Month: June 2017

No danger I’m a stranger to a PES2017 long-ranger

No time for any real kind of text-based post today. I’m in the midst of a logistic re-jig of my living arrangements and there are bits of computers and consoles scattered everywhere.

I have played one short, solitary session of PES2017 since Tuesday. It yielded yet another in a surprisingly long line of PES2017 long-rangers. Without checking, I believe this is the 6th or 7th true long-range goal I’ve scored in this game. Is there anyone out there who still hasn’t got one?

A first-time hit with the player’s wrong foot. Ziyech is a leftie. Hmmm. Not happy with that. But oh my days – the moment when the ball went in! You expect to see the ball fly past the stanchion, or be  batted away by the keeper. So it was astounding to see the ball ‘captured’ by the net. My entire PES-year of labour, repaid, right there.

My generally indifferent start to the season continues. The above goal was one half of a much-needed 2-0 win that’s lofted me to mid-table. I do believe I’ve got another few seasons left in me at Saint Etienne, and would like to get back in Ligue 1 contention even with this threadbare House Rules squad.

Quiet randomly during my domestic rearrangement, I played a match on the modded PC version of PES2013. This was the PESJP Patch that allows the player to adjust referee strictness and ball weight and the like. I played one match in Master League on Professional with a heavy ball, found it ludicrously tough just to complete a pass, and didn’t get a single shot on goal. I had Coynborough straight-red-carded for an innocuous double-X tackle that wouldn’t even have stopped play on PES2017.

No, I’m not about to flip-flop to PESJP PES2013 on PC. I just thought it was interesting. The PC platform might be Pro Evolution Soccer’s only real long-term hope of escaping the ghetto of online multiplayer.

I’ve bought a new holepunch and everything

PES2017 with House Rules gave me a very decent Season 12. Season 13 has begun with the game feeling oddly becalmed.

Well, I say ‘becalmed’, but that’s not the right word. What I mean is that the game has gone into full-on manic mode. Every match in my most recent session motored along at 1000mph, with lots of mashing and thrashing and sliding about – the awful, lowest-common-denominator, ‘flowing’ gameplay that PES has sadly become rather noted for in recent years.

Session variance is to blame, I am sure. Session variance – that staple ingredient of PES’s secret sauce, which so many on the forums seem to be bizarrely unaware of, particularly around patch times.

My full squad and First XI for Season 13:

My veteran CB of last season, Antonnson, hit 81 OPR, and under the terms of my House Rules, had to be sold.

I only brought in two new players over the summer, both of them 30-something veterans in decline. DOUGLAS at CMF and ZIYECH at AMF. I couldn’t get any more. I’ve got £31m in the transfer kitty, but a salary budget of just £13k. I can’t even sign any Youths. I’ll get by with a squad of 21 players until mid-season at least.

Cristiano Ronaldo was a remarkable teenage player in real life. In PES2017, aged 18, he’s currently nothing at all, I’m half-unhappy, half-pleased to report. Ronaldo on the pitch or on the ball is the same as any other Youth player, maybe even a little worse.

The pleased side of the equation comes from being able to keep Ronaldo until he does start getting good – or gets to 81 OPR, whichever comes first.

In my real life, the recent spell of busyness is settling down. I am able to report that a reorganisation of my computing life means I will soon be able to switch a PC on and off with the same causal ease as a console.

Which is a fancy way of saying that I’m setting up my computer desk in a different, uncluttered room. I’m setting it up for dedicated use. No longer will I have to move a load of junk from the computer desk to the bed to get at the PC (and then have to move everything back again afterward – a powerful disincentive to use the thing). Those days are gone!

My aborted attempt to play PES5 a few weeks ago ended partly because of the fiddliness (at the time) of PC gaming.

But the main reason why it didn’t really take off was my feeling of unfinished business with PES2017.

What I’m saying here is that before this summer is over, I will be re-revisiting PES5 in a more concentrated fashion. Or one of the other old PES games. Probably not until August, though, as I do still have the unfinished-business feeling with PES2017.

For now, Season 13 with Saint Etienne is up and running. I started with two draws and a defeat. I don’t think I’ll be leading them back to the summit of Ligue 1 this season.

Make benefit glorious nation of New Zealand

Season 2 of my time with Saint Etienne has yet to get going. I’m also now the manager of New Zealand, and there’s a summertime tournament to play – the Asia-Oceanian Cup, no less.

I’ve played the two opening matches. Drawn one, lost one, as above. Thumped by Uzbekistan – the shame. In my last few friendlies before this tournament I seemed to get into the groove playing with the New Zealand lads, scored a few goals, and got a few good results. But it all went to pot come kick-off here.

Here’s the Group Table with one match remaining, against Qatar – victory will see me through:

I’ll be playing that over the weekend.

