Once again the Master League news ticker manages to sum up the situation:
I don’t think anyone can begrudge us that. Season 3 has wound to a close. Promotion has been achieved via the playoff finals.
I went up! To the Premier League! Whatever the final verdict on PES2016, this is a Moment indeed.
On Tuesday I was confident that I’d do it, and now I’ve done it. Just shows you what ‘unbelievable belief’ can do.
In the 11 matches to the end of the season, I was only in trouble a couple of times.
One was a rivals match against Aston Villa. After I kicked off to start the match, I experienced a clairvoyant flash, and KNEW the following without any doubt: ‘As soon as I lose the ball here, Villa will sweep the ball forward and score, and then for the rest of the match I’ll barely get a sniff of a chance and it’ll end in a 0-1 defeat.’ And that’s exactly what happened.
I finished 5th, met Norwich in the semi-final, and Burnley in the final.
That final was a bit of a walkover, and so was the second leg of the semi-final. I did well to get anything going in that second leg, considering the scheduling pile-up that the game foisted on me for no reason at all.
The two matches were just two days apart. Half my squad were blue- or purple-arrowed, and nearly all of them were missing at least a quarter bar of stamina.
But I romped to the 3-0 win. PES2016, contrariwise as ever, played as if none of the stamina and form business really mattered. Which is part of what worries me about PES2016 — and all football games of recent years, in truth. None of the big three performance factors — stamina, form, player stats/skills — really seem to matter much.
I often wonder if the meagre amount of player individuality that undoubtedly does remain — the wonderful Castledine, for example — is all in my imagination. Something that I’m doing, not the game. What if the individuality of Castledine is just an emergent property of how I play, rather than something that’s baked-in? What if there’s really no more secret sauce? Say it ain’t so!
Castledine has really emerged as the most important player in my Master League side by a long way. Today’s goals video (further below) shows him at or near the centre of everything of significance.
Vietto is also quietly emerging as a very useful goal-scorer. Somewhat in the Gary Lineker mode. Nothing spectacular, mostly. Just bread-and-butter goals that seem to come when I need them.
Here’s the final table:
Unless the fabled Oct 29th update brings massive changes, Top Player is done with me as a viable difficulty level. Even if the Premier League punishes me badly on Superstar, I’m not coming back down. ‘Never say never’, they say, and it’s a wise saying too — but in this case, I’m happy to say ‘never again’ to Top Player.
Here’s a short goals digest of my run-in, culminating with a couple of goals from the playoff semi-final against Norwich and then the final against Burnley (that somewhat anti-climactic 6-1 walkover):
And so I go on to the Premier League. I’d have to look back to be sure, but I think this is my quickest promotion since PES2009, possibly since PES2013.
I really wanted this promotion, which is why I didn’t raise the difficulty to Superstar once I saw the way things were going.
PES2016 is still a wobbly game for me. The whole gameplay package screams ‘designed for the online player’. You can spend the entire match with your forefinger wrapped around R1 and there’s no consequence. There are no fouls and no free kicks — or so few fouls and free kicks as to be practically the same as none. And that fucking slide-tackle mechanic. I despise it, and despise myself for using it.
I mention these familiar bugbears in nearly every post because they’re all part of the problem. I started this blog way back in order to record my experience with PES, rather than as a vehicle of blind PES fan-worship and cheerleading. I am a fan, and I have worshipped and cheer-led many editions, but this edition, so far, doesn’t feel wholly like a PES game. It does feel like a pretty good football game. So far, though, I haven’t caught the thermal updraft of true PES greatness.
And so I end my promotion post on a thoughtful note. Three whole seasons into PES2016, I still have grave doubts about the game. It remains to be seen what the Premier League on Superstar difficulty will have to say about that.