Shoot out of luck

Season 13 has ended, and with it this phase of PES2019. I don’t currently plan to return to the game at all this year – but history shows it isn’t wise for me to say ‘never’. Even by the time this post is published, I might be knee-deep into Season 14, with a clutch of new players and renewed zest for another fight. I don’t think that’ll happen… But I’ve passed many happy hours with PES2019, and that has to count for something.

I started this season – Season 13 – with a Community Shield win. It was my only trophy win of the whole of PES2019.

I ended the season competing in the Champions league final, having failed to make any great challenge in the Premier League.

I’ll get the domestic side out of the way with first. The final table:A creditable top-4 finish, viewed from one angle. From another angle, this has to go down as a poor domestic performance. Having scored the second-most goals, I can’t help wondering what might have been. A bit more of a defensive backbone might have made it a different story.

I’m not too downhearted, though. My 13 seasons of PES2019 have shown me that there isn’t a great deal the human player can do to stop this AI scoring when it wants to score.

nuPES games are configured to provide excitement and interest first and foremost. Focus group testing probably shows that the average player of today hasn’t the attention span for anything else. I work with teenagers who cannot seem to pay attention to anything substantive for more than 20 seconds. These are the target market. I’m not.

With about 6 matches remaining I had no chance of the title. But I still had a chance of proper silverware in PES2019. The Champions League!

Here I am breezing past Manchester City in the Quarter Final:And I put paid to Nantes in the semi – with slightly less comfort, but it was still never in doubt:How my players celebrated. The season rolled to its close, and I got to the day of the Champions League final full of confidence. I’ve got here before and blown it. Second time lucky?

As much as PES2019 is capable of setting a mood and giving it an atmospheric big build-up, it did, although it’s clear that losing the Champions League license was as savage a blow to the PES series as any it’s ever suffered.Great to see my avatar interact with all these players whom I’ve got to know so well, prior to what is their last ever match. (Probably.) Captain Castledine is just visible at the back, talking to Forlan. He’ll be 33 soon, and this might be his last chance to hold aloft an actual trophy.

The game started well and I took the lead – and tell you what, below is a massively abbreviated highlights reel of the entire thing. Just the goals, and the finale, which was quite memorable:

Ouch. I should explain why I didn’t dive my keeper for a few of the Juve penalties: Over the last few weeks I’ve conceded a few pens, and seen the AI put them down the middle nearly every time, so I thought I was being clever here. For the decisive Juve penalty of course I did dive, and they of course sent it down the middle.Me neither, mate. Me neither.

I really thought this trophy was the one. It had seemed predestined.

Tempted to reload? Never! Actually, that’s not true, of course I was tempted to reload – I’m often tempted, in fact – but I never do reload, because I wouldn’t feel that whatever result I ended up with would be ‘real’. It would be a cheat result. Master League is all about the journey, the highs, the lows. I don’t play Master League to win things (which is fortunate, considering).Having four players in the Team of the Season reflected well on the kind of season it was overall. A thoroughly enjoyable one full of great goals (of which more below).

A fitting farewell to the strongest PES since PES2012, for me. I know, I know, you probably think if dogshit was mass-produced it would look like PES2019, etc., I know. Worst PES ever! so many would say. The PES forums, what’s left of them, have been savage about the game this past month. But I cheerfully disagree.

And so I depart from the best PES and the most engrossing Master League since PES2012. As I assembled this post and the two videos it contains, I confess that I asked myself more than once: why exactly am I letting it go now, with so much left to do?

The following video encapsulates so much of what has made PES2019 great for me. The fun, the frolics, the drama, the quirks, the bizarre, the wonderful… I’ll stop now lest this brings me to tears. Here’s a 38-yard Mascherano long-range that the keeper ‘edges’ into the net. And an interesting moment when the AI sends its keeper up to take a free kick and I get the ball back with the keeper still stranded. There’s even an R2 curler in here, for old time’s sake.

(I took a bit of a gamble including those two licensed tracks – so evocative of PES. Hopefully YouTube will restrict itself to showing the odd advert, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the vid. If it gets blocked, I have another version with generic music that I’ll slot into place.)

So I bid farewell to PES2019, with some feelings of regret about the lack of a proper trophy, but a sense of great fulfilment.

