Groundhog Pay

I won the Invisible Cup!

It was a long Season 7, that has now drawn to a close. It finished in the small hours of this morning, the second day of February 2018. Is it me, or did January seem to flash past in about 5 minutes?

And today is Groundhog Day, of course, which is somehow fitting in a number of ways that there’s no time to delve into. I will be watching the movie Groundhog Day later today, as has become my February 2nd tradition every year. People think it’s just an amusing romantic comedy from the 90s. Which it is, but it is also the key to understanding life.

I put together a short video that features all the goals, in the order they were scored, from the FA Cup Final – a tough match against Manchester City. I had one of my CBs sent off midway through the first half for a sliding tackle from behind. It was still 0-0. I played the rest of the match with 10 men. Historically in PES (and before it in ISS), I’ve made something of a specialty of playing tough matches with 10 or even 9 men. There was one old edition of ISS – the beloved ISS98, I think – in which I so regularly performed heroics with 9 or 10 men, that I started to wish there was an option to play with reduced numbers all the time.

Here is the vid – there are a couple of League goals just before the Cup Final goals, including one very quirky goal that seemed to be scored with Kenedy’s neck (NECK):

Look at the free kick that I have from about 40 yards out at around the 55 seconds mark. That free kick is evidence of why fouls and free kicks are so crucial in a football game.

You can see me thinking over a shot, but deciding, rightly, that I’d just be giving possession away.

So I switch the cursor to a striker, Kubo, and walk him across to receive a sly pass. I flub the one-two – Passlack wasn’t supposed to receive the first pass – and there’s an attempted lofted one-two with that man again, Kenedy, but the ball drops kindly to Raya, who sticks the ball away. That put me 1-0 up in the Cup Final.

Fouls and free kicks have to be in football games, to regularly generate such alternative kinds of situations. Fouls and free kicks cannot be missing. They are missing, on the whole, in PES2018. For that reason alone, PES2018 can never be considered a serious football game, never mind a serious PES game. I’ve said my piece on this many times, but it always bears repeating. Hats off for Groundhog Day!

Man City scored their equaliser late on and it looked like Extra Time, but I straight-from-kickoffed the AI, a very satisfying turn-the-tables moment.

And so I got to see my in-game avatar David Pleating onto the pitch, and my players cavorting around, and then the anti-climactic moment of them huddling around a blank spot where the Cup was clearly meant to be, but isn’t. Would it kill Konami to create a bogus trophy, or let us design one in Edit mode, or something?

In the League I held on for 3rd place and a Champions League spot for Season 8.

With Season 8 being my final season, it means that I won’t ever compete in the Europa League in PES2018. As I say every year, the Europa League/WEFA League in PES is historically one that gets skipped over, bar the odd season here and there, as my team tends to finish either below or above the relevant league positions.

Overall my feeling is that this season was a solid 9/10 for overall experience.

‘So, does this mean you’re reconsidering your decision to drop PES2018 after the next season and then not bother with PES2019?’

Between now and PES2019’s release, regular readers will naturally have questions like this occur to them quite often.

The short answer is ‘no’. Part of the reason I’ve kicked back and relaxed with PES2018 over the past season is my awareness that I soon won’t have to play it or any other nuPES ever again.

The franchise has moved on to new territory where I cannot follow. I have football gaming needs that nuPES doesn’t meet. The only place where I can have those needs met is in the series’ glorious past.

The sums are in for Season 8, and this is the combined budget I have to play with:

Which is preposterous, of course, but when hasn’t PES and Master League been that? Sometimes preposterous is good, and in this instance, I’m inclined to view it as good.

This bizarre transfer/wages disparity factor at least prevents the transfer carousel that has blighted Master League for the past several editions.

I’ve been forced to stick with players for longer. Whisper it, but one of my strikers, Raya, is something of an individual for me now.

At some point in Season 8, I will revisit my ‘Individuality check’ exercise from the end of Season 2. Overall results will still be on the shabby side, alas (I still can’t really tell any difference between my AMFs), but Raya will get an 8 or 9 and a STAR MAN rating.

But all this is to come. I am very interested in how Season 8 will go. My first-time involvement in the Champions League will be interesting, as the AI teams traditionally destroy me in my first season in that competition.

If that happens, or if I feel the tug of unfinished business for any other reason, a Season 9 is not completely impossible.

There’s no PES2019 looming for me on the other side of summer, remember. So there’s no time-pressure involved.

Whenever PES2018 is done, nuPES is done, so I can take as long as I want here.

Updated: 2nd February 2018 — 11:26


  1. I was really looking forward to you belting that free kick in there, how did you resist? Some exquisite passing football on show too, I normally just chuck it in the mixer for the big man or square it to the edge of the box for a shot.

    On the individuality front I have 2 samey players for each position e.g. FB, CB, CMF, SMF/WF, with the exception of up front where I have big and small. The bench is filled with more identikits for each position so I can just swap in the clone when needed. It feels like the the players have been manufactured to exact specifications, each with a different coat of paint.

  2. Cook – it was much too far out, I’ve blasted a few from that range and it’s pretty much either a pass to the keeper or putting it out for a goal kick.

    The identikit players have indeed been manufactured for the place where they need to be pretty much the same as each other for ‘balancing’ reasons. I think you know where that place is. It rhymes with ‘schmonline’.

