Pillar to Post

The season is over, and with it my brief time in the Premier League. Season 3 of Master League 2013 will stick in my memory as possibly the most calamitous of my long football gaming life. It fell apart spectacularly in match after match.

Here is the final table (glued together from two separate photos, hence the very obvious join near the bottom):

When I return, I will do so in triumph. Every one of those 69 goals against will be paid back in full. However long it takes…

It’s interesting to look at the CPU teams’ goal-scoring performances. It’s one of the issues hanging over this edition of Master League. They simply don’t score enough goals among themselves.

I had thought CPU goal-scoring was much improved following the 1.01 patch. Perhaps it has improved a little. The top teams look reasonably healthy. But just look at midtable. Stoke scored only 19 goals all season. Swansea scored 20.

And I am relegated, about as resoundingly as possible.

Just one week ago I was crowing about the feelgood factor of my start. Having braced myself for Top Player to hit me like a freight train, I was delighted at winning 2 and drawing 2 matches from my first 6.

The freight train hit me soon after. I only won another 3 matches in the remaining 32 matches of the whole season…

Anyway, here’s the thumbnail sketch of my last few matches. With several matches remaining, I still had a mathematical chance of staying up.

I won the next match, 1-0 against Spurs— a tough, sweaty, straining effort that was always on a knife-edge.

I felt some of the old fire returning. This was it! All I needed to do, I felt, was focus really hard, and snatch the odd goal in each match. I could live to fight another season in the Premier League.

I drew the next against Liverpool, at Liverpool. This gave me much encouragement. I still wasn’t off the bottom of the table, but safety wasn’t out of reach.

I promptly took a 4-0 thumping from Southampton(!), and was relegated.

I’ve been relegated before in Master League—back on PES2011, the version where I abandoned ML and left it ‘unfinished’ for the first and so far only time.

This event doesn’t spoil my judgement of PES2013 as Da Best Ever—but certain things  are tempering that feeling a touch. Just a touch.

I keep hitting the post. Sometimes three or four times in the same match. I don’t think it’s a statistical cluster. I think it’s the game’s way of keeping scorelines down while making things seem ‘exciting’.

But it’s too early to snap-judge PES2013 as ‘the PES where you keep hitting the fucking post’, so I won’t.

Another slight grumble is that the pace feels faster now, so much so that I’m thinking of dropping down to -2 speed. I think this is an effect of the jump up to the Premier, and the way you have to move the ball on quickly to keep possession, and the way it is very easy to misplace a pass on zero-bar passing (which I adore and have stuck with). These factors all contribute to a certain rushed feeling.

Overall, I have a sneaking happiness about this relegation. I’d still much rather it not have happened—I’m not looking forward to meeting Godzilla FC and the like again—but at least this way I get to write an even more glorious chapter in ML history.



  1. I picked up PES 2008 today on for 48p! Most people’s “donkey” of the series, but for me it holds a lot of fond ML memories. I may start a little campaign at some point in the future…

  2. Superstar has definitely stoked the fire for me a little. Much more competitive – possession about even, chances fewer and need a bit more thought but not seeing anything to worry me even on zero passing. Suspect it would be a different story with a season 1/2 team but by season 5 I have enough speed/power/accuracy within the team to cope.

  3. John—PES2012 was kind to the 30-plus players? I thought the total opposite—that as soon as players hit 30 they were in decline. Very few of them lasted until their mid-30s.

  4. Mike—I still play the PS2-era versions of PES pretty regularly—every August I bust out the PC version of PES5, and I’m always having the odd game on the PSP (and latterly the Vita). There’s nothing wrong with the old games at all, it’s just that with each passing year they do seem more and more old-fashioned.

  5. tommyk1985—do you really like being able to run your players in circles and figure-eights and scoring wonder goals on every attack, on Top Player? I can be very charitable to football games, but PES2008(PS3/360) gets no quarter from me. An utterly atrocious, despicable edition of the game that should never have been released. It poisoned the well and left a lasting sense of dismay that is still being worked off now. Every ounce of bad feeling that game generated was totally justified.

  6. uncle turf—I’ve had a little taster of Superstar, but I’m really saving it for a more mature team, as you have done.