The way the finances were set up meant I had to hold onto players long after I might have otherwise got rid of them. So I had to squeeze every ounce of performance out of every player, which deepened my awareness and understanding of their individual quirks in a very satisfying, old-school PES way… Which is what those of us who still haunt the precincts of PES are looking for. I found it.

Updated: 26th April 2019 — 10:26


  1. NG – I watched the video with baited breath and when you went 2-1 down late on i just knew there was another goal in you, but your arse was 50p/5p’ing in that 88th minute!!!
    Seriously gutted for you, thought you was going to lift ol’ big ears, and would have been a fitting end to PES 19, a tense game, a penalty shootout, and a UCL trophy to hold aloft, not sure i Could have left the game at that stage, I’d want to avenge that loss.

    Great post though and great compilation video too, some rather tasty goals in there even if there is some abysmal AI logic play and defending 😉
    You should be ok with the Youtube Music, as long as you aren’t promoting a brand or a commercial profit making entity they are usually ok with it under the creative commons act.
    I think there is a radio button to select in the advanced settings on videos that disclaims you are using the music purely for a personal non profit reason.

    So, whats next ???

  2. Paul – At 86 mins and 2-1 I thought it was gone, then when I got the equaliser I thought it was mine again. But I was abysmal in extra time, I kept them at bay and had opportunities myself, but I tried to walk the ball into the net rather than following my instinct and just leathering it. So I was deservedly taken to penalties, where I was again confident, but as I said I misjudged the AI on the basis of all its recent straight-down-the-middle penalties, and you saw the outcome.

    There’s some hilariously bad AI play at times in PES2019 but overall it holds up, I’d say after 13 seasons. The willing suspension of disbelief is as fundamental to gaming as any other medium of course.

    As for what’s next, it’d be a huge mistake to fire up FIFA straightaway, or even any other PES. Experience tells me I need a little break first. Some Football Manager maybe. I will probably do some footy gaming at the start of next week but it’s going to be my regular monthly stint on PES5, which I have always been doing in the background. I mention it in the foreground on the blog once in a while and will probably get Tuesday’s post out of that. By this time next week, who knows.

    Cheers for the tip about the YouTube setting to disclaim the licensed music, looking at it now. EDIT: can’t see it either in the new editor or the classic one – is it the Creative Commons license setting?

  3. Commiserations, would have been nice but that comment about nothing you can do when the AI wants to score says it all. I don’t think it’s the most dogshitty pes there’s been but it has some of the worst strains of pooch poop in it. The AI being a major one. Fucked on release with its LCS (for most of us), subsequent updates simply turned it into ridiculous churn with what felt to me like very little chance of stopping the opponent when it decides you can’t. I know it was ever thus but this year it seems dialled up to maximum levels. Chelsea won the title and yet failed to win in 10 matches? Man City second with 74? Not in a classic ml, with those numbers you’d have waltzed it, there’s clear shafting going on. Your invincibles is safe forever. I think for too many people the game as a single player offline is dead.

    In contrast to Paul’s hectic day of showering and wet pastries I spent most of the day in the cinema watching endgame. The adverts and trailers lasted best part of 40 mins. Would have been prime blogging time.

  4. Uncle Turf — whisper it but the last few updates seem to have worked a bit of magic, PES2014 style, and the game is far less ‘churny’ than it was back around the turn of the year when you played it last. I’ve had the most enjoyable matches and one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve ever had this season just gone. I think it’ll be a 9/10 from me come August. Has to be said that the forums are saying more or less what you and Paul say of it, but as I hint in the post, I can only play the game that I discover and mostly enjoy, not the one I hear about others discovering and not enjoying. Best PES for 7 years for me. I was doubting whether it could exceed the mostly good time I had with PES2015, but it has and then some.

  5. I’m with you NG. I’m a PC player, and since the last patch I’ve had more fun with this PES than I have for many years. I’d say 9/10 pretty much reflects my own enjoyment with the game.

    I look forward to your next PES foray. Whenever that may be.

  6. SockWulf – a PES2019 PC adventure is on the maybe list for this summer. I have the rig – just don’t have the time currently, as I’d have to have everything, all the mods.

    Best PES in 7 years easily for me. I’m an arch-sceptic when it comes to stealth patching but the two long-rangers in my finale compilation there could never have been scored in the months just after Christmas IMO.

