Four goals, one cup

Season 12 FA Cup action

Season 12 ended with league failure, as expected. I was too far behind towards the end, so far that not even this game was going to give me a helping hand. I was happy just to secure 4th spot on goal difference:

Season 12 Final TableThe FA Cup final was against Manchester City. Seeing them as my opponents made me hiss through my teeth. My league matches against them are typically grim, scrappy affairs low on excitement and high on sheer bloody hard work.

The final was exactly the same. 0-0 for a long time, then City snatched a goal to make it 1-0 to them, and then no matter what I did, no matter what I tried, nothing would happen for me. Defeat in the Cup.Season 12 FA Cup final defeatOnto the Champions League Final and another sight to make me wince: Arsenal were my opponents. Another team where our usual sort of league encounter is a tight, dour match that ranks among PES2015’s least enjoyable matches.

Season 12 CL Final setup

Great atmosphere and pre-match buildup, as ever. Just shows that Konami can do this kind of thing very well, when they put their minds to it. It probably helps that the Champions League is Big In Japan.

For this biggest of big matches, I played Gerrard at DMF and made him captain.

I’d  been intrigued to see Gerrard picked in the Premier League’s Team of the Season at DMF, a position I never really played him in. So for the Champions League final I dropped Pirlo (so often ineffective for me, the way I play) and put in Gerrard instead.

Season 12 CL Final Tunnel tensionThings were very different in this Final.

I streaked into a 3-0 lead by half-time, and that was effectively that. Gerrard at DMF was simply a class above Pirlo or Conti or anyone else I’d ever played there.

I decided there and then to get rid of Pirlo in post-season and go with Gerrard as my captain and first-choice DMF for the rest of my time on PES2015. It’s one of life’s amusing ironies that Gerrard in video game football tends to be the consistently world class player that Liverpool fans devoutly believe him to be in real life.

It was a comfortable 4-0 win in the end – yes, it was one of those ‘easy’ PES finals. But I believe I’d worked for it. I’d seized control from the first whistle, denied the AI quality possession, and taken my chances.Engraving the European CupA well-deserved victory, and my first Champions League title on PES2015. I enjoyed it as much as my digital guys seemed to.

Season 12 CL Final victoryGerrard has great stamina and lasts whole matches in PES2015. He was still on the pitch and wearing the armband at full-tme. When I saw him lift Big Cup itself, I couldn’t help thinking it was just over ten years since a certain famous night in Istanbul.

Gerrard lifts it high

And there the season ended. Not the Treble I’d hoped for, but I’d won the most important trophy in club football, which was a nice bonus.

Some random goals from the season’s end:

Messi, Forlan, Forlan, Messi. Pretty standard goals, all of them, with a few points of interest: Forlan’s breakaway Goal 3 is a rare instance of an AI defender, in prime position to intercept an attempted pass, not doing so. Goal 4 is a satisfying in-off-the-post effort. Messi is coming really good now.

And so on to Season 13. I’ll be in every competition except the Charity Shield (sorry: Community Shield) equivalent. One or two more big players and I’ll have a great chance at the Treble, at the very least. #thistime


  1. Well done on winning the big, fat cup n-G. Surely the treble must be on for season 13.

    I’m struggling to find time for games again at the moment but I did squeeze one in yesterday. A 2-1 win Vs sixth placed Hull keeps my Brighton side fifth approaching the midway point of season 7.

    The most gripping part of my ML right now is the emergence of a youth player as my main man up front when – stats wise – he has no right to be. Alex Revell was 56-rated when I promoted him to my squad and still only 60-rated after a couple of loan spells in France.

    He’s now just climbed to 65-rated after a rare orange arrow spell and despite far better players on the bench (Ibrahimovic included) he’s undroppable. A goal and an assist against Hull being his latest contribution.

    I know PES has delivered this before but PES 2015 really does seem to have a hidden code under the obvious player stats. Revell has no special traits, no flair moves or significantly big ratings other than for stamina and work rate but he’s my best attacker by far.

    So, I guess the message is, give youth a chance.

  2. Shed – with a pun-tastic name like Revell, he sounds like a Youth player who’d be right up my street. I was forced to get a couple of Youths during the last mid-season, and one of them has been very interesting to play with when he gets the odd game. The way ML’s transfer system is made up in this edition discourages Youth experimentation, so this is my first experience of it. I’ll say more next week. I’ll probably pick up another Youth to bulk out the squad as I head into what should be a proper Treble-challenging season.

    And re. those periods when you only get to play odd matches here and there: that’s what makes football gaming what it is, the perfect balance of depth and convenience. I’ve just got time right now in a spare half-hour for probably two matches before I have to do something else. No way I’m starting up any other game than a footy game with this kind of window.

  3. NG – congratulations. Gerrard has been my DMF for the last few seasons, and Pirlo was sold as soon as I realised that Gerrard is Way better than him in that position.

