The Master League has always been an iconic and integral part of Pro Evolution Soccer and we, as many others, have over the years poured in many hours into this addictive mode. Although not a lot of changes have been made to the mode in the last years, it's still one of the most popular modes in the game. This year, in Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, we get a couple of small improvements to the classic manager mode, with improved transfers and a more challenging experience.
To get the most out of the Master League we made a Beginner's Guide with the best tips to help get you started.
Setting up your team: Before diving into formations, squads and training, the first thing you have to do is to decide how you are going to play in this mode. Master League isn't one where you just play one or two times, it's a mode you play for weeks, months or even longer. With that in mind, it's good to know that Konami added the option to choose between a Classic or Challenge mode for Master League.
The first is as we've always known, the later adds more obstacles. Players will be tougher to deal with and contracts harder to negotiate. Poor results or trouble with your team can lead to players leaving for other clubs or even getting the sack. The Classic gives you an easier start, but after just a few years as a manager it can get overly easy, with no competition at all from other teams. Pick the Challenge mode.
Next up is another important decision which lets you use the current squad of a club or start out with the classic Master League players. Again, if you're looking for an easy start and just want to enjoy a season or two with your favourite club and star players pick this one. If, however, you're looking for a longer and more satisfying experience pick the second option. This will set you up with a squad that consists of players with players rating between 55 and 70.
That's fine, for now. If you're playing at a higher difficulty level it can, however, be very hard to get a foothold if you jump straight into a top-tier competition, like the Premier League. Instead choose one of the lower division leagues, like the Championship. With the Master League players this will be a challenge by itself. Also if you haven't yet updated your squads, do that first, because once you start you will not be able to change the user database.
Building your squad: Once you're set up, the first thing you have to do is pick your starting eleven. This basically means choosing your favourite formation and putting in the highest rated players for every position. To do this fast you can use the auto line-up (Support Settings > Auto Lineup Select > No Preference), which is also recommended in other game modes, like playing online matches with a time limit when picking your formation. If you picked the Master League original players it's good to know that there is some talent in your squad. Players like L. Giorza, E. Castledine, Q. Arcas and T. Matthiessen are young talents who can develop quickly if you use them correctly.
You will end up with five reserve players, the five worst, which you can put on the transfer list. After this the first thing you want to do is look in your Youth Team for players that are better than the players sitting on the bench and sign them for the first team, this will also lead to some extra players that you can also put on the transfer list. It's also much cheaper to get talent from your own squad, instead of paying a transfer fee for players from other clubs.
The next thing you'll want to look at in your formation is Player Settings. Here you can select who will take the free kicks, corners and such. Selecting a Captain can be important, as players with the Captaincy skill (which can be viewed on the last tab when checking player stats) who are selected as the captain can reduce the effects of fatigue for the whole team.
Pick freekick takers logically: a defender or defensive midfielder for taking Long FK (so attackers can be reached) and midfielders or attackers taking the Short FK (letting a defender take this, will take him out of the defence and can be dangerous against counter-attacking teams). Choose smaller (in height and strength) players for taking the corner kicks, so the stronger and bigger players can be in front of the goal mouth.
You should also pick one (or two) of your big defenders as Players to Join Attack, by doing so you will assure the best headers of the ball are in the box during set pieces. Players with the Heading skill should always be picked for this, because their headers have better accuracy and the frequency of downward headers (which lead to difficult balls for the keeper to deal with) is also higher. Don't forget to save your formation settings (Data Management > Save) so you won't have to do all of this every match; of course, sometimes you need to change some settings if you put in differerent players.