  7. NG – I think it’d be a massive waste if you didn’t put that pc to good use. As I’ve said many times before, the community gameplay files really change it for the better in some key areas, AI being one of them. The patches are entering their “final phase” as well apparently, combining the best the previous ones had to offer. TTB has a vid out with the latest one, I must say it looks brilliant. Takes 5 mins to install (copy-paste) the gameplay file, other mods are drag and drop as well. Just sayin…

    Great ending to pes19 for you overall I’d say. 13 seasons! That is GREAT value for money if anything and the deep connection to your players shows it. Some great goals in there as well… Kudos for the music selection there. Pes2009 was it? (the “football” one) Still think I’d go for another season just to win something more substantial but when you’re done, you’re done.

  8. #1 – I do make full use of the PC in other ways, so don’t worry, it is being put to good use. XCOM and Civ of course, and next week with a few days off if I get time I might look at beefing up my Steam Skyrim install and seeing what the feel is. Something Survival-y from the start perhaps… I won’t pretend I’m not tempted by another season or two of PES2019. I definitely won’t be FIFA-ing it for a while as I want to give that game a good go this year, not the usual tired go in the aftermath of my long Master League campaign.

    The music in the second vid above was from PES2008 – the notorious PES2008, yes, but the music is rightly legendary for its magnificent cheese value.

  9. NG – gutted for you. Really liked the stadium and camera angle for the CL final game as it seems to give a bit more individuality to the ground than most you see on PES now. I remember Paul saying something similar about the Bournmouth stadium on FIFA.

    For me I am still trying to find a game that sticks after the FIFA exploit. It is a difficult phase coming off the back of an epic adventure. I think Fallout will come and go as I have too slow reactions these days for shooter games. I prefer to use my intelligence and plan ahead and have time to think. This is why I think I could be more suited to the turn based games. I also picked up a copy of XCom2 for next to nothing. Early signs are promising for all these reasons. It has one of the best opening tutorials (of sorts) I have seen.

  10. NG – going back to your comment about the ‘Teenagers’ you work with, this is a subject that does intrest me. Can we blame them? Is it them or the gaming environment they have now grown up in. If you stuck a plant in the window and left it. Would you blame the plant if it didn’t grow?

    We too struggle now if we are being honest. Our minds have become open worlds with quests popping up all over the place, all wanting our attention. So can the teenagers be blamed for having a low attention span? We grew up in a different enviornment completly. So in some ways this genetation are the lucky one’s as they don’t know any different.

  11. NG – ah you’re right, forgot about xcom and all that of course.

    Football season winding down for myself as well. Am second on fifa 19 in the premier league, man city is 2 points above me with table scripting in full effect. 2 games to go. No matter what I do, they match it. Think I’ll complete this season, have a peek in the champions league to see what EA have done with it and call it a day. Third place is more than fifteen points behind. CPU still can hardly ever beat me but getting the full-powered script thrown my way. Suspiciously all me key players are getting injured and I’m getting all sorts of fouls and cards called against me that previously were non-issues.

    Not too bothered by it but on the whole I am disappointed that the script in both games is just so blatant and overt. It ruins my ability to suspend disbelief, it’s simply too much at times.

    Dark souls 3 is getting more attention from me anyways now. I can actually beat some pretty tough bosses, never thought I’d manage. I quite like it after having discontinued bloodborne, which started out strong but is just too twitchy for my taste.

  12. Darryl – I won’t drop a load of XCOM2 advice on you as that would be annoying, all I’ll say is that the deep connection with the soldiers as they level up is a huge part of the experience, arguably all of it. If you play long enough for that to happen, you’ll get it.

    I don’t blame the generations after us at all for their inattentive states. Love the analogy to our minds as open world games with threads multiplying exponentially all over the place. I know a teacher who tells me that her (older teen) students are incapable of paying attention to a written piece of text for longer than 30 seconds on average. She sets them the ‘silent reading’ test every so often just to see what happens. They’re all jumping out of their skins after half a minute, barring the odd exception of course.

    Re. PES2019, I have to insist that for me, after some ups and downs in the middle, it’s the best PES since ’12 and one of the most memorable ever. ‘Best of a bad bunch’ maybe. PES by 2019 should have been so much more than it is now, but commercial demands put paid to the Golden Age PES ideal.

