Of bars and Superstars

Season 9 4th Kit

That up there is my 4th kit for season 9, a deliberately cheesy orange-and-pale-blue number that I hardly ever get to actually wear. One of my first three away kits always fits the bill.

I think this match, whenever it was and whoever it was against, was the only time this season that I’ve used it. The orange stripes are strangely appropriate with Robben in the picture there.

That’s Pirlo on the left, who’s been nothing special for me in this PES. I hang onto him because of who he is, not what he does. I might move him on soon.

That’s Kalou in the middle, and he’s just scored a goal in this picture.

I’ve had Kalou since season 2 or thereabouts and his stats have remained consistently high. He rarely starts a match these days, but he’s always on the bench, and usually comes on at some point. He can play anywhere from deep midfield, or out wide, or up front. He’s quietly been one of the most dependable players of the team. I’ve tried to sell him a few times but, in PES2015’s bizarre transfer market, there’s never been any takers. I’ll be hanging onto him until the end now.

At the moment, I’m coming to the end of Season 9. The only outstanding question is whether I’ll qualify for Season 10’s Champions League, or have to settle again for the Europa League.

I’ve been considering having another crack at playing on Superstar difficulty, something that has so far defeated at least three separate and whole-hearted attempts. PES2015 on Superstar, with 1-bar passing, is just too much for me.

A discussion in the comments section of the last post about passing assistance levels set me thinking. I have always played PES2015 on 1-bar, simply because that was the level I played PES2012 and PES2013 on.

But for my next attempt at Superstar, why not switch to 2-bar passing assistance and see what happens?

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve already made the switch, even with some of Season 9 still to go, and with important questions remaining.

I decided to appoint a new club captain for this hopeful new era — step forward, the man of PES2015, Peter Crouch:

Captain Crouch

…and Superstar promptly started kicking my arse, again — even with 2-bar passing.

Possession is at an absolute premium on Superstar, and I had to focus and force myself to exercise discipline with the ball. Things were slightly better with 2-bar passing, but not a great deal better.

It’s so tempting to treat it like a computer game, and imagine that you’re entitled to ping the ball forward without obstruction and create hatfuls of chances with ease.

I wonder if it’s that factor that has turned so many players off football games these days? There’s so much else vying for our attention: other games, TV, films, books, not to mention so-called ‘real life’… I wonder if people just aren’t prepared to put in the hours any more and allow themselves to grow into a football game like a pair of slippers.

I ground out a 0-0 against Sunderland. I beat Derby 2-0. Manchester City thumped me 3-1, and they finished the match with 70% possession to my 30%, probably my worst possession stat ever. I got a draw against West Ham. I lost against Villa.

The important thing was the feel of the games. They felt great — some of the best games I’ve had on PES2015, full stop.

2-bar passing on Superstar looks like a winner. I’m not fleeing back to Top Player this time. Here is where I’ll make my stand.

I’ll finish today with a couple of noteworthy goals.

Both were scored in the above-described first session on Superstar, 2-bar passing. My favourite is Villalba’s, the second in the clip. Crouch’s goal was satsifying too. Just before the pass got to him, I planned what to do, and double-tapped R1 to perform the knock-ahead that creates the space for the shot:



  1. Pirlo did nothing for me for about 3 seasons, then suddenly *click* he was the best player in the team. Play him in his favoured DMF, don’t muck about. Body balance and ball winning are nothing to shout about, but he has a knack for winning the ball and tackling. Plus he can drop it on a sixpence from pretty much anywhere.

    2-bar Superstar is a joy. It feels well balanced with equal amounts of frustration and reward. The frustration slightly outweighs the reward for me at the moment as I know what can be done on 3-bar, and when a lot of passes don’t come off, I’m left cursing. You won’t have these thoughts though, so I imagine the rewards for you are greater. The CPU seems to step out and intercept my pass now far too often. I think my initial plans to win all the top leagues were a little preemptive, I think I’ll be plugging away in Serie A for a few seasons at least.

    Nice goal. Straight out of the Luca Toni big book of finishing that one.

  2. Who’s going to be playing as Dorset Red next season 🙂

  3. I assumed you had tried Superstar on 2-bar n-G as that’s exactly where I am as a handy compromise between 1-bar SS and Top Player. I do find games to be very well balanced on Superstar with a little extra pass assistance but it’s still bloody hard.

    With these settings now set in stone for me, I now find myself tinkering with formations every time I have a bad run – as I just have. I’ve been doodling a 4231 set up while working today hoping that it might be the one.

  4. Tommy — to be fair my Michael Carrick and Conti between them have had the straight-up DMF role tied down between them for most of the last 5 seasons, and Pirlo rarely plays there. More usually he’s slightly in front of the DMF as a CMF, or even out wide as an AMF. I’ll give him a good run at DMF and see what happens.

