Month: January 2013

Bogey at one o’clock

I played a top-of-the-table 6-pointer against Manchester City. You know those dour, slogfest matches where both sides’ shots at goal/on target ratio is something like 2(1) at half-time? This was one of those matches.

I don’t think I mustered 8 shots on goal the whole match. Ditto Manchester City. They have Cristiano Ronaldo up front in my ML world, and he’s not ageing well. I hardly had to break sweat to cope with him.

I won the 6-pointer 1-0 to take a 5-point lead at the top of the table. I drew my next match against Spurs. They’re not the force they were in the early seasons either, but the game was in the mood to be awkward here I think.

Then I met QPR.

QP-fucking-R.

I’ve mentioned before how they’re one of my bogey teams of this ML. I now wish to amend that statement: they’re THE bogey team for me in this ML.

Perhaps it didn’t help that I was playing this match at 1 o’clock in the morning. Tiredness and impatience are a poor recipe for success in PES.

It was away at their place, which meant they had the kick-off—which in turn meant they had an instant 1-0 lead. Of course.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I tried to get a cheeky quick goal back, conceded possession, and QPR swept upfield and scored another. Another common danger in PES.

2-0 down with barely 10 game minutes gone! I’d been caught completely cold and unprepared. I was tempted to quit and reload…

But I played on—I always play on. There’s no point in playing ML, for me, unless I always just play on. Whatever happens.

I battered away at QPR’s defence like a stormy sea dashing itself against a wall. I got a goal back, eventually. Yeah… In the 88th pissing minute.

Time for an equaliser? Just.

But from their kick-off, QPR instantly went upfield and got themselves another. 3-1 to them it ended.

Which left me in 2nd place in the table on goal difference. There’s still a long way to go.

NSS pitch

Those three matches were my only PES action of the past few days. Circumstances have kept me away-from-console. Hey, I’ll turn 41 this year. ‘Nuff said.

I’ve found myself playing more and more of a phone-and-tablet game called New Star Soccer.

I first caught a whiff of the buzz about this game a few months ago. I tried the free demo, liked it, and bought the full version. And I soon bought a weatherpack add-on as an in-game purchase. I don’t normally do that kind of thing. In fact, this is the first and only time I have ever done that kind of thing.

New Star Soccer seems absurd at first. It’s a game made up of many parts, each of which resembles a painfully basic web Flash game. But the sum of its parts makes probably the best phone game I’ve ever played, by some distance, and one of the most crazily addictive football-themed games ever.

NSS clubs

Matches last about a minute. If you get subbed off (rarely, but it happens) you only have to wait 5 seconds for the match to be over.

I’ve played nearly 7 full seasons now, with various clubs.

Started at Tonbridge, worked my way up, got a few big moves in England, broke into the national side, then started to look elsewhere…

NSS stats

I accepted a move to Barcelona just for the heck of it. 49 goals in 47 appearances so far this season (near its end). I play for England, and won the European Championships a few seasons ago with them. I wish now that I’d picked a different nationality where I would have the opportunity to be more of a one-man team.

I play mainly on the iPad, which offers larger targets (i.e. a moving football) for you to hit. This actually makes for a greater possibility of error. I still have lots of games where I struggle to make an impact, and occasional games where I get subbed off.

I bought the desktop version on Steam, but haven’t had time to play it. The mobile version, though, is perfect for the bus, for lunchbreaks, for sneaky twenty-minute sessions in bed, and gets a huge thumbs-up from me.

Bad boys, stick together; never, sad boys

Suspensions everywhere

Above you see the fruits of my recent labour. I seem to have run into a string of close matches that see me leading by the odd goal, time running out, and the CPU pressure ramping up.

Cue my most vicious, scything, leg-breaking tackles. I’ve racked up the cards, and earned key players extended spells on the sidelines. Note the above are all DMFs and defenders.

It’s been worth it. I’ve closed out each one of those narrow wins, sometimes hanging on with 9 men. And even sometimes scoring again with 9 men.

Playing well with 9 men is always an exhilarating experience in PES, and something of a tradition of mine that stretches back to ISS days.

No significant defeats in a long while. A few dispiriting draws that should have been wins, but no defeats. The table after 23 matches is an interesting one:

ML2013 season 8 after 23

With such a long way to go there’s no reason to get excited—we all know what PES can do—but I am excited.

Especially as I’m still in with a shout of the Treble. I swashbuckled my way through to the FA Cup Quarters with a 3-2 win over Chelsea. Their two goals were utterly stupid, needless to say.

I’m still in the Champions League too. Got the knockout stage draw coming up soon.

ML2013 mid-season 8 squad

Here’s a look at my squad at this stage.

Look ay Coynborough on 108. Most of the others aren’t too shabby either.

This is with minimal boots and items, I should add. I haven’t opened the Items menu in about a season now, and I don’t know if I ever will again. I’m happy to play with the cards dealt.

AURTENETXE at LB is a brand-new signing. £32m from Spain. That’s ridiculously overpriced but I paid it without a qualm—I had nearly £100m in the bank and nothing to spend it on.

One of the major critiques of this edition of Master League is that there’s little to no incentive to put your hand in your figurative pocket and splash the cash. I won’t remember PES2013 for the excitement of building my team via the transfer market, that’s for sure. You’ve got to hope that somebody somewhere in Konami actually meant for it to be this way.

