Month: February 2019

It was Earth all along

Final post of February. The real-world calendar year of 2019 is now almost 16.66% done. I am heading into the second half of Season 11 of Master League with PES2019 itself winding down to some sort of conclusion.

Ideally I’d like to play just one more season after this one. That ‘feels’ right.

But I need to win something – any cup will do – for true closure. I won’t be able to walk away without that.

Say I get to the end of next season, and make a big fanfare of giving up PES2019 and walking away. Regular readers will know that I would soon start playing PES2019 in secret, before announcing it on the blog eventually. So I won’t allow that scenario to come about.

But this is the now-annual nuPES hate period. Long-range goals just aren’t allowed anymore. PES5 must be spinning in its grave.

God damn Konami (damn them all to Hell) for the direction they have taken this series in. I’m not speaking figuratively here. Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes wasn’t speaking figuratively either. He really was calling on God to damn them (damn them all to Hell), just as I do now in this context.

Anyway, nuPES hate aside, things are going reasonably well for me in Season 11.

I wonder if I have left myself too much to do to join the Premier League title chase now. I think a top-4 finish still isn’t out of the question, but Fulham are certainly maintaining their rise to the top:

That top 3 are starting to look a bit distant.

Only 15 matches gone, so there are more than half remaining. Rubber-banding in PES2019 is the most generous it’s ever been… I’ll see.

Things are much happier over in the Champions League. Last time, I said I needed to win both my remaining group games to guarantee qualification.

I did won my last two group games, both tough matches. I beat Benfica 1-0 in the tightest contest of PES2019 so far. I think I scored with my only shot on target, and I defended heroically at the other end. Then I met Brondby and was down to 9 (NINE) men by half-time thanks to making reckless challenges with yellow-carded players.

I have a personal PES tradition of playing well with 10 men or 9 men (or with 8 men once, in ISS2 I think), and getting results, and so it proved here.

That match ended epically, 3-2 to me, and it was nice to see my players jump about celebrating at the end, instead of Bayern1999-ing it on the ground.

When I saw the final group tabe I was delighted. Finished top!

At this stage I don’t know who I’ll be playing in the knockouts. Whoever it is, I will be putting everything into this competition. This could be the one.

P2 W1 L1

Only time for two (2) matches since last time. One in the Champions League, one in the League.Always interesting to see which players have appeared where in a made-up football world after 11 virtual years.

In this case, the notables are that Atletico have got Sterling (the original) and Lewandowski (the Regen).

And my line-up isn’t too shabby either. I didn’t get to play with all my stars in this one, though. I’d have picked Mascherano at DMF for this fixture – he was made for this fixture – but he was on a down-arrow, and by the immutable laws of ML…. Montolivo had to deputise.

Whether it was the missing Mascherano or something scripty running under the hood, I couldn’t seem to get the ball and hold it for long. It was one of those dreadful 1000mph nuPES matches, unfortunately – the kind that Konami has krafted to appeal to the specific type of football gamer whose expectations and demands have all but destroyed football gaming as a single-player pursuit.

This match ended without a single AI foul committed against me. I was allowed to hack and slash and slide, but did not concede more than 1 myself, which is pathetic and makes a travesty of the name of PES.

I lost 1-0. My generally above-average-to-good form of last season continues to elude me here at the start of this one.

The Group table after 4 matches:My final two matches will be against Benfica and Brondby, in that order. Only two wins will do the job here. A win and a draw might do it, but 2 massive games coming up either way.

Back in the league, my solitary match saw me notch up a much-needed victory, versus Newcastle.

There might have been some session gameplay ID at work, because this match also felt like a 1000mph crapfest for the majority of the time.

I had about 20 (TWENTY) shots on goal, most of which whistled that very mysterious ‘about two feet wide’ of the post. There were islands of good play here and there, enough for me to make a chance for Forlan that he really couldn’t miss (or couldn’t be missed for him). 1-0 to me it ended.

Giving this table after 10 matches:It’s quite nice to see the top 6 still have that peculiar look to it. Watford are the FA Cup holders. Fulham are the reigning Champions from Season 10, which they won at a canter. I must remember to look in on how Fulham and Watford are doing in their respective European groups.

As ever in Master League, a few wins on the bounce will be guaranteed to vault me up into that top 6, and from that point the way ahead will fall open – as long as I bring the results.

Jon Champion’s Fatigue

Funny to think that PES2019 is still not even 6 months old at the time of writing. It landed on my doormat on August 29th 2018, a week and a bit less than 6 calendar months ago.

I realised this whilst working out how many Master League seasons I would end up playing if PES2019 lasts the full 12 months. It won’t go the distance – there’s a fatigue factor already in play, which will only amplify over the coming weeks. There was a time not too long ago when PES2019 seemed as if it might be my first year-long PES since PES6. Ah, November was a great month…

Season 11 of my Master League in PES2019 has got underway. I have still won nothing on this game. I am still enjoying it more than not, but I suspect that in 2-3 seasons’ time, with the nights really drawing out and Easter in sight, I might be itching to move on.