It’s the perfect real-time time of year to be playing this new-to-me segment of Master League. The sun beating down. June. No domestic football. That latter one is a huge bonus. PES – and even FIFA – long ago overtook ‘real-life’ football in relevance for me.

This time next year we’ll be watching news footage of fans being tear-gassed and baton-charged in Russia – I predict the Russian police will win every single one of those encounters – and when the matches take place, I’ll be fulminating about the unpunished penalty-box grappling that has all but destroyed football as a legitimate sport. About 30 penalty-box infringements will take place per match. but there’ll be maybe 1 penalty awarded per match – if the referee feels like it. Usually none of them will be awarded. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this phenomenon isn’t that it completely destroys football’s credibility as a sport (which it emphatically does), but that precisely nobody really cares about it. I know exactly how that kid felt when he announced that the Emperor was in the buff.

But I’ll save that rant for next June. Now, today, I’ve got a one-time effort to stay in the Asia-Oceanian Cup.

I’m also searching for new players for my forthcoming Saint Etienne campaign. These are my current search criteria:Using my squad of average players (Peter Crouch and Regen Ronaldo and others are in the high 70s, but all others are high 60s/lower 70s), I need to take Saint Etienne back to the big time. When I pitched up a season ago they’d just won Ligue 1 and were in the Champions League. I avoided relegation with them on the last day of this season. In real life I’d have been sacked. Here and now, in fantasy life (fantasy life is best life), I get to go on and see if I can turn the ship around.

Just before the season ticked over to the next, I was offered the manager’s position at Watford. They were relegated from the Premier League last season. I admit I was tempted at the notion of another battle to get out of the Championship and then take on my old club in the Premier League. My finger hovered over the accept button…

But I backed off making another move. I’m all about stability in Master League. I felt that to move again now would only invite the devil in, and then I could easily find myself moving on at the end of every season.

Besides, I’ve only just got to know my players here at Saint Etienne. And having led them to the brink of disaster, I feel like taking them back to the top.

The Heat of the Blight

Season 1 of my new adventure with Saint Etienne has concluded. This is Season 12 of my PES2017 Master League overall. I transferred to Saint Etienne from Coventry City at the start of the current season.

It’s been a tough season. I’ve observing some rather stringent House Rules, to prevent the game running away with itself and becoming too easy. Here they are:

  • No player in the squad rated above 80 OPR.
  • Any player whose OPR hits 81 or above can still be picked but must be sold or released on Day 1 of the next transfer window.
  • New signings must be either Youths, Regens (sub-79 OPR), or Veterans in decline.

These rules have produced a very competitive, edgy Season 1.

Team Spirit spent most of the season in the doldrums – probably a good thing, on the whole.

Towards the end of the season Team Spirit picked up, and the quality of the matches dropped considerably.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. The fast-and-furious ‘thrash metal’ gameplay that is such a blight on Pro Evolution Soccer in its current phase – constant possession turnovers; ceaseless end-to-end flow; insta-responsive players who all feel the same; kung-fu slide-tackles galore, with not a referee’s whistle to be heard – seemed to increase, and I can only blame Team Spirit.

Such frantic, thrash metal gameplay takes everything that’s ever been great about PES, and all but destroys it. But it’s what the marketplace wants. Even the so-called hardcore fanbase wants this kind of thing, if the forums are any guide. So it’s what we’ve got.

But enough matches stayed good to make the overall experience still a solid 8/10, bordering on an 8.5.

Here was the table with 1 match remaining in the season:

I was facing relegation to Ligue 2. It was my own stupid fault, having squandered leads in successive matches immediately prior to this table screenshot being taken.

I needed to win my last match to stay in Ligue 1. I really wanted to win it as well. Relegation to Ligue 2 would have been interesting, but it’s a long, long slog to get through a second-tier season nowadays, with no guarantee of promotion at the end of it, as I discovered the first time around with Coventry City.

I won the final match 2-0, and waited to see how my players would react at the final whistle. I got a standard last-day sequence of cutscenes, and surmised that I’d survived. I’d have liked to see my on-field avatar David Pleating onto the pitch, but never mind.

Survived I had:

On to the next season now, with great enthusiasm and curiosity. I’m due to clear out a few players who are nudging the 80-81 OPR mark. I have already arranged to sell Regen Griezemann. But I might hang onto Regen Ronaldo for another season. He’s still only 76OPR, and pretty average.

I’ll be looking at the strikers. The Crouch and Friday partnership had a golden few matches in the middle of Season 1, but fell away badly toward the end. It might be time for Jarvis to take Friday’s place as first-choice. Or I might swoop into the Youth team for a no-name player and see what I can make of him. This kind of thing is what these Saint Etienne seasons are all about.