Onward and upward. If I was doing one of my olde-style ‘confidence graphs’, where I chart the progress of how much confidence (in every sense) I have in PES2013, the graph would have been creeping steadily upward over the past few weeks. I’m really loving the game again, after a dodgy pre-Christmas period. For this I no doubt have to thank my modest playing skillz.

Being Schwarz Malkovich

Two matches played since last time. Just two, both played very late last night (Thursday), with the proverbial matchsticks propping my eyes open. I’ve had some stuff to take care of this week that has limited my time. But I made time last night for some PES2013—a good sign that the game is still very much an ongoing pleasure for me.

I loved the two games. I can remember them both in detail.

First, Fulham away. A tricky fixture sometimes, it wasn’t so this time. I won 4-0, with Wroughllen getting a stylish hat-trick.

There’s something about the way the net ripples from a blockbuster Wroughllen strike. I keep saying this because it’s true: Wroughllen is the Schwarz of PES2013.

Okay, so he lacks Schwarz’s aerial prowess, and I know he’s not Schwarz (only Schwarz can ever be Schwarz), but he’s the closest thing I’m going to get.

Not that I’m especially yearning for Schwarz, or any other old player. There are more than enough players of note in PES2013 to be getting along with.

My top 3 players of ML2013 so far, in order of affection, are as follows:

  • Coynborough
  • Castolis
  • Wroughllen

You’ll note the absence of Minandinho. I haven’t got the same Minandinho that many others have. He’s a good striker for me, no question. But Mehmeti is my best all-round striker. Dependable and quick. Minandinho isn’t a prodigy on the scoring charts, and is actually joint second in the pecking order alongside Wroughllen when I choose my team.

The other match was against Aston Villa at home. I squeaked a 1-0 win, with my goal coming early on in the first half. Try as I might, I just could not get that second goal.

When it gets to 70 minutes and you’re 1-0 up, the CPU starts aggressively probing for the one goal that can spoil all your hard work. There’s nothing quite so deflating as bossing a match, only scoring one goal, then being pegged back late on by the CPU for a draw that feels like a defeat.

I avoided the dreaded equaliser by the simple expedient of breaking any CPU player’s legs who looked like threatening to get through.

The secret is to do it up near the halfway line. If you’re trying and failing to bring down a CPU player slaloming his way through multiple challenges on the edge of your box, you’ve left it too late.

I still haven’t had the courage to open up my long-term FM2010 save for about a week now. I last played when faced with a massive, massive decision that will affect the course of my entire destiny (at Coventry City in the Premier).

The decision revolves around whether to stick with a big money striker who isn’t doing the business, or sell him and look elsewhere.

I don’t want to take this De Gea-like decision. It’s too hard for me. So I haven’t played for a week. I can feel the urge pulling me back sometime soon.

This is a save that I have been playing since the game came out in 2009, on and off. My no-reloading principles apply as much to FM as they do to PES, so whatever I do will be the final decision. I’m about as immersed and involved in the Football Manager world as I am in PES and ML at the moment.

Here’s two goals from the end of season 2013-2014 that helped to keep us in the Premier by the skin of our teeth:

Marek Matjovksy is my midfield creative linchpin, who often goes missing, alas. Kikin Fonseca and Andy Carroll (!) put the chances away up front. My new guy who has come in this season and is causing me such headaches is Tomas Necid. £20m from Spartak Moscow. Played 10, scored none, feels unsettled. Sigh.

It’s still not cricket

ML2013 time flies

Hang on: what the hell is happening to January? Where is this big opening chunk of 2013 going to? I know I’ve had personal stuff to distract me, but come on: it’s February next week? Uh?

Meanwhile, in PES2013.

Coming up on the mid-season window in season 8. And I’m back to playing regularly, almost to pre-Christmas levels.

Really enjoying PES2013 again. I’ve actually played quite a bit, more than at any point since resuming PES2013 a week or so ago. I play at least a few games every day, with the odd one off here and there. PES2013 has come back to life for me.

Here’s the current League table:

ML2013 season 8 after 16

Yes, it is amusing to see QPR there—even if it’s slightly disappointing that they’re able to be there with that goal-scoring recrod. They’ve become a bit of a bogey team for me.

I’m not happy with either my goals-for or my goals-against column. Could and should do better on both counts.

The ring-rustiness has started to wear off. I create 15 good chances per game, on average. But PES2013 still won’t allow certain types of scoreline to happen. I feel artificially constrained to scoring just one or two goals in matches where I could and should have five or ten. Whatever tripwire that others might have triggered in order to ‘allow’ cricket scores, I haven’t tripped it yet.

ML2013 season 8 CL group final

I qualified from the Champions League group in style, with a rousing 5-0 thumping of Celtic and a semi-heroic 3-1 win over Real Madrid at home. There was nothing at stake in that Madrid match—we’d both already qualified—so the CPU’s powerplay factor was barely noticeable. It felt just like a regular game against regular opposition. I’m sure the knockout stages will be brutal.

In other life, I like how the nights are starting to draw out. I’m also starting to warm up towards the idea that PES2014 might be interesting. I still don’t really want to hear anything about it before April, though.

I’m looking forward to a few other games this coming ‘quarter’, as the game marketing types have it. There’s a new Metal Gear Solid game coming a month from now. This is easily as big an event for me as a new PES game. Arguably, it’s even bigger. It feels like a long time since MGS4—because it has been a long time. Expect a lot of short posts (like this one) around the end of February.

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