Now for something long-promised. The video below shows, in full, me playing a league match in PES2010’s Master League. I’ve been saying I’d do this for some time, and now here it is. Apologies in advance for the slightly poor video quality—and for the slightly skewed viewing angle, which frustratingly cuts off the upper right corner where the score is displayed. If you watch the match, you’ll have to remember the score as you go along (there are some goals to see). Next time I do this, I’ll film it from a full-frontal angle.
The only thing I’ll add here is that I know I noobishly overran the ball on at least two occasions, one of them when I had a glorious one-on-one opportunity at a critical time. I was too aware that I was filming the match. I wanted to appear in the best possible light, so I restrained my usual instinct to shoot early. But it was only those few instances, and they stand out a mile. The rest of the time, I was playing normally. This match does show me playing the game, for the most part, more or less as I do play it.
In the league, season 9 is so far proving to be that most dreadful of things: a season of consolidation. That’s been a buzzword in football talk since I was a nipper. Consolidation. It means: mediocrity. Holding steady. Neither one thing nor the other. Mediocrity. I thought I’d say it again.
I had another fiddle with the tactical sliders, looking for the golden setting that’d replicate the dazzling run of form I had a few sessions ago. I increased Support and Pressing to 100, left all the others more or less as they were, and results picked up slightly. But I still can’t seem to cope with the pace and passing and aggression of the top 10 teams. At one point I played Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and—yes—Manchester United one after the other, and they took turns to pummel me into a fine paste.
I was doing great in the Europa League at least. I got through to the semi finals after wins in the first knockout stage over NEC Breda, and then a fine aggregate trouncing of AZ in the Quarter Final. In the Breda tie it was all-square at 2-2 in extra time (1-1 in both legs) and heading for penalties. I scored the softest of soft goals to take the match. My name is on the Cup, I thought.
Manchester United, again, were my semi-final opponents. I scraped a 1-1 draw in the first leg at my place. They simply battered me in the return leg. Seriously, I was shell-shocked. I lost 4-0 and it could have been so, so much worse. Their third goal was a scorcher from about 30 yards that found the postage stamp corner of my net and scraped the underside of the bar on its way in. The AI does occasionally get goals like that against me in PES2010, and has done since day 1 (i.e., it hasn’t started since the mythical gameplay patch just before Christmas).
I was out of the Europa League, then, and fairly emphatically too. I’ve got a long way to go before I can compete with the big boys on anything like an even footing. To get there I’ll need better players. I think it’s really that straightforward.
Currently I’ve got merely a good squad, with a few stars. One of those stars has turned out to be Sazi, my young striker who came up from the Youth team a few seasons ago. Above left are his current stats at the age of 21. Since he arrived I’ve biased his focus training towards shooting, and it really shows with a shot accuracy of 91, and power and technique in the high 80s. I’ve also favoured his physical attributes in training, and they’re filling out quite nicely too.
Sazi’s starting to grab goals quite regularly in league and cup. I’m very happy with him playing as my lead CF. He’s blossoming into a top, top striker, currently riding high in the league top scorers’ list, and joint-top of the Europa League scorers. He’s like a slightly slimmed-down, slightly taller version of classic Schwarz.
The table after 29 matches isn’t great. I’m 13th now, which I class as lower-mid-table. That silly amount of draws—12—is costing me. Fully two-thirds of those draws could and should have been victories. With a comfortable cushion between me and the bottom 3, I won’t be relegated. But I’ll do well now, I think, just to match last season’s 9th-place finish.