Month: December 2016

What is my most favourite day of the year?

in-the-tunnelThe question posed by the title will be answered at the end of the post.

Season 6 is underway. Before getting to any kind of action, I had a problem to deal with: kits.

pes2017-aborted-season-6-kits

I grabbed a couple of templates from PESFX, and set to work with colour sliders in my image editor. Most of the time I just go with whatever I end up with. This time, I disliked the two kits (seen on the right) that I ended up with.

I did play with them for the first few matches of the season — and then decided, nope.

So I reverted back to the ‘stock’ strips I started with in Season 1. The two CCFC 2016-17 Home and Away strips.

The aborted kits will be seen briefly at the start of my forthcoming ‘Goals of Season 6’ video.

This season I’m recording every goal I score for the purpose of compiling into a mammoth supercut of all my Season 6 goals in chronological order.

It’ll be interesting to see how many goals among them will be great goals. I find PES2017 to be the weakest PES ever in terms of great goals. Even vanilla PES2014 had better goals than PES2017 tends to have.

As last season’s FA Cup Winner, I played the Community Shield against the champions, Manchester United, and won it 2-0.

pes2017-season-6-won-the-community-shieldThe Community Shield was followed by my first league match of the season — against Manchester United.

This was actually my FOURTH consecutive match against them. At the end of last season I played Manchester United in the Cup Final. Then my final fixture was against them too. Now, here at the start of Season 6, I also played back-to-back fixtures against Man Utd. Making four in a row against the same opponent. Is this the maximum possible?

It’s quite common to play the same team twice or even three times in succession in one season, particularly in later seasons when you’re often in two-legged European ties against opponents from your own division, either side of a league fixture against that same team.

But four times in row, albeit across separate seasons… I’d venture to say this is the maximum possible, and that it has to be across two seasons as here. Or can anyone think of another scenario where you might play the same team four (or five) times in succession in the same season? I’d imagine it’s somehow theoretically possible, but practically impossible to see in real circumstances.

My results against Man Utd in these four matches were 1-0, 1-1, 2-0, and 0-0. I never lost, and only conceded one goal. They might be the champions in my ML world, but I worry more about playing Stoke.

Here’s the table after 6 matches — spot the worrying statistic:

pes2017-league-after-6Two goals scored. Two.

I went looking for a striker and started with an old Championship Manager trick: checking out last season’s top scorers in the Championship.

Who should I see near the top of that list but one F FRIDAY. Hmmmm, I thought, and popped off a cheeky bid.

Brighton wanted £27,000,000 for Friday, about £20,000,000 more than I was willing to pay for what would be a bit of speculative fun rather than a serious investment. That was the end of that.

back-to-4-2-2-2

In the end my transfer activity was rather tame. I splurged most of my cash on R PALACIO, a decent 19-year-old AMF/SS/CF type.

I’m not a big fan of this trend in recent PESes, I have to say. More and more, it seems, midfielders and attackers are capable of playing in three or more positions.

I vastly prefer PES players to have just one or two positions – and for the two-position players to be comparatively rare.

This restriction produced better matches and player individuality back in the PS2 days — but what wasn’t better in the PS2 days? It’s not just nostalgia. 12-15 years ago, PES was objectively better than it is today.

PALACIO has bags of skills and really good stats. He cost £20m. On paper, in theory, he’s the ideal Pro Evo player. On the pitch, in practice… Well.

At the time of writing I’m about 10 matches into playing with Palacio and he has done nothing. He’s looking like just another identikit nuPES player. One of the many-too-many generic AMF-SS types that completely bore me to tears, frankly. But it’s still early days.

After plugging away for several matches with goals few and far between, I reverted briefly to the 4-2-4 that brought me so much success in the Championship on Top Player.

It didn’t do squat for me here, so I’ve reverted even further, at the time of writing, to my traditional 4-2-2-2.

