Month: March 2010

Rank

Winning two Cups last season has seen my team ranking shoot up to 20th in the Master League world. When I was winning league titles on their own—for 4 seasons in a row—I wasn’t ranked anywhere above 50th. The top 10 ranked teams in my ML world makes for interesting viewing. Atletico Madrid are the top team. I’ve never met them yet and so I can’t vouch for their quality, but I’ve played all the others (Roma possibly excepted) and they’ve mostly all been tough opponents.

I’m seriously craving a Treble this season. It’s my 16th season of the career, my 9th in Division 1, and it’s about time I did it. I’m still riding high in the league. I’m winning games in style, but still drawing just enough to keep me in 2nd place. Arsenal are currently in the top spot. They would seem to be the team to beat, or at any rate they’re the pace-setters. It was Man Utd last season, Porto the season before. Every season the big teams seems to have a rotation thing going on.

My Champions League group stage campaign didn’t start too well: a win and a loss. I’ve continued that patchy form, winning another and losing yet another. I’m second in the table. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting the one win from my last two matches that’ll ensure my team’s progression (probably). But I’ll have to be careful.

I’m through to the next round of the D1 Cup after a good performance against Rosenborg. It was 0-0 in the first leg at their place, which always makes the second leg at my ground a nervy affair. If the game is out to get you it can do so very easily with an away goal. But I came through it a 2-0 winner. Capuano got the first goal from a corner. PES2010 is notable for the many different approaches you can take from corners. I love to play a ground pass for a player running towards the box to have a first-time shot. Just before I took the corner, I activated ‘All-out Attack’ via a strategy button to start Capuano’s run from the left-back position:

Link: Capuano goal from corner

I’ve spent a full season now with Capuano on boosted focus training for shooting. It’s starting to show through in his performances. The time for Capuano to move up to AMF will be when either my ‘not-Greg’ player or Nakamura start to decline sharply, which isn’t yet.

Mathieu has come on as sub a few times and played as well as a 17-year-old, 68 OVR rated player could be expected to play. Unfortunately he’s afflicted with the signature move of PES2010: the three-point turn that is slower than sin. Having players out there who turn in that way feels like a severe handicap now. The Myth of Castolo has the slow turn as well, needless to say.

In other news, I have finally resolved a long-standing technical issue with the PS3 version of PES2010. From the start, back in October, the game often froze during the tunnel entrance scene and required a hard reboot of the console. It would happen roughly once every four sessions, and always at the start of the first match of the first session. It was totally infuriating, because it didn’t take just one reboot to get things going again. It needed TWO reboots. When the PS3 came back on after the first reboot, it would tell me off for performing a hard shutdown, and force me to turn it off properly now, and then restart again… Aaaargghhhh….

But I’ve finally triangulated the cause of the problem. It was all down to the game downloading new advertising boards over the Internet (such as the one pictured, from around Christmas-time). That didn’t always cause a freeze, of course, but every time it froze, that’s what it was doing. The solution? Simple: no Internet connection while playing PES2010.

So I now play PES2010 whilst completely disconnected from the Internet (all I have to do is sign out of PSN before starting the game). I only ever see generic Konami advertising boards, and the freezes no longer happen at all. I’ll only ever play PES2010 whilst connected to the Internet if there’s a gameplay patch on offer. I’m not interested in the squad updates or similar DLC.

Welcome, Mattie and Ronnie

I’m not changing my kits for season 16. I loaded up the relevant Edit menu, but couldn’t decide which way to go. I backed out in the end and decided to stick with what I’ve got—plain sky blue for the home kit, and maroon-and-yellow halved shirts for the away kit.

My squad for the coming season is a very healthy one. Maybe I lack one or two more dedicated AMFs, but overall I’m happy with it. I decided to get rid of one of my young strikers, Chilnat. I first acquired him as a Youth player. He had a starting role for most of last season but never really deserved it. He was always decidedly average, permanently in the mid-70s OVR, which was reflected in the eventual price he fetched on the market: £600k. Better than nothing.

Money’s still a bit tight, and so for the first time I have brought in some loan players. Ronaldinho is a 20-year-old Regen, and goes straight into my starting lineup. The loan deal cost just £2m. And I also brought in an 18-year-old Chevanton as cover for my main strikeforce—that loan deal only cost me £1.5m. My notorious lack of attention to certain wider details means that, as I sit here typing this, I realise I have no idea what clubs I’ve loaned them from. Isn’t that shocking?

In ‘proper’ transfer news, I made a bid for the 20-year-old Regen Pirlo that was accepted. However the transfer fee would have been £28m, about £10m more than I could comfortably afford. I tried to renegotiate but the deal was abruptly cancelled. At least I know now that Pirlo will potentially come to my club. Winning two Cups last season is already paying dividends.

