There, I said it. Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) has my heart, and FIFA does not.

Now, I know this is an immensely unpopular opinion. College students (much like myself) everywhere will surely take to the streets and riot for days on end upon reading this article. FIFA has been known to single-handedly ruin careers, friendships, and higher education opportunities; but you’ll be happy to know, dear reader, that PES can offer you that same willful, regrettable bliss.

Photo courtesy of Youtube

PES celebrated its 21st anniversary in September with the release of PES 2017. The game has seen its share of highs and lows in the past two decades, rising to huge success in its infancy followed by dark, unmentionable times of poor craftsmanship for several consecutive years. During this time, FIFA rose to power, and has yet to relinquish its grip on the vast majority of football gamers. The smooth, simple gameplay and addicting personality of the game has consistently drawn in gamers and footy fans alike. The numbers, of course, reflect this. The last ten years have shown a severe dip in PES sales relative to FIFA, but the game lives on, thanks to myself and a handful of others.

But enough about the stats. The fact is, PES offers more realistic gameplay when compared to the arcade-like play of FIFA. If you want more feel and control on the pitch, PES is the game for you. It is the solid middle ground between the layman’s game (FIFA) and the black hole that is Football Manager. Of course, FM appeals to me for its in-depth style of play and its vast wealth of hidden gems and intense strategies, but quite frankly I have too much sh*t to do to get sucked into Football Manager (FM) for 100 hours a week. Similarly, FIFA does offer more variety in the number of leagues included in the game, but lacks the quality when it comes to crunch time on the pitch.

As previously stated, my preference for the “wrong” footy game is massively unpopular, even among my colleagues here at Offside:

“You play PES because you’re a neanderthal.” – Aaron Wallace, fellow Offside editor and Liverpool supporter.

“You’re writing a bit called ‘Why I Play PES Instead FIFA’? Maybe I’ll write a response and title it ‘Why I walk on two legs unlike certain hunch-backed mongoloid writers on our site… I mean… play FIFA.” – Mike DeMarco, MLS Dept Head and… you guessed it… Liverpool supporter.

See the connection? Anyways.

In years past, FIFA had one crucial upper hand on PES: the update system. FIFA has always offered weekly updates of player and team stats and abilities, while PES has traditionally featured one or two mass overhauls throughout the season. PES are finally with the times, however, with the 2017 edition of the game. A weekly grading system is in place and minor adjusts are routinely made throughout the real life season now, in addition to mass updates after the closing of transfer windows. PES faithfuls can expect such an overhaul at the end of the month, with the January transfer window in Europe drawing quickly to a close. PES has leveled the playing field in this category and fans can only hope further improvements and expansions will be made in this arena.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to having a preference towards the immensely unpopular game. PES does not own the rights to very many teams in Europe’s bigger clubs. All player names are correct, but the teams themselves are quite askew. For example, in La Liga, they only own the rights to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and cannot even legally call the league by its rightful name. Real Madrid is beautifully dubbed “Madrid White.” who play in Spanish Division I. In the Premier League (or English Division I, as they are forced to call it), PES owns the rights to Arsenal and Liverpool alone, while Merseyside Blue is made up of Everton’s faithful squad. England and Spain are complete with second divisions, along with France and Italy. The Netherlands are provided only the top flight, and Germany’s highest league fails to make an organized appearance.┬áKonami simply does not have the budget that EA Sports does, but make due with what they have in a very efficient and effective manner.

PES’s feature team for this year’s edition of the game. Photo courtesy of @FCBarcelona

Of course, the internet’s most faithful have a patch ready-for-use within hours of the game’s release. By simply downloading the file and importing it into the game, all is well. The entire process takes no more than an hour, and by the end, every team is filed away under the correct name, team colors, kits, logos, and play in their proper respective league.

PES does, however, own the rights to Europe’s largest stage: the UEFA Champions League. Complete with a brief highlight reel and the tournament’s official anthem, PES offers an incredibly immersive experience for Champions League clashes. They also own rights to the Europa League, giving the Master League gameplay a realistic campaign feel. Between these officially-titled matches and patch-redeemed cup and league fixtures, players of PES can experience as realistic a Master League playthrough as those who prefer FIFA, with the addition of adaptive, life-like gameplay.

I am both a lifelong gamer and an obsessive footy fan. PES quenches the thirst that both of my loves yearn for, and I will continue to support and purchase the franchise in the face of terrible criticism and ridicule, no matter the cost to my ego.

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About The Author


Zac Furlough holds a degree in English from Jacksonville University and is currently studying for his MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University. He is a poet, sports journalist, editor, and guitarist. He resides in Jacksonville, Florida.

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