Category: European Cup (ECC)

One of the aircraft carriers that went to the Falklands

Look at this table below. It’s not just about where I am (if I don’t win the title this season, I’ll be having a serious word with myself). But just see the Losses column:

PES2016 season 7 after 15

Could it be that…? Might I manage to…? You know…? One of those seasons… That unmentionable word… I’m not saying it.

I could do it, as I’m not sure if PES2016 has much left to really test me anymore. That’s tempting fate in a huge way, as we all know what the game is capable of doing. Sooner or later I’ll get the peculiar game where nothing I try seems to work and the AI snatches a goal that it defends to the death. I wonder if that is inevitable?

I’ve been helped by having a really strong squad. I’ve stopped puzzling over the lack of 90+ OPR players. The rating system is changed now. The 80s are the new 90s in Pro Evo — until Konami changes it all again, which they doubtless will.

Castledine is one of the best players on the planetThe power of habit is strong. Since the dawn of Master League, most Defaults have been rubbish for so long that most of us have a habit of looking to sell them all for as good a price as possible as early as possible. Many ML veterans will therefore have moved their Castledines on as soon as the first good offers arrived in the early seasons. Bet you’re sorry now, eh?

It’s a toss-up between Castledine and Aimar as to who will be my first 90-rated player. Both are on 88 at the moment and both still growing. A few regular readers of the blog vouched for Aimar when I first promoted him from the Youths, and he is indeed becoming a game-changer.

CL is up and running

The Champions League has started. I’ve won all three of the opening ties and am top of the group table. I don’t anticipate trouble in the Champions League until the knockout stages. I’m also through the first few rounds of the FA Cup. The Treble is still on.

One of this season’s Youth promotees, Lopez, came on towards the end of a tough league derby match at Villa. A rare daytime game was heading for 0-0 when I got an even rarer free kick. It’s common for me to play entire sessions of 5 matches without having a single free kick. Excited, I was.

My usual free-kicker, Castledine, was being rested (blue-arrowed, I think). The game auto-selected Embolo as the kicker, but I checked and saw the lad Lopez had some ability. I slotted him in as the kicker. This free kick would be his very first touch of his whole professional career. Could he…?

Indeed, that side of the Villa wall were all midgets. But you’ve still got to put them away. (The goals, not the midgets.)

I’m having a decent time with the game at the moment, chiefly because I had to leave a gap of a few days in playing it over the weekend. I didn’t play Friday either, so when I booted up Monday morning it had been four days since my last footy gaming action.

It felt really good, so good that I’m heeding the message and trying to leave gaps of a day or two here and there. I still have Metal Gear Solid V to finish.

Any football game would buckle under the kind of scrutiny I’ve brought to bear on PES2016. But I remain profoundly unimpressed with the elements of PES2016 that are self-evidently made to meet multiplayer expectations. I plan to moan about this forever. No-fouls football is an abomination.


Stop me if Youth think you’ve heard this one before

Season 13 Recoba hat trick

Recoba has come good after a typically Master League-like indifferent start. A couple of goals in a couple of matches were capped by a sensational hat trick against Manchester City that helped me to a thumping 4-1 win.

In Master League it takes any new signing approximately 3-6 matches to bed down and feel like one of the gang. You used to be able to check how a new player’s teamwork was progressing. Back in the old PS2 days, a tap of a button cycled through various graphical displays. You would be shown how well (or not) your players played together in a latticework of connecting lines and numerical ratings.

Today each player has a static teamwork rating, but the deeper data has been mostly abstracted behind the scenes, which is a shame. You can still feel its effects on the surface in how it takes new players time to gel with the rest of the squad.

Here’s the league table after 12 matches of Season 13:

Season 13 after 12

I like my position there. With 1/3rd of the season gone, I’m lurking behind the leaders and biding my time, a bit like Steve Ovett in the 1500 metres final in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Or was it Seb Coe who did the shoulder-lurking? I think it was Seb Coe, now I think about it. Whichever one of them it was, I’m like that.

After my bullish confidence over the Champions League group draw, reality dashed cold water in my face. An opening 0-2 defeat at home by Barcelona woke me up. I won the next two matches, then lost the most recent. I should still qualify, but I’ve made it unnecessarily tricky through over-confidence. After you get to a certain stage in Master League, you just don’t expect Europe to give you any trouble.

