I’m almost halfway through season 3 of my Master League career in PES2013. This is my first season in the Premier League.
The latter half of season 2 felt rather easy a lot of the time. I stepped up a difficulty level from Professional to Top Player at the start of this season.
It was going pretty well. My Won-Drawn-Lost record at the start of the season was 2:2:2. Not great, but not so bad either.
And now, after playing almost to mid-season…
I’m in a relegation battle:
My record since that encouraging start? 1:1:7. Won 1. Drawn 1. Lost 9 (NINE).
I’ve scored 16 goals all season. This is quite good—you have to go up to 8th place to see better.
But I’ve conceded 32 goals—the worst in the league by a long way.
How could I ever have worried about PES2013 going soft on the difficulty front?
It’s not gone soft. If anything, it’s gone harder.
Some of the middling teams—the Fulhams and so on—beat me up a little bit. Then I met Manchester United, Manchester City, Newcastle, and Liverpool back-to-back.
Annoyingly, I’d had my highest-ratest player, Niellendner, straight-red-carded in the prior game. He got a 3-match ban.
Manchester United destroyed me 5-0. They were 3-0 up after 30 minutes. I did well to limit the damage after that as much as I did.
My defending was… interesting. I knew what to do, but my players wouldn’t do it. They were slow and tentative, where Man Yoo were quick and decisive. Wonder-dribbling is back in a big way on Top Player.
Coynborough handled like somebody who’d just wandered onto the pitch by accident. Castolis had meaningful possession maybe once. They just ran him outta town. I can’t remember having any shots myself. Maybe there were a laughable few.
Next were Machester City—with one C. Ronaldo playing up front with Balotelli and Tevez. My Jacomorac & co. took one look at that lot, and lay down.
They thumped me 7-0. Look at the stats—they scored with all 7 of their 7 shots on target:
Lacking even a shot on target myself, I looked for a positive. Uh… my 83% pass completion?
Passing the ball nicely was literally all I got to do in the match. I did have one promising patch for about 5 minutes early in the second half. Wroughllen thwacked a 30-yard piledriver against the upright. He’s got some left foot, that boy. I’m starting to suspect that he really is the new Schwarz.
I went into the matches against Newcastle and Liverpool with grim determination. By this stage I had admitted to myself that, yes, I am in a relegation battle.
Season 3 is going to be a struggle for survival. And how I love the prospect.
Because let me be clear: in this struggle, I have found exactly what I was looking for. I wanted that PES2012 feeling again.
And here it is, in spades, in PES2013.
Next match of the sequence saw a minor upturn of fortunes: I beat Newcastle 1-0.
I adopted my own advice: keep it tight, play for the 0-0, but take any scraps that come my way.
That’s exactly how it all worked out. Somehow I kept Newcastle at bay (my goal leading a charmed life), and snatched a scrambled winner up the other end early in the second half. Wroughllen again.
I went into the Liverpool game just hoping for a draw. They’ve still got Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam in my ML world. I really don’t care about any of that squad update stuff. I started playing before it came out.
Liverpool absolutely tore into me from the start. I don’t remember seeing anything like this in PES2012. Even the most ferocious AI performance back then was a spring breeze compared to this hurricane.
I rocked and creaked but just about held firm at the back. Two deep DMFs, and 1-bar defending. Coynborough had been playing terribly until this match. Suddenly, he was alive and strong again.
A miracle happened. I scored to take the lead, late in the first half. Wroughllen again. That boy is going to be an ML legend.
Some of the most surging, sweaty, epic football gaming I have ever known followed. Last-ditch sliding tackles. Heroic clearances. Goalmouth scrambles. You name it.
I was begging for the half-time whistle. It came, and I prepared for the second half by putting down the controller and fetching a glass of water from the bathroom, breathing steadily.
This is intense stuff. The focus and concentration I was needing to resist this PES AI felt like nothing I remember from last year.
The second half began. Liverpool’s kick-off… aaand guess what happened.
Straight. From. Kick-off.
I could have wept. All that hard work, and it just felt as if the game had decided to award itself a goal. The straight from kick-off thing in PES has been steadily growing in prominence and annoyance over the past few years.
Okay. 1-1. I would have taken this before the match. I decided to hang on for it… until I changed my mind after about 70 minutes and decided I wanted the win. I was the home team. I felt entitled.
I’ll just leave this here:
Two late goals from Liverpool—both typical powerful strikes from Carroll (with his feet)–put me to the sword. A gutting 1-3 defeat.
Look at the disparity in the two teams’ shots. Now imagine how Liverpool’s 22 shots, 14 of them on target, manifested themselves in a 10-minute match. It was a tricky one all right.
Some might ask: Why not go down to Professional if you’re having a bad time?
To which I would respond: Exactly where do I say I’m having a bad time…?
This is what I wanted and hoped to find when I upped the difficulty to Top Player.
Looks like I’m in a football game here.