  5. Chris99 — I think Lloyd is the only commenter here who persists with the unedited lineup — and if Bournemouth do make it, won’t they be East Dorsetshire?

  6. Shed — still waiting on that lob goal. We need to see the beloved PS3 PES in action. I keep meaning to fire up my PS3 for a quick go-round (and will have to for my PES2014 look-back in a few weeks), but there’s little time for extras.

    Re. PES formations, I often change mine at half-time when losing, but it’s still the devil’s own job trying to get back into a PES2015 match in which you are being soundly beaten. I’ve only come back from 0-2 down a couple of times. I can often get 1 goal back but rarely 2.

  7. NG – great post and totally agree. For me 2 bar feels the most natrual in terms of how chances are created in football matches but without the through ball being to overpowered. This then opens up more variety of goals as opposed to the consensus of opinion of the forums and the like. For me on 1 bar it ended up feeling more restrictive as the CPU would always manage to intercept the ball. If was to win on superstar/2 bar passing it would be a huge achievement as this is a bloody hard game, which bites back with difficulty spikes at the moment you feel you are getting the better of it.

  8. nG – Or they make go down the Stoke route and call them The Pensioners

  9. Just lost on penalties in the Italian Cup final to Fiorentina. A grotesque game of football all round. I was two goals up in the first 30 minutes, only for it to finish all square after 90. Terrible penalties, Totti hit the bar. Gutted.

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  10. A bad night at the office…

    After 13 games I have slipped from 1st to 16th and have gone on an 8 game period without a win. Just when I thought I had started to get to grips with the game it has bit back with the difficulty seeming to have ramped up.

  11. Tommy – just noticed that your image hosting service, photobucket, offers printed copies of photos/screenshots for as little as £14, with larger, framed portrait-sized ones that can be hung on a wall for £50-80. Now I’m a sucker for PES memorabilia when the PES is a good memorable one, having bought the t-shirt in 2010 and done some mugging for the camera in 2012. If 2015 turns out to be the classic year that it’s looking like being, I’ll end up with a framed portrait of the digital Peter Crouch hanging above the mantelpiece. I’d bloody do it too!

    Darryl – I’m also having my own fun with the unpredictable difficulty spikes, as tomorrow’s post will show. The forums say that playing away incurs an extra layer of difficulty in this ML and for once they’re certainly right.

  12. NG – I was quite hopefull this season of maybe a European spot but those hopes have been well dashed. I can’t get any attacks going and there is always a CPU player getting in the way and attacks get shut out in the last 3rd. A lot of my problem being that I have more interational players and stamina is a huge factor. The away factor is definitely there and had developed quite a good defensive 4-5-1 set up but that is losing its effectivness.

  13. nG – More so this year, now it’s so very easy (well, for us next-gen master race types anyway) to take a digital still of any moment during your game. A framed snap of Totti sucking his thumb would look lovely in black and white, just above our toilet.

    This year’s “PES Bug” has already seen me purchase two t-shirts. I’m tempted to make my own mug though. My “Je Suis Left Shark” one I made is already feeling a little outdated.

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  14. Big session planned for tonight should finish my current season. Title gone already on March and in Europa Semis.

  15. Darryl – I’ve been going through a spell of playing long stretches of matches with 10 men and it actually seems to make me play better and get results. Because I consciously take my time and conserve possession like a miser. This definitely isn’t a run-and-gun football game, as I keep having to remind myself in every single session. Maybe on lower difficulty levels it does play that way (and online of course). Also, ease up on R1 when in an attacking phase around the box. All you’re doing is giving the AI scope to close you down before you can react.

    Tommy – is the t-shirt with the PES logo a custom one? If not, where did you get it?

    Lloyd – the Europa is cursed in PES2015!

  16. nG – It’s the promo t-shirt they gave away free with certain copies of PES 2014 I think. I missed that particular boat, but picked it up for about £4 on eBay last year. At the time there were loads, but there’s none on there that cheap at the moment. Sadly, Konami released a proper retail version of it you can buy for about £15 on their site, so people are upping the prices on the freebie one (that shrinks a tiny bit in the wash!) Keep your eyes peeled though, one may pop up.

  17. NG – I’ve won it and the CL twice each, but the holy grail of the League title is becoming a bit of an Albatross. Onwards.

  18. NG – indeed good advice. It is a vicous circle as when you do go through a bad patch it is easy to get frustrated and use R1 more. I do the same and try to discipline myself to slow things down and retain possesion. My weakness is games say at home where you expect to win and not much is happening for you and then when you try to force matters the CPU nips in with one. Have been conceding a few more goals from through balls last session or two and this could be why.

  19. nG/Darryl – Yes, I too favour a “blitzkrieg” style of play at times that has come back to bite me in the ass many times.

