Month: November 2010

It’s been promotional

It’s done. After 4 seasons in Division 2, I’ve won promotion to the Premier League. It’s a huge relief. I always get a buzz from promotion in Master League—a feeling that the game has now really started.

Last year in PES2010, promotion took me 7 seasons. But the first few seasons in that game were spent getting to grips with an all-new Master League. It took me ages to suss out the new transfer system and the finances. I don’t think PES2011 is necessarily easier than PES2010. It’s more that I didn’t really need any time to adapt this year.

Needless to say, I’m pleased to be out of Division 2 and finally up there with the big boys in the Premier League. It’s only been just over a month since PES2011 came out, but it feels like a lot longer. I feel as if I’ve been toiling in Division 2 for many weeks.

Here’s the final Division 2 table—I really did only just make it:

Thos four teams below me really frightened me at the death, as I will relate. Stoke City were the very definition of runaway leaders. I started the season like a freight train myself, but hit a few speed bumps in mid-season, and I stumbled over the finishing line in the end.

It seemed that the game pretty much shut me down for the last 10 matches of the season. That’s what it felt like. I’d been coasting: scoring freely, and winning matches without having to try very hard at all. Then suddenly I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t get any kind of result, without monumental effort, stubbornness, and sheer luck.

I think I took about 8 points from my last 20 points. I scored only a few—Schwarz finished as top scorer again, and made the Best Eleven again, but he did little or nothing in that tough final quarter of the season.

I also had Animan in the Best Eleven, a justified inclusion after an impressive debut season from the Youth team. I’ve found him better than Palmieri was.

Going into the final match I was in 3rd place on 56 points. I needed to win to ensure promotion. The two teams below me were on 53 points and had better goal difference. I felt that if I lost, one of them would certainly win, and that’d be it. I would miss out on promotion in humiliating fashion, after all but declaring myself home and hosed earlier this week…

And I lost my match, against AEK Athens, 0-1. It was away from home, and it was tough, but I more than held my own for most of it. Their goal was an absolute joke.

But then at the final whistle, my players celebrated and I knew that neither of the other teams in contention had won, and that I was promoted. I was relieved. Today’s post would have been a very tough one to write if things had gone the other way.

Isn’t it amazing how often Master League contrives to put the human player in that kind of position? The game wants an exciting last match of the season, and what the game wants, it gets. But this isn’t the right kind of post for me to be churlish about things.

The promotion hasn’t done me a great deal of good, team rating-wise, but I’m moving in the right direction:

The game still sees me as D2 fodder. Maybe I’ll go up a few ratings when the imminent transfer Void flips over into next season, and the game re-evaluates me as a Premier League team.

I’m in the Premier League! It’ll be my first experience of playing in an Option File-created top flight of English football. Even though the likes of Bayern Munich and other interlopers will be coming and going as the seasons pass, it’s still going to be special.

I’m looking forward to it all, needless to say. The eternal quest for the Treble starts now.

——

On Monday there’ll be a slight interlude, with a special one-off kind of post. I need this interlude in order to do some ‘schoolwork’. I’m doing an Open University degree and I have an important assignment to complete. Well, I’ll have to actually start it before I can complete it…

So, in order to get this thing done, I’m sacrificing my morning PES sessions for the next four days. This is an extraordinary measure for me to take, but a necessary one. I’ve procrastinated on this assignment almost to the brink. It’s due on Tuesday.

Monday’s post will be a Season 4 goals compilation video. All this season I’ve recorded every single goal I’ve scored in every match. That’s a total of 48 goals now, and I’ve put them all together into an 8-minute video. It makes for interesting viewing, in a number of ways.

And then, on Wednesday, season 5 will begin.

The switching hour

I’ve gone through and way past the mid-season mark in season 4 of my PES2011 Master League career. I forgot to take a picture of my squad after the transfer window. But I can sum up my activity very quickly. I sold DAVID N’GOG. I signed SINAMA PONGOLLE on a free. That was it.