  3. not-Greg: Really liked the preparation for the free kick there. Did you guys see the first Tottenham goal against Man United? – it’s the first play of the match.
    There is so little space in modern football that managers all around the world are putting an unprecedented focus on free kicks, corners, throw ins and in this case, even the kickoff, in order to create a scoring opportunity. It resembles an american football play, where the quarterback throws a long pass as the other players quickly run towards the opposition’s half. I saw it first a few years ago in a Serie A, and now many teams in different countries do it.
    When it comes to free kicks, more and more managers are taking pages off of basketball playbooks, even using “screens” to open up space for the play, which is a movement that never existed in football. Former Benfica’s keeper Ederson had set-plays drawn specifically for him and his unusually long and powerful goal kick.

    All of this goes to show how important it is nowadays to have stoppage of play if you want to play an accurate, current-year representation of the sport. But the trend is moving exactly the other way, it’s as if modern football games represent real-life football as it was played in the 60s.

  4. Congrats on the FA Cup win NG, but what a shame and anti climax that the reward for that is pretty much a team photo with a gaping space in the middle.
    I haven’t bothered playing in the last 3 days because of this.

    Whats the point in slogging out and investing time into something that cant even be bothered to show a trophy when you win it, its angered me beyond belief.

    I will finish the season though, still aiming for the double. Then will have a think about if I want to carry on with a game that plays superbly, but has many issues, which can be overlooked game play wise, but gives you absolutely no reason, or incentive to carry on playing the career mode because they cant even include the basics such as the very trophies that are the sole aim of the mode to win.

  5. orlando.jubulani – 2 things stuck with me from that match.

    1) Nobody knows how long a yard is. Radio commentators said Harry Kane was ‘two yards’ inside the Man Utd half at kickoff. The newspaper report I saw the next day said 1 yard. I estimate it was about two feet at most. A yard is 3 feet long, of course, so while 1 yard might be within the ballpark, 2 yards (SIX FEET, almost the height of Harry Kane himself) definitely isn’t. Ex-footballers acting as pundits seem to be the worst for this, and will often note with curious satisfaction that a player was ‘at least 3 yards offside’ or whatever, when it’s usually a single yard at most, and often just a foot or two. All of which leads me to the conclusion that football pundits and commentators and journalists use yards as a general measure of approximate distance, i.e. Harry Kane being clearly inside the Man U half translates to ‘2 yards’, with 2 yards being a convenient rule of thumb to indicate a ‘long distance of length’.

    2) The penalty that wasn’t given when Alli was brought down. Commentators and journos alike were baffled why it wasn’t given, pointing to Alli’s diving reputation as the likely reason. No. This was a contextual decision made by a referee who didn’t want to give Spurs a 3-0 lead midway through the first half. He didn’t want the Man Utd players around him and he didn’t want Mourinho barracking him. If the score had been 0-0 or even 1-0, the ref would have given it. It wasn’t given because Andre Marriner, like every other match official in the professional game, gives decisions based on the current context of the match and how easy or hard it’ll be for him to give that decision in that ever-shifting context. I often declare here that I hate real football and it’s true, I do hate it, because it’s not a real sport. A professional sport in which the officials give contextual decisions is not a sport. It’s an interpretive play. This summer’s World Cup is going to drive me insane.

    Paul – as I remark above, what about us being able to create bogus silverware in Edit mode? How easy would that be?!

  6. The ‘yard’ can be related to modern football talk of ‘giving 110%’, it’s a meaningless reference to something they don’t actually know the extent of. The yard increases in size outside the box – he’s hit that from thirty yards can be anywhere between 25 and 40.

    I thought you took a risk with that free kick, the defender was close enough to jostle the initial receiver. I’d have favoured a pass down the touchline for a cross. Why I persist with this I’m not sure as I score so few headers year on year. Rememberance of ribeiro’s past as I think Proust wrote perhaps?

    Referring back to previous post, yes, I do only average around 4 seasons since 2014s release day farce. Prior to that it was around 7. I really think this may be the one though. Not because it’s better – just because I’ve had such a break that I’m still in the mood. I’ve electronically slept around in the last few years, picked up games in bars and left in the wee small hours without knowing their name. Now I’m ready to settle down with a pipe and slippers. Until far cry 5 at least.

  7. It would be dead easy NG. What would be even easier? To have left in the f**ing trophy that used to be there to start with instead of removing it for no apparent reason.

    I’m quite surprised you’ve paid that much attention to detail regarding real life football NG.

  8. Maybe it’s a homage to when Aston Villa won the European Cup and it got stolen in a pub.

  9. So by the time the window closed I’d replaced every player except the full backs, and my team spirit or whatever that number is had jumped by 20 points. They’re all a little samey with the exception of Callum Wilson from Bournemouth. He looked very lively in my first match and I should have won comfortably but got script screwed. Still way too easy to transfer yourself a new team.

  10. Anyway that’s Paul done for the forseeable – won’t be able to drag him away from the six nations and T20 series down under.

  11. NG – Football ceased being a sport some time ago and is just pure entertainment now. As for the World Cup I genuinely forgot it was this summer. Like you with PES 2019 I have no intention of watching any of it and can’t see me changing my mind.

  12. Four games in and I haven’t scored a goal. The same old pes added muscle of the AI players is at full in superstar. I might just stay at st mirren to see this team reach its potential as strength is something that takes time to develop.

