Month: November 2018

The dinking man’s game

Oh, dear. The wheels have well and truly come off my promotion push in Season 5 of my PES2019 Master League progress.

Superstar difficulty was something I thought I’d got a handle on at the end of last week. At the start of this week, I’m not so sure.

Perhaps my formation meddling has something to do with it.

This is what I switched to – a slightly expanded (width-wise) 4-1-3-2, with no DMF for the first time in my PES history.

Valverde in this screenshot is a CMF. Rice usually plays in that position, but was suspended for this screenshot.

So how did it go?

Here are my full results for the month of November:

That’s some serious goals-against, there. My own goal-scoring isn’t too bad but I’m never going to win anything with defending like that.

It doesn’t help that the AI’s supercharged ‘straight from kickoff’ tendency is probably the most aggravating I have ever experienced it in PES. This is where the AI sweeps upfield from its kickoff to snatch a goal that it seems you can do nothing to prevent.

It’s a real issue in PES2019, and something that constantly gets me. Every away match starts with the AI kicking off, which means I effectively start a lot of away matches 1-0 down. If I score to take the lead, there is a high % chance the AI will equalise from kickoff. I do try fouling the buggers, but when the AI is up to shenanigans, its players can magically jump and jink past everything you throw at them. ‘Defend better, then!’ I know.

I tweaked the formation again. I left the wide-left SS role where it was, but pulled the CMF all the way back to DMF position – still a CMF, but now a DMF in all but name.

Slight improvement…

Here are my December results:

A slight improvement probably isn’t good enough for promotion, though. In the middle of January, I am some way off the top 6. I might yet go on a traditional ML charge up the table – if I get the results, I definitely will do that.I am still loving PES2019. The best PES since PES2012 for sure. Shaping up to be the best since the PS2 years? Still too early for me to make such a huge call. I have to see how the game plays in the Premier League. If I ever get there.

I am paying the price for not getting out of the Championship. It’s contract renewal time for many of my players. A few don’t want to renew, and the others all want eye-watering amounts of money that I really don’t have. Sure, I can go heavily into wages debt and keep them that way – but that means no new players, and I need new players in order to compete for promotion. Such is the life of a struggling club in the lower tiers of football. (And I am loving it, if that’s not abundantly clear.)

Certain players love the club. Rice signed a new contract with no messing, and for not that much more money. Others… either refuse to negotiate, or want so much to sign that they are effectively forcing their transfers to bigger clubs. It’s still mid-January at the time of writing and I have yet to decide which way to jump. I will probably risk keeping them all until the end of the season and see what happens then.

Gomez will be up for renewal next season. He’ll be at his peak as a striker and will want to play in the big time. Will I be able to afford him? This is the very real quandary. I believe I’ll need to be in the Premier League to even have a chance of keeping my very best players.

Finally a slightly different vid from the norm – 3 quirky little moments:

1: I only recently discovered how to get a secondary kicker standing over a free kick, and then take the free kick with that secondary player. L1+D-pad(up) to get the second player, then hold L2 to take the kick with him. In this case Giorza took the kick before the 1st kicker (Castledine) – and as a bonus the shot was a knuckle-style shot, over the wall and satisfyingly into the net.

2: An example of the fouls that the AI has started to dish out on Superstar. A wonderfully filthy two-footed scissors-style lunge from behind that takes out Lincoln on the edge of the box.

3: A delicate looped header from Jarvis. This match was a crazy one where I was 6-2 up at the time. The AI scored immediately from the kick-off – of course it did – to make the final score 6-3. The only high-scoring match of its kind that I have yet had on Superstar. Love the dinked header.

I have not scored an R2 curler – with Lincoln, or anyone – for over a season now. Not for the want of trying either. They just don’t happen on Superstar for me.

Daylight Robbenry

Shaping up to be a classic PES year. I’m not counting chickens yet, but the augurs are good.

Heading for mid-November in the ‘real’ world, my Master League world in PES2019 is taking on surprising levels of depth and width.

