Month: May 2019

Mersonesque unbelievable belief

Work and life has got in the way again, and hampered my progress – which has been interesting nonetheless.

In what increasingly feels like my real, definite, no-changing-my-mind-this-time Final Season on PES2019, I am positioned for the best chance at the League title that I might ever have:With that healthy gap between me in 2nd and Chelsea in 3rd place, it looks like it’s between me and Fulham for the title.

Having come this far I don’t think I will fade and fall away now, as I have done many times in the past.

But will Fulham ever drop points?

I predicted before this season began that I would have a meaningful go at the title, which has happened. Just goes to show what unbelievable belief can do.

I also predicted that if I did have a good go at the title, the team(s) around me would keep pace with my results – and so it has proved.

When I lose, Fulham lose.

When I draw, Fulham have also drawn.

Every win I notch up, I wait to see Fulham’s result on the post-match screen — and there they are, winning.

The only edge I have on them right now is my goal difference.

I’m scoring lots of goals by adopting an approach that is foreign to my football game instincts: the ol’ Pep Guardiola-style doctrine of not ‘wasting’ possession on long shots. It really is the case in PES2019 (and nuPES as a whole) that the % success rate of long-shots to goals is so low (easily under 1%, i.e. you have to try 100+ times to get just 1 in the net) that the more optimal strategy is definitely to craft chances from inside the box. Boring, boring football in other words. But it’s paying dividends as the goals tally shows. My Gomez and Forlan are currently joint top of the scoring charts.

I got to January and a certain wandering Regen returned from his loan spell:

Sadly I think my PES2019 juice has just about run out now, and we will never find out what Jarvis could have been (again).A few suspensions in my defence prompted me to play Mathieu there for a few matches and he’s been a revelation, so much so that he kept his place and made it into Team of the Month. Along with five other players of mine, which I think is the best performance I’ve had in one of these things. Reflective of the season I’m having, especially going forward. Xavi and Mascherano behind Gomez and Forlan. The outcome is goals.

I’ve got a few days off work coming up next week, and plan to push through to the end of the season. All being well, this time next week should see the end of Season 15 and PES2019, for reals this time.

Nul points

Season 15 has moved on a little – not a lot, because of work and life intervening, plus other reasons (including one Big Reason, mentioned at the end of the post).

I’ve played about 10 matches of the League, and almost finished the group stage of the Europa League, which yielded the above screenshot. Where it almost looks as if me and Mascherano have just heard that we’ve qualified for the televised stage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The league table is more or less the same as it was on Friday. My form has gone back to being so-so, but my good start means I’m still up in the top 6.

My winning run was ended by two very strange back-to-back matches versus Crystal Palace and Huddersfield. I lost them both 1-0, and they were two of the most suspicious matches I have ever played in my entire football gaming life. Both teams were ferociously ultra-high-powered, and nothing I did worked. I could dish out a full description of all the suspect things that happened, but everybody reading this will know what I meant without me needing to go into details.

You just know in the marrow of your finger-bones when a football game is up to shenanigans. The human player getting too many wins in a row is simply Not Allowed. Is there anybody out there who has won a league title with 38 wins out of 38, on Superstar? I would say that would be an impossible feat even for the greatest PES player of all time. The interesting question is why is it impossible? The fact that it is impossible is proof, on its own, that the game monkeys with the player when it deems it necessary to do so.

I thought some might be interested to see the Manchester United team here in Season 2032-33:Man U in my ML world are roughy where their real-life counterparts are today in 2019: a decent outfit on their day, but still only just about top 4 material. Always a tough match though – I managed to scrape a 1-0 win out of this one. Rashford is still the original, not a Regen, and close to retirement. Other teams in this ML world have a similar bizarro look to them. Regen De Bruyne is at Burnley, for example.

In other news, look what arrived in the post yesterday morning:Having played the demo last week and been impressed, I simply had to.

I won’t make the mistake that I have very often made in the past, of trying to play FIFA before I have thoroughly concluded all business with PES.

But I did put the disc in the PS4 last night to perform all the updates and implement the current set of Operation Sports sliders. I had time after all that for one solitary match at 1am – England vs Scotland, of course. I even scored a long-ranger – note in one of the replay angles how the lines on the pitch change to vertical, just like in PES. There must be a coding-side reason for why this is observed by EA and Konami. Anyone know what it is?

Old imaginary footballers never die

Season 15 of my so-far-epic PES2019 Master League career has got off to a decent start.

4 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat.

I’ve had great starts before and won nothing, so this means nothing right now.

My new signings are struggling to bed in. Only one is standing out at the moment and feels like part of the team.

Hamsik at CMF is almost on the verge of becoming a regular starter in my midfield. Xavi and Mascherano are immovable, so if it happens Hamsik would probably see Buonanotte move to the bench. Or even (whisper it) the ageing Castledine. Yes, I am thinking about retiring the old man to the subs’ bench from now on.

