Season 5 of Master League on PES2016. This is where things should be taking off – and they are.
Last time I mentioned getting a ‘name’ player and making do with Youth Regens to bulk out the remainder of my squad. I’ve gone ahead and done that.
So who did I get? I got another ageing striker, that’s who I got. I’m building a kind of Dad’s Army, in some ways. My very own Expendables.
Here’s the kind of picture you see filling up the PES forums every year during the weeks between the demo and full release::
There are people who absolutely love looking at player faces. I know this and accept this. It’s a valid lifestyle decision. Hey, it’s a small world, and we’ve all got to get along.
Cavani is the ‘name’ player for Season 5 that I was talking about the other day. Cavani: the other Uruguayan, the one who’d get all the attention if Suarez and Forlan had never existed.
Cost: £22,000,000. Fine, he’s not that big a name, perhaps not even in the second rank of names, but he’s another big, powerful striker. It seems I’m making a theme of them in PES2016. He’s also over 30 in this ML world and about to go into decline. Another thing I’m doing different this year.
I like a big striker in PES (nods at Crouchy) and in real life — how is Peter Withe not on the Classics list? Mark Hateley? — but it might be argued that with Dzeko already on the books (and staying put), I don’t need another big man up front.
But when Cavani popped up in my searching around, I was instantly – instinctively – sure that this was the way to go. Cavani and Dzeko up front. Castledine behind. Arcas wide on the right. And wide on the left…
I sold a few players and scrimped together enough cash to spend on Rakitic. I snapped him up for a low-seeming £7m from Barcelona. He’s got the most astounding hair.
Which doesn’t bother his manager as much as it probably should. I’ll share this secret with any men out there going bald and hating it: you soon get over it.
Cavani and Rakitic are both over 30. I might only get a few good seasons out of them before they become bench players for a further season or two and then sold. It’s not something I can really explain. But something about this path calls to me and I’m taking it.
I had a new crop of Youths and helped myself. I picked up Berbatov and Valencia and Domizzi and Julio Cesar.
My Season 5 starting XI and squad:
New-style PES doesn’t really do players rated over 90, so the 80s are the new 90s.
My remaining weaknesses are the DMF and LB positions. I’ll live with these weakness areas for now and look to plug them in mid-season, or maybe even next season, depending on how things go.
My current LB, Marin, hasn’t developed as expected. Cambiasso as a DMF has never really taken off either – he’s one of new-style PES’s identikit players, sadly. What I mean by this is that his cocktail of stats and attributes and animations don’t produce anything that feels truly individual. He moves and passes and shoots and turns-on-a-sixpence just like 95% of all other players. You could swap him out for just about any of those other 95% and you’d never really notice. How times have changed in PES. My quest for big, lumbering centre forwards is a quest for the other 5%.
Let’s see the new boys in action and scoring goals. This clip actually starts with an established player, Giorza, scoring a great goal – the type I call a Big Dipper. The other goals are all bread and butter types.
Check the blatant handball from Cavani right at the end there. I dislike game niggles when they benefit me too. Granted, it’s problematic to program handball into football games, but that kind of handball should definitely be called.
These goals might give the impression that I had a great start to Season 5. I didn’t.
Here was the table after the opening few matches — this might amuse readers who thought my confidence last week was somewhat misplaced:
Rock-bottom of the league. My own stupid fault, mostly. I streaked into a 2-0 lead before half-time on the opening day against Villa, but lost focus and let them peg me back to 2-2. That’s the only point on show above.
I did get a grip eventually, and started knocking in plenty of goals with Cavani and Dzeko. Here’s a delightful little compilation, if I may say so myself:
First Cavani nets a classic header from a viciously direct Giorza cross. I love the way he cuts in front of the defender to glance the header into the net. And then comes a classic hat trick from Dzeko. Right foot, header, left foot. The header is an unusual sort of goal that had me grinning.
Enjoying unusual moments is why we play football games, I think. On the face of it, most football gaming is rather routine (another reason why we love it), but those periods of patient ordinariness are often punctuated by moments that have you grinning and watching replays.
That resurgence in form brought a few wins and that shot me up the table:
My goals-scored column is very healthy there. If I can staunch my leaky defence, I can get into the top 6, and possibly even into the title race. All Master League players will know that it’s entirely possible to storm up the table from almost any position, thanks to the famous/notorious rubberband effect.
For once I’ve got some players appearing on the top scorers’ list:
The game on Superstar is very tough, but enjoyable. I think I’ve hit a sweet spot where the game feels good and tough in exactly the right proportions.
Getting results against the lesser and middling teams (teams like myself, in other words) are essential, and I’m doing that.
A great month apart from that result against Stoke, which annoyed the hell out of me. The pressure from the AI was obnoxious.
The image on the right is a visual representation of how Stoke play.
They are totally my bogey team.
There’s a bogey team for me every year. For some reason it’s usually Sunderland, but this year it’s definitely Stoke. I’ve had a few results against Stoke, but the relentlessly physical way they play suggests that Konami have been taking the real-life Stoke’s reputation a touch too seriously.
All the niggles and gripes and grumbles aside, over the past few sessions I’ve really been having a good time with PES2016.
Nope, the franchise isn’t what it used to be. Online multiplayer has had a terrible numbing effect on PES. The series has gone soft on player individuality and soft on fouls (or ‘interruptions’).
But… like many of the PS3-era PES games before it, PES2016 does seem to have a depth and playability that exceeds the sum of its parts. I’m enjoying PES2016 far more than I’m not enjoying it. My modest skills at the game should make it last a few seasons longer for me than for many others. There’s a reasonable chance I’ll still be playing PES2016 in the actual year 2016.