Season 5, and my club, Coventry City, continues to languish in The Championship. Master League is a made-up world, so there are no pundits on my back questioning any of my questionable decisions.

This is the lowest-ranked I’ve been heading into Season 5 on any PES for many years.

My aim for the coming season is one thing alone: promotion. It’ll be tough on Superstar. And yes, I do think occasionally about dropping back down to Top Player, but that level is really too easy for me now. I am generating a kind of enjoyment and deep absorption from the friction of struggling with Superstar that I don’t want to miss out on. The struggle is a joy. So here I am to stay.

This is my full squad for the start of Season 5:

Valverde, Arciero and Soulas at the bottom of the subs’ list are my only Loanees so far this season. They’re really just to provide cover. I clawed my way back into the black financially, but splurged it all on renewing contracts.

Suddenly, that formerly rich-pickings Loans list seemed to dry up. No more Diawara-style stars. Valverde was the highest-rated available.

Since this screenshot was taken I have abandoned the DMF role for the first time ever in my PES history. Rodriguez went to the bench. Rice moved to the DMF slot but will play as a CMF. Castledine has taken the central midfield role but will play slightly further forward as an AMF. And I’ve moved that left-sided AMF position a little wider and a little further forward and made it an SS role – to accommodate Robben, who has started to emerge from the Youth doldrums and is delivering performances.

That is an unfortunate nickname for Lincoln. I know ‘terrible’ here is meant in the same semi-archaic sense as ‘terrific’, but nowadays in English, the foremost sense of ‘terrible’ is, well, terrible. But Konami gonna Konami.

I’ve had a decent start to the season on Superstar:Those 4 draws all came in the first 4 fixtures, and all ended 1-1. Frustratingly, in three of the matches’ cases I was 1-0 up and dominating for the majority of the time, before conceding the heartbreaking equaliser late on. Superstar in PES2019 – as in previous recent years – is a harsh, unforgiving mistress.

A major turning point in my PES2019 fortunes came in a wonderful match versus newly-relegated Hull.

I went into the match needing a win to get myself into the top half of the table and really get this hoped-for promotion season kickstarted.

I made my mind up before the match that I’d Had Enough of the draws and I damn well would win this match no matter what.

I played like a demon, covering spaces, tracking runners, shielding the ball, and somehow it was still 0-0 after an in-game hour.

Then I slid in too rashly in the box, and conceded a penalty. Most AI penalties go to the keeper’s right (left as we look at it from the kicker’s POV), so I duly dived that way – and saved it.

Yes! I lived on.

Play was cleared to the halfway line, where I promptly lost the ball. Hull surged back toward my box, and I rashly button-mashed in panic, leaving a Hull striker clean through. I chopped him down from behind. Red card for my defender – Cadavid – and yet another penalty for Hull.

I dived the same way. The AI player put it high, straight down the middle – and the ball hit the bar and bounced out.

Yes! Again, yes!

Now I was in ‘holding on for the 0-0’ territory. But I was also in ‘can I snatch a goal for a famous victory?’ territory….

I didn’t have another CB on the bench, so I played these last few minutes with one CB and two SBs. A helluva risk, but one I wanted to take.

Hull pushed right up against me. It was the most overt change of approach from the AI I’ve yet seen in PES2019. They were all-out attacking, leaving only a token few defenders back to cover my forwards (Robben, Gomez, Jarvis).

I thought I was up against it before – now the pressure seemed tenfold. I led a charmed life. Time ebbed away. I wasn’t threatening the AI goal at all. I knew I would get perhaps one opportunity before the final whistle.

I used to specialise in getting results with 10 men, or even 9 men, on ISS and PES of old. Been a while since I’ve done that…

Right at the end, I was defending a free kick when the ball fell to me. Hull had all their big men pushed forward, leaving themselves really short at the back. I went on a breakaway where I had 3 strikers against two defenders…

Jarvis with the little dinked through-ball, and Robben with the rifled finish.