PES2015 Season 13 CL group after 4

Recoba has been a highlight of the season so far – another highlight has been the progress of some of the ‘Emergency Youths’ that I signed last season to bulk out my depleted squad.

Among them was this young man – one K BELLARABI, an 18-year-old RMF, rated 66 when I signed him and now up to 69.

Bellarabi Stoops to score

That’s a picture of him just before scoring an unusual sort of goal in PES2015 that I’m saving for a special goals video in a week or two. The vid will be compiled from all the types of goals that don’t usually make it onto highlights reels. So there’ll be no 30-yard net busters. They’ll all be in-off-the-knee scuffers from two yards, and goals like that.

It’ll be something different, and it’ll show just what variety PES2015 is capable of. Non-players of any football game could be forgiven for thinking that the only goals scored are Hollywood long-rangers and the types of multi-pass ‘team goals’ that are always held up as being the greatest goals of all. (There’s no doubting that ‘team goals’ in football are good, but they’re undeserving of the excessive joy always lavished upon them, IMO.)

I play at least one of my Emergency Youths from the start in most matches, even the big matches. Why not? It adds spice and interest.

Bellarabi is as solid and dependable in a midfield slot as any of the more experienced, higher-rated players. And it’s very satisfying to complete a good performance with him.

And they’re by no means all potential world-beaters. One of my other Youths, J ILICIC, will simply have to go in the next transfer window. Every time I play him, he has a ‘mare, with passes going astray and the player gradually disappearing entirely, his morale almost visibly shot to pieces.

I have a youth CB called BAUER (whom I imagine answers the phone with a snapped ‘Bauer‘). He has been a revelation too and I’m always confident putting him in for one of the first-choice CBs.

It’s a shame in many ways that these Youths have arrived on the scene so belatedly. It’s likely that there are only two more seasons at most left in the PES2015 tank for me. Thus I’ll never get to see them flower fully. It was a mistake to disregard the Youths early on in this ML.

Four goals, one cup

Season 12 FA Cup action

Season 12 ended with league failure, as expected. I was too far behind towards the end, so far that not even this game was going to give me a helping hand. I was happy just to secure 4th spot on goal difference:

Season 12 Final TableThe FA Cup final was against Manchester City. Seeing them as my opponents made me hiss through my teeth. My league matches against them are typically grim, scrappy affairs low on excitement and high on sheer bloody hard work.

The final was exactly the same. 0-0 for a long time, then City snatched a goal to make it 1-0 to them, and then no matter what I did, no matter what I tried, nothing would happen for me. Defeat in the Cup.Season 12 FA Cup final defeatOnto the Champions League Final and another sight to make me wince: Arsenal were my opponents. Another team where our usual sort of league encounter is a tight, dour match that ranks among PES2015’s least enjoyable matches.

Season 12 CL Final setup

Great atmosphere and pre-match buildup, as ever. Just shows that Konami can do this kind of thing very well, when they put their minds to it. It probably helps that the Champions League is Big In Japan.

For this biggest of big matches, I played Gerrard at DMF and made him captain.

I’d  been intrigued to see Gerrard picked in the Premier League’s Team of the Season at DMF, a position I never really played him in. So for the Champions League final I dropped Pirlo (so often ineffective for me, the way I play) and put in Gerrard instead.

Season 12 CL Final Tunnel tensionThings were very different in this Final.

I streaked into a 3-0 lead by half-time, and that was effectively that. Gerrard at DMF was simply a class above Pirlo or Conti or anyone else I’d ever played there.

I decided there and then to get rid of Pirlo in post-season and go with Gerrard as my captain and first-choice DMF for the rest of my time on PES2015. It’s one of life’s amusing ironies that Gerrard in video game football tends to be the consistently world class player that Liverpool fans devoutly believe him to be in real life.

It was a comfortable 4-0 win in the end – yes, it was one of those ‘easy’ PES finals. But I believe I’d worked for it. I’d seized control from the first whistle, denied the AI quality possession, and taken my chances.Engraving the European CupA well-deserved victory, and my first Champions League title on PES2015. I enjoyed it as much as my digital guys seemed to.