The reasons for the sale of N’Gog were purely financial. I need to position myself for a Premier League campaign next season. To that end, I want a sizeable warchest for more players. Also, hopefully, a staff upgrade or two.

N’Gog started out great for me, but he became just another striker. It wasn’t much of a wrench to part with him. I came away with £500k for him. I’ve made a saving on the wages bill. All in all, a good bit of business.

Things are heating up. After my great start to the season, I did kind of think that I would run away with the Division 2 title. Or that finishing in a promotion place would be straightforward.

It’s not working out like that on either front. After 24 matches, I have been put firmly in my place regarding the title. Stoke are going to win it at a canter. I remain comfortably in the top 3, but the chasing pack are closer than I would like.

The goals are still flying in—which is good news for my planned bumper video of every goal that I score this season. But I’m shipping a lot more goals too.

I have started to lose and draw more matches than is really healthy. Lots of the bad results are ‘honest’ bad results, I have to say. Bad defending, lack of concentration, sloppy finishing. But a large number of them are not honest and not fair.

PES2011’s now-notorious player switching issues cost me two precious victories in a row. And player switching also got Schwarz sent off. As I was about to execute a sliding tackle with another player entirely, the cursor auto-switched to Schwarz—miles from the ball. My button-press registered as an action for him. He slid in on an innocent bystander. An automatic red card duly followed. What hurt the most was a three-match ban. I didn’t win any of those three matches.

On Schwarz’s return, he was kind enough to score my first and so far only free kick goal of PES2011:

Link: PES2011 free kick goal

As ever, I have to look for the cloud with the silver lining. It was a bit dispiriting to see on the close replay that the ball only went over the wall thanks to a non-jumping CPU player.

But it’s a game. A video game. I do need to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Video games have conventions. One of PES2011’s conventions is that a random player in a CPU wall tends to stay rooted to the ground. So if you happen to flight the ball over that player’s head, all well and good. Who am I to complain?

The good cheer mirror

This is Season 4 of my Master League career as Coventry City in PES2011. It’s been a pretty tough career so far. In my first three seasons I never finished higher than 14th in Division 2.

But now I’m top of the league after 13 matches, and looking a good bet for promotion:

I’ve scored more goals than any other team. I have conceded more than I should, but still few enough to get the results.

After you’ve scored a goal in Master League, the CPU often storms up to your end at once, and grabs a goal while you’re still mentally celebrating. I don’t care how often it happens in real life, it happens far too often in PES. But it is defensible, and I am defending it—and other typical situations—a lot better than I was.

Some matches are more rewarding than others, of course. In amongst the tough 1-0 and 2-1 wins, I’ve handed out the odd thrashing. Foremost among the thrashings was a 5-0 demolition job on Rosenborg. They have been a bit of a bogey team for me so far, so it was particularly satisfying:

I’m not showing off any of the goals from that match today. This is because I’m recording every goal I score this season for a special bumper video of goals. They’ll all be in that. I think there’s going to be a lot of goals to show. I’ll only show a few goals between now and that video.

PES2011: has it suddenly become too easy for me? This is the burning issue. It’s also a bit of a false issue at the moment, as I remain on Professional difficulty. Whatever happens in the remainder of this season, whether I get promoted or not, I’ll be going up to Top Player difficulty for season 5.

The goals feel as if they’re flying in. Already I can see that a certain kind of goal is worryingly common: a one-two followed by a through-ball for a striker to pass the ball into the net, Jimmy Greaves-style.

I rarely score any from outside the box now, a bit of an inversion from last year. I’ll return to talk about this once I finish the season and video, and get to see all the goals in chronological order.

I’m not really complaining (for now). My star player, Schwarz, finished last season as top scorer. He’s looking likely to do the same this season:

11 goals in 13 matches is a decent strike rate. I’m still not in the Cup (and haven’t been since season 1), so all my action is league action.

The current assists table makes for pleasant viewing too:

Unless something drastic happens to my form, this is going to be my promotion season. I make a lot of noise about my averageness at PES, but if I don’t get promoted from this position then I might as well turn in my joypad.