The game obviously ‘knew’ what the goal meant to me, as it showed me those riotous celebration scenes, typical for a goal celebration of a team that knows it’s performed a smash and grab at the death.

I’ve scored quite a few aesthetically nicer goals on PES2019, but not one of them was more satisfying than this goal.

I held on after the AI’s kickoff. They had one attack, which I halted in its tracks. The final whistle went. It was the most glorious win of my PES2019 career so far.

I am not Legend

I have played 39 matches of Season 4. I have been on Superstar difficulty since Matchday 9. PES2019 on Superstar might be the hardest PES I have ever played.

There will certainly be no promotion this season. With 7 matches remaining, here is the table:

I have only just unlocked Legend difficulty with my 5th victory since switching to Superstar.

It took me 31 matches on Superstar to notch up those 5 wins.

Many are the readers of this blog who will find this to be an astonishing and scarcely believable confession. It took this guy 31 matches to win 5?!

However. As I’ve mentioned numerous times on the blog, I am an average-skilled player of football games. I haven’t been misrepresenting my skills. I am average. ‘Tis true.

I’m not sure I will ever play on Legend. I didn’t last year, and probably won’t again this year. Superstar might detain me for the entirety of the rest of my time on PES2019.

The game in general is holding up incredibly well. The challenge is immense. The gameplay is deep. Solid 9/10 session follows solid 9/10 session. I am in PES dreamland. I never thought a nuPES game could deliver this kind of sustained satisfaction. I caught myself looking at PES t-shirts and baseball caps on eBay last night. (There’s a PES2009 woollen scarf on there right now for a tenner if anyone wants it.)

There are still downsides. PES2019 will never be perfect for me so long as I continue to regularly experience matches without a single AI foul in them. My average AI fouls count is still something like 1.3 per match. Of course this is another outcome of my individual play-style.

A couple of unusual moments in video now.

First, a heel-flick from Robben that takes a wicked deflection and loops over the keeper. One of those goals that you score, and know that something weird has just happened, and you scrutinise the replay frame-by-frame.

Second, something I’ve waited a decade to see make a return to PES: my Goalkeeper being sent off. Of course I never keep a reserve GK on the bench – because why would you, this is PES and keepers don’t get sent off… So after some dithering and confusion on the Squad Screen (why is every outfield player rated the same for Goalkeeping? pissing hell, Konami) a defender had to go in goal. Watch the restart to see my calamitous ‘defending’ at the free kick:

Goal of the first two months

I swept through the mid-season transfer window here in Season 4, picking up two youngsters of note: T CAHILL (for his heading, hopefully); and K HONDA. Both are just 17 and not much use right now. I am investing for the future – of which it seems there will be a considerable amount.

Currently about 15 matches from the end of Season 4 in PES2019.

I am not going to get promoted this season.

The table after 31 matches:Yes, that’s me all the way down in 15th.

Superstar is absolutely kicking my backside, hard, every match.

I started this season the day after last week’s patch landed. I started on Top Player, which suddenly felt very easy post-patch.

My record on Top Player at the start of the season: W8 D0 L0.

My record on Superstar since I changed up: W3 D6 L14.

Leading to the overall position above.

I have considered going back to Top Player – and I did go back, for one match.

I was 3-0 up by the 30-minute mark.

I couldn’t have that, so I quit to the main menu, reloaded, switched back to Superstar – and lost the fixture 2-1.

It’s Superstar or bust. Even if I have to stay in Division 2 for many seasons to come. I cannot, in all conscience, drop back to Top Player and its guaranteed comfortable wins.

I might one day consider Top Player, with manual passing. PA0 remains one of my great undiscovered countries in PES

I dunno, though. I am excited about the prospects for PES2019’s longevity. This is shaping up to be the most epic PES year since PES2012. It now seems certain that I will have a double-digit amount of Master League seasons. This hasn’t happened for a few years.

Is PES2019 shaping up to be something of a classic? Way too early to call, but it’s got a chance.

Finally today, a tongue-in-cheek Goal of The First Two Months contest. Vote for your favourite goal in the comments. No prizes.

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