So… nearly… there. A few more frustrating draws have made it very unlikely that I will close the gap between me and the leaders.
Amusingly, Man City, who were the runaway leaders, also drew both of their matches in the same weeks that I drew mine.
United have overtaken them now. I’ve got United next in the league. With 5 matches left I suppose it is technically a 6-pointer, but even if I win I can’t see the RNG fairy being kind enough for it to matter much.I’m still in both Cups. The end of Season 8 and the end of the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise as a living, annually-renewed presence in my life is about two hours’ play away.
It feels scary and liberating at the same time. Scary because for umpteen years I have always had the prospect of The Next PES to draw me through the year. The annual release of a new game lent shape and structure to the passing months. The first springtime stirrings of PES2019 are not too far away. This year, there will be no PES2019 at the end of the rainbow. That’s scary.
But it’s liberating because, well, there effectively isn’t a new Pro Evolution Soccer game every year anymore. There hasn’t been one for a few years now. It’s taken me this long to admit it. It’s taken me this long to realise that the flavour of PES that I have come to call ‘nuPES’ is new product that bears the PES name.
It’s not all bad, though. There’s a lot that’s good. My most recent session was packed with the good and bad of nuPES.
As shown by the table at the top, I’m trying to close the gap with the league leaders. Which the game is well aware of.
I had a home fixture against Bournemouth and it was harder by many orders of magnitude than any encounter with any top team in the whole game. I’ve played all the Premier League top teams and many of the European ones too, including two fixtures against Barcelona. None came even close to the difficulty of playing Bournemouth – at home.
They stormed into a 0-2 lead by halftime, in a match that the game as a whole knew I needed to win. Okay – coming back from behind is one of PES’s traditional glory tales. I was more than up for the task. This could be a comeback for the ages.
Into the second half, I got a scrappy goal back to make it 1-2.
So there I am, now 1-2 behind with 65 game minutes elapsed. Bournemouth kick off and keep the ball.
And keep the ball.
And keep the ball.
Fair enough, I think, I’ll commit a foul and stop the game that way. Might pick up a card, maybe even a red one, but whatever.
So I start sprinting and sliding, trying to foul the CPU players.
Every slide tackle is skipped over.
Every double-tap X is evaded.
After 10 in-game minutes, I started to marvel at what I’m seeing. Of course. I should have known. I’ve just scored, so there’s now a CPU keepball/raised threat-level script running.
Long story short: I finally managed to stop the game in the 85th minute with a scything slide-tackle from behind on a Bournemouth player who was clean through on goal. Red card. I took it.
I cleared the free kick and swept upfield with my 10 men and scored an equaliser. 2-2. The final whistle went as Bournemouth kicked off (not that I would have got the ball back anyway). A partial comeback, but that long period between me getting one goal back in the 65th minute, and getting to touch the ball again in the 85th minute, was transparently artificially-enforced by the AI.
Not to say this match was unenjoyable. I roared when I got that last-minute equaliser. nuPES in a nutshell.
I’m in the FA Cup Final – for the second season in a row. My mostly forgotten striker, Stepinski, played in the semi-final to enable my bigger stars to rest. I like to kid myself that accumulated stamina actually matters.
He scored this fine mid-distance goal. Quite a strike:
Friday’s post will be my last-ever ‘live’ dispatch from any current PES game.
Next Tuesday will be my End Of Year Review of PES2018.
And then – who knows.