Month: November 2009

November reign

So it’s the end of November and I’m still playing PES2010. I’ve played it for the whole month, with great enjoyment, with love, with something like the old fire of years gone by. That doesn’t yet mean the game is a success in PES terms. A successful PES game should last all year round. It should feel as fresh and immersive in the late summertime—with the next PES just around the figurative corner—as it did back in the wintertime. That’s the golden standard that ISS/PES got us used to for many years, and it’s the standard I think we all hold it to even now.

If I’m still playing PES2010 a month from now, there’ll be strong grounds for hope. Right now I’m about 80% certain that PES2010 really is the first all-year-round PES on the next-gen consoles. I really hope so. I’ve bloody waited long enough.

I’m playing Master League, of course. That’s all I ever play on PES. I bring all my own limitations and idiosyncrasies to the table. So my experience of PES2010 won’t be everybody else’s experience.

I had a great start to season 3 in my current career: top of the Division 2 table after 7 matches. I’ve now played 15 matches, very close to the mid-season transfer window. Alas, I went on a terrible run immediately after those first 7 matches. I lost 4 matches in a row and plunged down to mid-table.

I couldn’t work out why I’d suddenly started losing. I wasn’t doing anything different, really, than before. After upgrading my staff, none of my players were unfit or out of form. I was playing the same style, a mixture of conservative passing with my weaker players, and quick, bold attacking with my stronger ones. That was serving me well to start off with. What went wrong? I still don’t know. Just one of those strange PES fluctuations. Perhaps it was the game deciding I was getting ideas above my station. Or perhaps it was simply lack of attention from me. Or something else. Who knows.

I rallied soon enough. I pulled out a draw from somewhere to stop the run of defeats. Then a couple of wins, another draw, and another win. These hauled me back up towards the promotion zone.

I scored a weird goal with Oscar. It was a clipped shot with an insane amount of power. The ball fairly rockets into the top of the net, almost taking the keeper’s hands off:

Link: Oscar goal - PES2010

That was the first noticeable thing Oscar’s done since I started getting a few decent players, a while ago now. He seemed exceptional at the start of this career. Now? Now he seems rather ordinary. But he’s still a young player, I have to remind myself, and he’s got a long career ahead of him.

season-3-after-15

I haven’t got any transfers lined up for mid-season. I’ve deliberately kept it that way. Okay, so I might get one player in—or maybe two… I’ll see.

In which I finally win a Trophy

Season 3 in my Master League career on PES2010 is going to be BIG. Whichever way it goes, it’ll be remarkable. Either I’ll get promoted or I won’t. If I do, great: at last I’ll get my chance to mix it with the big boys. This is my 3rd season in Division 2 in this career; counting the career I abandoned, it’s my 5th season. And I’m weary of it. If I don’t get promoted, it’ll be one of my worst-ever lower-league performances in Master League.

I sold a staggering amount of players to accumulate money to spend on staff upgrades. Schwarz picked up a five-month injury in training. I thought: noooooo. But then an offer came in to buy him for £900,000 in the next week. I didn’t think twice. Goodbye, Schwarz. I went crazy on the selling front. I sold El Moubarki, Dalmat, Vahrua, Rivas, and Kim Jong Yeol. All of those hurt in some way. But it had to be done.

season-3-squad-FULL

After a while of trying to play Master League in the traditional way, it seems to me that purchasing staff upgrades is at least as important as bringing new players. In the old days you simply got a few new players in season 1. This enabled you to incrementally inch your way towards a slightly better team that could consistently get enough results to enable you to afford a few more good players, who were slightly better than the ones before, and who in turn enabled the team to rise another notch or two… and so on. Rinse and repeat.

In PES2010, that model still exists, to be sure. But it’s now complemented by the backroom staff, who must be upgraded if the team are to operate anywhere beyond the very, very basic level that they operate on to start off with.

