The Abyss Looks Back

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.


  1. John—you’ve done quite well there. What was the number of shots against like? I started well on Top Player, considering.

  2. Made one signing – Soddimo a 71OVR attacker. Bids have been flying in for all my top players (Mills, Perzedela, Nugent, Scannell, Hassli, Coy boy, Mano, Nouhei.) Mills really wants to go to Milan and Nugent has bids from (Spits) my bitter rivals Villa and Parma. Soddimo looks a good prospect. And he got me some green boots 🙂

  3. Lloyd—it’s a great team all right, don’t be in any hurry to leave them behind. But if/when you do get the Quadruple, will the impetus to play on just melt away?

    The question of what people call PES is very interesting to me. I’m 40, out loud I say ‘Pro Evo’ or even the full-fat ‘Pro Evolution Soccer’. I never say ‘PES’ in any form, i.e. ‘pezz’ or ‘pee ee ess’. In written-down form it’s always ‘PES5’ or ‘PES2013’ etc., i.e. no space between the PES part and the number/year part. I see a lot of ‘PES 5’ and ‘PES 2013’ in the wild, and wonder what the world is coming to.

  4. Adam—ahhh more boots. I’m starting to think my ML world’s boots are somehow glitched. No boots at all since one pair after a pre-season Training Match (that I lost). Nothing since.

  5. Filbert- Knockaert is a real footballer right? Seeing his name in your post I thought it was a Konami special a la Childfingen. If he was in my team I’d think of him as Knockitout especially if he had a crap first touch or shot accuracy. Perhaps the names are a Konami in-joke and they scour the national telephone directories looking for the most obscure names and the winner gets to decide which ML feature gets taken out in the next edition?

  6. Adam – I like a ficitious team in me Pro Evo..thats what I call it..i’m 35 so PEZZZ sounds like that minging tablet sweet.
    I think i’ve hit the sweet spot with this years..
    Bayern vs as Koln.
    1-1 2 mins to go I concede a penalty(hacked instead of cleared)..huntelaar steps up..keeper dives right way save it..drops to Draxler slots it to keeper decides to take up rugby and knocks huntelaar flying… salvation this time..2-1 to Munich..I lost but it was mint.

  7. Anyone watch Tottenham vs Maribo Last night?
    I had to pause the sky box at one point because it looked like PES at its worst, Maribo had a sea of 9 players lined up in 2 banks along the edge of their own box with spurs trying to pass it around and kept getting shut out, was eerily similar.

    Didnt get any PES13 (Not PES 13, or PEZZZZ, or Pro Evo) in last night, and wont manage any til Sunday now, am yearning to start clawing back the 8pt deficit between me and the top 3 Promotion teams.

  8. Paul – I’m going into my second season in the Prem! Looking over at neoseeker forums (I’m on there) some players have a full winning team in 5 seasons. Absoloutely amazing.

  9. GD—Knockaert is very real, just watched some of him in action. I really hope he makes it big in football for the sake of the fun that can be had with his name. The punning headline writers will have a field day.

  10. werd llitrah—you’re 35 and saying ‘minging’, ‘sweet’, and ‘mint’… I heard myself saying ‘wounded’ and ‘safe’ at work the other day to the twentysomethings, who just laughed (at, not with, me).

  11. Paul—didn’t see the Spurs match, was at work, but I saw the Man Utd-Braga match Tuesday and noticed the two ranks of 4 on the edge of the box. It’s an unfortunate staple of modern football. Teams do it because it works. I bet the top coaches worry more about the Norwiches and QPRs coming to play at their ground than they do the Arsenals and Man Utds.

    It’ll be a mostly PESless weekend here too. Might get a few matches if I’m lucky.

  12. Adam—PES has always had the types of players who love to pop up a week after release to announce with a casual sniff that they’ve already won everything on the hardest level with one hand tied behind their backs, and they’re amazed that everybody else is still playing. I bet some of them are actually telling the truth as well.

  13. Not Greg – Apologies its growin up in Sunderland 🙁
    I used to speak proper until I mixed with Chavas…Soz..err sorry
    Quick Question..what camera do peeps use and which Pro Ev wouldnt let you change the angle..racking me brains

  14. werd llitrah—I use Wide cam.

    Re. changing the angle, I’m a bit confused what you mean. We haven’t been able to change the angle on PES since the PS2 days. Every next-gen PES has lacked the ‘camera angle 1-9’ thing. I still miss it.

  15. Ng, its “Pro Evo” for me. Just as a can of relentless at home is “Pro Evo juice” Hands up my everyday vocabulary at work is filled with “safe” “sick” “dope” and “for real” The influence of a guy I used to work with still weighs heavy.

  16. NG- The loss to River Plate in the World Club Championship is still playing on my mind, they played a very South American style, all tricks and flicks. If I do the Quadruple I will still be thinking what if…….

    Maybe one more season 🙂 🙂 🙂

  17. Well, I’ve got one whole point from my first five games in the Prem on Top Player. My nightmare trio of fixtures (Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool) left me rock bottom with three defeats and no goals. I then stupidly threw away a 2-0 lead vs Everton to lose 3-2 but then had an epic battle at Stoke in which Coyborough got a straight red after 5 mins. Saved a penalty and battled to the most satisfying 0-0 I have ever had on a footy game. I WILL stay up this season.

  18. mike—thinking back to the ISS days, it was always ‘eye ess ess’, not ‘iss‘ (rhymes with piss). It’s strange how naming conventions come about. I don’t actually know many people who verbally talk about PES at all. The lads at my work who play football games all play FIFA, and PES is just a memory that I bring up every now and then.

  19. Lloyd—a scrappy Double was the best I ever did in PES2012, so you’re doing well. Just one question: I know you’re on Superstar, but what passing assistance? Not seeking to diminish your achievement—God knows these games are hard enough with any level of assistance—just curious to compare.

  20. John—you scored a couple of goals at least. That’s good going. I found the supposedly lesser teams just as tough on Top Player as the big boys. After 2/3rds of the season I’ve had to make some tough choices about what I want right now from this game, and the way forward (post up at 12).

  21. N-G – I really love the challenge on top player. You have to be 100 per cent committed to every minute of every game but for that reason – and suspecting a shift in your settings – it all makes for a long slog of a season unless you tip the balance in your favour a little.

  22. NG- been on zero bar since season 4, took about 20-25 games before it came together, but the freedom in passing was worth the pain.

    I’m waiting for my daughter to have a nap, then the Xbox is gonna get energised.

  23. I think I’m on 3 or 2 bar pass now and passes still go astray. It does bring the anchievement of promotion down. (Mixed with regular difficulty). I use words such as ‘nice’ and ‘awesome’ due to the place where I grew up.
    Just out of interest, what style does everyone use in their master leagues as I use a direct, attacking quick counter style.

  24. Adam – I do my best to stick to the real Brighton’s passing game but this PES, especially on higher difficulties, does suck you into just trying to hit teams on the break which isn’t the best idea.

    I try to remind myself of the “if you have the ball, they can’t score” Gus Poyet mantra and it does work to some degree. Of course, as my beloved Albion are finding out, scoring while keeping the ball against aggressive opposition is hard.

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