The Swansong Begins

Season 14 new home kit

Season 14 has got off to an indifferent start, which is very worrying considering that this is my last chance to get the Treble in this Master League.

This will be my last season of PES2015. I have more or less filled up now on what is a very good football game (not the best – nowhere near the best – but very good regardless).

I had decided to play either until the end of July, or a maximum of 2 more seasons. But it takes me about a week and a half (sometimes two weeks) to get through a season. That takes me close enough to the end of July to mean that starting another season will take me well into August, and I don’t want that. So this season, my 14th in Master League, is definitely my final one.

Season 14 kit 2

First order of business, as ever for a new season, is deciding on the kits.

With this being my final season, I wanted to go out with something traditionally Sky Blue. I went for the faint chequered shirt as seen above-right. For the away kit I settled on a sort of bumblebee pattern without meaning to. In kit design I tend to just feel my way forward without any real plan and see what emerges.

Season 14 kit 3

The third and fourth kits remain the same they’ve been for the past few seasons. My chequered pseudo-Croatia strip is number 3, and actually gets used more than the official second-choice kit.

Season 14 kit 4

Kit number 4 – intended to be horrible – gets used maybe once per season, if that. Typically I’m in kit number 1 for 99% of matches.

All that sorted, the next thing on the agenda was: new players.

It’s been said before but it bears repeating that the transfer market in PES2015’s Master League is not very well designed. It doesn’t compel you to seek out new players.

PES2015 has a ‘feature’ that auto-nerfs an outstanding player after he’s played a good couple of matches. One or two matches of brilliance can often be followed by five matches of complete anonymity. This is a peculiarity of PES2015 that I don’t remember featuring in any previous PES (with the possible exception of PES2014, which I didn’t play enough to find out).

Maicon joins season 14

That’s another reason why PES2015’s transfer market isn’t as exciting as it should be. There’s not much point in getting great new players and teasing great performances out of them when they’re going to be invisible for several matches afterward.

I didn’t really need any new players, but I wanted to get at least one anyway. I had a look at my squad and decided that my long-serving right-back, Pineda, was starting to decline – down to 79OVR now from a high of the mid-80s a few seasons ago.

So I searched for quality right-backs, and took my time choosing one.

In the end I went for MAICON. He’s got the pinpoint crossing trait, and also the long-range shooting one.

After all that it was time to get on with playing.

I won the Supercup – again. It’s never been a tough trophy to win on any PES.

Here’s the league table after 3 matches:

Season 14 after 3

1 draw, 2 defeats, and they were as abject as any I’ve ever had. This was with my all-new formation, too.

Season 14 new formation 4-1-3-2

This formation seen on the left here. Last season I felt that my 4-3-3 had become stale and that the AI had ‘cracked’ it, as Football Manager aficionados often say of their game. I needed to bolster my team’s presence in midfield. Long periods spent chasing the ball while the Superstar AI kept possession were starting to get to me.

I alighted on this 4-4-2 and tried it out for a few matches. It didn’t really work. It’s still a very attacking one with those advanced SMFs.

I’m going to have to change it – again – to something more like my old 4-2-2-2, with two defensive midfielders sitting deep in front of the CBs. If I have to, I’ll go for the dreaded 4-5-1. Yes, the formation that – as much as any other factor – has neutered real-life professional football.

This start I’ve had to season 14 is a very unfortunate one considering I it’s the last season. But I remain relaxed about it, knowing for certain that a good run of results will effortlessly lift me back up into contention. Master League is just like that.


  1. NG – love the bumblebee strip, very Dortmund. I look forward to your season review soon.

  2. all looks far too attacking to me not-Greg, you need a nice solid 4-5-1. Just get hold of the ball and keep it moving around, sideways and backwards, possession is everything. Then maybe look to tease out some chinks in the AI defence at some point in the second half, sneak in a goal, 1-0 job done. That’s how I’m (still) playing FIFA15 anyway, as nothing else works. I strongly suspect both games want to force us to play like Barcelona more than ever these days

  3. The end-of-year review of both games will be along roughly 1 week before PES2016 lands. I do want to give FIFA15 another couple of weeks’ play before doing the finale on that. Unlike previous years, FIFA15 got a solid few month’s play before Christmas. 5 seasons of Career Mode. I was lucky to manage 1 season in most previous years stretching back to FIFA10 I think.