I had loads of cash from all the sales. I went crazy on the staff upgrades. My main Coach went up to level 3, and all the others (including the Scout and the Youth Team, but not the fan club) went up to level 2. I had enough money left over to bring in DUFFY (from the Youth Team) and NOT-GREG (i.e. my created player from Edit mode). not-Greg is a fairly mediocre attacking midfielder right now, but I’ve got high hopes for the bald man.

And so the season kicked off. And I started very well. The staff upgrades really make the game feel smoother. The players felt slightly more responsive. The form arrows for once are mainly green, with only a few blues and purples. For some matches, I have most players on orange arrows, and ZERO blue/purple arrows, anywhere. If I ever start Master League again, I’ll know what to prioritise next time.

I scored a great goal with Pelaez in an early match. This was from a ridiculous distance out and I was amazed when the ball just kept going, and going, and going. At the end of the match I was awarded the Long-Ranger Trophy (I’m playing on PS3):

Link: PELAEZ long range trophywinner

season3-KITS

I forgot to change my team’s strips for the new season. It’s one of my traditions to have a new kit every season in Master League. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule. It’s something I like to do, not something I need to do. I’m sure we all have our Master League rituals. I only realised I’d forgotten about the kits when watching the replay of the Pelaez goal. It was 50/50 whether I’d bother changing the strips at all now. In the end I did go ahead with the change. I came up with a Croatia-style home shirt (with a solid blue panel on the back, as pictured). I went for a mostly plain black away kit. I’ve ditched the chest logo for now.

It’s been a good start. Not many goals scored again, but enough… After 7 matches I’m top of the table for the first time. It feels, and I have to say looks, very good. Is this the season?

season3-after7

It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople

I’m having a great time on PES2010, possibly a better time than I have any right to be having. It’s not been very well received by the wider PES community, it seems to me, but it’s my only football game at the moment. I played FIFA10 a lot when that game came out and I still admire it a great deal. I look forward to the day in the future when I pick it up and play it again. But I said all along that I could only ever play either PES2010 or FIFA10 in any period of time, not both. I’m sticking to that viewpoint.

I’m playing Master League, which is almost the only thing that I ever play on PES. In the second season of my career, I passed through the mid-season transfer period—that’s the TRANSFER period, not the negotiations period as it used to be. Negotiations can now take place all-year-round, with transfers themselves occurring within the traditional two windows. It’s a new system that still catches me out. I still forget that I can search for, scout, and place bids on players at any time I like.

I think it’ll take at least the whole of this PES year for the name-change to trickle down through the PES world and become embedded in consciousness. Even when we all accept it as real, we’ll still call it the negotiations window, I predict. In many ways it’s as radical a change as Marathon to Snickers, Opal Fruits to Starburst, Constantinople to Istanbul…

I was cautious about bringing in new players. While I’m struggling and have only got a little money, I’d risk setting myself up for a hard fall when it comes to paying the bills in the last week of August. You don’t get a GAME OVER any more when you exceed your budget in Master League. Instead, you have players randomly sold from under you, and/or your backroom staff downgraded a level or two. As I haven’t got any staff upgrades to be downgraded, my players would be in danger.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a few players. I can always sell a few players if I have to. Selling players isn’t hard in PES2010. The CPU puts in plenty of offers just before Wages Day, giving ample opportunity to balance the books.

I picked up a decent-looking CB called LOLO (68 OVR) from the free agents pool. His name just makes me smile for some reason… I also got LORRONDO (70 OVR), a CF, also from the free agents list. And I took a bit of a risk on a proper transfer involving a fee of £300k for a talented-looking Turkish AMF/SS/CF named SERKAN CALIC (71 OVR).

The rest of the season passed by in a blur. I played all 17 matches in two long sessions. Things didn’t pick up. The new players didn’t really have an impact—they just allowed me to rest a few other players a bit more. Towards the end of the season I was tempted to sim a few matches, but in the end I simmed just one —my fixture against the sole remaining made-up Konami team, AC Nitsaloskis, which was simmed as a 2-0 win to them. Ah well. I don’t like doing it anyway, so I got what I deserved.

