Month: February 2017

Shimizu 2017

Season 8 – played 17, won 9, lost 1, drawn 7. If I’d won 4 of those 7 drawn matches (and I could have won all of them), I’d be top of the pile again. The table right now:

At least my goals-scored is a touch better than the average 1-per-match of the past few seasons. Averaging 1.4 per match isn’t much better, though, and explains those many draws.

Why is goal-scoring such a problem for me in PES2017? Is it me who’s at fault, or is it the game?

I have to say I feel it’s mostly the game, artificially holding me at bay. When you have 25 shots in a single match, get 13 of them on target, but only score 1 goal – well, that can happen. When that happens in a series of matches, it’s got to be a script at work. Transparently so, in my opinion.

Amazingly, it isn’t what frustrates me the most about PES2017.

I’m on record as to what irks me the most about PES2017: no-fouls, and no player individuality. These two issues are the Big Two that nothing else even gets close to matching in terms of feeling that the rich legacy of PES has been betrayed.

I get to half-time of most matches with zero fouls, and a token 1 or 2 by full-time if I’m lucky. Seriously.

22 of my 26 players all feel much the same as each other. Seriously.

So being artificially frozen out on the goal-scoring front is pretty low on the list of PES2017’s sins. And really, all I need to do is shoot better. I still find myself over-aiming and dragging shots wide. I don’t heed my own advice about respecting PES2017’s narrower-than-normal aiming arc in front of goal. I send too many shots whistling into the virtual stands.

Here’s a mini-compilation of several goals I have scored. They’re of various types, from various players:

Halilovic has a decent one at the end there. He’s emerged as the most old-style individual in a pretty samey bunch. I look at my entire 26-man squad and can pick out maybe 4 players who resonate with me as individuals. Halilovic tops the list. The others are Rice, Jarvis, and Friday. I can’t honestly say any other player would pass a blind taste test challenge, or will be remembered in a year’s time.

Halilovic reminds me of old-school Shimizu. Small and relatively weak, but able to ping a mean pass, and a tidy dribbler. He differs from Shimizu in one important aspect – he packs a mean shot when the conditions are right. Shimizu, after his PES5 incarnation at least, never had any real shooting power. Wait a month or two, and you might well see PES5’s Shimizu bagging a goal or two on these very pages.As well as the League, I’m going for the Europa League this season, with some gusto.

Between you and me, next season – Season 9 – will almost certainly be PES2017’s swansong. I feel this game is reaching its natural end. I reserve the right to change my mind, of course, but such is my current thinking.

I believe I’ll be in the Champions League next season one way or the other. So this season right here is my last chance to win the Europa League on PES2017.

Maximum focus.

I breezed through the group stage. The first time I’ve done so in any European competition on this game. 4 draws, though.

The draw for the Round of 32 pits me against Frankfurt.

Great stuff. I’ve loved playing against the German teams in PES2017. Always bags of atmosphere, and curiously, they have had proper derby-type feel to them with plenty of fouls (well, 4 or 5, which is dizzying by PES2017’s standards) and plenty of niggle.

By Friday’s post I’ll have passed through the transfer window. I’m not planning to indulge. There’s no point in getting new players just for the sake of getting them. I’ve got a large squad that’s more than capable of winning the League and the Europa League this season.

Friday the Third

So season 7 was a near-unmitigated disaster. We were the defending champions. We spent most of the season in the bottom half of the table. We went out of every cup competition early.

The only bright spot was hauling myself into a Europa League qualifying spot right at the end.

Season 8 is well underway. It’s a season in which I want to put right what once went wrong, Dr Sam Beckett-style. First and foremost, that means challenging for the league again.

I’ve had the kind of start needed to get back in amongst title contention.

The table after 7 matches:

Played 7. Won 5, Drawn 2, Lost 0.

Hmmmm……

Yes, just as a snooker player, and the spectators and commentators, after a couple of reds and a couple of blacks, all start thinking ‘147!‘, I’m thinking ‘Invincible season!

