Going into the last stages of season 8 in Master League 2012, the situation was simple. With 6 matches left, such was the position:
I had set myself the goal of finishing in the Champions League places.
If I accomplished that, I would happily play on into season 9—and possibly beyond.
If I didn’t, I would set PES2012 aside for now, and turn to FIFA12.
This is just how it was. I won’t bother rehashing the various fine-grained arguments for and against. It’s all laid out in my posts on the blog for the past month or two.
These were my last 6 fixtures:
MAN CITY (H)
MAN UTD (H)
Ouch. That middle clump featuring Man City, Chelsea, and Man Utd on the bounce made me nervous. But what do we play football games for? Surely it’s to have a sense of occasion, of playing for big stakes. It’s what makes football games great. Big matches that mean a lot are what Master League, in particular, has always been about.
So I was excited about the challenging nature of it all. And determined to stick to my pledge. No Champions League, no more PES2012 for a while.
COVENTRY 0-0 NORWICH
A terrible, tight, cramped performance. I had 65% possession, made a dozen chances, half of them clear-cut chances. No goals. Two were gilt-edged, clear-cut chances that there was no earthly reason for not scoring. I aimed ridiculously wide, almost to the corner flags. The ball went straight at the keeper.
WOLVES 1-3 COVENTRY
The opposite of the previous match in many ways. I was 1-0 down at half-time, but staged a Barnes-storming comeback in the second. That’s a pun on the name of my key LMF, John Barnes. I said Barnes-storming instead of barnstorming
John Barnes inspired the fightback, laying on two goals and scoring one himself. This match saw the best of PES2012. And its worst, again: I could and should have had 5 goals, but no, it wasn’t allowed.
COVENTRY 0-1 MAN CITY
A total calamity against my nearest rivals for a top 4 finish. The game was heading for a 0-0 and I was grudgingly accepting it, knowing that a point would still gave me the edge. Then, late on, a routine pass out of defence saw my veteran CB, Ruggeri, take a monstrously heavy first touch on the ball for no reason whatsoever. Tevez—playing again for this Man City, at least—nicked the ball and scored. After this match the table looked like this:
3 matches to play. My goal difference now was as good as being a point behind. Not good at all.
COVENTRY 0-3 CHELSEA
A thumping defeat. I played badly for this one, no complaints. Everything that you shouldn’t do in this iteration of PES against this AI, I did.
I over-committed players in attack. I was impatient and impetuous in defence. Chelsea could have had 6.
After the match I checked the results. Man City had only drawn their game. They were now 1 point ahead of me. Not ideal, but as often strangely happens in Master League, I was still in the hunt. The quest was still on.
MAN UTD 3-0 COVENTRY
Another heavy defeat by the same scoreline, and this time I could legitimately grumble about a couple of things.
Early on I had two one-on-ones where the shot went straight at the keeper. Then Man Utd scored a good goal to take the lead.
At 1-0 down I still played superbly, if I may say so myself. In the second half I dominated play. I was holding off the Man Utd attack with relative ease. It seemed an equaliser was inevitable. It was going to happen. I had Merson-style unbelievable belief…
Then this happened:
Between the moment when my keeper patted the first shot away, to the moment the ball crossed the line, I had no control over any player.
My defender’s bumbling touches were automatic.
My keeper’s atrocious touch that carried the ball over the line was automatic.
I think his belated clearance was my work (I was twatting the circle button at the time), but can’t be sure.
At 2-0 down my belief departed, but I kept going. You never know. I had a few half-chances, then conceded the third goal in the 92nd minute.
Afterwards, I looked at the table.
Man City had won their match and were now firmly ensconced in 4th place—4 points clear of me, with one match remaining.
It was now impossble for me to finish in the Champions League places, and that was the end of PES2012.
COVENTRY 3-1 MIDDLESBROUGH
The last match of the season. A hat-trick from van Basten. An enjoyable match. Too late.
Here is the final table for season 8:
And with that, PES2012 goes on the back-burner. It doesn’t have to, of course. I’m a big lad now. I can stay up late if I want. I don’t have to eat my vegetables if I don’t want. I can go on playing PES2012 if I want.
But as these 6 games showed me in various ways, it’s probably best that I depart the scene while I still have more than a modicum of respect for the game.
I do not rule out a return later in the year. Heck, I don’t rule out a return next week. There are no guarantees that I’ll take to playing FIFA12 full-time. FIFA09 was the last time I found a next-gen FIFA to be playable for very long.
After my PES2012 session was over, I backed up my Master League savegame to USB for safekeeping, and uploaded it to Dropbox for extra-safe safekeeping. I removed the DVD from the PS3 and put it back in its case for the first time since October.
Then I booted up FIFA12 for the first time in a week. All being well, this should be my football game for the near future.
How will I take to it after all the PES2012 hours? Will the new-look Career Mode grip me as it has gripped others?
I played one match in my existing Career Mode save, as Coventry City. (I will not be playing on with this save. I’ll be starting over, from scratch.)
The match in question was a pre-season friendly against Catania. And whom should I see on the pitch but a dear old friend from PES2010.
A good omen, I hope.