, whatever; no effect. Just lost a horrible, worthless match 2-3 to Udinese and saw some new tricks such as suddenly throwing my defender ‘off the rails” (effectively forcing him into super cancel-like movement) which had him running in the wrong direction. combined with my favorite of “defenders moving out of the way” in the box. I was gifted the second goal as well and – oh what a dramatic turn – missed a point blank chance for the equalizer in the 90th moment.

    I swear this game wants to make me put my fist through the wall quite like nothing else. I’d rather claw my eyes out with a rusty screwdriver than play this at the moment.

    *end dramatic rant*

    I, of course, will be back sometime soon…but for now I’ll finish up season 2 (one, undoubtedly shit, game to go) and think I’ll leave it be for a little while.

  46. #1 – Those Konami tricks are rife throughout the game, on SS its comical, you should try it just for the rant after!!!

  47. La la la la la….finding superstar quite straightforward…..very one dimensional but much better than seasons 2-4. I do have a disgustingly good team with 96TS though.

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