Mastering the Master League

One of the best new features in Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 is the revamped master league mode. Youth teams, training, finances, negotiations, and scouting have fundamentally changed this mode for the better (though I’d like the option to switch teams please, Konami).

So now you just booted up a game in the Master League and now you’re not sure exactly how to turn your team into champions? Then read on, whether you’re with the old standbys Castolo, Minanda and co. or your team’s real players, this short and handy guide will get you started on the path to championship gold.


1. Get Rid of any Dead Wood

As soon as you get to the main menu of the master league, go to the far right blade (Team Office) and go to “My Team”. Get a good look at your team and try to trim away anyone who doesn’t look useful by throwing them on the transfer list. Old players with good stats and reputations (such as Alessandro Nesta) can get you a lot of money that can be spent on upcoming young stars.

Younger players that don’t seem to be developing as well as you would have hoped are also good transfer material. Wait until a player is around twenty three or twenty four years old before pulling the plug though.

If you’re playing with the old Master League players (Minanda et al), then pretty much throw anyone you want on the transfer list as most of them are very poor. I would recommend hanging on to Ordaz, Ruskin, Jaric, and Gutierrez, as they develop into decent players that can be later used as backup to your main squad.


2. Strengthen Your Squad

This is a pretty obvious step, and probably the first thing that came to your mind when you started your campaign. Question is: who should you buy?

Look for players that can replace the gaps left by the ones you got rid of in step one. Young stars that can play right away are usually the best investments. If you chose a big club like Manchester United or Real Madrid, then you already have the resources to buy pretty much anyone you want. But for less fortunate clubs here are some cheap yet excellent suggestions that even big clubs can benefit from:

Ilucznica: A Polish star that can play anywhere you want him and kick ass doing so. Need a striker? He’s your man. Need a Midfielder? He’s your man. Need a defender? He’s your man too! The only place he can’t play is goalkeeper! He is definitely the most versatile player in the game.

Horymarqua: A young Romanian centre back who is an absolute rock. He has decent speed and can play well at any level or league.

Wijnaldum: Yes, people with long, unusual names usually make good football players. “Wijjy” as I like to call him plays for Standard Leige in Belgium is a tricky and quick midfielder who can also play on the wings and as a striker.

Lee Cattermole: Probably a little better known than the first three on the list (that’s because the first two are fake players made by Konami). Cattermole is probably the best young defensive midfielder on the list and he comes quite cheap from Sunderland. In one or two seasons time he becomes one of the best holding midfielders in the game. A great all round purchase for any team.

If you still can’t sign the above players, then you might need to wait for a season until some clubs let some player’s contracts run out and then you can sign them for cheap as free agents. Some of the best abandoned players include:

Kerlon: This young Brazilian midfielder is usually let go by Inter Milan one season into the game. Like most Brazilians, he has an excellent touch on the ball and is a good dribbler. A great signing for any squad.

K.Etuhu: Kevin Etuhu is a Nigerian winger than plays for Manchester City. As you can guess, City is too full with overpaid stars to bother giving Etuhu a chance and will let his contract expire one season into the game. That’s your chance to grab this speedster for cheap.

Hoffer: An Austrian center forward. He plays for Napoli, but they usually let him go. A decent strike option that develops quite well.

If you still can’t sign any of these players, then you can rely on your scout by ticking the “openness to negotiation” box and he’ll find players that are interested in joining your club. The better the scout, the better the players he can convince to join your club.


3. Upgrade Your Team’s Staff and Facilities

Depending on what club you start with, your staff can either be excellent or very poor. If it’s the latter then you might want to spill some money in their direction. If you have a limited amount of cash to go around, then I recommend upgrading your team’s doctor. Injured players can’t play and they can’t train so it’s imperative they stay fit. After that, I upgrade one of the coaches depending on your preference. I usually go for the Athletics coach because I like to develop my players’ speed and stamina as quickly as possible. Finally, investing your money in the youth team is always a good idea. After you’ve done these, then feel free to spend your money wherever.


4. Fine Tune Your Training Program

It doesn’t hurt to look at how the training points are distributed for your players. The game does a decent job of adjusting training depending on the player’s position, but you can tune things to better take advantage of a player’s unique abilities. For example, the game usually assigns some points for defense to attacking players. These points are usually better spent on other things like dribbling or passing. If you have defenders who are good at free kicks, the game will neglect to give them enough points in shooting training and you need to rectify that.

It will only take a few moments to go through your team and then you don’t need to look at it ever again (except when you get new players).

Never give out special card training to young players. It takes eight weeks and one million dollars in cash to teach them and for those eight weeks they’re missing normal training and lagging behind. Wait untill they’re twenty-four and then give them special training.

While we’re on the topic of cards…


5. Special Card Training

You have the ability to teach your players special abilities, but unfortunately some of the best ones are given naturally to players and are not available for you to give your players (Long Ranger, Talisman, and Fox in the Box come to mind)

However, there are some useful ones you can teach your players:

This is an absolute must for any keeper, No ifs or buts. It will save you multiple times during a season and can mean the difference between a runners up medal or the trophy itself.

All the defensive options are very good (Slide Tackle, Man Marking, DF Leader) but I’m going to have to go with Covering. No matter how good you are, you’ll screw up at some point and let someone through on goal. It’s times like these that you can appreciate having another defender watching your back and cleaning up after you. Overall an excellent card.

This card is simple. It makes your players pass better. This card is simple and useful and a must for every midfielder.

When you’re through on goal and have only the keeper to beat, you MUST score. Giving this card to your strikers will help you convert those golden opportunities into goals because no one likes to lose a game they could have won if they could have gotten “that one shot” on target.


6. Tinker with the Game’s Tactics Sliders

One of the best new additions to Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 is the Football Manager style tactics sliders. Most people, however, seem to forget these sliders exist.

Play around with the sliders till you get your team playing your own style of football. Not only will you improve results, but you’ll enjoy the game more when your team does what you want it to.


Follow the above steps and you should have a decent shot at achieving some silverware for your team, and don’t worry about being sacked because the Master League doesn’t have a boardroom; as long as you keep your finances in the black, you can keep playing for as long as you wish.

Since you can’t be fired, don’t be afraid to experiment with your team and try some weird combinations (can an all English club side win the Premier League? Can I win using an African All Stars team?) because unlike real football, in PES2010 winning isn’t everything.

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