    One question: when you say you’ve seen nothing to worry you, do you mean the AI is unthreatening and weak, or that it is strong enough and you are therefore not worried about the future of playing on Superstar?

  7. NG – I mean I have no reason to worry that I will take another season of hammerings as my team is good enough to compensate for my ham-fisted playing, yet it is competitive enough to make it worth playing…

    and also…that I have not seen any shocking scripting/straight from kick offs, etc that I am sure are there but not in such abundance as to make it farcical.

    I don’t imagine I will change from either SS or zero settings now.

  8. Any suggestion that Superstar is easier or at least less harsh than Top Player as was the case last PES?

  9. Hmm I think this is it for me and the game, ML at least. I just wasted the last 10 mins of my life getting the fuck cheated out of me by the CPU. Either the CPU cheats, or it doesn’t. The last 10 games or more have been like this for me. I don’t even enjoy the good games anymore as afterwards I’m thinking the only reason the game was any good was because the CPU let it by not cheating. I’ll keep it around for exhibition games with me mates but no more. Oh well. Can’t say I didn’t give it a chance though! Tis a shame though.

  10. Dear lord this is getting laughable. Did a game on superstar as a way of putting it to rest. I must say that Konami have truly revolutionized scripting and cheating. Took it to a whole new level. Saw a new one just now; my shots actually went THROUGH the post! Of course the first attack I suffered was a wonder dribble. Tackle, won the ball, oh no penalty of course (of course). I stop the penalty (yay!) But of course the keeper parried it onto a striker. Nail. Coffin. Done. Sorryguys don’t want to be a whiner but just wanted to vent one last time. I want a good football game mdammit! Not happening I guess.

  11. uncle turf—I will look forward to Superstar, then… in about 5 seasons’ time the way things are going.

  12. John—I played a pre-season match—just 1 solitary match, mind—on Superstar, against Besiktas (no dummies), and it felt pretty nice. Nowhere near enough to go on of course.

  13. #1—an inspired rant, that made me laugh (with you, natch). This made me howl:

    Saw a new one just now; my shots actually went THROUGH the post!

  14. John – I can’t compare I’m afraid, I skipped Top Player completely. It seems to have helped to have spent maybe a season longer on Pro and got the team up to a solid level (particularly as I am still struggling to buy anyone above 75ovr).

    #1 – I have honestly not had any obvious cheating in my ML so far. I’ve been ripped apart and spat out by ridiculous speed, long range shooting and stupid keepers in that first PL season but now I have a better team it is proving really competitive. 2012 set a benchmark for me in terms of being shafted over, particularly early days with the defaults, but I’ve not had anything like that.

  15. p.s GP goes up to 60 for a Euro league game. But still no coach info on opposition.

  16. uncle turf—I still see the coach before the first match of every season and then before a Cup match, but no more than that. Like I’ve said, I never liked the feature in PES2012 but feel very uneasy about it being missing (mostly) from PES2013 due to a bug. What else aren’t we seeing that we should be? What else is glitched?

  17. a small selection of goals from seasons 1 & 2 of my ML campaign.

  18. Paul—a great compilation—and that goal at 2:40! Bloody hell, I’d have milked that for a week.

    Quality is superb full-screen. I’m still not getting my HDPVR thing out of storage though…

    What was the online widget doing on-screen in a few of the replays? I could see that it was greyed-out, so I’m not ‘accusing’ you of playing online(!).

    Nice to see you playing with all the tools in the box as well. Are all those transitions etc. native to Final Cut or an add-on pack? I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’ve opened Final Cut approximately once in the last 6 months.

  19. Thanks mate, that was Lita’s first time curling chip i mentioned the other week.
    I think the widget was there because i saved each rep[lay of the goal to the PS3 HD buy pressing square during the replay playback, then used the replay gallery to play back and record each goal, so just assume the widget appears during then.
    Ive NEVER played online. my widget is well dusty.

    I never used Final Cut, that video was 100% iMovie, purely because I didnt have the time i wanted to spend on it but wanted to get something up so iMovie is quick and easy, the transitions are all native to iMovie, under the ‘NewsCast’ theme.