Early signs are not encouraging. Not only is PES2017 not a PES of great goals for me, it’s currently hardly even a PES of goals.

europa-cup-pre-matchThe big departure for me this season is the Europa League.

Early results were not encouraging — a 0-2 walloping away to a made-up Konami team stuffed with TRAILLURZAKIPPZ-type players just felt wrong.

I recovered to gain a creditable 0-0 draw away to Dortmund, in a stadium positively dripping with atmosphere and emotion. A good, solid match, this one.

Then I beat Toulouse 2-0 at their place with a couple of interesting goals that I will save for the compilation at season’s end.

europa-cup-group-after-3One last bit of business — another oddity. I’ve been picking Rice from the start again, in my desperate search for some kind of edge. After he’d played a few matches back in the team, I saw this very peculiar menu screen message:

puzzling-rice-spielWhat’s peculiar about that message, you ask? Look again.

Do you see it?

It’s that mention of real matches.

It implies, first, that Rice, when he’s not in my team, has been playing in matches that aren’t real.

It implies, second, a whole other imaginary conceptual world beneath the Master League surface that I can see — a world of Reserve team fixtures, Youth Cups, etc., for Rice to play in. Why don’t we actually have things like that?

I’m not saying I want to be able to play Reserve fixtures, but I think I’d play one or two per season. What a great way to road-test a few new players and Regens and Youths, rather than risk them in full matches.

Having a proper Reserve team dimension to Master League is probably not a great idea for a few reasons.

Master League is already a somewhat shaky world that doesn’t make much sense when examined too closely, so it’s probably not wise to introduce another layer of stuff that can go wrong and introduce complexity. The lesson of our glorious Master League past is that simplest is best.

No new post this coming Tuesday, remember. I continue to observe holiday hours, even though by then the whole thing will be well and truly (and thankfully) over.

January 2nd is my favourite day of the year. #gladitsallover

Hanging up my stocking on the free kick wall

pes2017-season-5-cup-winners-group-photo-sans-cupSeason 5 has wound to a close in spectacular, memorable fashion. Not on the League front – I’ll get that bit of business out of the way with first:

pes2017-season-5-final-table11th. A very poor final few matches saw me finish not just a long way off the hoped-for top 6 place, but with an average goals-scored ratio of less than 1 per match.

Usually this stage of an ML – my second season in the top flight – would see me laying the groundwork for a serious title challenge in the next season. But something tells me I won’t even be close to being a title contender in Season 6. We shall see.

Something also tells me that the trajectory followed by so many others with PES2017 will not be the one followed by me. The way things look now, I’ll still have serious business with PES2017 by February, and there’s not many saying that.

‘Twas ever thus, back in the PS2 days, and I’m pleased that PES2017 is showing me this side of itself.

The highlight of my run-in was this goal — a type that most of us will have scored in PES2017, but was my very first:

I beat Arsenal in the Cup semi-final (2-0, fairly straightforward). Which led me to the Final, against Manchester United.

pes2017-season-5-fa-cup-final-pre-match

A sighting there of Man Utd’s current First XI in season 2020-21. Just a couple of names that don’t feature in 2016-17. One of this Master League world’s biggest disappointments is how the AI teams conduct themselves in the transfer market, or fail to.

The match itself was an anti-climactic one. Not one of PES2017’s horror shows, I’m thankful to say — meaning the types of matches I’ve been moaning about from Day 1, the 1000mph fouls-free slidefests. But it wasn’t great either. Somewhere in-between.

Then I got a free kick about 28 yards out. Something like that.

I’d never scored a proper over-the-wall free kick in PES2017 before this moment. Never even really come close. So this was one of the year’s standout moments. I’ll remember the moment this free kick flew in as long as I remember PES2017.

And that was the winning goal. I won the FA Cup.

pes2017-season-5-won-the-cup

you-won-the-cupSeason 5 ends with silverware on the table for the first time since my promotion from the Championship.