    I’m still tinkering with my last-season-of-ML formation. I cannot stand 4-5-1 and that whole philosophy of football that it legitimises. The game developers definitely think that the Harlem Globetrotters vision of football is the way football is, or should be. We can see that every year when [insert big star name] appears in the promos doing all the tricky-flicky-bicycle-kicky stuff that you see them doing in an actual football game roughly 4 times in their whole careers.

  4. NG – you have hit the nail on the head as there was something flawed about the transfer system as when you signed good players they did not perform and the game got harder the more your side improved. The sucessful players where the regens I signed as youths. I am sure had I played previous games as long as I did this year the game would have cracked for me.

  5. and has player individuality taken a bit of a dive in PES in your view, not-Greg? It sounds like individual player-nerfing or lack thereof is a bigger determinant of how they play than stats. I guess you still need a team of all-stars in the first place though

    I’m wondering if the new cover star Jordan Henderson can actually do any of this tricky-flicky-bicycle-kicky stuff

  6. Darryl — any year but this one and you would have won the title on the top difficulty by season 10 at the latest, probably earlier based on your core skill. PES2013 for sure, PES2012 probably, and PES2011 you know all about. PES2010 took me ages to get to grips with but that was more me than the game.

    Each one though had what I think of as a proper ML transfer structure, proper player development, proper AI player development (very important), and individuals were allowed to flourish. Funny Paul should show up at the exact time when we can say — with I think certainty — that his early theory was spot-on about the game nerfing players’ performances for a few matches after a good performance.

    (Incidentally, is it possible Paul doesn’t know I started up again?!?! Either he doesn’t know, which is almost inconceivable considering that the tail-end of the comments on his final January post were pretty much all about whether I would or wouldn’t and should we wait for him or not. He must have read them — surely?! The only other explanation for his seeming blithe unawareness is that he’s miffed I started up again in his absence — jumped into his grave so to speak — which awkward scenario was at least 50% of the reason I didn’t reopen the blogging in summer 2014 after my ‘holiday’…. Sheesh, I tell you… Anyway, whichever one of the scenarios applies — 1) he hasn’t read the comments and doesn’t know; or 2) he’s peeved — it’s interesting times!)

    abbeyhill — the famed PES individuality is still there but it’s somewhat watered-down. Something that’s exacerbated by what seems to be hard-coded dips in performance. E.g. I’ve played with lots of Steven Gerrards in various PESes down the years, from PES5 to this one, and even if he doesn’t do anything in a match, he still feels like Gerrard in that uncanny PES way. In PES2015, he does feel like Gerrard… until you tease a good performance out of him, whereupon the game seems to throw a dampening field over him. The season just gone, for example, I cannot recall a single Gerrard-like moment, and that’s not quite right.

  7. p.s. Henderson is only the UK-localised Ernie Wise to Messi’s Eric Morecambe, so it’s the latter who takes care of all the tricky-flicky-kicky stuff.

  8. NG – no, I’m the kid who says ‘Mr keating, poetry is boring, I just want to pass the exam and get out of here’. Ted on every level for me was a crap film. I doubt anyone agrees with me.

    Are we about to witness a blog fight? Coventry v Milton Keynes, skins v casuals, this could get tasty.

    Werd – I have deliberately held off finishing the main story (I believe it can be done in 45 mins) so as to live a more full life. Next time I’m ramping up the difficulty and going different race.