  13. Uncle Turf – you won’t be able to wheeler-deal your way to a stellar squad without encountering the salary budget factor. The players in PES2018 won’t come until you’re at least near the top of D2 and then promoted/won something. The squad you’ve got now is probably as good as you can do for a while.

    Darryl – I’ll watch the World Cup to the extent that I’ll be aware of what’s going on and who the stars and flops of the tournament are, but the days when I would watch every match live – literally every match – are long gone. I’ll do well to watch England

  14. I happen to be be in Kos for the first and second group games. There’s something about watching England when abroad that makes it a better experience.

  15. Lloyd – I think we’ve all experienced that. Probably a combination of hot weather, cold beer and a holiday herd mentality.

    Had a goal on FIFA last night which stood out because it felt like it could have been TV footage of a real game. I was 1-0 up and the opposition had a corner with about 20 minutes to go. The corner went to my player on the edge of the box who hoofed it up the pitch. One bounce in my half, and then it was a one on one between my striker and their one defender who stayed back. I got to it first, held off the defender, and slotted it passed the keeper. Contextually it really felt right.

  16. I think a season 9 is very much a possibility NG, no? If the game continues to hold attention, why not I would say..

    So, in my second season I’m third in the premiership and not finding it hard at all (still on professional). What I do find hard to deal with is the nature of cpu goals. They hardly ever score against me but when they do its always from the same match situation. I get the lions share of possession and chances, cpu gets a couple and converts them all in the same manner : either a deflection, my keeper jumps OUT of the way or a new one I saw just now : my keeper pulling his arm back in while diving in the correct general direction. These goals have always been in pes of course, especially on higher difficulty levels but on professional? Surely not in this measure… Have others experienced this as well? I’m baffled as to why there is literally zero variety in this.. Quite deflating every time it happens, if I spot it the match I am then it is a write off for me.

  17. I think I speak for all of us when I say we definitely want to see your Coventry City team win the Invisible Premier League.

  18. Ugh…just had a match with the supercharged version of what I just described. Rainy match as well which had all my players slipping and sliding but the CPU team was unaffected (of course). Conceded equaliser in the final minute by my defenders literally stepping out of the way of nondescript striker #21.

    This type of play is the biggest problem for me with PES, even worse than no fouls. The reason is that not only does PES not get football fundamentals right in these instances, they do not get GAME fundamentals right. Which is that the player should have at least have some influence on the proceedings no matter what…in these cases that is wholly removed. There are no tactic changes, button presses or otherwise that can prevent these instances from happening. biggest turnoff for me and ruins otherwise perfectly good sessions with the game.

    I can appreciate “Dark Souls” type shenanigans as much as the next man but not being reduced to a spectator.

  19. Lloyd – well, lettuce hope its a good tournament….

  20. It’s comments like that that led to the Pun-ic Wars.

  21. Find it incredible that anyone that is a fan of football enough to regularly play football video games, and post on a footballing game blog, won’t be watching the World Cup.

    I will be in Ibiza for the first 2 weeks of it, so looking forward to dragging the wife along to various bars and watching it outside with sunshine and cold beer!

    So things have gotten ugly with PES 18 this weekend.
    This time last week I was on for the treble of the Premier League. FA Cup & Europa League, now a week later, its squeaky bum time for just the league.
    I crashed out of the Europa League due to that 2nd leg 4-3 over turn against Spartak Moscow, last night I played the FA Cup semi final against 2nd placed in the league Man Utd, and what a complete p*ssfest of a game it was.

    I was 3-0 up at half time. Coasting, could have been 4 or 5, I was already in the FA Cup final.
    Second half, the game turned on its ridiculous scripting ‘f*ck-you-over’ mode.
    I lost 4-3. Out of the FA Cup, no double.

    The way the game just totally changed second half, and not in the realistic flow of momentum, but just total disgraceful in your face scripting.
    Every touch, deflection, bobble, challenge, etc went to the COM. every shot they took, was a goal, they suddenly won every single tackle, their GK saved every close range shot, they scored 3 of their goals from outside the area…. it was a disgrace to watch.

    Every game after that has followed a similar suit, ‘Title challenge run in so amp up the f*ckery levels’ was in full effect.
    Just played a league game against 3rd placed Man City, untouchable, exactly the same process as the FA Cup semi, scripted ridiculous overpowered nonsense.
    I finished with 17 attempts on goal, with 12 on target, as opposed to their 4, and they beat me 2-0.
    I must have literally had 6 at least, one on ones or shots from the 6 yard line, any other game, guaranteed goal, but their keeper saved every single one.
    Of course Aguero scored a first time volley from 35 yards.

    I’m now only fighting for the league and that’s been clawed back to 4pts with 3 games remaining.

    I’m all for title challenges and cup runs getting difficult in the later stages but the way PES so unashamedly tries to level things up is complete rubbish.
    It’s no longer about me winning any trophies due to how well I play but but how much the game decides its going to f*ck me over, if its scripted that I won’t win, ie FA Cup semi vs United or against City, then I won’t, nothing you can do about it.

    Just wrong.

  22. An interesting contrast this weekend of soccer fans/managers/players/pundits being outraged and puzzled at the whimsical context-driven decisions of match officials, and the mighty American Football in which there is no such whimsy and any (rare) incorrect decisions are genuine oversights. Imagine if soccer was officiated with 100% adherence to its rules no matter the context. Imagine!