As mid-season approaches, I’ve got a few transfers lined up. I’ll cover them next time.

Today I’ve got one goal to show in advance of the end-of-season extravaganza—a curious kind of lobbed half-volley from my very useful reserve striker, Ciurmira (cheer mirror, Jon Champion calls him):

Link: PES2011 - semi-automatic lob

I enjoyed scoring that one. Lobs and chips of any kind are always apt to put a smile on my face. But I had, and still have, reservations about the goal. Because I didn’t actually do anything to bring about that result. I just pressed a button and watched the outcome. I was expecting a standard kind of volley, really.

I think that such misgivings are probably best discarded, to be frank. Abstracted control schemes are necessary for games to exist at all. How else are we to play any games, particularly sports games? It’s all a magic shadow-show, in the final analysis. I wouldn’t sit at a play and seethe about everybody on stage all being actors.

I think that a certain rushed-to-market, hideously disfigured, un-PESlike next-gen game that came out a few years ago is haunting my PES gaming like Banquo’s ghost.

It’s all PES2008’s fault, is what I’m trying to say. I’m more than happy with PES2011 and with the overall feel of my Master League right now. But the spectre of PES2008 simply won’t leave me alone.

Whenever I see anything in PES2011 I dislike, I sense PES2008’s clammy hand at my throat, and I hear its mocking laughter. Nothing has been the same since that fateful year of 2007.

Maybe I’ll get over it.

‘Tis the season?

I’ve just started season 4 of my Master League career in PES2011. I’ll be recording every goal I score this season for a special bumper video of goals that I’ll post at the end. I did the same thing in PES2010 for my 10th season (video at the bottom of this post).

It should make for an interesting video. PES2011’s light shooting has changed the nature of my approach play. Also, this could and should be a promotion season.

Despite messing up my finances again, I think I’ve got a great chance of finishing in the top 3. I hope so. In PES2010, it took me 7 seasons to get promoted. It was January the 8th before I finally did it! I really don’t want that to happen this year, for a variety of reasons.

But my pre-season transfer activity has got me into a right mess. Expected Earnings is very unreliable. Its core calculation treats all outstanding transfer offers as completed, leading to a very distorted picture most of the time. I should frown at it and work out the real state of affairs, but I tend to ‘wing it’ and hope for the best…

The net result is that I will have to play the first part of the season with a squad of 18. And I thought I was running light on 19 players last season…

I sold Schmidt and Fatecha and brought in a few players whose combined fees and salaries put me right back into trouble. I was forced to sell Soliano and Giersen and, finally, Gutierrez.

I hope the new players for whose sake I’ve gone down to 18 players will be worth it. ANIMAN is an 80 OVR-rated CB from the Youth team. His salary is £500,000. LICHAJ is another Youth defender, less skilled, brought in for cover. MANDZUKIC is ‘only’ a 52 OVR but with good stats anyway. I recruited JACOBS to provide goalkeeping cover. MALONGA, my new left-midfielder, cost me £200k on the transfer market.

The first few matches came and went and… I did great. I found myself playign really well, scoring goals, and defending properly. Perhaps only having a few players to choose from really focuses the mind.

My man of the moment, Schwarz, has scored 3 of my 4 goals so far. My team is third in the table. It’s hard not to get overexcited, but it’s only 3 matches. There’s a very long season to go.

I’ve also found suddenly found the game a bit… easy. Certainly eaiser than I found it last season.

I think I’ve finally acclimatised to PES2011’s little ways. That’s how it goes with any PES. You end up living with its difficult kinks and working around them, while fully exploiting its other, exploitable kinks.

I’m playing differently too. My long-range shooting efforts are way, way down. I’m working the ball more, and creating more chances. And more chances lead to more goals. Hmmm. Where is this all taking me? And will I like it when I get there?

I’d hate it if PES2011 went the way of PES2008, needless to say. But that’s probably not going to happen. I still have to graduate up to Top Player difficulty, so it’s not time to break out the pitchforks and head for Konami Towers just yet.

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