Game 1 of season 2016. This was a tough, tough game. I hope this game wasn’t a taste of things to come for me this season, because if it was then I may have to check myself into a psychiatric hospital for the duration. I’m sure they don’t allow PES on mental wards. I’m also pretty sure they dont like mental wards being called mental wards nowadays, but ho hum, whatever.
Heracles Almelo are one weird team. I’d never heard of them before starting this Master League career in PES2008 and meeting them in my first season in Division 1. Turns out that in real life (if there even is such a thing), they’re a team that plays in the Dutch league. I was amazed to discover that there are still teams that I’ve never heard of playing in the top flights across all the European leagues. Still, I bet that even Fabio Capello had never heard of the likes of Reading FC before he landed the England job. I’m drifting here. What was I talking about? Oh yes.
I was pretty confident when I saw that Heracles were my first opponents. I was wrong to be confident. As every Master League player knows to his cost, the teams that trip you up aren’t the Barcelonas, the Liverpools, and the AC Milans. The teams that really make life painful for you are the Boltons, the Spartak Moscows, and the Heracles Almelos of this parallel footballing world.
And so it went. The game was tortuous. It was attritional. It was grim and gritty. It was one of those games where neither team—human or CPU—seems to have a shot on goal, ever. Play is focused in midfield and in front of the two penalty areas. These are rare games in PES, especially once you’ve assembled a good team in Master League; then you can pretty much bank on having ten, twenty, or thirty shots on goal in every game, compared to the CPU’s relative handful of attempts. But sometimes there are games where that just doesn’t happen, where both teams limp into half-time with roughly two shots each, all off-target. I have roughly one such game every season. This game was it. (Hopefully this game was it…)
The second half? What second half? It was like the first, only worse, if that’s even possible. Admittedly there were more shots on goal from both teams. I was more dangerous down the wings—but no crosses ever found strikers, no shots ever troubled the backs of nets, and all keepers and defenders were on top form.
Heading toward the 90th minute I reflected that a 0-0 result in game 1 of the season wasn’t a disaster. It was a good result compared to what could happen (losing). So I’d accepted a 0-0 in my soul, and was seeing out time, when I broke through with Kim Cyun Hi on the right.
He’d been awful all game. Him and Giggs, and Schwarz—all of them absolutely terrible. Dos Santos had been my most threatening attacker. The strikers had been absolutely awful.
I got Kim to the byline and sent over a cross. The Heracles defenders cleared, but not very well, and I collected the ball with Bradley in midfield. Expecting the final whistle to go at any second, I considered letting fly with a 50-yard howitzer attempt on goal, but decided to look for a pass… One sharp through-ball to Schwarz later, and he was clear through on goal with just the keeper to beat. I didn’t pause to think. If you pause to think, you’re dead—or you’ve missed the goal, which amounts to the same thing in PES. I slotted the ball past the Heracles keeper and into the net. It was literally the last kick of the game. The final whistle seemed to go before Heracles kicked off in the centre circle. Yes. Yes. YES!