    #1 – It’s interesting at the moment, as this time of year with spring getting closer usually means I’m gearing up for the start of another pre-release cycle, and the current PES starts to seem aged and nearing its natural end. My decision to part ways with nuPES means no PES2019 or any other edition after it, which changes the rhythms of my footy gaming life considerably. Which means that yes, if I fancy a Season 9 I will play a Season 9.

    Paul – that’s a proper PES scripting horror story! And that’s still on Top Player? I’m a season or so behind you in my own progress, not challenging for the title or big silverware until this coming Season 8, so I’ll see if it happens to me. Finishing 3rd and winning the Invisible Cup in the season just gone, I didn’t notice any overt fuckery in any match. But I was only ever bobbing around in the lower top-6.

  23. Yes NG, Top Player.
    As I said, I’m all for the pressure, and tension, therefore the difficulty of a title run-in to be ‘simulated’ by bumping up the difficulty a bit, but this wasn’t that, this was pure blatant, evident, scripting of outcomes.

    I wish you could have seen the match in full, or wish I had recorded it in its entirety, because at one point I threw the controller on the floor, and just laughed out loud, such was the nonsense that was going on.

    Balls travelling through my players bodies, so that it wasn’t cut out and reached a COM attacker.
    Point blank shots from 6 yards out, being saved by a seemingly teleporting-enabled GK, a melée inside the box which saw my CF get the ball on the COM’s actual goal-line, then without any control input from me, other than to shoot,which was ignored, my CF walked the ball into the post, from on the line, and the rebound went out for a goal kick.
    etc etc etc …..

    The outcome was so evidently scripted, nothing I did, no matter how well I played, and I did play well, I had 65% possession and 17 attempts on their goal, 12 on target, no matter what I did, the outcome was set, I was not going to win, no matter what.
    It was me that was being played, not me playing the game.

    At this point in the season I had played 34 matches, and only lost 4 of them. But the game decided I was then going to lose these 3 matches all in succession, despite having comfortably beat all 3 teams previously earlier in the season.

  24. It’s turned for me and now I’m scoring and winning up to mid table.

    I can’t recall a decent World Cup since 1990. Maybe it was that wave of optimism and Italian style or the fact that I watched some games in backpackers hostels in Europe but nothing has come close to that and the two before – USA was obviously awful, France I only remember for the right team winning – see also Spain’s victory in 2010, 2002 was early morning viewing at work, then it all merges into a meh where the same old thing goes on. Brazil’s meltdown remains a highlight from last year but has there been anything on a par with tardelli’s face into the camera, falcao’s outstretched arms, schillacci looking like he’d arrange to have the referee whacked.

    It’s the same with fa cup finals.

  25. Paul – sounds like the most extreme level of scripting possible. It’s been in every PES since PES5 (where I first noticed it to the extent that it became a problem). For me at my level of development right now in PES2018, scripting most often manifests as simple inability to keep the ball whenever the AI (that we need) switches into aggro mode. It’s the main reason I couldn’t cope with Superstar. I’m ‘looking forward’ now to seeing how my Season 8 unfolds.

    Uncle Turf – the last good engrossing World Cup for me was France 98. All the ones since have been progressively overtaken by the over-professionalised ethos that grinds out tactical scorelines and leverages referees’ reluctance to favour one team or the other with big decisions. During 2014’s non-extravaganza, the New York Times ran a good article about why ‘soccer’ is still not really catching on in the US, and they pinpointed – accurately IMO – how the behaviour of players and officials is too random and bizarre for US audiences to understand at a wide enough level what’s going on for them to have any investment in an outcome.

    I remember the article focused on simulated injuries for tactical reasons – to halt another team’s flow, to get an opponent booked/sent off, etc – as being something that just don’t belong in a proper sport. They analysed 150 or so instances in that World Cup so far of players going down ‘injured’, and in only about 8 cases did the player subsequently have a confirmed injury. All the others were ‘performative’ injuries as they called them, and they had a sports psychologist trying to explain how it all worked and was ‘part of the game’, clearly to their bafflement. Great article and I wish I could find it now.

    Yesterday’s two Premier League games both featured refs (linesmen actually) who broke the various unwritten rules of officiating. In the Palace game, after one penalty was unusually given for shirt-pulling, Shelvey and co. were by that action effectively handed a blank cheque to go on and shirt-pull as much as they like, because there was no way another penalty was going to be given for the same reason. In the Liverpool game, the stoppage-time penalty was automatically waved away by Jon Moss, because of the unwritten rule that a player must be basically cut in two pieces to get a penalty in the last seconds of a hotly contested match – until his linesman dropped him in it of course.

    The kinds of psychology and pressures at work in these situation is completely inscrutable and bizarre to American spectators who can’t ‘read’ the game and just don’t understand why clear infringements in the box, for example, are occasionally given, but more often not. ‘Oh, if they were all given, there’d be too many given, so only a few can be given, when the referee feels up to it in the overall context of a match.’ That’s how football is officiated, and it’s laughable, it really is.

    And that’s why I fucking hate football. I’ll be watching the World Cup, but I’ll be enjoying the non-officiating more than the playing. Oh, and with it being in Russia at this juncture of world politics, there’ll be a lot more than football to watch too.