At the  risk of possibly overloading myself with DMFs, I couldn’t resist finally buying the Regen Mathieu. He looks a lot different in PES2010, or is it me? Younger and leaner. And I didn’t really have to worry about getting too many DMFs. In a real shocker, DMF is no longer one of Mathieu’s positions. I might train him up in that role myself. Or I might not.

For some reason my Youth squad keeps generating brilliant left-backs. Capuano,of course, for one. My new Youth signing Ignjatijevic is another handy-looking SB. The born-again Ceciu is coming along as a very decent CB too.

I still had £12m left, but kept it back as a cushion. I hated having to scrape through last season financially. I prefer the feeling that I can pick up a player or two mid-season if I have to, and not worry about it.

The start of the league campaign has been brilliant. Ronaldinho scored a neat headed goal on his debut in my first attack in my first game. Zaki is firing them in at the rate of nearly a goal a game. I can’t believe I considered selling him a few seasons ago. He’s almost become one of my all-time PES great strikers. He’s not (yet) up there with the very first rank of my former ML legends—i.e., the likes of Vieri, Stoichkov, Bergkamp, plus a few others—but if he continues to put away the goals as he moves through his early 30s, he could be. If I do win the Treble this season, Zaki will play a big part I’m sure.

I’m second in the league table after 9 league matches, just behind Arsenal on goal difference. But for a frustrating trio of goalless games, I’d be top. I got through the first round of the D1 cup, beating Boca Juniors home and away. In Europe my Champs League group consists of Nancy St Lorraine, Besiktas, and FC Kholugavinsk. I have played the first fixture against Nancy and won 2-0. FC Kholugavinsk beat me 2-0 in the second tie. It was another game where I felt I was being artificially prevented from scoring. Still work to do in Europe, then.

All in all, things are set for another season of going for the Treble, and this year it feels very much ON. I’ve got the squad. I’ve got the experience. And most importantly of all, I’ve got a pretty good start.

Two out of three ain’t bad

No, I didn’t make it. I didn’t win the Treble. I did win both of the Cups—a great consolation prize after 15 Cupless seasons—but in the league it turned out that I’d left myself just too much to do. I finished 3rd, 3 points behind the eventual winners. I gave it a good go, and it’s been a great season. I still have it all to play for in season 16—including the Konami Cup, now that I’ve won the Champions League.

It was a memorable run-in. I played all the key games in one session. First came the D1 Cup Final—or the England Cup Final as the game calls it. It’ll always be the D1 Cup to me. Manchester United were the opponents. It was as tight a game as you’d expect it to be. It stayed at 0-0 with neither team able to make any headway, but then just before half-time Nakamura got us a goal. It was a fine volley from a cleared cross, and it turned out to be the winner. It’s the first goal in a very brief highlights video further down the page.

(I don’t know what Buffon is doing in the celebrations up there. He wasn’t in the team or even on the bench. I’m sticking with Zuberbuhler as my keeper at least until the end of this season.)

It was a similar story in the Champions League final. First of all I have to say that I think it was a terrible decision by Konami to have a pre-Final animation with ‘MADRID 2010’ plastered all over it. Ugh. In my game it’s currently the year 2024. This Madrid 2010 stuff was just a total nonsense. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Of all the many crass, stupid, and illogical stunts Konami’s ever pulled in ISS/PES games, I’d put this up there with the very worst. Really I would. It was just so counter-immersive. I’ve spent all this time progressing my team to the stage where I’ve got to my first Champions League Final, in space-year 2024, and here was the game bringing me right back down to earth. Obviously they want to make the most out of what must be a very expensive license, but they should keep the real-world, 2010-related stuff to the individual CL game mode accessed via the main menu. Keep it out of Master League.

I hope that ‘MADRID 2010’ thing is programmed to appear just the once. If it appears every time I get to the final, I really will be annoyed.

Inter Milan were my opponents. They were in my qualifying group, and back then I beat them twice, very easily. But here in the final they were tighter than tight, barely letting me have a kick of the ball. They had waves of attacks that I survived as much through luck as defensive skill. It went to extra time and I began to fear the approach of a penalty shoot-out. I’ve taken approximately 3 penalties in all 250 hours of PES2010. I’d have to look at the game manual to refresh my memory of how to take them.

Ah, but then, just before half-time in extra time, I got the ball with Nakamura in midfield. Went off on a little run… Took a shot, and blam: 1-0 to me. That’s how it ended. I was happy, it’s fair to say. Both Nakamura goals are in this clip—along with a bonus item, a ‘Scholes corner’ goal that I scored with Pires in one of my last league matches of the season:

Link: Two Finals and a volley

I’ve got a few players in my current team who are up there with the best players I think I’ve ever had in ten years of Master League. Players I’ll still remember and be thinking and talking about for years to come. Capuano’s one of them, of course. Then there’s Zaki—what a legend he is shaping up to be for me. And there is also Nakamura. I tend not to mention him much, but I should.

