I needed to win my last two games of season 2016 to be in with a chance of taking the league title and securing my first Treble in PES2008. I’d already won the two Cups—domestic and European—and I’d steadily caught up with the runaway league leaders, Valencia. Before the season’s final fixture I was in second place, 2 points behind and with a superior goal difference.
I wasn’t too happy about the fact that I’d been able to catch them up. I’d prefer a much more realistic Master League where teams who streak into ten-point leads at the top of the table rarely—if ever—lose them. In PES it happens more often than not that there’s still everything to play for in the last game or two. Shaping an exciting league table is PES’s manifest objective throughout the course of a season, and it really shows.
Or is it just me? I’ve said many times that I’m a PES player of decidedly average ability. It happens to be true. Do other Master League players of greater ability win the league every season by a dozen or more points? I think there must be players like this out there. It’s probably my average skills that make every season, with machine-like inevitability, tend towards the ‘tense last-game thriller’ scenario. So I believe, anyway. Without a comprehensive scientific study, complete with control groups and white coats, it’s impossible to be certain.
I was 1-0 up at half time in my last game. At half time I checked the Valencia score—they were drawing 2-2 with their opponents. As things stood, Coventry City were the champions. I’d felt all along that Valencia would draw their game, that I’d just have to win mine to take the title. It was looking like coming true.
But how did I feel about this? Didn’t it all make me feel a little bit hollow? I was about to win the league, but five games ago I was nowhere. In the real world, a hollow victory would be better than no victory—but PES is greater than the real world, or it should be. I hold it to higher standards. I hold it to the standards of realism that I wish it possessed. (I’d love a Football Manager/PES hybrid. I’d just love it.)
Did I want to win the title, and the Treble, in this way? I wasn’t sure that I did. I even considered deliberately conceding a goal in the second half of my match and thus tossing away the title. Then I could go for a ‘proper’ Treble next season, one that didn’t rely on the CPU arranging for its best team to collapse. Seriously, I considered it.
But I didn’t consider it for long. PES is a game, after all. No matter how hollow it makes me feel at times, a game is all it is. If its programmers want to arrange things in a way that they believe will keep their customers interested in their product for longer, that’s entirely their prerogative. I don’t have to play it. I can swan off to FIFA any time I like.
So I decided to take the title, and the Treble, and just be glad of it. I held on in my game for the 1-0 win. It was tough towards the end as the CPU team stepped up its game to get an equaliser. For the entire last ten minutes I couldn’t get the ball. Every time I got it, I auto-lost it as the CPU players swarmed me. But I held on.
The moment the final whistle went I wondered what had happened in the Valencia game. What if they’d scored a cheeky winner to confound all my pseudo-moralistic claptrap? But no, of course they hadn’t. The title was mine. My players celebrated and then Prieto—DMF and captain for the day in place of the fatigued Bradley—collected the trophy:
So that, as they say, is that. The Treble is mine.
I don’t consider it a proper Treble, one that I’ve won. The CPU blatantly threw away the league title. I don’t ever remember finishing top of any table in PES before with a win average of just 60%. So in many ways I’ve still got a ‘proper’ Treble to go for, one that I win—in the league, anyway—rather than have gifted to me. I want to go to the top of the league and stay there and win by several points with a few games to spare. That’s my next target.
Season 2017 isn’t going to be about a post-Treble hangover. There’ll be no sense of “well, that’s this Master League ‘completed’.” I never ‘complete’ a Master League. It’s not the kind of game mode that can be completed. It just goes on, forever, until the end of time. Or until PES2009, whichever comes first.