  26. Paul – I wouldn’t class myself as a football fan anymore as this is a very casual experience at best. I have seen two live games this season and that was more about going on North End with my Dad than anything else as his health has deteriorated of late. I haven’t watched a live game in full on the telly for a few years now. As for footy games I played two seasons on this years PES and that was it. I haven’t purchased Fifa this year. Last time I put on a footy game was a few months back, so that star is also fading. As for posting on here I do so as we are more of a community than anything else. Even so my posts are less frequent. So to summarise Football is not a part of my daily life and therefore no suprise as to why I won’t be watching the World Cup. Just not interested.

  27. Darryl – I think you’ll end up ‘watching’ the World Cup in much the same way I ‘watch’ an Olympics. I.e. it’s a big event in the make-believe world of news and current events, it’s there, ticking over in the background, and you don’t pay direct attention but somehow it seeps in, and you can’t help seeing the occasional bit of it (100m final, spectators dressed funny etc).

  28. Fair enough, if thats how you feel, however football is still the highest grossing, most watched sport worldwide, and the Premier League lately continues to throw up matches that from a spectator point of view, forgetting how ‘by the book’ the officiating is, are extremely entertaining, watchable games.

    The World cup is a huge event, the pinnacle of what all players strive for, and conjurs up great memories of my childhood, Mexico 86, Italia 90, France 98 …. so I shall be watching, every day, as many games as possible, and shall enjoy them all.

  29. I pity the kids who collect panini stickers now – the way the World Cup is being overblown and inclusive of more and more teams their books will run to hundreds of pages.

    They’re now a fairly typical formula – opening group game, don’t lose, second stage play for penalties, etc. The Dutch performance in that 2010 final was a fine example of how a once exciting series of matchups has become as mundane as the premier leagues lone striker fashion. Football is so global in its spread that so few new ways of playing are seen.

    Btw anyone taken an international job or is 2018 so hard that all your efforts need to be focused on club?

  30. not-Greg: I didn’t read that New York Times article you spoke of (will do, I’m curious about it) but I don’t think the randomness of officials’ decisions in football is not the main factor for americans’ lack of interest in the sport. I watch the NBA often and everytime a player attacks the basket and tries either a layup or a dunk while getting contact by the defender you could make a case for a foul to be called or not. Supposedly the defender has to challenge the layup attempt by jumping in a straight motion, keeping the arms up, not touching the opponent’s shooting arm – basically, not bothering the offensive player’s motion and focusing purely on the ball -, but this rule is kind of “hazy” because every under-14 basketball amateur knows that’s theoretically correct but in reality, the contact between them is inevitable. If one doesn’t agree with this, in 99% of the layup attempts in basketball it would be called a defensive foul. It’s just like penaltys in football: is the contact between the defender’s and offensive player’s legs hard enough to be worthy of a penalty kick awarded? As in the NBA, often it depends on the referee’s opinion.

    Even worse, in every NBA game there are literally dozens and dozens of travelling violations never called. For a whole season Steph Curry, one of the best players of the game, was systematically fouled – in a very obvious way, I’d add – while attempting a 3-point shot and the fouls where never called – until someone made a lengthy youtube video exposing the unbelievable year-long conspiracy of the referees against a player that was dominating the sport like few had done before him.

    I’d say the problem americans have with “soccer” is that, unlike modern football videogames’ “simulation” of it, the sport isn’t built on instant gratification like their favourite sports, but rather on thousands of tactical decisions for every half of a second multiplied by 22 players on the pitch, which makes it a complex game of patience that’s so not Hollywood-worthy.

  31. Turf – never bothered with an international job in PES, firstly because I dont feel its realistic being offered a national manager job before you’ve won anything or proven yourself, and secondly it just doesn’t appeal to me.

    Maybe if you play PES long enough that you have won the league / league & cup double / treble and fancy an extra challenge then it could be worth it, but by the time that moment comes along, usually 8+ seasons in, I’m about done with PES and ready to move on.

  32. Yes, I know what you mean Paul, finishing last in the peu league I was approached by Ireland. Mind if Gareth Southgate can get there on the back of boro and the u21s then anythings feasible.

    Btw awesome Super Bowl, with the right outcome too.

  33. Turf – I normally have a dabble with international management. I won the European Championship with England last post-season, an extra time penalty of all things in the final against Spain. Having the classic players (and MyClub Legends) enabled helps, I have Gerrard, Keegan, Owen, Shearer and Fowler in the team so don’t have to put up with the current shallow talent pool.

    Here’s a short video of 4 goals I’ve scored in my PC ML campaign. Nothing too special and some dodgy video editing…

  34. Cook — some very sweet strikes there, and that’s the most postage-stamp free kick possible, I’d say. I’d be happy with any of them mid-to-long rangers too.

    Uncle Turf — that’s two great Superbowls in a row. When I started watching the sport back in 1984 (Nicky Horne and John Smith on Channel 4), the Superbowl was invariably a massive anti-climax to a season, with one team always romping it by half-time, it seemed.

    orlando.jubulani — I’d heard about the way feigning injury is very much a thing in basketball, for similar reasons to its presence in football, but had little idea that the defensive holding calls were blind-eyed in a similar way that they are in worldwide football. I do believe (casually-interested) American spectators are hazy at best on the ‘grammar’ of a football match, while being able to appreciate the general sense of the action, in much the same way that I can watch basketball or ice hockey (the two American sports I have little knowledge of or interest in) and still have a vague notion of what’s going on. American spectators new-ish to football get very confused by the timekeeping, e.g. the clock gets to ninety minutes but there’s no final whistle; so okay, then there’s 3 minutes’ added time — but the 3 minutes is substantially taken up by one team time-wasting, feigning injury, making subs etc, which the ref is supposed to take into account but usually doesn’t. And at every corner it seems the defenders are allowed to grab the strikers around the waist or neck, or drag them by the arm — infringements that are not matter of opinion (it’s rarely ‘both of them doing it’) but aren’t given???