As our calendar year 2017 heads for its conclusion, PES2017 is still going, stronger than ever.

PES veterans often speak warmly of the old games’ gritty, grinding 1-0 wins (and losses). For me, PES2017 delivers plenty of these types of matches. I enjoy them immensely. So the general outlook for PES is the brightest it’s been for many a year – probably not since PES2012, or even PES2010, has a PES held up this strongly for me at this time.

The only downer is the lack of player individuality, which is annoying me more than any other issue at the moment, yes, even more than no-fouls, which is still a massive problem in its own right. Once again I will be shipping out all the clones. Halilovic – who’s just a generic bundle of pixels with the name ‘Halilovic’ attached – is top of the Do One list. There are others.

I’m also going to strenuously resist helping myself to Youth Regens, no matter how enticing they might be. They’re never great to begin with, and I need to start making progress now.

A post-season clearout and a fresh start in Season 6. There’s nothing like Master League.

CHRISTMAS BREAK

I’m going to take some time off over Christmas and New Year. This period is just a normal working fortnight for me, and I do have a lot else on besides, so it makes sense to give myself some breathing space regarding the blog.

Here’s the blog’s Christmas-New Year schedule:

  • Tuesday 27th December – no new post.
  • Friday 30th December – normal post
  • Tuesday 3rd January – no new post.
  • Friday 6th January – back to normal. Yes, we made it through another one, people…

So I’m taking the next two Tuesdays off. Friday posts will appear as normal.

I will remain active in comments as much as possible. I’ll also be putting in some serious PES time in and if anything astounding happens there I will be sharing it.

Please do all keep your comments coming, about PES, about gaming in general or, if you must, about ‘real’ football. (Boxing Day football is one of the highlights of my Christmas, but what terrible fixtures it’s thrown up this year!)

It only remains to wish all readers, commenters, and lurkers alike a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the imminent New Year.

Walace arives

I breezed through the remainder of the mid-Season 5 transfer window without signing anyone special – until Deadline Day.

Regular readers will be aware that I have a special fondness for the DMF role in PES. Eric Dier is my latest tryout, and while he’s good, he’s so far not been great.

After searching for a DMF I found and pursued this new addition to the squad:

pes2017-walace-arrives-on-loan

Walace — that’s Walace with one ‘l’, please note — is a player who’s been mentioned a lot in comments over the past few months. I’m always in search of long-range goals in PES. Walace is allegedly the man to go to for them.

I follow a policy of not taking on recommendations for players in PES. There are exceptions — Kim Cyun Hi in PES2008(PS2/PSP) springs to mind.

My policy is that if a recommended player turns up naturally in the normal course of things, i.e. whilst I am searching for players, I might take a look. They’re not automatically disqualified, is what I mean to say.

So it happened with Walace.

He’s 26. He’s the current South American Player of the Year. He wasn’t interested in a move to my club.

So I put in a loan offer. Master League being the contrariwise game mode that it is, the loan offer was accepted.

Walace is a 6-month loan. I’ve got him until the end of the season. If he turns out to be the long-range king I want him to be, I will move heaven and earth to keep him.

He’s played about 5 matches at the time of writing. So far, nothing. The few shots I’ve managed to get off with him have been weak ones right into the keeper’s chest. Admittedly he was on a red down-arrow for his first three matches, and only came on as a sub. I will keep plugging away,

My Squad for the second half of Season 5 is below — Rice and Jarvis have both now been benched:

pes2017-mid-season-5-squad-and-first-xi

Vitor was a very late addition as cover for Halilovic at AMF. Halilovic, by the way, has so far failed the individuality test. He’s had half a season of playing in nearly every match and so far he’s handled like just another identikit nuPES clone. He’s got the rest of this season to show me something, anything.

pes2017-january-season-5-results

Results are not great. Good enough to hold my place in upper-mid-table, but not good enough to close the gap to the Europa League spots. Yet.

pes2017-after-29

I played the Quarter Final of the FA Cup against Everton. A terrible, low-quality, hack-and-slash match with a grand total of 1 foul per side. 1000mph, fast and furious fun fun FUUUUN!!!!