  4. Lloyd – cheers, and Gerrard to DMF with Pirlo heading out (replaced by another, better player for me) was such an obvious solution. Roll on Season 13 for me.

  5. NG – Gerrard has been my DM for about 4/5 seasons now. He may play the odd game as a CM and an even rarer appearance on the right but this is his best position by far and he covers every blade of grass and don’t know how I would manage without him.

  6. congratulations on winning Big Cup not-Greg! And I also cannot believe that so far nobody has remarked on the splendid post title!!

    just catching up on the comments here having returned from holiday. Belated congratulations Werd for the arrival of mini-Werd mark II. Turf – you were asking about Wii recommendations for youngsters? My 4 year old daughter loves Just Dance, in fact we all join in, might be less fun for a boy though. Mario Kart perhaps

  7. and that PES2016 trailer does indeed look interesting. If We Will Rock You segues into We Are The Champions when you win the World Cup (do any of us actually try to win the World Cup any more?) I would simply die from the nostalgic pleasure of it all

  8. PES2 was the reason I picked up an International Tournament habit, which lives on to this day in the form of my first-day routine. I used to play the mode on PES2 just to see the We Are The Champions credits afterward.

    Re. the post title, obviously not everyone is as well-travelled online…

  9. With four games left I am still in 2nd but still 9 points behind Liverpool. A 14 game unbeaten run in the league shows I am pretty close now to competing for the title next year. Costa is looking like he is going to be a class act in the game and he has that extra bit of something that I saw in Crouchy as he seems to have a greater shot selection in his arsenal. He doesn’t hold the ball up like the special one but plays some lovely little weighted passes for his strike partner and is starting to strike up a real good partnership with Adebeyor.

  10. Finished 3rd but was slightly disappointed to lose the last two games. Looking forward to a big season next year.

  11. Darryl – PES2015 can seem to close the player down – smother your general play and deny goal-scoring chances – like no other PES I remember. It’s particularly extreme when running the clock down on a season. Draws and defeats can seem to blow up out of nowhere. By this stage of a PES year there are usually only a few obstacles in the road, and usually none, but in many respects PES2015 is an enigma I’m still trying to crack. If I hadn’t already won one title I’d think it was impossible. If Lloyd hadn’t already won a Treble I’d be thinking it was impossible. Further!

  12. This game is so frustrating it is infuriating. I won my first 6 league games and for once started to feel in control on SS. This kicked in something with the CPU and they have been inpossible to defend against and have lost my last 3 games 3-0 (Juventus in CL), 5-1 (Birmingham in cup) and 4-2 (Chelsea in league).

  13. Darryl – frustrating and infuriating are definitely applicable words for this game. Were all 3 of your defeats away from home, i.e. with the AI kicking off first? If so then you’re prpobably suffering from the AI having ‘owned’ the game in the first stages. In any match I find you have to get hold of the ball early and pass it around and make the match ‘yours’, but when the AI kicks off first you often have to put up with a scripted-feeling 5-10 minutes of game time with the AI playing keepball. Now my strategy is to get in and get that ball asap. Seems to work.

  14. NG – no not really as the CL was at home, the cup game neutral and Chelsea was the only away game. I know what you mean though as I have developed an away game steategy that is working and that I begin with selecting few players in attack at the start and only move to medium around the 60th minute mark unless I concede early. Often I sneek late 1-0 wins. I suppose it is like real football and is about keeping the home croud quiet early doors and keeping ball is key.

  15. NG – I got it wrong as the CL was away, so yes they will have kicked off first in all three games.

  16. The AI seem to automatically have a starting foothold in matches where it kicks off first. I often don’t even get a touch until the AI has worked a chance and had a corner. It often scores in that opening 5-10 game minutes and gets a 1-0 head-start. My aim where the AI kicks off first is to get that ball off them and keep it for a bit. That seems to tilt momentum your way.

    When you get into a run of matches where the AI is bullying you, it’s a slog all right.

  17. Darryl – I sympathise having also had a horrible run in my ML session over the weekend. Having been on a decent unbeaten run, the game seemed to suddenly decide enough was enough and I lost three games on the spin 1-0, scraped a 0-0, a 1-1 and then the things went back to normal following a 3-0 thrashing of Man City in the cup.

    I don’t think I played badly in those games but some very dodgy penalty decisions (three in all) and some unbelievable blocked or deflected goal attempts for me was enough to swing results in the AI’s favour. Now 9th and two points off Euro qualification.

  18. how good does that PES2 intro video still look, by the way? Captivating stuff. I am amused by the thought of any current-gen footy game being promoted with such a horrible looking muddy goalmouth, worse even than most I play on in the depths of a Scottish winter

  19. Re. the PES2 intro, amid all the mud and rain it also has a penalty that’s belted straight down the middle of the goal by the anonymous Everyman player, instead of stylishly flicked into a corner by a contemporary Star player using some kind of hybrid scissors-bicycle-Rabona kick. The absence of recognisable faces is pretty striking (save for the glimpses of not-Batistuta, not-Figo, and not-Beckham).