  20. Paul—good old iMovie, but it’s been months since I’ve used that too. All my shorter goal vids are filmed, edited and uploaded from the phone these days. I have got an idea for a longer movie that I’ll need to fire up iMovie again for.

  21. Paul – Nice montage there. Great to see others experience of the game

  22. Paul – Great vid and some lovely goals there. I must get to grips with iMovie. I’ve had my MacBook for six months now and still haven’t touched it.

    The great escape is still on for me – just. A 2-0 win Vs Liverpool means I’m just two points from safety after 22 games. It’s going to go to the wire now and I would still only give myself a 50/50 chance of staying up. I almost got a point away to Man Utd too but was denied a last minute penalty. No scripting – just me losing my composure and hacking down Rooney.

  23. John—from how well it sounds as if you’re holding out against the big teams, I infer that you’ll take enough from the middling and lesser teams to stay up. Once you get a foothold in the top flight you should be all set.

  24. N-G – Wins against the lesser teams are by no means guaranteed as you know. I’ve still only have 18 points from 22 games. I reckon I need maybe 40 points to stay up.

    I have bolstered my squad a little. I loaned out Carlington (my back up midfielder who fails to back up due to his international status) and Vratokov who’s done little this season. I also released that default midfielder starting with M. Can’t remember his name now and brought in two other youths: a Greek SS/CF and a DMF with the special Anchor Man and Enforcer traits. One for the future. I’ll post his name later to see if anyone else has got him.

  25. John—of course, Konami’s patented ‘supercharged basement team trap’ will always get you at least once a season on any level, however long you play for, but if you’re living with the big boys on Top Player in the Premier you’ve got a great chance of grinding out enough points to stay up.

  26. Well you weren’t wrong about PES 2008. I honestly couldn’t remember it being THAT bad! It’s awful. I think I’ll scrap my idea of a mini ML campaign, I don’t think I could bear it.

    In 2013 news, just knocked out Man City with my D2 Forest. Incredible scenes.

  27. tommyk1985—I replayed PES2008(PS3) quite recently, expecting to feel more charitable towards it after the passage of so much time. But no, if anything it made me more horror-struck that the good name of PES was ever sullied (and permanently scarred) by such a game.

  28. NG – haha thanks, I do aim to inspire with my rants 😉 I remember reading somewhere that sports game generate more aggression among gamers than shooters or beat em ups…the writers of the article must’ve been PES players.

    Uncle turf – it was like that for me in 2012 and 2011 (to a lesser degree) as well, hence why I think that the cheating is linked to a) the quality of your team (as you pointed out) and B) teamwork stats. You can test this by picking the original lineup when starting a ML. I did this for a while and the cheating is mostly absent. Of course you can counter the cheating better due to better players but the volume of cheating so to speak was way less as well.
    I suppose there is no other way to make the game hard but a good dose of cheating. I can accept that; I just wish it wasn’t so OBVIOUS. I’d take a wonder dribble goal over a transparent goalpost every day….

  29. #1—ultimately we’re interacting with pixels and lines of programming code under the command of people who want to create a certain kind of experience. If they decide it’s ‘exciting’ to make our shots hit/miss the post a lot instead of going down the keeper’s throat, that’s what we’re stuck with. We take it or leave it. Learning to work within its limitations and our expectations is pretty much what we all do every year.

    I’ve been seething over the last few days about a particular kind of scripting that seems ramped up this year more than any other, which I’ll talk about in Friday’s post.

  30. that is too true. add PES’s random nature to that and you can see where some of the duality among the fanbase comes from. Looking forward about that post then, curious as to what it is and if I’ve seen it…

  31. NG-

    Can’t wait for your friday post. The scripting imo is a JOKE this year. Its worse than any PES ever. Espiceally on Superstar. I am enjoying the game too much to stop but its so annoying

  32. #1 & Barry—I will not be drawn on what my scripting issue is—I have to restrain this terrible habit I have of blowing my load, so to speak, in comments ahead of actually blogging about the game.

    I will say though that I don’t think there is overall more scripting than ever this year. I think we plateaued years ago and there’s just as much as there’s ever been. Is it in elegant enough proportion to satisfy us though? That is the question.

Comments are closed.