    The defence of this state of affairs in football is usually some version of ‘but that’s what makes the game great,’ etc., but I wonder how much greater it would be if things were not this way.

  35. NG – Absolutely, many a time you could go to bed at half time knowing the result was a formality, particularly if the bills were one of the teams. Much as I dislike the patriots they offer good value a la fergie time and the game not being over till the last play – they could have got a touchdown right at the end. I will see nothing in the premier league this year on a par with the outrageous balls of nick foles repeating Brady’s play but successfully.

  36. not-Greg: You provided an excellent example on how football refs try to balance the game: when a corner kick is taken, everyone’s holding each other and never a penalty kick is awarded. If refs didn’t ignore those situations, we’d have lots of penalty kicks during a match and, this one’s just my prediction, in a context where teams would respect the rule there would be a massive increase in the probability of goals scored through corners. Offensive players attacking the ball in the air like they do – quick run, gain propulsion, jump, attack the ball – have a great advantage over defenders who have to stand still in their positions before the corner is taken, and before they can challenge the ball in the air. That offensive advantage is “nerfed” through lenient refereeing.

    Curiously, in many situations the NBA doesn’t nerf the offensive side of the game, quite the opposite. For example, in the beginnings of the sport, defensive players could defend wherever they want, in any zone of the court, how long they wished. But because a certain dominant and outrageously tall player was blocking all the shots attempted near the basket, the NBA installed a rule that still exists today that states a defender can’t spend 3 seconds in the “paint” area near the basket, otherwise the play is stopped and a free throw worth 1 point is awarded to the attacking team.

    There are others that come to mind. Anywhere around the world you can use a zone defence, but in the NBA you have to be always guarding a player (though you can put two or more players guarding only one attacker) otherwise if the referees identify you’re playing a zone defence, it’s a foul. But that rule probably takes the “Hazy award”, since modern NBA teams’ defensive organizations use elements of man-marking and zonal defence mixed together, in such a way you’re barely able to notice where they’re playing one or the other in any given moment of the play. Anyways, the rule exists to provide spectacular one-on-one battles between great defenders and great attackers, preventing intelligent zonal defensive organizations to collectively nerf the fantastic attacker.

  37. First thing – sorry for my English. My native language is Latvian. I am from Norther European country of Latvia (or as Russians like – Eastern Europe). I mostly relay here on spell check, sorry. But I couldn’t keep away…
    Thank you for the blog. I stumbled on it while looking for best PES master league experience. And I am amazed, that your opinions and experiences as video game consumer (s) with the history (middle aged men) are so similar to mine. From video gaming religion, to now days – playing les and les, and only when wife is a sleep.
    PES. My experience with the game is pretty bumpy, but this is the best football game there is. I started with psx1, then moved to pc, and now tried ps4. But all my time with the games always brought me back to older versions of it. Of course I played them all when they were new games, but as the flashy graphics and new gameplay worn on you, I always found older games better. I have to say, my playing style is “casual” (not as mentioned in article you just reed) – I play league or master league, strive for reality and fun – logic. For example: pes 16, Spanish la liga, Espanyol. Great season – won few games, lost les, but then I beat Real Madrid 8-0. I just couldn’t play the game again. Another example: pes 12 – great game, fantastic master league, AS Bari, got promoted to Serie A, all games were logical, but then you meet AC Milan, played them for times lost all games without any hope – I felt like spectator. Yes, scripting was in pes all the time. One of my all-time favorite we7/pes3. Played self-made J-League – won it in last game, great fun, but it was set up, tough it didn’t felt illogical. In general games tend to go from feeling free / buggy on the pitch, going to les freedom / refined action. Another example: we7 is so creative and free, but on the border of chaos, and the last game in this cycle pes 6 – the ball is on the string, but the action is more harmonious. With this logic I wondered back to we 2000, and if I remember correctly, this was my first pes game. I came full circle. The simple logic in this game works, and you feel in control/responsible for the result. But it is hard, graphics, master league…
    As of modern pes, agree, it is gone. There is no single player. Similar happened with the racing games (simulators), as soon as the multiplayer arrived, AI in all games went missing (about ten years ago). Now we don’t have any single player racing game. Yes, there is career modes, but there is no point in playing them, as the gameplay – the race is shallow.
    Football. Joining nostalgia on real football – wc 1990 the last; 1998 – there was something, maybe the stadiums (not the giants we have now), the team (France, practically without any strikers). I watch it les and les, now mainly highlights. Long time ago I played myself, and learned to enjoy losing – all details of the football match, not just highlights. I would like to watch Serie A or English first division, also lower leagues from the end of the eighties, but the videos of that age are so low-q, it is hard to understand what’s happening. But the game then and now and as always is what it has been – the mirror of society. Sports in general, as it went professional – became product – entertainment. And all discussions about rules and fairness make me smile. I am a purist, but as I am getting older, I become realist. Yes, I remember the article in New York Times, at the time I agreed, but now not at all. The game I want to see is gone, it is a product, and what generates sales will dominate. The best example is US sports, the rules are changed all the time, not to make game better, but to sale better, and football is doing the same (all the video ref and …). Yes, I want to football be a community game where the local guys, supported by locals, play, and the ref should be part of the game – man in charge, as in the court (the game should be fair, interpretation of rules are same to booth teams and that’s all)…
    So another Thank you for the blog, keep up and I am awaiting your return to the old glory days of pes. Thank you also for community, for celebrating discussion and different opinions!