  9. Yes, I was just wondering about that!! Paul would surely have announced his return on here rather than on ultrasoccerblog, given that only daily obsessives (hi Werd!) or readers with e-mail alerts set up would have spotted the latter? But it has to be scenario 1) though, I never got the sense that he viewed the two sites as rivals

  10. …although if he did then yes Turf it could well be a Biggie (not-Greg) versus Tupac (Paul) sort of scenario, as they compete for the attention of millions (perhaps six of us) hardcore fans

  11. uncle turf — I’m intrigued that you genuinely seem to believe there’s an objective good/bad judgement to be made when it comes to comedy. Airplane! is the most comedic film I have ever seen, and it still stands up today as my enduring #1. There’s Something About Mary would be up there. Ted and Ted 2, for all that I literally wept with sweet laughter all the way through both of them, aren’t quite top-tier, but are still up there with the likes of Blazing Saddles and others that I can’t think of off the top of my head.

    Comedy’s a strange thing that ages very quickly, as a rule. Watching an episode of The Young Ones nowadays is quite alarming as it doesn’t appear to be funny at all. I’ve never found Dad’s Army funny and am baffled at the high esteem it’s held in. Et cetera. There is no objective truth in comedy and it’s intriguing that you seem to think there is. Is that a common view in the rational-materialist worldview? I don’t think it is… I bet your fellow rational-materialist Chris99 likes Ted! Maybe he’ll pop in with a pithy quip to round things off…

    There’ll be no blog fight from my end (missus). Paul’s was always more focused on covering the footy gaming scene in general, and he never really got going with a continuous diary-of-playing in the way I’ve always done it. I’d be surprised if he ever settled down to another multi-season ML, but we’ll see.

  12. This time of year is always funny in PES world isn’t it? Games and MLs get dropped, theories and reasons to stop playing are made. Oh and blogs come back. Only I see Paul isn’t back as he’s not playing any games – just like Turf isn’t (footy games at least). I haven’t for the past week or so either.

    I wonder if Paul will still qualify for his free game from Konami this year.

  13. NG – true, I watched Airplane! first with my dad and still do.

    Turf – I had three days on the trot holiday ages ago, first day was solely to get the main quest and shouts under my belt, day two baby sitting, day three an epic sidequest and explore…loved it.

    Abbey – I forgot I had Ultra tagged to give me mobile alerts, I thought it as my Bundesliga dvd or Safety Razor alert from Amazon.

  14. Shed — these are all reasons why I’m OK about stopping playing, and it is perhaps time to expose PES2015 to full scrutiny. To anticipate my end-of-year somewhat: the high point of PES2015 for me were seasons 4-9, roughly, with the seasons either side of that being less enjoyable for different reasons. That’s a fairly common experience down the years. I think only PES2012 (and of course PES5) just kept getting better and better. All the others had that same ‘camel hump’ of nougaty goodness in the middle, with less scrumptious wafer either side.

    werd — Airplane 2 is nearly as good, and I love the Naked Gun films too. I have Police Squad recorded from TV on old-fashioned VHS tape somewhere. A Scotch VHS tape, I believe. #Re-record, not fade away…#

  15. Paul “never got going” says NG, and it would “surprise” him if he ever settled. Harsh words there with our man on the spot Gary Newbon, let’s see what the Bedfordshire bullet comes back with in what three people at least might call the war on the web.

    In other news werd said Darryl has a small nob….

  16. NG – I can’t see any reason for him to be peeved as both blogs ran side by side once upon a time and you had a link to his site. Plus you did nothing wrong as you gave him plenty of opportunity to re-surface. But at the same time I can’t see him not knowing that you have re-started. I am more than happy to have both blogs in my life.

  17. Uncle – he would never say such a thing.

    NG – funny enough I would say that the seasons I played on top player where the best and they for me would have been around the 4-9 mark as well. The game was brilliant on that level, where games felt the most natural before players being nerfed on Superstar. If I had my time again I would have played on top player one bar passing all the way through to a treble and being number one ranked team. Once I played SS things were not enjoyable as it is no good having world class players and grinding out draws/one nil wins.

  18. Sometimes games aren’t meant to be played on the highest difficulty level except by those who are uber-proficient at them, which I’m certainly not when it comes to football games. In retrospect those first few stabs at Superstar that sent me back to Top Player were telling me something that I should have heeded. ‘Stay on Top Player,’ they were saying.