I shopped wisely in the off-season transfer market, which is to say, I shopped barely at all.

Here is my full squad for Season 8:

Image has been doctored to show all 26 squad players in one shot. It’s the largest squad I’ve had in an ML campaign for a very long time. I usually like to keep it around 21-23 players.

And that’s not my First XI either. This screenshot was put together from an FA Cup pre-match. That’s very much my B-team.

I’m going for 3 competitions – league, Cup, Europa League. After last season’s disasters I will happily field a B-team for the domestic Cup, and save my A-team for the league and Europa Cup.

Fielding my B-teams and C-teams lowers with the Team Spirit. Sometimes it’s as low as 65, which hasn’t been seen since my very first season of this career. The matches where this happens are surprisingly good. I won that 65 Team Spirit match, in the league, 2-0. Newly-promoted Blackburn were the opponents.

There were only two new arrivals. I picked up Dembele from the Youths. He’s rated 82 OPR at 18 years old. Shades of PES2014’s prominent bug there.

I also picked up a certain F FRIDAY on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Yes – I have brought back the Black Schwarz for his third stint at the club.

Only a year’s loan and it’s more of a whim than anything else. Look at all the strikers I’ve already got. I don’t need Friday. There was no reason to get him apart from the amusement of getting him. I’ve got him for meta-reasons.

He scored a scrappy headed goal in his first game back, and fluked his way into the Team of the Month for August mainly on the strength of it:

What am I thinking, bringing him back? Just that I want to enjoy my ML and let it generate stories. He will rarely start matches, but will often feature as a sub. Wouldn’t it be good if Friday the Third could come on and get a few critical goals in Season 8.

I’ve played the first 3 fixtures in the Europa League group stage:

My match against Napoli was one of the best matches of PES2017. A hard grind packed with fouls, as stop-starty as they come, finishing 1-1. The kind of match that a typical PES focus tester would tell the clipboard-waving Konami bods he doesn’t like. They don’t make football games for me anymore.

I think so, Sokratis

Season 7 has ended. But before dealing with anything else, I have to report that I’ve scored my first non-first-touch long-ranger in PES2017.

I’ve arguably scored two, in fact, and they came in the same match to boot. The hapless Leicester were the opponents. Here are the goals:

Prior to these, I would have believed that the only way to score from 25+ yards was with cannonball first-time shots.

As can be seen, in both cases I took several setting-up touches before firing in the long-range shots.

The first one, a 25-yard finesse job from Cavalcanti, arguably isn’t a true long-ranger in my own personal definition of the term. It’s not quite far enough out, the placement of the ball is low down in the middle of the goal – and it’s a finesse shot, rather than a full-blooded laces effort.

The second one, though, definitely is a full-on long-ranger. Halilovic the scorer from 30 yards. For scoring it, I made him my ‘My Favourite Player’ (Konami’s awkward diction, not mine) for the season.

The only quibble is that the ball doesn’t quite find the true ‘postage-stamp corner’ of the net. That aside, though, it’s my first ever PES2017 long-ranger that hasn’t been hit first-time and I’m very happy with it. Until further notice, it is my Goal of PES2017

Those goals made me feel incredibly happy for the rest of that session and most of the next. I was happy with the two players too, and eagerly deployed them in the following few matches, keen to see what they would do next.

Sadly, neither Cavalcanti nor Halilovic did anything of note for the next 5 matches. They might as well have not been on the pitch.

I swear there is a purposeful ‘limiter’ coded into this game that hobbles players who do anything good.

What would the point be of such a thing, you might ask? Well, such a ‘limiter’ would balance out the game in the long term, and prevent any one player or team achieving long-term dominance.

Where would such a limiter prove useful? Where is it most important to promote ‘balance’? Where? What kind of arena might that be beneficial to the game in? Come on, three guesses. Have you guessed yet? Have you?

