Every player has a current ability and a potential ability that, in simple terms, reflect how good he supposedly is now and how good he may supposedly become in the future.
A player’s current ability indicates to a large extent how well he will perform. It will generally increase for a player as he develops before falling later in his career after he passes his natural peak. A player's potential ability, on the other hand, is static and represents the maximum that his current ability can theoretically reach, although the level it actually reaches will depend on his personal development.
Player development is discussed in more detail in the Player Development guide.
The true values of current ability and potential ability are hidden, but your coaches and scouts will provide you with ability star ratings for each player that reflect their own opinions of what the player's current ability and potential ability may be.
However, a player's current ability does not take into account all the factors that may affect his performances in matches, while there are also various factors that affect how likely he is to reach his potential ability that are not taken into account by your staff. In addition the accuracy of your staff's ability star ratings in reflecting both current and potential ability can vary. Therefore, you should use your own judgement of a player, combined with his ability star ratings, to properly assess him.
To help you with this, the factors that determine a player's current ability, the factors that influence how much of his potential ability he fulfils and the factors that affect his performance are explained below. Ability star ratings are also discussed in detail to help you understand how accurate they are likely to be and how they work.
A player’s current ability is determined by the following factors:
- His attribute ratings – only including the visible attributes, shown on a player's Profile screen, but not including Aggression, Determination, Flair and Natural Fitness (and also Eccentricity, Free Kicks, Penalty Taking, Rushing Out, Tendency To Punch and Off The Ball for goalkeepers).
- The strength of his weaker foot – this can be viewed on the Information section of his Overview tab.
When a player improves one of the above factors (for example, in training) it will cost him some of his current ability. Therefore, unless his current ability has also improved as part of his development, it will need to be redistributed and so he will lose ratings in other attributes.
Each attribute, as well as weaker foot strength, is given a different weighting in the current ability calculation for a player according to its supposed importance for the player's natural position. In particular, Acceleration and Pace are weighted heavily for all outfield positions, while weaker foot strength is also weighted fairly heavily.
Therefore, an improvement in an attribute considered more important for his position will cost a player more of his current ability than an improvement in an attribute considered less important. An improvement in any of the attributes that are not included in the current ability calculation, as detailed above, will not cost a player any current ability.
It is important not to assume that a player's currrent ability will definitely reach his potential ability. How much of his potential ability a player actually fulfils depends on his development, which is affected by factors such as:
- his match experience;
- his personality;
- his training;
- the club facilities he uses;
- his tutoring; and
- his fitness.
These factors are discussed in more detail in the Player Development guide.
A player's match performances are affected by more than just the attribute ratings and weaker foot strength that determine his current ability. Understanding the different influences on match performances will enable you to more efficiently assess the suitability of a player for your squad and tactics, and help you to get the best out of your individual players and your team as a whole in every match.
The factors that affect a player’s match performances include:
- His (visible) attribute ratings – effectively weighted in favour of those most important for his position and player instructions, in the context of your overall tactical style. Those attributes which affect a player's mental and physical abilities, as discussed in the Attribute Combinations guide, are important for general player performance.
- The strength of his weaker foot.
- His hidden attribute ratings – these attributes are Adaptability, Consistency, Dirtiness, Important Matches, Injury Proneness and Versatility.
- His preferred moves – these should be appropriate for his attributes, and also his position and player instructions.
- His familiarity with the position he is played in.
- His player instructions (as set by your team instructions, his role and duty, and any selected specific player instructions) – these should be suitable for his attributes and be part of a balanced and effective tactic.
- His personality attribute ratings - specifically his ratings in the Pressure, Professionalism, Sportsmanship and Temperament personality attributes.
- His mental state - for example, how motivated, complacent or nervous he is. This is determined in the first instance by his age, experience and personality, the team’s form, the importance of the match and the quality of the opposition, and then influenced by your chosen team talk.
- Any communication problems he has – these are detailed in the Pre-Match section of your assistant manager's feedback, accessed from the Analysis tab before or during a match.
- His fitness – this includes his condition, match fitness, level of jadedness and any injuries he is carrying.
In addition to the above factors that affect the performances of individual players, the performances of your team as a whole will be affected by factors such as:
- your players' tactic familiarity;
- your players' team cohesion on the pitch; and
- how you adapt your tactics during the match.
Your assistant manager and coaches provide you with current ability and potential ability star ratings for every player in your squad in their coach reports, while you can obtain star ratings for other players from your scouts as part of their scout reports. These reports can be accessed from a player's Reports tab.
For most players, ratings are given in multiples of half a gold star, ranging from a single half gold star for players with the lowest ability to five full gold stars for players with the highest ability. Young players who would otherwise be given a single half gold star rating are instead assessed by silver stars to enable you to judge and compare their abilities more easily.
Black stars represent a coach or scout's uncertainty regarding a player's current or potential ability. A young player may have a potential ability star rating that includes black stars because your staff are unsure of his potential due to his age. If you have attribute masking turned on in your game then a scout will include black stars in both the current ability and potential ability star ratings of a player he has scouted if he does not yet have sufficient knowledge of the player, as explained in the Scouting Knowledge guide. The number of black stars will fall as knowledge of the player is gained, although black stars will still remain for potential ability.
A player's current and potential ability star ratings are determined by:
- His actual hidden current/potential ability as discussed above.
- The abilities of the (other) players in your squad - a player's ability is rated relative to the abilities of the other players in your squad. This allows you to quickly assess how a player's supposed ability compares against that of your other players and gives you an indication of what squad status might be suitable for him. Generally, a player with a current ability rating of three or more gold stars is good enough to be a regular starter for your senior squad, while a player with two to two-and-a-half gold stars is suitable as a backup player. However, as explained above, it is important to assess players by more than just their current and potential ability.
- The ability and knowledge of your staff - the star ratings are only opinions and their accuracy is affected by the Judging Player Ability and Judging Player Potential attribute ratings of the staff member giving the star ratings, as show on his Profile screen, as well as the staff member's Knowledge of Club Players bar, shown on the Information section of his Overview tab. This knowledge will be low for a newly signed staff member, but will increase over time. Judging Player Ability affects the accuracy of current ability star ratings and Judging Player Potential affects the accuracy of incremental potential ability star ratings (the difference between potential ability star ratings and current ability star ratings, or the supposed additional ability a player can gain).
- His form - the star ratings may change according to a player's performances, which can cause a staff member to adjust his opinion.
- His age and the success of his development - this affects his incremental potential ability star rating. This may fall if he does not develop enough to stay on course to reach the potential ability rating he was previously given, or it may rise if he develops more than expected.
Because ability star ratings are relative, the star ratings of a particular player may change over time as the overall ability of your squad changes. For example, if you join a club and sign new players to improve your squad then the ratings of your original players may fall. Therefore, a falling current ability star rating does not necessarily mean that a player is declining or that the staff member has a lower opinion of the player.
However, ability star ratings given in scout reports will not automatically change over time and so a new report will need to be requested to obtain an updated rating. You can check the date of the last scout report on the report itself.