    For all that I mock the Iron Men of football gaming, I’m as guilty as they are of evaluating achievement in proportion with the difficulty. Also, because I’ve always graduated to the top level eventually, I wanted to do the same, forgetting that since PES2014, PES is different now. If I had my time again I’d have stayed on Top Player too.

  19. Sorry, Ted was pants. I see the fact that they’re making a sequel is more a sad indictment of the state of Hollywood than a reflection on the film’s quality.

  20. I am disappoint.

    Well, at least Paul agreed with me, back in the original brouhaha about the matter over on Ultrasoccerblog. At least Paul thought it was funny. Me and Paul were as one on the subject of Ted 🙂

  21. NG – funny as I was thinking earlier how you and Paul are as one in a lot of ways and that in the last couple of PES games you both never blogged at the same time whilst both playing PES. In fact we would have to go back to 2013 when you both played PES and both blogged at the same time. Just an observation.

  22. He’s playing the long game Darryl.

    What’s clever is the persona NG invented is so different from what we had come to expect none of us suspected. Time for the Keyser Soze big reveal – camera pans back to show a tanned NG draped in jewellery wearing a pair of chinchilla flip flops.

    Skyrim – blimey, it’s vast. I can’t really say anything given the continued probing of the game by others but I thought I was doing well finding a building, then it, oh my, and hang on a minute why is that arrow, if I have the what – bloody hell.

    The Witcher3 is beginning to appeal but I’m not sure I would want to go straight to it given how immense this experience has been.

  23. Uncle Turf – your joy in Skyrim wouldn’t be matched by any other game. There’s nothing like your first. Oblivion was mine, which means Skyrim and before it Fallout 3 aren’t as impactful. I stumbled across an actual Dwarf Fortress in Skyrim that stunned me with its size and scope.

    Darryl – there’s never really been a time when Paul and I were both blogging, so this situation here IS new territory. When the two blogs ran side-by-side in the period you mentioned, Paul was only very intermittently posting. Still, his has a very different focus as I touched on yesterday, with the ‘continuous playing diary’ format never lasting long in keeping with the waxing and waning fortunes of the games that have come along since PES2012. His is much more a general footy gaming/real football blog. The different focus is summed up by the pictures of real footballers in his image header, and the frequent mentions in his posts and comments of ‘real football’. Shocking stuff.

  24. Turf – we are on to him. It would be too time consuming for someone to run two blogs, hold a job and play a 15 season career mode on PES, hence why one of the alter ego’s has to take a break. Note how Paul is popping back up now that NG’s ML career is coming to an end.

    NG – nice answer.

  25. Turf – wassive isnt it. Try my trick of spinning the right stick about close your eyes and set off where the cursor points. Glad your enjoying it.
    Witcher 3 from what i’ve tinkered with look great. It’ll take a lot of time to scratch even the surface. Stick with Skyrim until you have had your fill is my advice.

    NG – call me heretic but Oblivion never really floated my boat,good yes but not great IMO. Fallout and Skyrim both came after but enjoyed them and put them in my top 10 games.
    Is that Dwarf fortress in the console or just pc versionof Skyrim? I fancy a Skyrim mooch tonight.

  26. I have the PC version with all DLC and expansions, I don’t know if it’s in the console base game/expansion or whatnot.

    The worst thing Uncle Turf could do right now would be to dilute the pool with another Skyrim-a-like game out of curiosity. Much like trying to read two books at once (or play two football games at once…), the likeliest outcome is you end up reading/playing neither.

  27. Werd – I have found similar things to NG and I’m on the DLC boosted PS3. If it’s the same one as I’m thinking of it was riddled with something (eventually all my Skyrim sentences will consist of ‘something happened, can’t say what, spoiler, something else’.

    I agree – a dive into another open world RPG would be daft, this is my Final Fantasy, first Zelda game, first Mario of this era, nothing will improve on it. I did actually play Oblivion quite a bit, and will revist it, but at the time my feeling was it was a little bit too fiddly character wise and overly dark.