  38. orlando.jubulani – there are so many pressure-points where both teams leverage the weakness of officials (pressuring a ref to give a decision your way after he’s given the other team a couple of decisions is a good one) that I’ve stopped being able to take a football match seriously as a sporting contest. When the destiny of the contest is literally up to the whims of a ref giving or not giving a decision that he ‘should’ always give, it ceases to be a sporting contest. A naive and foolish idealistic view, perhaps, but I know how I’d feel about chess if there were suddenly a coin-toss to decide whether a piece you’d just taken was ‘really’ taken or could be replaced on the board. That new version of chess might still be a ‘good game’, particularly if it was truly ‘the same for both sides’ (which it rarely is in football if one side/manager is bigger/louder/more important than the other), but it wouldn’t be the game of chess.

    American Football and baseball are much more to my taste nowadays. And yes, even in these sports there are errors and examples of the kind of contextual decision-making I’m so critical of in soccer. I once saw a home plate umpire in baseball get a call badly wrong, then blatantly ‘even it up’, soccer-ref style, by making a similar bad decision on purpose for the other team (everyone knew he’d done it), so those sports are not pure as the driven snow either – but it’s not embedded in their very fabric to set aside rules and boundaries and proper decisions.

  39. Viesturs – thank you for that memorable first comment, and your English is absolutely fine.

    Middle-aged football gaming, yes, what can we say. Two things they never told us would happen when we hit middle age: 1) eyesight starting to fade in your 40s, and 2) watching your parents get old and frail. Two very upsetting and unavoidable things. But there’s a third thing, more trivial perhaps but still upsetting: having to watch PES take a turn towards the market of the day and leave us old-timers in its wake.

    The racing game analogy is a good one. I remember 10 years ago Gran Turismo being revered as a single-player experience. Then the PS3 version happened and I remember reading about ‘stock car racing’ in online multiplayer. And today nobody talks about Gran Turismo anymore.

    Glad someone else read that NYT article in 2014. My main memory of it is the article writer’s clear bafflement at how the world could take a sport like association football so seriously when there are so many factors affecting the game that are non-footballing (referee decisions, player injury exaggerating for bookings etc.). A common observation from the USA, of course, over the years, but it never really had any traction with me until the past 10 years or so. A baseball game is almost always decided on the swing of a bat or the snap of a pitcher’s arm. A football match is very often decided by how brave, or not, the referee feels that day.

  40. not-Greg – thank you for response!
    I am with you on eyesight and parents. It is hard to accept, as you know, there is no way back. And the same is with pes, I have given up many times, to return and hope, but now is time to accept it to.
    According to US sports, when I was younger, had followed it to. As games of Sega mega drive brought me to American football and baseball. But at the time, there was a big difference – US sports was run as a business, but football in rest of the world was more of a religion. Now it is business everywhere, and all decisions are to generate money. In its core all games are just games, and meant to be fun for participants, not spectators. Participants have to want to play the game, not to play referee or spectators. Sadly it is long gone. There is no value in hove you play, but in winning, generating income. The same is happening in US, it is general shift in society and sport is just a reflection. The referring in baseball sometimes is also clearly wrong, as you now can see that the strike zone is on the screen, but mostly it is shifted for both teams (the human mistake is accepted). US sports referring has different problem – they are part of business management. Referees have to protect stars / franchises, build new ones, as they are assets and should not lose value. If you step back and look at US sports from distance, you will recognize fake parity and similar developments, to keep sports interesting. At the time of NYT article, I was accepting conclusions mostly, because of idea of football being the game, I wanted the game to be game and played correctly. But now my conclusion would be different – US sports are aimed at “casual” (average consumer), so it has to be flashy, easy to understand. In contrast football/soccer was dull – almost two hours running around and the result get stolen by referee, or even worse, it could end without any result. The same thing is happening with football video gaming…

  41. Playing a made up league is a bit odd as the teams you play have no basis in reality, so playing Celtic is potentially easier than partick thistle. After 8 games this year I’ve already got more points than last and feel nicely set in the middle. Still struggling to score though, Wilson looks a bust, too easily knocked off the ball.

  42. Morning.
    So last night saw me play the final 3 matches of season 8. I touched on the ridiculously scripted 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, well 2nd placed Man Utd could only muster a draw against 6th placed West Ham, so I was 6 pts aheads going into the final 2 fixtures, only 2 straight defeats and 2 Utd wins would see me lose the title on GD.

    This is the final table:

    Premier League Champions, with a total anti climax, after the initial run on to the pitch of the manager, there was hardly anything worth watching to suggest we’d just won the biggest prize in the country, no medals, no trophy, just a team photo, pathetic, Konami should be ashamed.

