Season 5. I moved to Superstar last season and have been struggling to put together enough results to mount a serious promotion challenge.
Well – I won 5 matches in a row in the month of May.
That defeat right at the end was disappointing – and a mite unfair: I’m at that stage of ML where around half the goals the AI scores are TFB goals. (Total Fucking Bullshit goals. They make me groan and swear.)
Those 5 wins saw me move up the table. Right up the table.
Here was the astounding table after 43 matches:
That’s my team in 6th (SIXTH).
(No, 21st century world, not SICKTH, as you keep wrongly saying it. SIXTH.)
After the season I have had, this is something of a miracle.
There were 3 matches left. Realistically it was between me and Leeds for that bottom playoff spot. With our currently identical W-D-L records, maintaining that healthy goal difference was the key. Oh, and winning all my matches of course.
The impossible dream of reaching the playoffs was on!
Here’s a random 45-yard free kick from Rice that cannoned (out and away) off the post. For much of my last session I thought this was going to be today’s major highlight:
I thought that was going in, until it didn’t. One day…
Back at the main event, my unlikely promotion charge, I was watching amazed as Master League table scripting kicked in. That match I lost at the end of the list above? Leeds lost their match as well. Of course they did.
It was one of those scenarios where I knew that if I kept winning my matches, I would be in the playoffs. And if I got to the play-offs, I swore to myself, this time things would be different from last time, two seasons ago, when I meekly went out in the semi-final.
Promotion this season, all of it played on Superstar, would be one of my greatest-ever PES achievements. ML table scripting or not.
The penultimate match, away to Millwall, saw me wear my lovely alternate away strip of black-grey-red for the first time all season.
A tight, tense match in which I had to defend like a sweating dog. Millwall have got Ataide up front – Classic (Brazilian) Ronaldo. Having spent so many seasons in D2, I’ve come up against Ataide several times, and each time he does indeed play like Ronaldo.
I kept him quiet this match by strict use of secondary pressure to shadow the midfield ball-carrier, whilst using my left-stick-controlled player to always stay with Ataide. It worked. I must have performed a dozen pass interceptions and/or meaty tackles on him.
This looked destined for a 0-0. I had a few chances, one of them with Gomez, dropping deep once more as per my tactical settings:
Whoomph. Pick that one out. None of yer fancy-dan R2 curling rubbish there! A traditional PES laces long-ranger.
That flew into the net at around 1am this very morning (last night really). I let out a strangled scream of surprise and amazement. Surely this was it! Surely I was going up!
My final match of the season, I was still level with Leeds on points. Away to Middlesbrough.
I went 1-0 down, but didn’t panic. I’ve been 1-0 down lots of times during this magical run. The difference now is that I relish the prospect of coming back to get a result, instead of feeling deflated by all the hard work involved. I relish having to squeeze that extra bit of juice out of all my players,.
And that was the problem. Nearly all my first-choice players were pretty much dead on their feet by half-time. I had played 3 matches in a week. Visual Fatigue as a gameplay factor is a winner in PES2019.
I forced a goal back to make it 1-1 by half-time, but catastrophically got my DMF, Rodriguez, sent off early in the second half after picking up his second yellow.
I conceded a sloppy goal soon after to make it 2-1 to them – and that’s how it stayed. My knackered players struggled to put two passes together. I don’t recall making a single chance. Defeat.
But there’s always ML table scripting, right? Maybe Leeds had lost their match as well?
Nope – on the final whistle my players all sank to the turf in dejection. Leeds had drawn their match – a heartbreaking outcome, as it meant a draw would have been sufficient for me to make the playoffs.
The final table:What a punch in the gut. After all my effort. To miss out on the playoffs by so narrow a margin felt worse than not being anywhere near them at all.
A slight consolation, the game recognised my extraordinary season and put 5 of my players in the Team of the Season:
I will make a small confession. There was a moment – more than a single moment, actually – at the end of the final game when I considered reloading and replaying the match to get the right result. Who would ever know?
I would know, and it would undermine the integrity of the narrative. So it didn’t happen. My entire season turned on the conceding of a single goal. But that’s how it has to be.
Onward. Season 6 looms, and with it a substantial watershed moment: I have to get promoted or there will be a Crunch Moment. At the end of this coming season all my key players – Gomez, Lincoln, Giorza, Castledine et al – will be out of contract. I’m already £3m in debt as it is. I can’t envisage their demands being anything less than eye-watering. I will need whatever financial boost that promotion would bring. Even that will likely be insufficient, but better than nothing. I’d get to keep a few of them. If I lose Gomez, I riot.
For Season 6 it’ll be promotion or, quite literally, bust.