    I don’t think Paul is old enough to have been through the same as me but I’d love his blog to expand to cover other hardware footy, particularly of yesteryore. Classic commenter trick suggesting some poor sod does loads of work while I do nowt…

  28. Hi all, my progress on PES has been very slow, I’m still only on season 3. I’m enjoying it but too often find it too infuriating for my tastes. Scripting is dialled to max on this one. I also wish I’d stuck on top player.

    So why haven’t I been playing much PES? That brings me to the reason I wanted to chip in here. Witcher 3. It’s the best game I’ve ever played. Seriously. I loved Skyrim, and Oblivion will always have a special place in my heart as my first open world fantasy RPG. But for me, Witcher blows them away. Sure, there’s very little freedom in character customisation, and its far more structured than the former two, but maybe this is why I enjoy more. I’d recommend anyone who has a chance should play this game. The combat, the characters, the believable world in which it’s set, all fantastic. The other night, I sailed a boat into Novigrad harbour, and seeing the crowds of people bustling on the shoreline in the distance was mindblowing to me. Difficult to explain why that one moment in particular cemented my love for this game, but it did.

  29. Filbert – From what i’ve eplayed it looks immense, even small details of watching farmer toiling in the fields or the sunsets, crows flyign from dead soldiers corpses.
    I long to get out of the training map and sail the seas. Oddest mission so far involved an old ladys frying pan…classic. New baby = less game time. I would like to have another go before PES 2016/Fallout 4. drool

  30. Chris – just seen your theory about Paul being a pregnant Grizzly bear as it was the last comment before a new post. Classic and a very credible theory. Saying that he used to get a bit Grizzly and was easy to rattle his cage on the subject of football.

  31. Filbert/werd – can it be varied on second, third, etc play throughs or is it quite fixed missions in a set order with the same guy? (I haven’t read reviews just seen footage) One of the things I doubt I’ll do with skyrim is replay the larger quests and just pick and choose odd things and a different approach based on a completely alternative character. Much as I loved something like red or dead its a one play only because of that linear progression. Presumably if it’s big then me play might be the entire year gone anyway.

  32. Turf – from what i’ve played (1% of the 100+ hours) side quests can be tackled in various ways and night and day play a part in how to do so. Filberts probs ya best bet.

  33. There’s no set order to complete missions as such, but there’s a suggested character level for each mission (attempting high level missions with a low level character is not recommended), so you’re fairly limited on what you can do when. Likewise, there’s not much character customization, you are Geralt, you choose where to distribute ability points as you upgrade and equipment, but not much else. Therefore, you’re pretty much forced to play the game as a sword wielding melee type, with secondary magic/crossbow/bomb abilities. Suits me fine, but maybe not everyone’s preference? There are tonnes of side quests though, and it’s vast, I’d say it’s unlikely a second play through would be needed. Just about every quest can be tackled in multiple ways. There are a lot of choices to make, in the vein of Mass Effect. I found these to have a lot more, er, effect than that game (and they’re certainly more potent than in the rather flabby Dragon Age: Inquisition), so I guess in a second playthrough you could make different choices and see what happens.

  34. Cool, cheers guys. It’s going to have to drop a lot in price for me though, I’ll get it when cex is as burdened by it as it is currently with watchdogs.

    Bought the little fella Pokemon y, lego lotr and sonic for his holiday 3dsXL he doesn’t know about. It’s not the machine for me, between free ipad stuff and consoles I can’t see the gap.

  35. Filbert – its just my luck mini werd deux made his debut in the midst of Bloodborne, a nice ML campaign, Witcher 3, fallout 4 and PES 2016.

    Turf – Mini Werd 1 aged 4 knows how to load PS3 herself (with the Lion King)and has a whole world daddy made in Minecraft. She wants to ride the horsey in Witcher 3 Mrs Werd has vetoed that. We however cruise GTAV and I keep my hand away from all guns.