God help us all. Who honestly believes that the all-action online style of frenzied football gaming is any good, really? Do online football gamers even think it’s any good? I see their frequent moans on the forums and I do wonder.

I won the match, through gritted teeth, 2-0, and thankfully the game got back to normal for the next match.

Arsenal are up next in the Semi-Final. I’d love to win the FA Cup this year to bulk out my rather threadbare trophy cabinet:

pes2017-mid-season-5-trophy-cabinet

I played Arsenal in the league and won the match 1-0 with a literal last-second winner from Jarvis. A true punch-the-air moment and a real watershed for me in this ML. Arsenal have been my toughest nut to crack in this ML. Now I know how to live with the big boys. It’s all about patience.

Patience is a virtue, and even more so in PES2017. The direct one-two-three-pass-shoot route to goal often doesn’t work.

I’d love to get into the Europa League next season, Season 6, as it’s traditionally a competition that passes me by in every edition of PES. Even in the PS2 days.

BOOM

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. It’s been a long time. But my time is finally here. And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky. And they’re not gonna hold me down no more, no they’re not gonna-

Pardon me. I have scored a long-ranger. That makes, what, a grand total of three long-rangers I’ve scored in PES2017 now? If I’m being generous.

I knew it had a chance the moment I pressed the shoot button. Most often in PES2017, the keeper saves, or it hits the woodwork, or it sails wide. This was a rare instance of none of those things happening. The perfect PES moment happened instead.

The scorer was Gabi, a Youth Regen who is still only 17 years old. I was just moaning on Tuesday how there are no consistently great Youths, and that’s still true of Gabi as well, but he seems more consistent than most. I’ll be keeping him around.

He’s a hot prospect for the future. In an era when PES has sadly had its individuality balls well and truly cut off, the few baritones in this hall of eunuchs really stand out. Gabi stands out.

I tentatively nominate hm for the short list of players in PES2017 who feel somewhat like individuals, albeit in a ghostly fashion. I’m tentative because there’s no telling if this ghostly feeling of individuality is anything more than the anomaly of a few sessions, or something that could last. Cassano, for example, another Youth Regen, since scoring that goal has done precious little (actually, he’s done nothing).

pes2017-terry-arrives

I’ve made it to the January transfer window in Season 5. John Terry appeared a season ago but I resisted until now. The Youth team system is crazily overpowered.

I’m generally horrified at the world class players that appear in the Youths. You could make a decent ML team just out of Youth Regens, it seems to me. I helped myself to Terry, Leighton Baines, Jesus Navas, and a few others. The window’s not over at the time of writing.

pes2017-baines-arrives

I’ve already wished for PES2018 to have a referee strictness setting, so that we can have an average of 8-12 fouls per side in every match (yes, in every match).

I will now add another wish: a Classic Master League option. Ultra-tight transfer and wages budget that doesn’t ease up until the club is at the Treble-winning level. No Youth team – or at least one with a severely reduced capacity to produce starlets, meaning NO Regens in it. Ever.

Neither of the above will ever happen, of course.

Season 5 is going differently to Season 4. Last year I had no players even on the first page of the top scorers’ list. This season, Lobato is right up there:

pes2017-season-5-top-scorers-after-22

With 22 matches played, I still stand a decent chance of making it into the Europa League spot in my second top-flight season.

pes2017-season-5-after-22

I keep getting close to the top 6, only to promptly have ‘one of those matches’ and fall back again.

I’m reluctant to dip into the transfer market and snap up ‘Generic Attacking Midfielder Type-C2’, which is so drearily easy to do in this ML, but it might be the only way.

One last morsel before finishing today – my first free kick scored in PES2017. Bit of a ‘cheat’ way of doing it?

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