    #1 – my gaming PC gets a lot of use as a general computing platform too of course. I’ve always liked tinkering with it and playing with Windows, and have recently stepped that up a notch. I run all sorts of old games on it too that are a real treat because they run like butter now in 2019 on a decent PC. I’m talking about the likes of Halo 1 and Warzone 2100.

    How are the AI fouls against you in FIFA? One of the reasons I’m leaving a gap before FIFA is that I think I’ll really struggle to play a truly fouls-free footy game, as I get a respectable cluster of fouls in PES2019 every so often (as well as too many games with 1 or 2 of course).

  13. NG – emulation is a godsend as well! Halo 1,now there’s a gem from ages past. Seems like you’re putting that pc to good use after all, just not with pes… Yet 😉

    Re. Fifa and fouls, short version : for me there aren’t any. I’m not bullshitting ; 98 percent of matches they’re zero. For me and cpu.

  14. excellent post not-Greg, a fitting finale to (what I suspect is not) the end of your PES2019 ML adventure. That second Juventus goal is a great example of why defending is sometimes impossible this year – even when you position your defender perfectly to intercept the low pass it will simply roll between his legs when the AI really wants its tap-in

    would still place 2014 ahead of 2019 in the ‘best since PES2012’ ranking owing to even better individuality and quirky charm. However, your second video has inspired me to try a few more imaginative goal attempts rather than my usual predictable style of low crosses and tippy-tappy play

  15. That 9/10 rating (for a low-foul nu-PES), player affinity and a near miss season for major trophies begs one question, n-G: Why exactly are you stopping now?

    After a break and a few no-fouls matches on a FIFA, you’ll surely be tempted back for more of the above.

    I had a quick look at the forums over the weekend for the first time in ages. I see many have are retro-PESing like me on PS2 and even PS1 era games. Others it seems are back on PES 2017. Wasn’t that the last non AI-we-need PES and the all-too-easy with decent players ML?

  16. #1 – there are huge gaps in my general computing knowledge that I’m enjoying (slowly) filling in with the Windows PC, particularly the command line/Powershell sort of stuff. 10 years on Mac, where everything really does ‘just work’, have made me flabby.

    Shocked about FIFA fouls but not at all surprised, as that is the reality of all footy games now, PES2019 being slightly anomalous with it’s a-few-every-now-and-then version of the sin.

    abbeyhill – without the occasional WOW sort of goal, I couldn’t play any football game. The rote tika-taka walking the ball in just isn’t how I could ever do it. PES2014 comes close to what I found with PES2019, but ’14 was all from April of 2014 onward (i.e. the end of its release year), while ’19 has been good for me from the start. Overall PES2014 is the PES-est PES since PES6, probably, and PES2019 is just another nuPES with clever tweaks, so it’s by no means easy to separate them.

    Shed – there’s a craze for PES2017 going on on the forums (the forum, rather, there being really only one left; poor old PES Gaming always gets forgotten, but still exists). I remember paying it again last summer for a few days and found it fast and furious and very no-fouls compared even to PES2018.

    I’m stopping PES2019 on the basis of a few dodgy sessions early in this Season 13, although an April patch arrived in the middle of it and seemed to change things for the better. Currently not feeling the pull to go back, but give it time, it took a week for me to get back onto PES2012, back in the day – you might remember this (click to the 1:00 mark for the goodies):

    There’s a chance something like that might happen again. I might have a sense of unfinished business. But I might not. Currently loving the feeling of freedom, and I will be having a lengthy PES5 session on the PC later.

  17. I had a few games on PES 2017 when I was setting up the cinema room, purely because it was a digital copy already installed on the PS4 I use in that room, and was surprised by how well it played, better than 2019 IMO, but was very easy.
    That was the year of back to back to back trebles for me, PES 17.

    I don’t think it matters whether NG rates PES 19 a 9/10 or a 2/10 it’s pretty much guaranteed that he will ditch FIFA 19 after just a few games. It’s just not for him, and happens every year, despite this year FIFA 19 being undoubtedly the best for years.

    I also played a cup tournament on PES 19 last week, 7 months after I last picked the game up, with all the numerous patches and updates that have come out since, and my opinion didn’t change from when I disgustedly jacked it in those 7 months ago after only 1 month’s worth of play.
    The bland, boring, unfinished look of the game coupled with the very poor COM positioning and decision-making was just too much, nothing had changed, and the goal i lost to, was a low cross and tap in from 5 yards, the very reason I ditched the game in the first place.

