Season 9, spanning the in-game years 2017-2018, has ended. I finished 9th. I fought my way up from 13th in the last matches of the season to attain a respectable final placement. I won five out of seven, scoring a nice few goals in the process.
After a fairly poor season, I think I have to be satisfied with 9th. It’s the same finish as last season, when I somehow qualified for the Europa League (still no idea how that happened). Hopefully I have qualified again for Europe next season. I’ll find out when I get there.
Porto romped away with the league title. Only Arsenal scored more goals. I’ve now played all the top teams in Division 1 at least four times each over the course of the past two seasons. Porto are far and away the best of them. They’re incredibly fast and strong and determined. (Okay, ‘fast and strong and determined’ in a PES AI team just translates to ‘shenanigans’ an awful lot of the time, but I’m speaking in-mythos here; I’m embedded.)
It’s been a funny old football game year for me so far. FIFA10 arrived like a rocket. I liked it and I still like it—but I’m not playing it.
The end of January is almost here. The days are getting a fraction longer. Birds can be heard tweeting in the hedgerows. And I’m still playing a next-gen PES game, with the same intensity and enthusiasm as on Day 1—with a good bit more intensity and enthusiasm, actually.
At times I hate things that happen in PES2010, with a rare passion that almost frightens me. I’ve never been a controller-thrower, but PES2010 brings me closer to becoming one than any other game I’ve ever played in my life (are there really people who throw controllers in frustration, or are they a myth?).
But overall, as befits a game I’ve now played for a total of 167 hours, I love PES2010. It’s not grudging acceptance, the exercising of habit, or an unwillingness to engage with the mysterious FIFA10. It’s love. I would hotly deny being a fanboy—anybody can see how critical I’ve been of next-gen PES over the past few years. I love a game, PES2010, that many good PES fans despise with all their hearts. And the thing is: I know why they hate PES2010, and I agree with their reasons for hating it. But I love it. It’s in spite of, against all reason. It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s a paradoxical mysterious enigma.
It’ll be February in a few days and I’m still playing PES2010. This fact astonishes me. I’d have put money on me moving over to FIFA before the end of November last year. The more I’ve played PES2010, the more I’ve liked it; by degrees, this has ripened and matured, and become something much more than duty or habit. As time passes I’m actually less forgiving of the game’s many infuriating quirks. But its pleasures are deeper than its torments.
If I was giving a review-style score right now I’d have to award PES2010 a solid 9/10. Yes yes yes, I know exactly where and how it’s broken, and how unacceptable it all is. I seethe too. I seethe too. But for a Master League aficionado, as I am, this is a vintage PES year. Whatever happens from this point on, I have to count PES2010 as a vintage PES product. Not knowing or caring about any kind of multiplayer, or any other mode but Master League, helps a lot, obviously.
And so I move on to season 10 of the most epic and enjoyable Master League career I’ve had for five years. I’m already looking forward to changing my kits, looking for new players, tweaking my formation and tactics, rolling up my figurative sleeves, and just getting on with it. The question I’m asking myself now is: just how much further can PES2010 take me? Could it be the first PES since PES5 to take me all the way through the football game year?