My last few posts contained the seeds of insurrection. I’ve been having doubts, dark doubts, about the nature of Master League in PES2011.
I considered Master League in PES2010 to be the best-ever Master League. Konami’s tweaks to the format for this year did not sit well with me. Just two examples: the deflated transfer fees, and the twin Voids of Nothing in mid-season and post-season.
But it’s with relief that I can say I’ve finally settled into the new Master League. It turns out (for now at least) that it’s all in my mind. My successes and failures out on the pitch are determined by attitude. I’ve been experiencing what Paul Merson once referred to as unbelievable belief.
It grabbed me over the weekend. My first season had been pretty disastrous, really, with poor performances and a resoundingly last-place finish in my custom Division 2 league table.
I started the second season with a new set of kits. The home kit is above, as modelled rather camply by Schwarz.
And the season started much as I expected: badly. I lost my opener, 0-1 against Dynamo Kiev, then drew the next few matches, and then lost another one. I was a few places off the bottom of the league. It was looking like another season of treading water until I could get a few more players to help turn the tide at some unspecified and distant point in the future.
Then I met one of the relegated teams, Wolverhampton Wanderers. They came down along with Wigan and Blackpool. Wolves had started the season in good form. They were top of the table and undefeated.
The match kicked off and my patchwork team seemed to be responding really well for once. Many have noted PES2011’s layer of sluggishness underneath the surface gloss of FIFA-style ‘freedom’. This is most pronounced, of course, when using lesser-skilled players—and when being a lesser-skilled player oneself, as I am.
I always start Master League with the Defaults, and lately I always fight my way up from a toughened Division 2, but I don’t necessarily enjoy the process.
But why should that be the case? Other PES players report success with early Default squads, and achieve promotions in their first few seasons. Why shouldn’t I?
There’s quite a lot else I’d like to try in Master League this year. Playing with other teams, for one thing. Why be stuck fast to tradition? Why go on doing something simply because I’ve always done it? Why go on being a slowcoach in PES?
This attitude has been crystallising over the last few weeks. It swam into clear focus during this match against Wolves. I went into an early 2-0 lead—over the league leaders, remember. It was the first time I’d had such a lead over anyone in my ML career so far.
Among the goals was this one—it’s rare for me to laud a ‘team goal’, but this one is interesting for a few reasons. Note the first-time pass at 4 seconds and then the first-time shot at 10 seconds. First-time passes and shots are problematic in PES2011, but they are possible:
Wolves scored a late goal, a penalty that I was foolish to concede, but I held on for the win.
I was elated. I wasn’t just ‘quite pleased’. It didn’t just make me nod in sastisfaction before continuing on to the next match. I was sitting up, leaning towards the screen, living every moment, intensely absorbed in the action in a way I haven’t been for a long time. I was elated.
In my next game, against Club Brugge, I came from behind to win 2-1. The mood, the magic spell, had not broken.
In my next two games I won hard-fought draws in the face of incredible AI pressure.
And there, sadly, my golden session had to end. Its magic had boosted me up to ninth place in the table.
I now believe. Why should I have to put up with seasons of mediocrity? Why shouldn’t I battle for this league right now? I needed to shake myself out of a sense of routine, and I believe that I have.
These could be exciting times for me in PES2011.