It’s been a few seasons since the now 33-year-old Castledine was able to wrap his foot around a loose ball in the AMF area and give the GK something to think about.

Hamsik was bought with that exact purpose in mind. Even if a long shot doesn’t score (and it almost never scores), a corner or a rebound can result.

Castledine’s passing years are manifesting in two ways.

First is his now very poor stamina – he’s usually almost done by halftime, and always has to go off around 60 minutes.

Second, that famous left foot possesses a lot less venom than it used to.

I’d be satisfied if Castledine announced his retirement at the end of this season, as it would get me off the hook of a difficult decision. I doubt I could ever sell him, but with his rate of decline he would become a very occasional player.

The young pretenders, Xavi and Modric and Hamsik, are more than capable of filling his boots. But even if they have another 15 seasons at the club, they won’t come close to emulating the esteem and affection that Castledine has earned for himself. As soon as he does retire and then pop up as a Regen, he’ll be hired again.

Before anyone writes in, I am 100% aware that Castledine is ‘only’ a bunch of pixels animated by computer code and imagination.

The table:Promising, but we’ll see. I’m conceding too many goals for comfort right now.

Mathieu is settling in reasonably well. He plays a bit more than I thought he would. The fixture pileup of League, Cup, and Europa League, all see to that.

He’s big and cumbersome, not great, but dependable, a true individual. I miss the magnificent Footballer Of The Century that he was in PES5, of course.

In PES2019 his most notable contributions are first-time sweeping crosses to the far post. Like this one:

Mathieu, Mark, Lark, and Bronn

Look who’s back and wearing a Coventry City shirt in a PES ML of mine.

Yes, it’s one J MATHIEU, who’s just a fairly average 23-year-old LB/CB nowadays. As a DMF in PES5, he was possibly my PES Player Of All Time.

I dithered over getting him in PES2019. It seems the kind of thing I do right at the end of an ML for a bit of a nostalgic lark, when there’s not much time left. But there could be 7 seasons left in PES2019, so there’s no larking around here.

I needed cover at LB/CB, someone decent but not too expensive, and Mathieu popped up in the first page of results, so I thought, why not actually get him ‘for real’ for once. So I did.

Here is my full squad and First XI for Season 15. For the first time since Season 2, none of these players are Loanees. Every player here is contracted to the club.

Just out of sight at the bottom is a Youth GK that I picked up as cheap cover for Cech. Jarvis is out on loan this season again.

So that’s 24 players, and I’ve left myself a few million to go shopping mid-season if need be.

I’m most excited about Hamsik from that list. N Ogilvy (Clint Dempsey) wasn’t doing it for me so I  moved him on and went in search of another midfielder with a big booming shot, and Hamsik fits the bill.And then the season began and everything went wrong. First of all, as the Europa League champions we took part in the UEFA Supercup match. This thrilled me, as if we won it I could then go with a ‘You Wait Ages For One Trophy And Then Two Come Along At Once’ sort of post title.

But no. Instead, it was One Of Those Matches.I had 14 shots on goal to Chelsea’s 4. Of my shots, 3 were the sort of gilt-edged opportunities where you ‘know’ in your bones that it’s a goal, it must be a goal – but each time, the AI keeper pulled off miracle Gordon Banks-style saves.

1 time is unlucky. 2 times is a coincidence. 3 times is a conspiracy. We all know the (non) score.

Chelsea scored so late with one of their few chances that it was genuinely gutting to lose.

Then the Premier League started. I really do want a title before PES2019 is over. But bloody hell.I was lucky to get nil. I’ve played a few other matches and I’ve had a draw and a win from them. I’m mid-table after 3.

I know the problem. Of course, its too many new players too quickly. The game models poor team cohesion decently enough, and there are just enough misplaced passes and non-existent defensive marking and the like to make this a terrible start to the season.

Oh, did I mention that I had to qualify for the Champions League via a playoff? Atletico Bilbao the opponents. That went terribly too:

I drew 2-2 at home in the first leg, and lost the away leg 3-2. I didn’t play that badly, but conceded awful goals. So I’ll be competing in the Europa League again this season. At least I get to see if I can retain that trophy after the rare win last season.

I would have played a lot more than these matches, but gave a few hours late Monday night to watching the climax of a certain dragon-themed TV show.

To finish with, 3 interesting moments from the very end of last season that I thought merited inclusion here.

  1. Modric and Xavi’s passing stats and skills are enabling a bit of a cheese move: the long aerial Glenn Hoddle-esque through-ball to the feet of an attacker, Castledine in this instance. But it always feels so good.
  2. In a PES of rare headers, this was a satisfactory one. Mascherano popped up on the wing to deliver a Beckham-esque cross for Castledine, who made a late Bryan Robson-esque run into the box for a David Speedie-esque header back across the keeper.
  3. And finally a real SNAFU from me with Cech trying to play the ball out of the back. A good example here of the PES2019 AI That We Need pressing me hard when behind. Regen Muller seemed to be on me in a flash.