PES 2012: ten tips for Master League success

Gamesblog reader and PES expert ‘Goody’ provides his guide to the football sim’s challenging online management mode

A while ago, Gamesblog reader and Chatterbox regular Goody emailed to ask if he could write up a guide to PES 2012 for us. It seems that, in an era of Fifa dominance, PES is still the football sim of choice for many of our readers and it seemed like a good idea to let Goodson pass on his wisdom. So here it is.

“Master League Online mode can be one of the most daunting yet rewarding online experiences you will have,” he claims. “There is nothing quite like building a world-beating squad from scratch. But to the uninitiated or to late-adopters, starting up and playing against a team full of Rooneys and Ronaldos can be extremely intimidating.

“So whether your’re inspired by the free-flowing football of the 1974 Holland team, or the multi-million pound galacticos of Man City, this little guide will help virtually anyone enjoy one of the most satisfying modes available – even if your chosen side currently has about as much quality in depth as the 2010 Stockport County squad…”

Be patient.

The first thing that jumps out of you when you start is how unimpressive your squad is. You will find that virtually no one has the ability to pass straight or run for more than 10 yards without getting out of breath. It may be like watching Wrexham on a Saturday afternoon, but even these teams have the potential for moments of glory. Ask Mickey Thomas. As tempting as it is to wield your chairman’s axe, you will need your squad. A great team takes time.

Understand fatigue.

In MLO, players will accumulate fatigue. This is the little bar underneath your form arrow and energy gauge. Fatigue will build up after each game, and subsequently, your energy bar will fall. Once that energy bar is gone in a game, your players will not be able to sprint. And, yes, they may not be able to sprint very fast at the best of times, but that is better than nothing, especially when you are fighting for every ball in your first games. So rotate your squad, and keep those bars down. There is no benefit to an expensive yet tired squad over a larger average one.

Keep your side’s Ettori.

You may want to sell off a couple of pieces of dead wood and trim the fat (you don’t have to mix your metaphors in football management, but it helps), however Ettori is the one player who can actually compete in your team. He can pass, score and is good under pressure. Other players also have their qualities and get to know them. Cotsload is a relatively pacey centreback, Jaric is also solid and can take free-kicks, whilst Maqualao can hit the target from distance. Ruskin and El Moubarki are bog standard full backs, but good enough not to sell.

Renew Contracts only if necessary.

When you first start, all your players will have different length contracts (in games) remaining. You may want to sell them off, but you need to maintain good squad depth. However, renewing a default players contract is so expensive you’d think he’s got Kia Joorabchian negotiating. It is often cheaper to wait till contracts run out and then sell, buying a new, better player as a replacement. Often their contract will be a third less. It’s a relative no-brainer.

Understand form and watch the markets.

When you buy a player, their form will vary (the coloured arrow). A player on form will run faster for longer, and demand a larger price. This is because people want players in form so will pay more. However, form goes up as well as down, so make sure you buy low, and sell high. Depending on how often you play, you can buy a Heskey, then wait a few days to a week to see him turn in to Drogba (diving and theatrics optional). In theory, it is possible to accrue a great team by just buying at the right time. The regular players may buy on a green arrow knowing that he’ll come good in a few days. The less regular may buy the players on grey form, and come back a week to see him ready and waiting.

Be frugal and listen to the community.

The masses decide who is worth buying. In the community you are able to search who is increasing in value or who is owned by the most players. You will come up against these players time and time again because they have something to offer. Aim to develop your team, start with the 70 rated players, progressing up to 75 and higher. If you see a player you like but their form is decreasing, add them to your favourites and come back in a few days. Take time to scale the market. The biggest name isn’t necessarily the best.

Low divisions are your friend.

Your first week is the hardest. You won’t be put in any division, so you’ll come up against teams better than you. Even the best players will lose. Regularly. It may pay just to play a few games, wait for the leagues to be announced each Tuesday, be stuck in division and change your settings so you ‘play people of the same ability’. It’s the most effective way of avoiding the ‘worst’ type of player.

Competitions pay but be careful.

The great thing about competitions is that they are all based on ability. So you will always be playing people similar to yourself. They can also make you more money at a faster rate. You do have to dedicate an hour of your time to plough through five minute matches (about five or six usually), but your progress is the best sequence of three games, so you’ve got time to overcome a loss. The most important thing to remember though, is that your contracts can run out during the event, and renewing them means wasting time coming out of the competition. You don’t want to get to that must-win game only to realise your star striker won’t come on because his contract hasn’t been renewed.

Practice makes perfect.

The bread and butter. Complete the training challenges to help you learn how to defend. You will need it – it will be the one thing you will be doing in your first dozen games more than you think. Until you are able to buy a few players to compete, it’s the one thing that can nulify a better player and be extremely satisfying. Keep your formation tight, change your team style to ‘technique’ to improve those touches, reduce your slider settings to stop players swapping positions (reducing fatigue) and be as ambitious as Sam Allardyce at the Emirates. Park that Bus.

Be patient.

We’ve already mentioned it, but it’s more important than you think. Unless you’re a wealthy businessman willing to invest £600m to buy Konami, forcing through your own team of world beaters, whilst dismissing the long, hard yet rewarding slog of slowly establishing success, history and respect, then PES MLO can be a frustrating place. You will come across people willing to exploit the need for pace (Shaun Wright-Philips at Defensive Midfield anyone?), and spam the same attack again and again. But slowly, it can start to click.

After a dozen games or so, it will all come together. You’ll begin to anticipate and predict each player’s form, punching above your weight as players peak at the same time. Soon, you’ll come in to a match seeing you’re up against a new inexperienced player, confident your frontline of Heskey and Bendtner will rip him apart.


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