Turn the ship around

Here we see Coventry City’s Diego Forlan about to take on FC Porto and their star man, Eric Cantona, in a crunch Champions League encounter in the year 2021.

Only in Pro Evo.

It had been a bad start to my 10th season, with a frustrating session in which I felt the game was interfering with things in an artificial way. PES2012’s notorious shooting mechanic annoyed me in a major fashion for the first time since my celebrated/notorious Return to PES2012 a few weeks ago.

Next session, of course, all was well again…

And it now seems that my PES2012 experience has changed radically. It’s still too soon to call, but I think I’ve finally cracked it on Professional.

Here’s the top of the Premier League table after 15 matches—pretty good viewing, eh?

This is the first time I’ve been top of the table in Master League 2012. I have never been top even after one or two matches at the start of a season, as can sometimes happen by fluke. No, this is the very first time.

The goals scored column is just as pleasant to look at. A new attacking philosophy is bringing me goals. I now expect to score at least two goals in each match. Just last season, if I scored one goal, I was pretty much certain that was it.

Something has clicked. I sense myself responding to the game and playing with a new-found confidence.

I’ve been going for teams’ throats this season, out of the blocks. No more dicking around with fancypants defensive formations, even when playing against the big boys. In fact, it’s so important to score goals against the bigger teams that I’ve become more attacking against a Chelsea than against a Blackpool.

Why not? I’ve got the players for it. And if it works, it works.

It works! It’s the kind of turning point where I’ve had to check that I’m still playing on Professional difficulty. (I am.)

Some highlights of recent results: I beat Spurs away 0-5. Beat Liverpool at home 3-1. Beat Chelsea away 0-1. Beat Norwich at home 4-0. Beat Derby away 1-5… And so it goes on.

I now play the same sort of attacking 4-4-2 from the start against every team. One DMF. Two wide men. A central AMF pushed very far forward. Two strikers in the box.

I do switch to an alternate 4-4-2, with two DMFs, when required—which is frequently. I’m adventurous this season, but I’m not suicidal.

One of the catalysts for the transformation is my discovery that Roberto Mancini is a bit special. I hadn’t been convinced by him. He was only making odd substitute appearances here and there.

Then a spell of fatigue and suspension hit the squad. Even with my bloated roster, fixture pile-up is a problem. The players moan this year if they’re over-worked. They get stroppy if you ignore them.

I was forced to play Mancini in a few matches, and he was brilliant. He’s now become a regular at the central AMF role, and plays as SS or CF when required too.

Mancini has been nothing short of sensational over the last 10 matches or so.

He can play as AMF or anywhere up front. He’s got a great shot—a comparatively rare and very precious commodity in PES2012. His long ranger skill card means he’s a threat from distance and close up.

I was exulting over Forlan a few posts ago. Mancini has overtaken him right now. [Late Edit: And Saviola has suddenly come out of his shell. Two hat-tricks in two games. It’s as if my players have all woken up…]

The one downside to Mancini is his age. As with most of the Classic players, Mancini appeared in the game world as an already matured player. He’ll be 30 this season.

Experience with Hagi, Stoichkov, and Rivaldo suggests that Mancini will start to decline pretty soon.

But hopefully not for another season or two. I’ve got a dynasty to build and a Treble to win.

This season, I’ve still got the League and the Champions League to go for. Either one of those would delight me beyond all reason. Anything I win in PES2012 would definitely count as my greatest achievement in PES, period.

The Champions League campaign started badly and got worse, with two straight defeats—away to Porto and then at home to Galatasaray—followed by a worthy draw at Inter Milan.

I’m in the Group of Death. I was not happy to be bottom of that group at the halfway point.

Realistically, I had to win all 3 of the remaining ties to qualify. If I did that, with 10 points I’d be very unlucky not to get through.

So I started with the return tie against Porto. I took to the field with my new gung-ho attitude, and stormed into a 2-0 lead inside half an hour.

Ribeiro, my mercenary prodigal son, got the opening goal. I yelled out loud when it  went in—it’s the first goal in today’s mini-compilation below.

There are four goals in total, from various matches.

First up is that opening goal from Ribeiro against Porto. If you think his chance is unmissable, you’ve never played PES2012.

Then two from Magnificent Mancini, one a thunderous long-ranger in off the bar.

Finally a ‘turn and shoot’, in-off-the-post beauty from Rivaldo.

I beat Porto 4-1. Mancini got a hat trick in that game. It was my best result of the season—better than any of my multi-goal sprees in the domestic League.

It would’ve been worth nothing if I hadn’t also beaten Galatasaray in my next match, away this time. I did beat them, 4-2. Forlan got a hat trick in this one. I said I was scoring more goals this season, and I certainly am.

It lifted me to 2nd in the group table, behind Inter Milan. My destiny is in my own hands.

My last group match is coming up, against Inter, at home. At my new home, the Ricoh Arena, as kindly provided by a regular commenter, Paul. The stands and ad-boards and everything all look a hundred times better than the rush-job I put together back in October.

I’ll reveal how my final Champions League group match went on Friday.

These are exciting times for me in Master League. I was half-certain that this time would never come. I’m playing to an accomplished level with the talented players I’ve got. There’s no better period in a Master League career than when I feel things are turning my way at last.

Took me bloody long enough.

51 Comments

  1. John—PES2012 is one of the most attacking-centric PES games ever released. Just going all-out for goals yourself tends to make the CPU teams seem to wilt and lose morale (Seabass’ infamous ‘momentum’).

    Formation is critical, I think. I’ve just finished off today’s post which contains my formation diagram, but here’s a sneak preview of it.

    As you can see, it’s the kind of formation that shouldn’t work in PES2012, but it does. You’ll see my goals-scored column in the league table and see that I’m just about on parity with the CPU teams. As you’ve discovered yourself, it is possible to stay with ’em on the goal-scoring front.

    You definitely would find takers on the forums for a ‘secret patch’ theory. The recent boots and balls update has probably already got Believers.

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