    It’s just one of those PES games, like 14, where I just didn’t click with it, maybe if I’d played for numerous seasons over all these months like NG has, I’d have built an affinity with my team and rate the game higher, but I just find it too poor in too many key areas to be even worth persevering with.

  18. Paul – I’m deliberately not pivoting straight to FIFA (18, not 19) to avoid that very thing. I’m weary of the predictable nature of me trying a FIFA straight after umpteen seasons of ML and almost immediately bouncing off it. I fancy a summer of something different this year, but we’ll see. Definitely feeling some PES pangs, but I’ve got a cheeky PES5 session lined up for this afternoon that will be the substance of tomorrow’s post. I might also take PES2014 out for a run on the PS3, which I have plugged into my main living room telly.

    I also found it relatively easy to score in PES2017. The AI that we need came in the year after that of course.

  19. NG – you may as well skip FIFA altogether if you are going for 18, as FIFA 19 is a completely different game, much more sim-like, more of a heavy weighted PES feel to it, and much more refined gameplay.

    I was considering plugging the PS2 slim into the Cinema room, but a PS2 image via a HDMI convertor (from scart) on to a near 100″ screen is not going to look great.

  20. Paul – I’d be curious as to what PS2 on your wallscreen would look like, and possibly you could scale it down to acceptable?

    If/when you get that mini PC to plug into the setup, you can install PC footy games from the Golden Age and upscale them graphically – PCSX is best for that – and then there’s no scaling issue. Going to have a nice retro session myself soon.

  21. NG – the PS2 via HDMi convertor, on a 55″ 4k TV looked awful, on a 1080p projector at around 88″ I can’t imagine it would look very good at all.
    And if I’m gonna adjust the zoom to bring it down, I may as well just play it on a TV.

  22. The upscaled PCSX playing on the wall through whatever PC hardware you end up plugging into your setup, will scratch the itch and then some. It looks very fine on a 27″ monitor – around a PS3.5 sort of level – so I’m curious to see how it looks on a 100″.

  23. NG – I don’t have any immediate plans to introduce any kind of PC device running emulation software, I wouldn’t ever get time to use it, and as you know I’m much more at home playing current titles than old ones.

  24. Ah so close to old big ears unlucky sir unlucky. Me thinks you will be back for another crack in May or what about taking MC out for a summer run……

  25. Paul – I’m sure you said you were planning to hook a mini PC up to the projector to act as a server in some capacity. Whether you are or not, you’d be wise to limit the projects you carry out with it from a time POV. We can either do a few things deeply or many things shallowly.

    Gary – I don’t think I’ll get to myClub this year, perhaps last year was my one and only go at it, but never say never. To anything!

  26. NG – No don’t recall saying that, I mentioned that I have a Plex DNLA server running on my MBP, which acts as a media server, for streaming movies to the projector, or that I was planning on getting an Nvidia shield to use as a media server which also has ability to install emulators etc.

    But no dedicated PC server, certainly not in the near future.

  27. Paul – that’s what I was remembering, the Nvidia Shield mention, because of the Nvidia name I always automatically think of it as a PC-like piece of kit (I know it’s not).

  28. I suppose it is like a mini pc really, just running on android.
    In the end I got an Amazon firestick, my dad had 2 so gave me one of his, and rooted it and installed all kinds of APK’s for movies, tv shows etc, I wouldn’t really use the power of the Nvidia for retro gaming much if at all, so this was a cheaper alternative.

    Any more thoughts on your ‘spare room’ ?

  29. Paul – it’s a time thing as it is for all of us I suppose. I’ve got the things I like doing with my time right now, and I’d have to shorten or suspend them to squeeze in the day or two needed for something else like a projector setup. I’d want to do it properly, maybe not as intensive as yours but about halfway there – and I’d definitely want a PC hooked up to it for 100″ XCOM-ing! It’ll wait until the summer when I’ve got a few weeks off work.

  30. A job worth doing is worth doing properly as they say NG!
    Just do what I did, and do a bit here and there, buy bits when you can etc, it doesn’t matter if it takes 3 months, its not urgent and you wont stress yourself about getting it finished in a tight timescale then.

    All I would say for when you finally go ahead, is projector choice is paramount.
    from my own experience if you want to use it for gaming then you’ll need one with a low input lag, lens shift preferably and zoom options. And as many ANSI lumens as you can afford.

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