  20. resisted the temptation to play my Championship playoffs the other night, as you advised, and looking forward to them this evening – semis against Sheff Wed then hopefully a final v Brighton/Palace. Planning to savour the atmosphere and watch all the cutscenes, even the one where the keeper faffs about taking an age over his goal kick

  21. great video, as ever, Lloyd! Legendary 0-bar looks like the optimal setting to me

    Exeter City are in the premier league – comfortable 3-1 win over Wednesday followed by dramatic 2-1 against Brighton, coming from behind at half time. Amusingly I was given a bonus £85k for winning the playoff final, otherwise known as the most valuable match in world football, and have been spoiled with a £1m transfer budget and £4850 wage budget to cope with the premier! Appropriately M’Madi, who has been with me all the way since season 2 in the bottom league, scored the winner. He might be on the bench next season as I’ve picked up the promising striker Devante Cole from MK Dons – he’s already picked up the nickname Deviant owing to his off field antics…

  22. I can hear the terraces now

    “Deviant, Deviant Cole,
    He thinks any hole is a goal.
    Animal, mineral, even fruit
    Deviant’s always willing to shoot!”

  23. Well done Abbeyhill as that is a massive achievment on Fifa with the budgets and well deserved. Don’t worry as money will come rolling in now from the end of your firsr season and onwards as the prize money is the big factor in Fifa.

    Thankfully I turned the corner last night thanks to inspiration from here. I thought back to the troubles NG had in terms of difficulty with PES 2008 and he talked in one post about the need to keep defensive shape and how this led to creating more chances. Well I thought last night I will approach this like real manager would and go back to basics and ditched the fluid formation as my thinking was that all these different formations where pulling my players out of position and sapping energy. So I set up 3 simple tactics and don’t tinker before games. The difference was obvious as suddenly players where positioning themselves as I wanted and full backs where not bombing forward. I had sneaked into the relegation zone but have now climbed to 12th. I had two games ahead against Man Utd and Chelsea away and my mentality changed to one of thinking I can win both of these. Man Utd game I won 2-1 as the last game before bed. Even when I got promoted I still lost 16 games. For the first time I feel in control. We shall see……..

  24. superb Chris99, especially at 8am!!

  25. Lloyd – the pick of your bunch for me is the Recoba thumper at 4:00. I love the ruler-straight trajectory of the ball into the top corner. I tried to buy Recoba in my post-season but he would have cost my entire £40m budget, with transfer fee plus wages. Regen Ronaldo in my ML world is currently at… Sunderland.

    abbeyhill – congratulations! Now if you’d only played on Professional with legacy defending, you could have done this before Christmas… Targets for the Prem? Or is it on to PES2015 now?

    Darryl – re. my difficulty with PES2008, either you mean the PS2 version (a truly great classic PES game that should have been called PES7) or you mean the PS3 version before I discovered the wonder dribble.

    I played an unusual late-late-night session last night and found that R1 is almost literally poison for possession. I’m still not picking up results but I am creating chances. Defending is key, as if you keep it 0-0 you can always snatch a winner at any time. Stitch a few of them together and you’ve got a run going, and that seems to be modelled deliberately in the game in terms of player performance and confidence.

  26. Working from home 🙂

  27. NG – it was from the start of the blog so would be the PS3 version. It was the comment on keeping defensive shape that stuck in my mind as it is a guiding principal for all PES games and has now become part of my mantra. Funny how things can turn around as I came into work quite despondent yesterday and had a moment of doubt as to whether I could win any trophy on this game. I say that but the fact is I have never won a trophy on any PES game, simply because I have fallen well by the wayside usually as everyone else approaches Beeches Brook. This year I am throwing everything in to it.

  28. Darryl – Yes, I’m starting to wonder if the fluid formations really do anything other than send players out of position. I think I’ll with that off.

    I also have a late session last night, mainly due to the fact I won’t be able to get any games in over the bank holiday weekend and I felt compelled to end on a win.

    Five games it took before I finally smashed QPR 4-0 in my biggest ML win in this PES. It was only after the match I realised QPR are bottom with only three goals to their name approaching the midway point of the season!

    Otherwise I’ve been grinding out draws and smash-and-grab wins amid more than a few frustrating defeats. Currently 12th in season six but rather enjoying the challenge.

  29. Darryl – you’ve picked a heck of a PES to try for your first ever trophy… Season 10 for me and I really can’t see how I’ll ever win the title or the CL. I’m confident I will, but this footy game is a tough nut to crack.

    As for fluid formations, I file them under the same category as ‘taking over at another club within the same ML world’ and ‘taking an International Management job’ and ‘playing online’ and ‘listening to long-playing records of popular music on a gramophone’ and other things of that new-fangled nature.

    I make my own custom formations and use the d-pad to cycle between them when desired, just like PES of old!

  30. NG – yes I am thinking the same but a peverse side of me loves that.

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