Here’s the final table for season 2:

Season-2-finaltable

Third from bottom. That’s utterly dismal for a season 2 performance. By this stage in my previous, aborted career, I’d hauled myself up to mid-table respectability.

I don’t know where to go from here. I find it so hard to create chances. My goals mainly come from headers or long-distance shots, and there’s precious few of them. I think I know what I’m missing: staff upgrades. I’ve got to focus on upgrading my coaches before I focus on getting any more new players. Season 3 has got to see me challenging for promotion. If it doesn’t, I’ll be forced to conclude there’s something wrong with how I’m playing PES2010.

Finally today, here’s a couple of novelty moments from recent matches:

Link: Novelty moments - PES2010

In or out?

I’m nearing the mid-point in season 2 of my Master League career in PES2010. After a total of 60 hours’ play, I’m still not used to the game. I have a good idea of what it will and won’t let me do. But this doesn’t stop me trying to play it like the PES of old, which doesn’t really work. Not at the moment anyway. This is what fascinates me about PES2010 and keeps me coming back for more.

I’ve got some good players. They’re not great, but they’re better than most of the Default players. At the moment my star striker isn’t the soon-to-be-fabled Gutierrez but a WF/CF by the name of Kuktayan. I’ve sneaked into the Top Scorers list with him.

season-2-top-scorers-after-13

One peculiar thing about this season: there’s no Cup. Or there is one, but I’m not in it. What is that all about, as a stand-up comedian might say? Have I been excluded from the extra-curricular activity of Cup football this season because I played so pathetically last season, and finished so far down the rankings? Or is it simply a bug? I haven’t been able to find any information about this. I vaguely remember a related post or two on the PESfan forums a few weeks ago, but can’t track them down.

In the league, I’ve squeaked a few wins, but things are mostly still bad. Some of my wins have felt pretty dubious. How often in PES, down the years, have you been sure the ball has gone out of play, but the game carries on? I had an instance of this in one of my matches in this current session. Attacking down the wing, I played one of those overhit PES2010-style through-balls to my winger. I gave chase without much conviction, but my winger reached the ball and prevented it going out of play—somehow. I sent over a weak, looping cross. Gutierrez nodded in a vital goal. I went on to win the match.

over-the-line

I checked the replay, and zoomed in on the ball (pictured right). The letter of the law dictates that “the whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line”. And sure enough, the law is faithfully observed: the outermost arc of the ball is just bisecting a nanometer-wide slice of the touchline. In PES terms, that ball is still in play. In a real game I think that would have been called out, every time. But this is a video game and I was more than happy to take it, considering it’s worked against me often enough.

Oscar-the-ghoul

The star of my side at the moment is Oscar, my promoted Youth player. There’s Oscar (pictured left) with ghoulish eyes and a soul patch kind of thing going on on his chin. As can be seen, his shirt is adorned with my chortlingly self-referential custom logo. The CPU teams keep wanting to buy Oscar for silly money, which is tempting when you’re totally skint as I always am. But you don’t sell your best players.

Unfortunately, the current league table makes for familiar reading. After 13 matches I’m in 14th place. This isn’t going to be a promotion season. After only about half a dozen matches, you just know if you’ve got a chance—after 13 matches, I know I haven’t got a chance. In theory I could acquire a few players mid-season and go off on a good run. It’s not mathematically impossible to get back up there, and we all know how the table itself frequently lends a hand to a determined player on a swashbuckling run.

But I doubt that run could ever happen, realistically. In Master League 2010 it’s not just about the players. The backroom staff are just as important, arguably more so. They govern so much: form arrows, general fitness, response times out on the pitch, lots of things. I’ve got my Head Coach on level 2, but the rest are all still on level 1. I can’t upgrade my staff until the end of the season. It’s going to be a long one, I think.

WEDS-season-2-after-13

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