Season 12 CL Final victoryGerrard has great stamina and lasts whole matches in PES2015. He was still on the pitch and wearing the armband at full-tme. When I saw him lift Big Cup itself, I couldn’t help thinking it was just over ten years since a certain famous night in Istanbul.

Gerrard lifts it high

And there the season ended. Not the Treble I’d hoped for, but I’d won the most important trophy in club football, which was a nice bonus.

Some random goals from the season’s end:

Messi, Forlan, Forlan, Messi. Pretty standard goals, all of them, with a few points of interest: Forlan’s breakaway Goal 3 is a rare instance of an AI defender, in prime position to intercept an attempted pass, not doing so. Goal 4 is a satisfying in-off-the-post effort. Messi is coming really good now.

And so on to Season 13. I’ll be in every competition except the Charity Shield (sorry: Community Shield) equivalent. One or two more big players and I’ll have a great chance at the Treble, at the very least. #thistime

Superstar stop

Jesus Christ, Superstar! If I hadn’t already used those words in another title a long time ago, today’s post would definitely have been called ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar!’, exclamation mark and all. But for different reasons.

On that previous occasion, back in 2012, I was remarking on how agreeable I found life on Superstar, relative to my doomsday expectations of what might happen.

This time, in 2015, I’ve found my latest attempt at Superstar formidably tough and nigh-on impossible.

Superstar in Master League on PES2015 has once again properly kicked my arse. Three times already I have tried to ascend, and been beaten back. This is the fourth time. After a few sessions of mostly disastrous matches in League and Cup, I have gone back to Top Player.

Pre-season, I bought the 16-year-old Arjen Robben, who is already 80OVR and fleet of foot. He moves uncannily like his real-life counterpart. It’ll be two or three seasons before I start getting consistent performances out of him.

I also bought another left-back — Lizarazu from the classic players roster. Lizarazu is a bit older and more developed, and has slotted straight in as a regular starter.

New Home Kit:

PES2015 season 9 New Home Kit

I kept two of my three alternative kits, but deliberately made this rather horrible 4th kit, in honour of a fine Coventry tradition of horrible away kits:

PES2015 season 9 New Away Kit

Games immediately went nowhere for me on Superstar. I stuck with it over two long sessions, but they were bitty, frustrating experiences. The antithesis of everything good that I was finding in PES2015 over the past few months.

I won some, grinding out a 1-0 here and there, but lost most, and they weren’t the good kind of losses where you enjoy the game regardless.

I was unhappy with the overall footballing experience on Superstar. Matches often featured long patches of tussling for possession. It was a nightmare without the ball. Frustrated slide-tackling returned to my game, leading to lots of cheap yellows and reds once more. And Superstar passing felt as if it was being excessively tampered with by the game. I’ve never had so many passes go hopelessly astray. Yes, I did check and recheck my settings, and I was still on 1-bar, the sweet spot where I feel I belong.

Top Player was calling me back almost before the end of the first session. I stuck with Superstar for a second session, just to see, but no. It’s too much for me right now.

Also, I don’t want my first experience of Champions League football on PES2015 defined by such a thankless struggle.

I qualified for the Champions League this season for the first time. Here’s the group draw, by the way:

PES2015 season 9 Champs League draw

My Coventry City is in a group with FC Copenhagen, Lazio and Barcelona.

(It is a little disappointing to see a few made-up Konami teams in there. I feel their presence kind of ‘dilutes’ the Master League. While setting up Master League, you’re asked if you want to include a league of made-up teams. I chose Yes and wish now that I hadn’t.)

Superstar killed me in the League and it killed me in the Champions League too. I played two matches of the CL on Superstar: away against Copenhagen and away against Barca. Both ended in 1-0 defeats, and to be fair the matches were pretty decent. At least I created a few openings, compared to the shutouts I was getting in the League.

I think Konami listened to people saying that Superstar on PES2012/13 just wasn’t difficult enough, and decided to create an insane mode. NB: I think this is a very good thing. Top Player is satisfying enough for me right now.

Many people reading this, and having a whale of a time on Superstar, will be puzzled. But I am an average football gamer. ‘So am I!‘ they might say. ‘No, you’re definitely not!‘ I’ll say back.

I might change my mind and have another go at Superstar this season if I start running away with things on Top Player. I have seen odd flashes of what Superstar can offer.

At least I know that Superstar is still there, for when the time is right. There are still worlds left to conquer.