    Currently reading Matchdays, an best seller in Germany and a rare translation into english(not many Bundesliga book about you know)

  36. Absolute sacrilege, Turf. The gap in quality of gaming experience between well produced 3DS games such as Fire Emblem or the brilliant Xenoblade Chronicles which I’m currently playing and free iPad dross is as huge as the gap between, erm (searches desperately for common reference points)…… Markaroff and Riften in Skyrim!!

  37. Filbert – hmmm, most intriguing, I believe I will have to look into Witcher 3 at some point now. I love the way gaming can create alternative worlds to inhabit and explore. GTAV is amazing for that, but it’s so overtly comedic and comic-book that it detracts from the effect. Skyrim is the next best one, and I’m sporadically exploring that at the moment and will not commit the mistake of diluting the pool with Witcher 3. Probably one for 2016 the way things are.

    The Witcher books are worth a look, I hear. Only thematically related to the games, but they have a good reputation among readers of ‘serious’ fantasy a la Game of Thrones.

    uncle turf – I wandered into the dwarf fortress after stumbling into it while wandering. I was absurdly under-levelled for most of the enemies, and had a great time trying to cheese my way past the big clanking robot things. I saw a cutscene at the end that didn’t make sense with characters I didn’t know, so I might have to go through it all again (or more likely never), but that’s fine, I hear this is just what happens in Skyrim from time to time and it has a way of straightening itself out. A++++ would stumble again.

    abbeyhill – welcome to Turfworld, a curiously solipsistic world considering his rationalistic stance on most matters, that’s entirely defined by whatever’s happening in Turfworld at the moment. People socialising at high volume in public libraries is perfectly fine – fact. There are no games for the PS4 – fact. Ted and Ted 2 are objectively unfunny – fact. And – cricket is good

  38. Based on that last paragraph (sans PS4 bit) I think I might be morphing into nG…

  39. Quite right. Although that wasn’t my point for the 3ds. The ‘it’s not the machine for me’ rather suggests it was not appropriate for me, not inappropriate full stop. It’s simply too small and hurts my neck looking at it abbeyhill. Regardless of games I just don’t like playing something that small any more.

    And I don’t believe I’m the only one to set things in stone…cough…pes5…

    Skyrim doesn’t always straighten. You can be left with items stuck in inventories or side quests unable to be completed because you haven’t done them in the right order. If you ever encounter the heartbreaking story of the bloke in the inn – well on my second play a f’kin dragon killed him before I could give him the news. Quest stuck forever. I was genuinely upset by that.

  40. My theory is holding up. Last night Greek parliament approved the bailout agreement and the latest is that Australia are 243-1.

  41. Turf – I often accidentally clout a NPC when a dragon attacks. When they usually run to help they then turn on me and I end up with a bounty on me head. I have to wait days before i’m allowed back in. I learned to run if a dragon attacks in a built up area.

  42. I’m doing my own version of Coast in Skyrim by skirting the very edge of the map first.

    I’ve also deliberately not done the part of the main quest (I’m avoiding all of it in fact) where the dragons are introduced into the game.

    Otherwise, as Ognob the archer/crap wizard, I’m just wandering around, mooching and fumbling with weapons, hats, boots and spells. Oh and I have a quite cool ghostly wolf.

  43. A what?! I’ve had the amusing dog but wolf?! The Coast idea is nice, ive rather blundered around and can no longer picture some towns or areas. I was convinced I’d been to one but the map said not. As head of various outfits I divide my time between three main cities, there are probably vast realms I haven’t seen yet. Not letting the dragons trigger is similarly interesting, they and their hugely weighty scales can be a diverting pain and like you werd ive bumped off the odd citizen.

  44. Skyrim on PC has a mod for everything, and I believe there’s one for resetting prematurely triggered missions/quests etc.

    Regardless of the modding advantages, I’d still always choose to play something like Skyrim on console first though. As things stand I really cannot be arsed setting up my PC (which isn’t my main computer) just to play a game on a working day, so it’s days off only, i.e. twice a week. If it was console I’d be able to play 7 days a week if I chose. This is the main reason console gaming is my first choice. Everything else – mods, customisation, just all-round tinkerability – the PC really is supreme.

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