It’s got to the point where I will think about deliberately rotating a player who’s just got a hat-trick, because there is no way the game will let him do anything in the next few matches.

So it feels to me, anyway. Other experiences are available.

Season 7 has finished. The final table:

Yes, I hauled myself up from the brink of relegation to a comfortable Europa League finish. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Master League’s league table scripting algorithm for the helping hand. I really couldn’t have done it otherwise.

Look at those goals scored. 37 in 38 matches – shocking. Is it me, or is it the game?

Not as terrible a season as it could have been. Getting that Europa League spot was massive for me. I think I’ll build a large squad for next season and indulge in some true squad rotation for the first time.

All the snark aside – and there will always be snark directed at a game played so often, for so long – I’m still really enjoying PES2017.

No, it’s not a PES I’ll remember with teary-eyed fondness in 10 years’ time. It’s definitely more on the PES2009 side of family. I.e., ‘Hey, remember that one? That one was pretty good, wasn’t it?’ That kind of ballpark.

Sokratis retired. I picked him up several seasons ago and he has been brilliant, one of the few players to feel like something of an individual.

I didn’t actually play his Old Boys testimonial. I was in a bad mood with the game at the end of the season, having sat through three button-mashy, no-fouls matches in a row, and didn’t fancy more of the same. The Old Boys testimonial match is always a poor match. The same code that makes the Rivals matches such a poor experience, mostly, must be behind it.

Onward I go. Season 8, you’re up. Incredibly, it seems that PES2017’s much-derided Master League is going to hit double-figures, and probably then some.

Goodbye yellow brick wall

Work and life combined mean I’ve played just one short session of PES2017 since Tuesday.

It was an intriguing session, as so many on PES2017 are. It also happened to be my entire fixture list for the month of March:

I’ve been eliminated from the FA Cup and the Europa League. I went out of the FA Cup on penalties to Crystal Palace. I went out of the Europa League on away goals to one of the made-up Konami teams.

So I was left to focus on the league. In March my record was played 3, Drawn 1, Won 2. Spurs are a tough team to play against in PES2017, as they were in season 2015-2016 in reality. We always get a PES that encapsulates the themes of the previous real-life football season. Let me be the first to predict that PES2018 will feature a ‘scorpion kick’ scoring animation possibility.

I scored a hatful of goals in those two won games.

That’s the first time I can remember scoring so many goals in back-to-back matches in PES2017. As regular readers will know, goal-scoring has been a problem for me from the outset. I’ve averaged just over 1 goal per match in most seasons, including my League-title-winning season.

It would have been interesting to play on after the above matches and see if the goal-scoring streak continued. Or if the invisible hand ‘corrected’ things and returned me to the straight-and-narrow.

Godwin had a barnstormer in the Man City match, bagging two and only just missing out on a hat-trick. His best match for me since arriving on loan in the January window. Predictably, in the following match I barely knew he was on the pitch.

It’s April in my season now – just look at the table:

A few posts ago I was scrubbing around near the bottom. Now look. This charge up the table is akin to the current real-life Leicester City suddenly appearing near the Europa places. It wouldn’t happen in reality, but it’s fine in unreality. It’s part of Master League.

Just before sitting down to write this post, I played my next fixture, which was one of the Burning Wall matches. A Rivals match, versus the Villa. I won 1-0, just about. It was one of the worst matches I’ve played in PES2017, a real 3/10-level game played at 1000mph and with a full-time fouls count of 0-0.

I have since entered the Edit menu and removed all Rivals settings from all teams.

See that last sentence in the blurb above – What lies in store for us this time?

The faint promise contained in that wording is of momentous, deep football gameplay. The sad reality is that 95% of all Rivals matches I’ve played have been empty, button-mashing, tedious tussles with no redeeming features whatsoever. Rivals matches, since their introduction in PES2016 last year, have been right down among the very worst individual football game matches I’ve ever played. I include online matches in that.

So enough is enough. The Burning Wall is not something I will ever see again in PES2017.

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