    I got hold of a PES2 PS2 iso and played it via the magic of PC emulation a few months ago. It really does creak now, sadly, and resembles ISS more than it does PES. This demonstrates a truth about football gaming. There’s a line that separates still-playable football games from those that no longer are. That line moves every year, as games and hardware move on. PES2 has fallen below it, for me at least, since the last time I played it several years ago now. Currently I’d place the line somewhere around PES3-4. Arguably I’d even say PES5 is as early as I’ll go looking for a football game.

  20. Things turned round this morning and I drew 2 and won 3 in a session. In the last game I benefited from some outrageous scripting. I was 1-0 down at home to Villa and was not creating a thing. A change of formation in the second half, changed things a little and I equalised with 10 mins to go. With stoppage time up on the clock I was content with the draw. A long punt into the box landed to Gerrard and a penalty was given but nobody touched him. I set the aim to go high and right and he hit a poor scuffed penalty to the keepers right. He got his body behind it and caught the ball, only for it to squirt out and cannon of the post and then hit the goalkeeper in the head and back into the net. Two things stopped me from just hitting the ball back in my own net. One was no time was left and two I had been on the back end of scripting of late but it was ugly and left a poor taste in my mouth.

  21. Darryl – IMO you can relax about that bizarre-sounding Gerrard penalty incident. Something like that isn’t scripting in the sense we usually mean it. Scripting is a general tendency rather than a specific, highly improbable incident. The only thing that sounds truly fishy about the whole thing is the penalty award and even that might have made some twisted sense upon closer inspection. It only takes a defender to slide late and make a pixel-width of contact to trigger the penalty award. Anyone can fluff a penalty and see it go in anyway. Back of the keeper’s head is unorthodox but ah well, take it and enjoy!

  22. I am starting to dislike this game. I am currently 8 points behind Liverpool in 2nd place with 6 points ahead of 3rd. So once again I am playing catch up thanks to the fact that bloody Liverpool have won 14 drawn 0 and lost one against me. It is punishing to know you have to win every game on Superstar to keep up. I am doing my best but I am not that good. On balance I enjoyed my matches on World Class much more as they had a more natrual feel but this is the course I have set myself on and I am not for turning.

  23. Darryl – That’s been the story of my last 4 seasons with the exception of the Treble year. Always playing catch up with Man Utd. Same this season, 8 points adrift in September.

  24. This year is a departure for ML in the sense that it is an exception to the usual routine where the game has surrendered to the human player’s inevitable uber-squad by season 5-7 or so.

    SS titles and trophies are doable, just very demanding. In my SS title-winning season I was playing catchup for most of the season before pulling away and sealing the title with a few matches spare. I’m sure you are that good, as it takes being good just to stay in touch.

    Oh, and I go through parts or sometimes whole sessions where I don’t really like the game either! ML is a long-term discipline.

    Taking control of matches is so important. When the AI kicks off first it gets that free momentum-building time that’s so frustrating. I swear I win 9/10 times when I kick off first. 4/10 times when the AI does.

  25. n-G – That kick off thing is worrying if true. Surely the coding behind the game can’t be that exposed.

  26. It’s a theory I held, and have seen discussed on the dreaded forums. Momentum is a key concept in PES gameplay, and – the theory runs – you build momentum by holding onto possession and creating chances.

    Very often if the AI kicks off first it holds possession easily for 5-10 mins and creates at least one chance in that time, giving itself a momentum bonus automatically just by virtue of having had the kick-off. I think the theory does hold up.

    Of course there are plenty of examples of me being at home and kicking off first and still being either trounced (or having one of the frustrating 0-0 or 1-1 draws that are a PES2015 feature) but generally I think this ‘kick-off momentum theory’ is true.

    When I kick off first and deliberately hold onto the ball for 10 in-game minutes (not attacking, just passing it around), I don’t believe I’ve ever lost, put it that way. I’ll often get to the end of that half with 60-70% possession and the AI barely having a single shot.

  27. Don’t know if you’ve seen this FIFA demo

    It’s worth watching up to about 10:55 where the Dutch guy says “For the first time this year we get to play with the ladies”. In fact it’s probably worth watching just for that sentence.

  28. Chris99 — FIFA16 looks good. The ladies look disappointingly generic and waif-like, as if designed to appeal to teenage boys. I wonder if EA have the hairy balls to make a realistic ladies’ football team with the broad variety of actual women’s looks properly represented?

    I’ve rather enjoyed being a FIFA admirer over the past 8 years or so. FIFA15 is a superb game that I’m looking forward to spending a few more weeks on later this summer (with 5 Career Mode seasons under my belt before the resurrection of PES2015, FIFA15 is unfinished business).

    With the release schedules this year, FIFA16 will likely be a 2016 purchase for me, and hopefully not until spring 2016.

  29. nG – I see it more as a way to drag in existing players’ girlfriends as future FUT players

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