For that to happen, I need a sense of final closure. What does PES2019 closure mean for me? Ideally, the Premier League title, although the Champions League would probably do just as well. I would find it very difficult to move on from PES2019 without having won one of them.

I didn’t have any money for any new players. I managed to bring in two loanees. Ridiculously, newly-crowned Premier League champions, Fulham, let me take one of their title-winning star players, Stewart Downing, on loan.

This is my entire squad on show below. I include Chelsea’s team sheet here for anyone interested in the signs of their transfer activity over the 11 seasons.Mahrez will surely retire soon. If I was planning to play another 11 seasons after this one, Regen Mahrez would be one of the players I’d look out for.

League form is bad enough that I might already have left myself too much to do to win the League this season.

Here is a shock result from the second match of the season – no way Liverpool were playing like this over the last few seasons:I haven’t had a thumping like that since my very first few seasons of this whole career.

I can’t offer any real excuses. I can’t even say that the AI was especially cheaty. It definitely was somewhat cheaty (how can it not be?), but wasn’t especially so.

That hammering was just one poor result of several at the start of this season. Hangover from last season’s disappointments, I think.

This and many other bad results have left the table looking like this after 6 (SIX) matches:Yes, that is the bottom of the table, with my team 2nd from it. Spurs being below us is quite surprising too.

Results picked up a bit in September, but not greatly so.  At least I got a win in the Champions League.

I’m out of the FA Cup as well.

I have a feeling that I will still be in the top 6 of the table come season’s end, but am I starting too far behind to make a title run?

If I am too far behind, it only leaves the Champions League, where things are a bit stinky too. 2 matches played. A definite early warning in Game 1 defeat against Benfica that things are going to be tough. I worked hard for a lovely 2-0 win vs Brondby in Game 2. Game 3 will be at home against the top team in the group – Athletico Madrid.

“It’s only Fulham. It’s only Watford…”

So the last session of Season 10 came, and I was pushing for silverware on two fronts: the League, and the FA Cup.

I’ll reveal now that the League was a washout. I dropped too many points in the last few matches for even the most generous league table scripting to help me out.

Fulham emerged as the runaway league leaders – and the eventual Champions, nudging Chelsea and my Coventry and Huddersfield out of the way. I know, life in this made-up 2028 sure is bizarre.

I actually met Fulham in the 3rd-from-last league match of the season, when I still had a mathematical chance to overtake them. They were 8 points ahead of me. So I needed to win to reduce the deficit to 5 points and then win my last two matches as well whilst hoping for a generous dollop of help from the scripting. Stranger things have happened.

I didn’t win. Fulham thumped me 3-1. It was another really good match, as the matches against Huddersfield and other ‘lesser’ opposition have been so far this season. PES in the current era is better with relatively few star players on either side. There’s no 1000mph pinball. You can stop and think and enjoy whatever’s happening. You can think ‘no way Stewart Downing!’ (Downing is one of Fulham’s star men).

Fulham went on to win the league by 9 clear points. 10 points clear of me. I finished in 3rd, securing my Champions League spot with a last-day 1-0 win away to Arsenal.My players did the slow walk of semi-shame. No league title for us, again, when it was really within our grasp for much of the season. I had been well positioned just behind the leaders for most of the race, but I couldn’t get enough of a sprint on to overtake at the end, unlike Seb Coe in his pomp (shoutout to all fans of the 1980 Moscow Olympics).Just before the above scenes, there was the small matter of the FA Cup Final to play.

I have not won a single thing in PES2019 so far. Unless we’re counting the Championship Playoff Final as a thing.Watford were the opponents, and in retrospect, it might have been better if I’d come up against one of the big boys. We all know how tricky the lesser teams can be in PES. I remember Sunderland being my bogey team for several editions in a row back in the PES6-PES2011 kind of era.

Things started well. Things started great, with me scoring a great goal after 7 minutes. Here is the goal, one of the most satisfying I’ve scored in PES2019. Forlan with a power volley from 24 yards:

Get in that net. Incidentally, note right at the start of that clip how I win the ball back with a frontal sliding tackle. I HATE that way of winning the ball back – so video-gamey. Shouldn’t be allowed. But it’s the kind of possibility that has to be included because the online multiplayers demand it.

Scoring like that after 7 minutes in the FA Cup Final in which lowly Watford were the opponents – this was the worst thing that could have happened to me.

I conceded an equaliser straight from kickoff while I was still mentally exulting over the Forlan power volley. And from then on I barely got a look-in. Watford got another goal. I pushed for my equaliser with too many men committed forward, ‘because it’s only Watford’ – and they got a third.

Final whistle. Defeat. Still no trophies.Some end-of-season business. The team ranking reflects my high-placed league finish and my journey to the FA Cup Final:And the Team of the Season featured the dependable Benat, and the amazing Mascherano – one of the few players who still feels like an individual in this emulsioned nuPES patchfest:

And so to Season 11. As ever with nuPES, regrettably it ends up in a place where I want to see the Master League through to a conclusion of sorts, rather than keep exploring the game as a whole. So PES2019 still has a season or two left in it.