With the Cups in the bag, all I needed was the last leg of the Treble: the League title. But it was not to be. I had 7 matches left to make up a 5-point difference. One of those 7 matches was against the leaders, Manchester United, at their place. I needed to win that match to have a good chance of overtaking them and completing the Treble.

But I only managed to draw 2-2. They were in full-on turbo mode and took the lead twice. My frequent transfer target, Paul Scholes, is now a 98 OVR player with the raw stats to match—and he’s still only 25. The rest of his team-mates have similar staggeringly high profiles. I think I did well to squeeze out a draw in the end. This match was indeed the title decider. I think if I’d won it I would have won the title.

I did what I needed to do in the remaining matches, but Man Utd didn’t slip up. Going into the final match I could have drawn level with them on points, but would still have needed something like a 12-0 win to overtake their goal difference. I lost 1-0 to Burnley anyway, and that was that. The final table:

Overall, a really great season, one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, it was disappointing to miss out on the League and fail to complete the Treble, but there’s always next season. My PES2010 Master League odyssey—still as much of a surprise to me as anyone else—just goes on and on and on.

The Castolo Delusion

I could do this. Here in season 15, after a very bad start, I could win an unlikely Treble. Just a few sessions ago I was nowhere in the league, but a run of wins has—predictably—seen me catch up with the leaders. I’m now just 5 points off the top with 7 matches left. Everybody who’s played Master League knows that it loves to keep the human player in the hunt (or hunted) until the end. Like most of us I don’t really like this ‘feature’, but we can only play with the Master League we’re given. The current table:

I’ve brought myself back into contention by playing with a ferocious concentration for the whole of every match. I won 7 in a row, drew 2, and lost 1. I’ve snatched 1-0 wins in the 93rd minute. I’ve trounced big-name opposition 3-0, 4-0, 5-1. I will face Manchester United during the course of the last 7 matches. I have a feeling it’ll be the title decider.

Before I get to that stage, though, I will meet Man Utd in the D1 Cup Final. And then I’ll play Inter Milan in the Champions League final. Yes, after 14 seasons of wandering in the desert, winning no Cups at all, I am through to BOTH FINALS. Man Utd will be tough, as they have been for most of this career. I played Inter twice in the CL group stages and they were pretty weak, frankly—which probably means they’ll be nightmarishly tough in the final.

I played Barcelona in the Champions League semi and beat them easily in both legs. 2-0 at home, 1-3 away. I was braced for a stern test that never came.

Perhaps their odd-looking squad had something to do with it. But they were in the CL semi, so they must have been decent at some point. Wilshere has been a major figure in my ML world, winning several player of the year awards, but he’s in his late 30s now and surely about to retire.

In general news, I have suffered what some predicted: a terrible injury to Morientes. He’s out for several months, which probably means for the rest of the season. In truth, he was not so great before the injury that I’m missing him now. He will be a great striker, I’m sure, but he’s too young and green now.

In the meantime Zaki continues to impress me. Despite being 32 now and dropping a few points of OVR rating (down to 79 now), he still pops up with big goals at the right times. He’s lost a bit of his strength and power, and he never had much pace to begin with. This season I’ve found I’m using him more as a fox-in-the-box than the powerful Schwarz-like figure that he was at times for me in recent seasons. But it doesn’t seem to matter. He leads the line as a veteran striker should, a sound testament to the much-vaunted realism of PES.

I scored a super-duper-long-ranger with him at the end of the Barcelona second leg. It’s in this clip, after a diving header from Munitis (from a cross by Capuano, who’s a looping cross specialist):

Link: Munitis and Zaki

A short update on Project Castolo. I continue to give my Regen Castolo extended run-outs as a sub, and he plays from the start every once in a while too. Last season I bought two expensive skill cards for him, first touch and 1-on-1, at £1m each. I also spent £2m to retrain him to play AMF, in order to maximise his opportunities in the team. No other Regen has ever had nurturing like this from me.

The result of all this love and attention? Nothing. One goal. Nothing else. He has painfully limped up to a 65 OVR rating, and he has got some decent stats under the hood, but it’s just not happening. He’s terrible. What do PES fans the world over see in this overrated prima donna? He’s a terrible player and has been so for years now. The days of Castello—and probably the very first iteration of Castolo—are long gone. No amount of sentimental dreaming will bring them, or him, back.

Is there a greater delusion in the whole of the PESverse than the Castolo delusion? Granted, the delusion that there will, at some point, be a definitive next-gen PES (in the way that there has been a next-gen FIFA, etc.), must take the #1 spot on the delusion chart.

But The Myth of Castolo is the #2 delusion. The sooner Konami retire this stuffed shirt and keep him retired, the better. He’s got one more season to give me a reason why he should stay, to show me that the myth is actually a reality. Failing that, he’s out of here.

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