PES-Ligan, Swedens oldest PES community for actually competing in PES, is on it's 9 year anniversary. The league is now adapted so that all nordic nationalities can take part and we also have english (work in progress) as a language for those who do not fully understand swedish. Many things have changed since that first league start with PES 5 back in 2006, but they have changed for the better.
Before this years release of PES 2015 our league was always played with tables ranging from 15-20 players and team chosing order based from a ranking. Control settings have been a free choice meaning you could play as you want. This has caused the game to be a game focused on quick passing and easy shooting, without a counter tactic to this automacy for the defending player.
Manual controls introduction
In the middle of this season with PES 2015 I decided that all players needed to learn manual controls and that this was what the league should be about. Pure learning and understanding of one's players and team. Sure, maybe we'll emit som auto passing and shooting stats when chosing manual play but in the long run the game is built around so much more than those 7 stats (short pass accuracy, short pass speed, long pass accuracy, long pass speed, shooting accuracy, shot power, finishing). There are 40 other values that decides games in there and when we focus on them, we focus on more simulation. Also there is no proof that the seven stats above have no effect on the game when being played manually, they probably have, it's just that the deniers of the manual game have to have something as an argument.
The move I've made is the bravest I've probably ever done, riscing to lose a lot of users who cannot play without the advantages the computer gives them with passing assistance and auto shoting. But in the long run this will give us more simulation, nicer goals, and more variety. Let me explain how things work now.
How we chose teams?
First I thought we'd only have a team selection in a random order, but this still caused the league to be a top team league and I didn't want that, because it becomes boring after a few seasons, so I made the team selection a random draw. Now anyone that participates can become any of the teams in the game. But what about if one player becomes Real Madrid and the other one Buriram from Thailand? Well it's still a random draw, a draw that is also shown live with twitch. At the present* I use random.org to insert the 357 club teams in a list and random.org then gives them a random order and I pick the same number as the participants and they get a number equal to their sign up place number (or ranking number). It's completely fair, as you agree to be a part of a random draw, and everybody is there on the same premises, that you want to do as good as possible with the team you get.
The list of teams for Season 2 in the manual league.
How do we motivate players with a not so good team?
This is where it gets hard of course. But looking at things from the opposite side help clear things out. Is it easy to win with manual controls with the best team in the game? Not neccessarily, of course your players have more speed, more physicality, higher stats, but you still need to put that shot on the goal, you still need to be calm enough to pass that 5 meter pass right in every moment. If you do not. Buriram (ranked with one star) will intercept and if there's a good manual player behind that Buriram team then defense is probably a focus. One thing that I've noticed when all auto things are off is that defending becomes easier, without a direct throughball from two automatic quick passes (common occurance on auto) things become more real and you have actual time to intercept. With auto throughballs your opponent could just push a button and the attacker reacted on that action. Now it's the other way. You have to see your attacker and then put the ball through in space. So is this the answer to the first question. Somewhat yes, but the answer is bigger.
In PES, teams are ranked by stars, at PES-Ligan we take the stars and make them something you earn. If you are the next last team in the league and you have Buriram (ranked 1 star) under you, you get one ranking point for that star. So if you have a big star team under you you get their stars. With one big league cup you can also gain points from advancing a round and at the same time taking that players team stars. We also give points per finishing position in the different divisions. A team in the first divison will have 3 the points more per position than the teams in the 2nd and 3rd divisons.
Lastly we also count ranking points over all the seasons, not only one, in the end of a life time span for PES the points are added together and we get a total winner. We believe that the random function encourages people to develop all their skills in PES, from ball control, to tactical depth, and give users knowledge about smaller teams that Konami got licenses for. It's a great format for making PES a more hardcore game.
Keeping it fresh, all the time.
So you've probably understood how we think. We got all the teams in PES, we got different divisions depending on your skill, we got the league cup which can draw you against any team in the divisions, and we also got the Champions Cup. The Champions Cup is a cup where the top four in every league gets to play in a playoff. This creates a sort of a Champions League playoff between the best players in the leagues. And you can qualify for this playoff even when you're a new player in your first season. Exciting? Yes? Fresh? YES? No need for five seasons to reach the top? No.
How do we handle time? How long is a season?
A season is three weeks long, with a pause for four days when new people can enter the league. Divisions are made of about 8 - 10 teams and not any higher. If numbers are uneven we fairly even the leagues out. We don't want people to have too many games to finish in too little time. So about 6 maches (3 meetings, games are played home & away instantly), plus a single cup game in the league cup makes you have to spend about 140min (setup and arranging included) per week to be able to compete. It's not a lot, it's a matter of planning. If you're a hardcore PES player then it's nothing.
The future of a Nordic PES League where skill and adaption is what matters.
We beleive that the way we play PES is the right way to go. The format can easily be adapted to a selection of teams rather than all of the 357 teams. You could have Champions League teams in the PES League finals for example. If there were 32 competitors then the 32 best teams in PES would be selected and then the users would get one of these teams. It would give the competition much more variation, especially if the manual controls and auto options off were also introduced to improve adaptational skills.
An international future?
Konami is yet to show interest in the manual game and in promoting the random features that would create variety in their own competitions. We are awaiting the day when players revolt against the current system of repetetive game play. We stand open for discussion to a more hardcore approach to PES, which we beleive will give players even more football for their money.
Follow this blog for more info. Thanks!
* We'll incorporate this random team draw function at the site in the future.