    The end of season finances were presented, take a look:

    Note: the Wage budget has now gone up to £76million due to Embolo levelling up to Level 3 star player, earning me another 6mil+ in wages, and I sold Driussi on 1.4mil a year which freed that up to.

    Half a billion transfer kitty, and near on £100 mil a year wage budget – and I coudn’t manage to spend any of it.
    Any decent player rfated 85 or over (to be better than what I currently have) that I approached, even ones found by the scout who had a very high chance of signing, rejected the transfer.
    I managed to sign one new player outright, a young RMF McGeady, for £14 mil and £1.2mil a year wages, I signed a GK, and CM from the youth team, rated 76 & 78 respectively as backups, but the finances and transfers are pretty broken.

    I have all this cash, but can’t sign anyone worth having, so next season, this will just keep accumulating, I’ll be monsterously rich, but pointlessly so.

    I’ve also now seen these fabled pre-season tournaments, seems they only occur when you win the league, so Konami’s PR and marketing of ML new features including pre-season tournaments was a complete misrepresentation of the feature.

    I did get a notification though that due to a long arduous season, Lukaku’s fitness was suffering and he needed a break, therefore wasn’t available for selection in the pre-season tournament, at least that’s something realistic I suppose.

    I will be playing one last final season, a season 9, still on TP, as I tried SS in the pre-season tournament and its just so unbalanced and full of cheating f*ckery that I’d never finish the season.
    I have a new set of kits, a new camera angle in Broadcast cam, and I’ve notched the game speed down to -1, as playing on default 0 with good players often feels like a pinball game.

    That free kick and the volley at the end were peaches Cook – great goals.
    I thought you’d be using the beautiful camera mods tool though, being on PC?

  43. Viesturs – I’m not opposed to sport (or Konami) adopting the same business model that everyone else is. It’s regrettable that doing so means quasi-Darwinian forces swing into action and serve up the safe, bland goo that such systems tend towards, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I dream of a football game (real and computer-game) where every match is not too far off being the best match you’ve ever seen/played. Granted there have to be some duff matches for contrast, but the balance is way out of kilter in reality and on the screen.

    Paul – I played the Community Shield and won it before my Season 8 started, and there was nothing at all after that – just some players looking happy, and then straight to the menu screen.

    I’ll be posting a similar budget shot to yours later too. Although I might be on the verge of signing a very good 94 OPR striker with my third-of-a-billion transfer kitty! Had to save and go to sleep last night so I won’t know if he accepted until later, but it was on 3 bars so we’ll see.

    Uncle Turf – that’s some very decent progress on Superstar, which still feels impossible to me. Might the Purity call to Legendary be tugging at your sleeve?

  44. I just felt deflated after winning the title after 8 seasons of slogging it out NG, such a lazy approach by Konami, it just defies any logic or sense as to why they wouldn’t include a league trophy.

    Another Q for the PC Savvy, been offered a swap, my 2013 iMac, for a gaming PC, heres the spec, good enough to run PES 18 etc?

    AMD FX 8350
    MSI GTX 960 4GB GFX Card
    16GB DDR Kingston Black RAM
    Gigabyte Motherboard
    1TB SSDH
    Corsair CSM 450 80+ Gold
    Corsair Spec 01 Red Case

  45. Paul – that looks like a great deal and worth taking if you’re set on moving on the iMac. I’m not too clued-up on processors but it’s only a few years old and should be decent. Chris99 or abbeyhill are your men there. PC specs are so fast-moving anyway that you could get a new one with the most up-to-the-minute components possible and there’d be new ones out by the time it was a month old. Given that PES2015 and PES2016 ran fine on my 4-year-old wheezing laptop, I think you’ll be OK for PES2018 – and besides, you’ve got the world of older PESes that certainly will run with all their mods. Not to mention PCSX2 et al.

  46. Thanks NG, have done some googling and the GFX card certainly seems to be more than adequate, the 1TB Solid State drive is decent, and 16GB RAM should fly, just the processor I was more worries about as in benchmark tests it lags behind an i7, but still looks to perform well, so hopefully one of the other guys can tell me if it would be good enough or not.

  47. looks good Paul – the graphics card rather than the processor is usually the main constraint for gaming, so that AMD chip would be fine. The GTX 960 is previous generation but would still run almost as fast as not-Greg’s 1050 so could handle PES2018 comfortably. I am just a bit worried by the SSDH – is that not a hybrid drive, i.e. a HDD with a bit of SSD, much slower than a proper SSD?

  48. Thanks Abbeyhill – its either a 1TB SSD, in which case thats baout 300 quids worth there, or as you say a 1TB Hybrid drive which are 5 x faster than normal HD’s but not SSD speeds, i’ll double check.

  49. Paul – whether the HD is SSD or Hybrid, I think it’s worth it either way. Although you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a good deal of course. iMacs famously have incredible resale value.

  50. Apparently its a hybrid drive, with the Boot OS (Windows 10) installed on a 16GB SSD partiton, and the other remaining space for programs etc.

    identical model iMacs are going on ebay for £650 as standard.
    Mine is immaculate, not a single scratch, mark, dead pixel, or smear, plus it has an Apple magic mouse and the latest glass Magic track pad, worth £50 and £90 respectively, and I listed it for £450.

    The Gaming PC has got to be worth £450 – £600 ?

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